To get personal, when recalling my first time having sex, the first thing I remember thinking was ‘that felt nice, but I don’t feel any different’. Sure, I was happy I had experienced something pleasurable and intimate with someone who meant a lot to me, but nothing changed about who I was. I didn’t feel like something had been taken from me, nor did I feel like I had accessed a new stage of enlightenment.
This was when I realised that everything I had learned surrounding the topic of my ‘first time’ had been centred around the label of being a ‘virgin’. Then it hit me- never having had sex didn’t signify anything about my character, because I am now standing on the other side as exactly the same person with the same values and sense of self-worth as before. I was never a virgin; I had just never had sex before.
Virginity isn’t something in us all waiting to be removed- it is something we have created. And we can’t get rid of it because it simply doesn’t exist.
Not only that, but the notion of ‘virgin’ has produced so many lies about what sex actually means and what the act of having sex is. Here are a few things that I came to realise when doing ‘it’:
Virginity is Sexist
Virginity is pretty much a concept that was created as way to measure the value of females throughout history and across various religions: as the ‘weaker’ sex, women were dominated and marriage was their destiny. But how does one know which woman is of good ‘quality’? Well, just like a car or that super cute blouse on eBay: how ‘used up’ she is. This may sound old fashioned, but this idea has undoubtedly seeped into our culture. With such a strong history, even the most non-religious of us girls find it hard to not link our moral worth and reputation to sex.
But that isn’t dismissing the fact that men too experience negative backlash from this societal label. Whilst girls are judged for having sex, guys are judged for not having sex. Rarely do you hear guys say “she took my virginity.” Rarely do you hear a guy admit they “wish they didn’t lose it to her” – because all that matters is that they did it.
This gender divide that virginity has created surrounding sex is nonsense. Sex is a physical act that both genders were pretty much born to do: it is utter nonsense that it carries any proof of worth or morality. You wouldn’t call the lioness on Animal Planet a slut, just as you wouldn’t commend it for having sex with just one lion – so why do the same for the girl who is debating whether to have sex on the first date? (Weird analogy I know, but you get what I mean).Virginity is Homophobic
Virginity is also a heteronormative idea, meaning it only applies to heterosexual intercourse, i.e. a penis in a vagina (or perhaps a vagina engulfing a penis). Therefore, sex between two men or two women wasn’t always perceived as ‘real’ sex. But as society has progressed and recognised that homosexual relationships are not different to heterosexual ones, the 21st century no longer has room for virginity. Our culture has realised that sex doesn’t stand for one simple act anymore; that ‘making love’ is between two people who love one another. As we have slowly come to realise this, the term virginity has now been expanded to LGBT relationships. Yet doesn’t the very nature of virginity as ever-changing and expanding across social groups highlight its socially constructed nature.Nothing Actually Changes
The most common misconception still shared amongst people is that to point out who the virgin is, you can simply take a peek at whether their hymen has been ‘torn’. But this just isn’t true. The hymen does not act as some sort of sheet covering your vaginal opening – otherwise virgins wouldn’t be able to bleed during their periods. Therefore a penis can’t tear into the hymen- it is in fact stretched, and any stretching or ‘damage’ to the hymen can be caused by non-sexual acts too. Some girls are even born without a hymen (which is totally normal). Now, as a mere social science student I am not inclined to provide further scientific explanations as to how a ‘virgin’ body and a ‘non-virgin’ body do not differ by comparison, but check out this video and you’ll realise ‘virginity’ is not something that can be seen – and therefore it doesn’t really exist.Your first time can mean anything you want it to mean. Yes, another human seeing your naked human body can be a big deal for some – even something meaningful or ‘special’. Therefore, it can feel appropriate to wait and choose someone with whom you share a close bond. That’s great. But if you don’t want to wait, and see your ‘first time’ as another pleasurable act experienced ‘safely’ between two or more people, then that’s just as okay. If you don’t care for sex and don’t plan on ever doing it, then guess what? That’s okay too.
Sex serves two purposes: creating pleasure and making babies – it doesn’t make you more or less attractive, mature or even a ‘good’ or ‘bad person’. Sex is what you make of it, and that’s the most beautiful thing about it.
Edited by Tia Ralhan