Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Virginity has always been considered something very consequential across cultures and generations. However, “virginity” is not a medical term. Instead, it is conceptual, i.e., a social construct because sexuality is shaped mainly by social processes at the individual and cultural levels. When we have sex for the first time, we do not lose anything. It does not revamp our identity; it is neither a life-altering milestone nor affects our stature. It is simply a novel life experience. Some people interpret virginity as a gift. Others, as a stigma, while some people plump for the idea of looking at it as a process. It is essential to dispel the myths and deconstruct the ideas surrounding the traditional cognizance of ‘virginity.’ This requires us to trace back to the birth of the term.
It has been found that the term “virginity” has a Greek origin. However, virgin Mary is equated with purity and chastity, implying that a woman could only carry “god” in her womb if she was “pure.” This definition came to express itself in a patriarchal society wherein men began to seek “pure” and “virgin” women to bear their children. This shows that virginity is a harmful social construct created by purity culture to control women’s sexual expression and autonomy. Thus, the very concept of virginity is grounded in patriarchy and has no scientific basis.
Secondly, the very foundation of the concept of virginity is based on the tearing of hymen, which is ironically a myth. The hymen is a membrane surrounding the vaginal opening.
Hymens are thick at birth. However, that thick lining wears over time. The myth is that an intact hymen determines someone’s virginity. A torn hymen indicates that someone has had sex already. Tears in the hymen can occur through sports play, inserting tampons, and masturbation. Even if someone has not had sex yet, they can still have a “torn” hymen. This only further proves the vanity of using the concept to ascertain someone’s worth. It is due to the so-called biological foundation being biased against women and is also erroneous.
Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the perception of virginity in our modern society is fascinating as it seems to vary across generations and genders. For example, on the one hand, virginity is still seen as the pinnacle of purity for young people in India when it comes to marriage. Most members of gen X and gen Y to date support the regressive idea of the necessity of women to be virgins at the time of marriage. Young vagina owners are conditioned to believe that they will be deemed “useless” and “overused” if they have sex before marriage or with multiple partners. Another misconception popular among the masses is that there must be vaginal bleeding and pain if a woman is having sex for the first time, as it “shows” the partner that they were a virgin. This is accompanied by a blatant double standard since penis owners are not held accountable for staying “pure” until marriage. Vagina owners are shamed if they have multiple sexual partners, while penis owners are celebrated for the same. What makes this hypocrisy worse is the desperation with which Indian men seek a “virgin” wife to settle down with. Another unfortunate concomitant contradiction is seen in cases of rape, wherein rape victims are told they “Lost their virginity to a rapist.” This view implies that rape is seen as sex rather than a violent non-consensual act. Victims are made to feel worthless because someone “took” from them what belonged to their “husbands”. It further insinuates that women’s bodies do not and will possibly never truly belong to us. This regrettable notion about sex and virginity happens to contrast the one that is held by members of the recent generations, that paradoxically think that having sex early means attaining a predominant life milestone which translates into a sexually active young adult being perceived as “cool” or “experienced.” For example, young boys ostentatiously use terms like “chad” to refer to themselves thus taking pride in the fact that they have been sexually involved with multiple girls which gives them a more “respectable” ranking among their peers and makes them feel superior or more manly or than others. This is followed by toxic tendencies such as shaming peers who are not sexually experienced by a certain age. It directly or indirectly puts pressure on them to desperately seek someone to be physically involved with and get rid of the virginity label to be perceived as “cool” by their peers. This is an example of casual virgin shaming, and it is way more normalized and common than it should be. Teenagers tend to give needless importance to something merely a man-made concept. They base their personality or identity on wanting to be sexually active, which manifests as an unhealthy expression of their sexual desires that may interfere with their personality development in future.
Most importantly, the conventional definition of virginity is entirely heteronormative. According to the definition, one loses their virginity when they have penetrative, vaginal sex with a penis. This ignores many people’s preferences, desires, and lived sexual experiences. Doing so enforces a very particular heteronormative idea of sex and relationships in society. This further alienates the queer community and deems the value of sex within the LGBT community as not legitimate. Therefore, sex should be redefined as ‘anything that makes someone feel sexually aroused’. This implies that sex doesn’t just have to be between a man with a penis and a woman with a vulva. It can occur between people of varying genders - the same or different from each other. It can occur between people with different or the same types of genitalia, even using various body parts.
From the preceding points, it is evident that sex means different things to distinct people and that there is no right or wrong way to have it. Thus, “I lost my virginity” is a phrase we need to stop using. There is nothing to lose here.It is only a new experience that is gained. Why is it just a concept used to keep women in line? Why do you think it needs to be discarded?