Virginity: A Social Construct
Relationships are changing, society is changing (however slow the progress may be), and so is the way we think about sex. Our old definitions are limiting.
So, if our definitions of sex are evolving, then what does that mean for virginity?
Losing your virginity has long been seen as a rite of passage into “adulthood.”
Some believe it is sacred and should only be given to a person you love, some sell it for millions of dollars online, and some aren’t even sure if they still have theirs.
If that’s the case, how are we supposed to measure it?
A better question is: why are we measuring it at all? Because, somewhere along the lines, society wanted us to.
It keeps the shame and stigmas around sex and sexuality alive, confuses those of us who aren’t heterosexual, and puts pressures on us as we grow up. That’s not even all of it.
You can choose to believe in it or not, that’s your choice. For some, being able to attest when they lost their virginity (or still having it) is comforting, ensuring that it’s one of life’s big moments. For others, it’s not that sex isn’t a big deal, but it doesn’t fit their life timeline in the same way.
Personally, the first time I had sex was not one of romance, orgasms, or even privacy, for that matter. I’d rather akin losing my virginity to the first time I actually enjoyed the sex I was having. Back then, I thought I was enjoying it every time, but in hindsight, it wasn’t actually good until a few partners later.
So, let’s look at what the constructs of society have made “virginity” out to be, and why this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Doesn’t Cover Everyone:
First and foremost, the typical definition of losing your virginity, is penetrative sex between a penis and a vagina. So what if your sex doesn’t involve a penis? Or a vagina? Does that mean you’ll be a virgin forever? No, it doesn’t.
Not only does it not cover the myriad of relationships in the world, it completely leaves out oral sex. Is it sex, or is it not? If you’ve gone down on someone, is your virginity still in tact? Did you not, in fact, have sex? This one all depends on how you personally define oral.
Virginity itself, is too heteronormative.
The Double Standard:
When it comes to losing your v-card, society has long decided that, for women, it is a valuable thing that should be treasured and only be given to the love of your life. Once it’s gone, your value has somehow depreciated. And, the more sex you have, the more your value goes down (a.k.a. slut-shaming).
For men, on the other hand, it is something you’re expected to lose as soon as you can, and you’ll be praised and high-fived when it’s gone. Then, the more sex you have, the more “masculine” you become.
This ideology puts so much pressure on us. Pressure for men who don’t want to have sex the first chance they get, even if all their friends have that mentality. Pressure for women who may not have found love yet, but are curious what all hubbub is about. And definitely pressure for nonbinary people because what side are they even supposed to choose – the glory or the shame?
The thing is, having sex for the first time is all about you as an individual. When you feel like you’re ready, when you want to do it, and in the way you want it to happen. Yet, because society hasn’t fully accepted the sex positive approach to life, it seems like the decision doesn’t lie solely in our own hands.
Only “Before & After” Moment Measured:
Have you ever thought about your life in “before and after” the big moments? Like, before and after you could walk, before and after you ever went to school, or before and after you ever had a job? We don’t have terms for any of these momentous occasions, but for some reason, we need one for before and after we have sex.
Why is this the one thing we need to define? Besides sexual experience, what difference does this information really make? It’s not something that affects our work ethic, how skilled we are at our hobbies, the friendships we have, our relationships to our families (or at least it shouldn’t).
If you’ve ever felt the pressures of the concept of virginity, you’re not alone. Don’t fret on what it means or if you don’t know how you would define it because it is all up to you. There shouldn’t be a term for it, it should be a simple “have had sex” or “haven’t had sex.”