Virginity has been a prevalent topic in society for ages, but as far as how the topic can be interpreted, different opinions can skew what it actually means to be a virgin, especially in this day and age.
The idea of losing one’s virginity comes from the thought of having sex with someone for the first time. This can apply to any gender you see fit, but the pressures of virginity happen to fall on those who identify as women as far as history is concerned.
Even in early ages, abstaining from sex meant holding on to one’s virginity and remaining pure so to say. Bedding rituals were common in early Europe as a way to show a marriage was consummated. There may be different explanations for why people would need to watch a marriage consummation back in the day, but the main reason, to be presumed, was to see if the bride would bleed, showing that her groom was the first person she had ever been with sexually.
The societal concern with whether a woman has had sex before still remains a barbaric practice in modern times.
We can go as far to mention the situation with rapper T.I. and his daughter. The father of a 19-year-old girl still feels the need to visit her gynecologist to see if her hymen is intact and she is still a virgin.
This can beg the question; what qualifies as losing your virginity?
The anatomy related answer could be the moment a woman’s hymen ‘breaks’ the first time she has sex. But, there are flaws here. To begin, the hymen never actually ‘breaks’, but more so stretches itself. Along with this, a sexual encounter is not the only way to stretch a hymen.
The hymen is a thin membrane that can be stretched through common activities like horseback riding or gymnastics. In fact, some women are born without a hymen at all. The societal significance placed on this part of the body is part of the pressures applied to the concept of virginity.
With that, if stretching the hymen is a sign of losing virginity, then there is no identifier for those who identify as male. The double standard can be seen from a mile away.
The concept of virginity also remains a heteronormative practice, especially in modern times. For heterosexual women, the first time you experience penetration is considered the first time you have sexual intercourse. This can even apply to homosexual men, even if the penetration is in a different way. For women sleeping with other women, the lines may blur.
Sex is such a personal concept that can range from vaginal intercourse to penetration to oral. The concept is flexible in that it has different interpretations in itself, so if each person has a different viewing of sex, there are bound to be different ways to see virginity. For LGBTQ+ couples, having sex can mean more than just any of those words.
The idea that a man and a woman have to complete vaginal intercourse to lose their virginities is exclusive and backward thinking as it is such a narrow concept to push onto every couple who participates in sex.
Sexual intercourse can depend on connections deeper than physical for some couples, to invalidate that and claim men or women who have not experienced the straight normative of sex are virgins is not accurate.
To have societal pressures of losing your virginity can include talk about how old is too old to be a virgin. Age pressures are part of the reason there is a universal discourse on the subject.
Controversies as far as losing your virginity too young can be brought with backlash, but the same goes for people who lose their virginity too old in society’s eyes. There is no perfect gap of time to have sex for the first time, whether that follows certain belief systems or not. The only person who can gauge when the perfect time to lose your virginity comes is you.
The social construct of virginity can be harmful in multiple communities and cause stress or pressure to young people still trying to find their place in society. Relieving these pressures would mean to stop considering sex and virginity as one thing in itself and leave the concept open to interpretation.
Graphic by Juana Garcia