Despite what society tells you, virginity is nothing but a human concept and is immeasurable. It was invented by humans and therefore its value stems from humans. What does this mean? Well, it means that virginity is an arbitrary concept. So, it can be defined however you want to define it! In the traditional sense, virginity represents the first time you have sex. There are a lot of ways you can define virginity, but the most important thing to remember is that it really doesn’t matter. Your status regarding virginity doesn’t define who you are as a person - your character, passions, and interests do.
The conversation surrounding virginity, just like sex, has been dominated by heterosexual cisgender opinions and voices for centuries. As a result, the concept of virginity is centered around heterosexual cisgender men and women. The standard narrative of virginity is having penetrative
Society has ingrained the idea that cisgender men should lose their virginity young. There is a stigma that if a man is still a virgin, it’s because he couldn’t have sex and not because he chose to wait. Thus, the term “virgin” is seen as an insult to men. As a result, men are pressured to lose their virginity young and to have sex with a lot of women. Men that have sex young or have mutliple partners are rewarded with terms like “stud” and “player”. Not only is this a very sexist and misogynistic view of sex and relationships, but it is also very homophobic.
This is a complete contrast to the idea of virginity with cisgender women. There is societal pressure for women to not lose their virginity until they’re older/married. Due to this, if a woman is a virgin, it’s assumed that she is choosing to wait and not because she hasn’t had the opportunity. The term “virgin” is seen as a compliment to women, and it comes with the pressure of “purity”. Thus, women that have sex young or have multiple partners are often looked down on - chastized with terms like “whore”, “slut”, and “hoe”.
Being aware of this double standard will help you break these expectations. People should not be judged for their sexual experiences. If you want to have lots of sex - go for it! If you want to wait to have sex until you’re married - great! As long as the sex is safe and consensual, you should do what you want with your body (and it really isn’t anyone else’s business either)!
There are a ton of myths surrounding virginity that you probably have been told most of your adolescent life. Let’s debunk these myths once and for all.
One of the main misconceptions around losing your virginity is that you have to be in love. This is not true. While many people choose to have sex for their first time with someone they’re in a relationship with, it’s also perfectly normal to have sex your first time with someone you don’t know super well. As long as you’re safe and comfortable, there is no right way to have sex for the first time.
A lot of popular media puts emphasis on losing your virginity. It is often portrayed as the hallmark event of youth, however, this really isn’t true. In reality, having sex for the first time is only as important as you deem it to be. Some people think of sex as a way to get closer with or connect to their significant other. Other people just want to experience sex for the first time whether its with someone they know well or not. In reality, there is a large range of normal when it comes to your first time. Just do what feels right for you.
A false assumption about virginity and sex for people with vaginas is that your hymen breaks the first time you have penatrative sex. Thus, having an intact hymen is seen as the biological definer of virginity. However, that is simply not accurate as hymens vary from person to person and do not necessarily “break” with penetration. Your hymen (if you even have one) will typically tear/stretch as you grow older and activities such as riding a horse, cliff diving, gymnastics, and more can speed this process along.
A common misconception is that you cannot get pregnant the first time that you have sex. This is not true - any time someone with a penis and someone with a vagina (and uterus) have sex, there is always a possibility of pregnancy. Even if your first time doesn’t involve a penis and vagina, STDs and STIs can be transmitted anytime you have sex. This is why you should always use protection! (link here for resources on protection)
A misconception about sex most people hold is that the first time will hurt. While minor discomfort is common, your first time should not be extremely painful! For people with vaginas, discomfort can come from the stretching and/or tearing of the hymen which is also commonly associated with bleeding. However, the real main contributor to pain from sex is due to nerves and a lack of lubrication. While this mainly leads to pain during sex (especially during penetration) for people with vaginas, this can also lead to pain for people with penises. However, don’t worry there are different ways to solve this issue:
While virginity is a problematic concept, it is important to know when you are ready to engage in sex with someone. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself before having sex.
This is probably the most important question to answer. Comfort and safety are crucial when it comes to intimacy and sexual activity. If you feel comfortable with your partner, your sexual experience will be more enjoyable. At the end of the day, your safety is the most important thing to prioritize. If you feel safe with them then that is a good indicator that you are ready to have sex.
If the answer is “yes, I want to have sex because it is something I want to do” - then great news you are probably ready! Some common answers to this question that indicate that you aren’t ready might include:
This can feel like a really uncomfortable topic. At the end of the day, you have no obligation to talk to your parents about sex and the sexual activities that you engage in. However, there might be some conversations that come up while you are still living under your parent’s roof. Here are some possible topics and good ways to navigate them:
People with a vagina and uterus might want to go on some form of birth control before they have sex with a person with a penis for the first time to alleviate any stresses about an unplanned pregnancy. Talking to your parent/guardian about going on preventative birth control shows a lot of maturity. They should respect you for showing that responsibility. Here are some ways to approach this conversation:
You might be comfortable talking to your parent/guardian about sex, but if you aren’t, this can be an uncomfortable conversation especially if your parent/guardian catches you off guard. However, remember that you have every right to keep your sex life private. Here are some possible responses to your parents:
The language on this topic implies that everyone has sex at some point. Some people are asexual and never want to have sex - this is totally okay and normal!
Sources: Planned Parenthood