Virgin Layers

Lindsey Wente, University of New Hampshire, Durham


Virgin Layers is a coming-of-age sex memoir about the polarizing scales of intimacy: resistance and indulgence that often women growing up in America are taught though religious and cultural virtue policing. As a child, Lindsey was abandoned by her father, raised with a Christian abstinence education, and left with the wreckage of toxic masculinity in her family and community. Set in Phuket, Thailand, where Western men embrace all aspects of their desires, Lindsey comes to terms with what it means to be a sexual object in a space where all women are objectified. Miles away from her Midwestern roots, Lindsey chases her own desires to want and be wanted. At backpacker hostels, penis caves, and sexist international schools, Lindsey confronts the power of being a sexual object, inevitable loneliness, the complex duality of her “lost” virginity, and the marks on her body—real and invisible—carved by men of the past and present.