“So have you lost your v-card yet?” “No, I haven’t.” “Wait, what?! You are 20 and you haven’t had sex?” This was a common response that I received when virginity and sex came up. Virginity is an idea that is socially constructed. Yes I said it, it is socially constructed. The concept of virginity has changed and developed throughout time. Currently virginity is something we value in young people; however, it seems that once you hit a certain age, let’s say 18, you are expected to have “lost that card.” This seems very problematic to me.
Problem number one with the idea of virginity is that is always framed as the loss of something. We discuss virginity with the notion of “losing your v-card” or by “being deflowered.” This makes the act of having sex for the first time incredibly scary, especially for women. Women are made to believe that the first time you have sex it will be painful and bloody. However, there are ways to avoid this and it is also not true for most women. Reframing this conversation about virginity and having sex for the first time is essential to changing these ideas and conceptions about this issue. If we can reframe this, then we wouldn’t have to talk about having sex as “losing something,” but perhaps as gaining an experience.
The second problem with the conversation of virginity is that it comes from ancient times. This moral idea came from the middle ages when men wanted to know that the children they were raising were actually their blood. If you promote the notion of virginity for women and that a woman must be a virgin when they are married, it allows men to know that their children are actually their own blood. But the question is: why has this ancient idea stuck around for so long? Why do we still define virginity in ancient and rather barbaric terms? This is another reason we should be rethinking and revaluating what virginity is and how we define it.
The third problem is that there is no one universal definition of virginity. There are certain acts, such as oral sex, that are understood differently. Some people believe the act of any type of penetration counts as sex, so then oral sex could count. However, others do not agree with this statement. Then it becomes more complicated when you add same-sex couples into the mix. How do you define the “loss of virginity” in this context when there isn’t a penis and vagina involved? Then the definition of penetration seems to become less important. So again there is a problem with how we understand and define virginity.
It seems to me that we really need to start redefining and reevaluating what it means to be a virgin, lose your virginity and have sex for the first time. We also need to stop judging people by this label. If someone has sex then we shouldn’t be judging him/her for his/ her choice, and vice versa. We should not assume people who want to wait to have sex are prudes. Sex is a very personal thing and we should allow each person to make the decision about having sex or not having sex without societal pressures.
Every person should make the decision about having sex for the first time for themselves. Everyone has a right to make this decision without feeling pressured into anything. Do what is right for you and not what is right for your friends or your parents or your teachers. It is not this scary and terrifying thing that should be feared, but it is something that is taken seriously by many people. I hope everyone can rethink their ideas about virginity the next time they think or talk about it.