Like, a Virgin?

Save the virgin thing for olive oil, and let yourself focus on what matters in YOUR sex life (or lack of it).

By Bella Biddle

Do you remember that magical sexless land of innocence and purity with bunnies and white dresses that you used to live in? You know, the one before a man’s magnificent and life changing penis entered your vag and changed everything? And now you live in Slutsville, surrounded exclusively by sticky condoms, fuckboys, and shame, shunned by all who loved you before? 

No, me neither. For women especially, the ‘loss’ of their virginity is often seen as being the same as their corruption. When we talk about it, we talk about pain, blood, we talk about feeling dirty and ashamed. Whether it’s ‘saving it’ for someone important, putting women who don’t put out on some kind of morality pedestal, or on the flipside, the weird pressure at school to ‘lose it’ and get accepted into the weird club of post-sex trash ladies, we’re obsessed with the moment where p first meets v and the owner of the v will never be the same again… The patriarchy has used virginity as a way of sorting the whores from the madonnas (thank you Freud), the sluts from the prudes, and in general as a metric for valueing women. Which, ew.

Sex positive language like ‘sexual debut’ helps us reframe ‘losing your virginity’ as a positive thing, but something about it still doesn’t sit right with me. It might be because I’m dyslexic and I hate how the word ‘debut’ looks and sounds, but it also might be because I think it still puts too much pressure on that first time you have a sexual encounter. Like, you debut an album, you debut a novel, you shagged Benny for the first time – they’re not the same. Redefining the same patriarchal virginity standard in new and sexy terms kind of makes me feel like those marketing campaigns that tried to make us think that shaving our legs and dieting and getting really into cooking and cleaning were really feminist actions if we just thought about it hard enough. Besides, I think it overlooks one big problem…


What even is a virginity when it’s at home?

The point is, that even though I wouldn’t be able to recognise my virginity if it danced in front of me wearing a white dress waving a v-card, as a society we’re absolutely obsessed with it. At school we wanted to know who had *lost* their virginity, who had *taken* someone’s virginity, like we were all playing patriarchy Top Trumps.

But no matter what Google says (yikes)

your virginity isn’t a part of the body you can lose. The hymen doesn’t cover the entrance to your vagina, it doesn’t need to be broken – it stretches. 

I know that the consensus is penis-in-vagina, pop your cherry, congratulations you’re a slag now. But that really doesn’t add up (not least because I’m fairly sure I popped my hymen in gymnastics in primary school, and I’ve heard some women grow them back anyway). Everyone knows the legend of the girl who ‘only’ (ONLY???) takes it up the ass so that she is ‘technically’ a virgin. Does sucking dick count? Do toys? If you sit on someone’s lap and masturbate a lot? If you kiss with just a bit too much tongue?

What if you have a ton of penetrative sex but never cum? What if you’re making yourself cum all the time but never with a partner? Is the first scenario really the more sexy option?

There are survivors of sexual assault and rape, whose first encounter with penetration does not and cannot define the beginning of their sex life.

There are married queer couples with actual babies and mortgages and lots and lots of orgasms, who will simply never have sex that involves a penis entering a vagina because there just isn’t a penis and a vagina in the relationship, so. Surely we are not asking the elderly lesbians to redefine as virgins? 


Let’s liberate ourselves from the patriarchal definitions of what ‘counts’ in sex

If I’m totally honest, pre-sex me and post-sex me would totally vibe if they met on a time-warped night out because [spoiler alert] they’re pretty much the same person. Encountering some schlong in my teen years really didn’t radically change my life path. Madness I know.

Just like I have regular memories that I believe changed who I am as a person (the first time I travelled solo, the first time I drank a blue slushy, the first time I kept a plant alive), I also have sexy memories that really altered how I felt. I remember the first time I had sex I was super excited to have, and I remember the first time I came during masturbation, and I remember the first time I had sex with a girl as pivotal awakenings in my sex life. I honestly think I felt more different the first time I saw an erect penis than I did the first time I touched one. Your sex life is allowed to matter to you! Of course!!! And that includes the first time that you had penetrative sex, if you would like. 

Things can be valuable memories for you without society turning it in a system by which people are divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’. It’s so much more interesting to think about the whole sex thing as a collection of moments, where we’re constantly learning and growing and experiencing and have a whole future ahead of us of new sex experiences to create than it is for us to buy into a weird patriarchal standard where you’re either a naive, inexperienced, boring, frigid virgin or like, the skanky whore of sexed-up Babylon 2.0.

Save the virgin thing for olive oil, and let yourself focus on what matters in YOUR sex life (or lack of it).

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