The Myth We Call Virginity
By Karina Lafayette
**Content warning for myth debunking, discussion of “it”, and anatomically correct words.**
That’s my sarcasm talking.
So what is virginity anyway? It’s the idea that a person has something to lose (or gain) when having sex for the first time. But what does it really mean?
Well, for one, it means a person has to feel self-conscious about their non-sexual status. It means that there is this burden following them around that will continue to be there until they finally do it. And the best part, virginity doesn’t even exist.
But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a part of our culture, so before eradicating the word for good, let’s see why it’s a problem:
1. Virginity is only relevant to straight people
When talking about being a “virgin, we typically refer to a person who hasn’t had traditional male-to-female intercourse. It’s like saying that there is only one true way for people to express their sexuality, which is just plain homophobic. And sexist, because a man can’t ever be a virgin.
Also, for the straight couple who has experimented in every way but THAT way, it entertains this idea that other sexual acts aren’t actually sex, which is total baloney.
2. It takes the fun out of physical intimacy
Face it, when a person isn’t ready, no matter what else they have done, their imaginary virginity badge is always in the back of their mind. It’s like the boogeyman. You can’t see it, but it’s there, lurking. You could be totally wild, with handcuffs and the occasional toys, and society will still shake its head and insist on labelling you “a virgin”.
3. Did I mention how it’s sexist?
Well, it is. Sure a lot of young guys who haven’t had intercourse might call themselves a virgin, but typically that word is attached to girls and women. Since you know, there’s the almighty hymen. It becomes even more problematic when it comes to a woman’s sexual history. We assume if she’s been with:
1–4 partners, she’s decent
4 or more partners, she’s easy
0 partners, it’s expected she’s had a history of assault
While none of these are true, they are assumptions prospective partners have when it comes to finding out a gal’s past. Even worse, it feeds into the Madonna-Whore Complex.
The Madonna-Whore Complex is the ridiculous notion that the less sex a woman has had, the better a person she is. Not only does this unconsciously force her to hold herself back when it comes to pleasure, it prevents her male partner from being fully intimate with her without feeling like he’s defiling her. Because of the virginity myth, men are made to believe they can only express their sexuality with a woman they see as “cheap” or “easy”, but as soon as love is put into the mix, it’s a sin.
4. It creates unrealistic sexpectations
Because there is so much hype around a person’s first time, we get a sense that something magical happens to us once we do it. Really, once it does happen, you’re the same old person you were before. Sure it can be magical, but a lot of what people brag about in terms of sex is usually to boost their ego. It also creates an insecurity about how much someone should enjoy it, or how well they’re supposed to do it.
5. We’re basically telling girls this…
“That it’s going to hurt.” “That you won’t feel anything.” “That you’re less of a person after.” “That he’ll only stay if you do it.” “That asking for what you want makes you selfish.” And so much slut-shaming…
Which are all terrible lies. About the first one especially, the solution is lube and patience. Simple. The others, well… a lot of progress needs to be made, apparently.
6. The hymen is overrated
I grew up thinking the hymen was a layer of skin that sealed the vagina. Like, how else would a period happen? Nobody ever told me, likely because they didn’t know! Although a small percentage of girls might have an imperforate hymen, in which case surgery is needed. Beyond that, the hymen is a thin outer layer of skin, and apparently some of us are born without one. Scientists still don’t know why it even exists. (Or maybe it doesn’t ;)
Sad fact: Princess Diana had to undergo a “virginity test” at age nineteen before she was able to marry Prince Charles. And we all know what happened with that marriage…
7. But you know what doesn’t exist?
Yes, when we’re in a new couple it’s great to let each other know how many partners we’ve had. I’m all for transparency in a relationship, but what’s more important than calling someone a virgin, is to know whether one of you has an STI, to know each other’s boundaries, each other’s wants, needs… you get the picture. However if your partner hasn’t had any experience till you, please, don’t put them on a pedestal (referring to #3).
Lack of sexual prowess doesn’t make your partner perfect. There are many reasons why a person chooses to wait to have sex, and none of those are valid enough to define someone.
Sex, while wonderful, is really just another way humans express themselves. And when it comes to experience, we can do without the labels.