When we think about growing up, as well as the process of adolescence, there are certain “firsts” that come to mind. First day of high school, first kiss, first time driving a car, and, of course - first time having sex. The first time having sex looks different for everyone, though. So why do we put such a high premium on the idea of virginity? What even is virginity, after all? Sorry to let you all down, but it looks to me like virginity is nothing but a construct.
When I was younger, it seemed like a pretty straightforward idea: virginity was the purity that people maintained prior to having heterosexual, penetrative sex. It was often signified by “popping your cherry”, as all my classmates would say. But cherry-popping is a myth, and so is virginity.
As I have gotten older, more (often problematic) questions have arisen: if I don’t bleed when I have sex for the first time, does that mean I was never really pure? What constitutes virginity for queer people? What about people who don’t partake in penetrative sex at all? It seems to me like virginity all goes back to the biblically-rooted, heteronormative notion that sex is an activity where a woman sacrifices her purity for a man’s pleasure, deeming the woman less pure and inexperienced, and thus less ‘desirable’. It also promotes the idea that sex is only penis-in-vagina penetration, which is just not true.
Sex can be had in many forms, and it doesn’t even need to include penetration at all. Sex is about engaging with another person (or people) in a way that promotes pleasure. Virginity is a useless term because it is void of any solid definition. This is why we need to do away with it, and center the conversation around having sex when you want to, when you are ready, and with someone who you trust & will make you feel good.