Sex and the University: Virgin territory
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 23:10
Virginity is a double-edged sword—if you lose it “too early” or have sex too often, you’re a slut. If you lose it “too late” (or don’t have a high sex drive), then something’s wrong with you. Both virgins and non-virgins alike feel pressure from society to have performed the act by a certain time, as if your sexual maturation can only begin with the infiltration of someone’s genitalia.
The concept of virginity is a social one, as well as a heteronormative idea. The first definition that Merriam-Webster dictionary gives for sexual intercourse/coitus is “a heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis.” This excludes both gay men and lesbians from the definition, making it come across as if their sexual experiences are less valid if they do not have the according genitals, or if the experience doesn’t include some sort of penetration. This perpetuates the idea of sex only being ‘real sex’ if it’s between a cisgendered man and woman. This also limits the range of sexual activity; if intercourse involves the permeation of something, then this leaves out oral and anal sex. What exactly would those qualify as? Lesser virginities? It’s preposterous.
The definition of coitus also creates the idea of property; virginity is described as being something that you either “own” or have “lost,” which alludes to the idea that when you have sex, you are somehow losing a vital part of yourself that can never be gotten back. The term “deflowering” also commonly used to refer to having your first sexual experience, which carries destructive undertones (as if having sex consists of someone treating “virginity” like a plant and pulling it up by the roots). These beliefs encourage a feeling of shame, as well as the impression of virginity being a physical and/or biological state, although this is more used to reference female bodies rather than men’s. Specifically, it denotes to the hymen, which can wear away at any point in a woman’s development by the way of sports, childhood accidents, masturbation or even gradually coming undone during puberty. Some women’s hymens stay intact even after giving birth, and some are just born without one.
There also appear to be age limits on sex. A student that I asked responded that 18 was the ideal age to have sex because “you’re adult enough”, while another mentioned that “16 is alright”. However, one girl mentioned that even though the vast majority of people believe that it doesn’t matter when you have your first sexual experience, aging without having had it made certain conversations uncomfortable. “You’re not supposed to care, but people do,” she sighed, “but people are weird about it if you haven’t had sex yet and you’re, like, in your 20s or something.” Strangely enough, only one person stated that age had less to do with it than the degree of comfort the people had with each other’s bodies and their own, as well as the amount of sex education they had received and risks they knew how to avoid.
Virginity is nothing more than a notion constructed by society, and it’s outdated to presume that it will cause any significant changes to you as a person, or that you’ve suffered some sort of loss by having a sexual experience. You can’t be in possession of a ‘precious gift’ if, in fact, you’ve never received it in the first place.