MTV VJ says NO to SEX
as told to Rosie Amodio,  from YM (Young & Modern) Magazine of November 1998

At 25, Ananda Lewis, MTV's fly VJ, hit an emotional low that sparked a lifestyle change. Fed up with guys coming on to her for the wrong reasons, she's swearing off sex for six months. Here, Ananda explains why she's gone public with her decision, and why you too might want to just say no.

"I got home from work late one recent night, fell to my knees, and had a cryfest like nothing you've ever seen. I don't know exactly what triggered it, but in a flashI realised that I was letting my insecurity about relationships screw me up. I sat down and looked at my love life: the jumping from guy to guy, the fits of jealousy, the screaming matches with boyfriends who did nothing worse than show up a few minutes late. What was up with me? I knew I needed to find out.

After doing some hard thinking, I discovered I was allowing people to value me for my physical attributes only, without insisting they know me more deeply.

I was getting involved with men for the wrong reasons and having sex without intimacy.

Suddenly I understood why I was so lonely and depressed. It was a big step for me, but I decided what I needed to do was abtain from sex while I stabilize emotionally and gained the self-confidence I lacked. I have to admit, at first I wondered, Is this too weird, since I;m not a virgin? But after some deliberation, I determined that it's never too late to decide not to have sex.

PAST IMPERFECT. From early in my life, sex and guys were a source of major confusion. My dad and mom divorced when I was 2. My mom raised my sister and me with the help of my grandmother and aunt. But I never had any one around to present a strong male figure. No one was there for me to look at and say, "This is ok guy behaviour, and this is wack." And my mom and I definitely didn't see eyes to eye, so I had no adult I could trust to talk to about sex, school, or anything I was going through. That was really tough.

Like alot of girls, I began to rely on my friends for advice. I know now that I shoulnd't have listened to the screwed-up stuff they were saying, but peer pressure can be so over-whelming. It's part of the reason I had sex too early - at age 14. My friends were going it and bragging. It seemed like I didn't have a choice.

I lost my virginity to a 19-year-old guy who was my ex-boyfriend at the time. It was a really bad experience. I didn't want to have sex with him, but he pushed me into it. I think it was his revenge on me for dumping him a few months earlier.

As I got older, my relationships never really made me feel good about myself. The guys I got involved with didn't care about me, only themselves. They had persuasive lines: "You're beautiful," "You're special," "You're the one." Why did I fall for that stuff? That's easy enough to answer: I was terribly insecure.

MOMENT OF TRUTH. So a couple of months ago, on that fateful night, I realised I was giving too much of myself to other people. That had to change. For me, that meant taking a break from sex.

I made the decision for selfish reasons, but I'm going public here because I realised I might be able to help other girls, too. I've worked with young people for ten years now and I know the kind of drama that being sexually active brings to your life. I felt that is it was good for me to take a break, it might be good for other young girls, too.

You see, I think I would be a whole different person if I hadn't had sex so early.

Everybody was saying, "Do it!" but nobody ever said, "You don't have to do it." I think hearing that would have made a huge difference in my life.

When you're young, you're just getting to know yourself. Becoming sexually involved can totally consume you; you can get so caught up with the relationship and trying to please the guy that you lose yourself, and that's really damaging. plus, you might misjudge the quality of the guy you're with. You might think he's the right person, think you have a meaningful commitment, then find out too late that it's not true, that the guy was just in it for the sex. And you end up getting hurt so badly.

Having sex is okay, but only when it's by your choice and when you really understand how it can change your life. If you're a virgin, don't rush into sex. And if you're sexually active, consider taking some time out from sex, even for a month, to give yourself a chance to think.

Now I understand that the most important thing to have with a guy you're dating is true friendship. If total trust isn't there, you definitely shouldn't be sleeping together.

ON MY OWN. As for me, these days I'm very up-front with guys I date. I tell them right off the bat that I'm celibate. And it hasn't really impacted my social life that much, though I know a few jerks will say, "Oh she's definitely gay" when I turn them down.

I'm waiting to meet the guy who makes me feel that it's okay to be myself when I'm with him. Until I totally comfortable, I would rather be alone and not sexually active. I'm at a point where I really like myself alot and want someone who likes me as much as I do.

Ananda Lewis

A few pointers:

1. A big pat on Ananda's back for being brave and honest - Inshallah, you've set a good example for the impressionable teen girls who adore you. Most people continue in lifestyles they are unhappy in because they're AFRAID to admit their friends and peers are wrong.

2. Having a stable and intact family is crucial to the healthy and happy upbringing of a child. God deeply frowns upon divorce even though He allows it. As you can see, a dysfunctional family contributed to Ananda's sorrow and straying from the right path.

3. It's also crucial for parents to establish healthy communication with their children. As Ananda says, she turned to unreliable sources of information because her mother was not there to advise her. If you are a parent, read the section on SEX EDUCATION.

4. In Islam, the Quran advises men and women to dress modestly. Ananda hated being appreciated only for her physical attributes! The Hijaab is not oppression of the Muslim woman. It is her priviledge and her right. Read the article, "You Cover your Head, not your Brains."

5. Stay away from peer pressure to have sex. Your truly good Muslim friends will tell you, "YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO" As you can see from Ananda's story - it's a BIG IRONY that the West claims the Muslim woman is oppressed!

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