A friend of mine beckoned me over to talk to her in class. She had seemed down in mood and a little jittery the whole day, so I didn’t waste any time in sitting by her to ask what was up.

She stared at her lap, took a deep breath, and started in a voice so quiet I strained to hear, “I want to tell you something.” She hesitated, and I nodded to encourage her. “I don’t want you to think any differently of me…”

And I worried. Of course, I worried! Nobody wants to hear that. It’s second on the list of nerve-wracking phrases right under “We need to talk.”

She told me she’d lost her virginity a week ago, and they’d used protection but it had failed and it was too late to get plan B. The anxiety was destroying her on the inside – what would her parents say? What would her (OUR) friends say? She hadn’t told anyone for a week because she didn’t know if they would treat her differently.

I wish I could be angry about it. No, scratch that; I am angry.

Angry that she felt like she couldn’t tell her own friends because she thought they might judge her.

I sent her a message later, telling her she didn’t deserve to be afraid of her own friends like that. That I was glad she was able to talk to me. But at that moment when I realized why she was nervous to tell me, I wanted to get up and stand in front of her and protect her from whoever was feeding her the idea that having sex demonizes you.

And that’s essentially what it boils down to. Her fear comes down to the notion that a girl having sex is shameful. Girls being sexual is so vilified, so taboo, that even talking about something that was bothering my friend – a mistake during safe, consensual sex – didn’t seem like an option. What’s a scared girl to do if she can’t talk to her mom or her best friends?

It’s almost like girls are disallowed from wanting sex. It’s okay if teenage guys are vocal about being horny all the time, about getting it last night. They get bro-slapped on the back and congratulations, how was she?

(Disclaimer: I am not a guy. I am close friends with one. When he got to ‘second base’ at the tender age of 14 with a girl he liked, he told me how proud of him his guy friends were. I don’t mean to insinuate that boys have it easier on this; simply that in my experience, it is such.)

But when a girl is afraid she might get pregnant because of a mistake that can’t be blamed on anyone, despite being on birth control as well – that’s when she needs someone to stand by her. To help her through it. And how is she going to get through it if she doesn’t have someone that will support her?

Nobody deserves to be deserted. Stand by your girlfriends. Stand by your girlfriends. Don’t let anyone tell them that anything they do makes them any less of a person. Losing your virginity isn’t a monumental sign of anything except that you trust your significant other enough to take that step. Girls: don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.