Losing Virginity Is Good… No Biggie… Shameful

Artemis, the virgin goddess

Artemis, the virgin goddess

By Anna Oseguera 

About a year ago I was talking with a friend of mine, “Maria,” and the topic of sex and virginity came up. Maria said that when she was 18 years old a male friend of hers offered to “do her the favor” of taking her virginity.

That puzzled us. “Do her the favor” of taking her virginity?

Did he think that she couldn’t find anyone to have sex with because he thought she wasn’t attractive enough? And why would she want to lose her virginity, anyway? Isn’t virginity a good thing? Something to be saved until marriage?

A little later the topic of sex came up among some other friends of mine. Still curious, I asked the guys how they felt about virginity from a sexually active male point of view.

Losing virginity: something to get out of the way

The guys basically seemed to say that virginity is something you need to get out of the way. And that once you lose it, it’s no big deal.

One of them said he wouldn’t mind taking mine so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore!

I was shocked that someone would think of virginity as a burden.

I straight up told them that I neither worried about it, nor thought of it as a burden. I simply have not found the right person to share it with. And I’m not the type of person that would give it to just anyone.

They were puzzled as to why I wasn’t trying to get it over with already.

Virginity means nothing?

Increasing my perplexity, I read “The Cult of Virginity” by Jessica Valenti. The part that really got me was where she said that virginity doesn’t really exist. And that there is no real medical definition for it. People have been making assumptions about its definition this whole time.

For instance, some people take virginity oaths and then do oral or anal sex to avoid losing virginity thru intercourse. But if having intercourse constitutes losing virginity, then gays and lesbians can never loose theirs, right?

When I read this I remembered what the guys were saying, that they didn’t think virginity was any big deal. And now I find out that there isn’t even a clear medical definition? It kind of made me feel sad. As a virgin, I wondered what the point of it all was, anyway?

Growing up, I was taught that virginity was something to be treasured. Something to one day share with your significant other on the day you vow to be together forever. So I had planned to hold out for the right person, and have sex for the right reasons. Not just rush into things.

But now Maria and I began wondering: After everything we were taught growing up, why didn’t anyone care about it anymore? Or, had it really meant something in the first place?

Losing virginity: shameful

But even as I heard that virginity meant nothing, I also remembered high school, where rumors were spread about girls who messed around with this or that dude. After a guy got what he wanted from a girl, her “value” went down.

And I have seen a friend’s broken heart after some guy did her wrong. She thought it meant something but he didn’t.

Or, some of my friends thought that they needed to stay in unhealthy relationships because they had lost their virginity to the guy.

On the other side, if a young woman didn’t have sex she was a tease.

A double standard that disempowers women

One thing that I can see is disempowering for women is being held to a double standard that says men are free to have sex but women should not… Or should… Or … who knows????

It’s disempowering to be in a confusing, no-win situation.

I suppose that the way to become empowered is to follow my own sense of what feels right for me. Regardless of what anyone else says.

This was written by one of my students who asked me to use pen name.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 10, 2016, in sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Your student was pretty wise. I’d say the idea to do what feels right for her applies to lots of things.

  2. Interesting perspective. I hadn’t thought of virginity as a social construct before. So much meaning is placed on it – and the conflicting messages girls get about it. I love the author’s decision to listen to her own intuition and to follow her own values.

  3. I didn’t “lose” my virginity – I “gave” it to my husband on our wedding night, 14 years ago. I never met anyone I wanted to “go that far” with until I met him anyway. There is too much pressure to “lose” one’s virginity and I endured years of being asked if I was a lesbian because I didn’t date men – I just wasn’t interested until I found my soulmate. People told me I was wasting myself because I wasn’t sleeping around. But I believe I did the right thing. I didn’t have any bad experiences so all my sexual experiences have been brilliant!

    • Yay you! It can be difficult to express our sexuality in authentic ways with so much pressure coming from so many different sides. I celebrate people like you and my student who listen to their inner voice about what’s right for them.

    • I commend you for not following the crowd. Remember, if you follow the crowd, you will end up like the crowd. Do it your way. Have no regrets.

      Cheers!

  4. This is news to me too – men asking to get it out of the way! I kept mine till i got married, never tried myself or asked of any women i befriended.

  5. theburningheart

    I remember to heard many years ago that virginity may produce cancer, then some jokers would print cards, or produce signs saying: “Virginity produce cancer, vaccination provided here free of charge, please apply.”
    Another friend of mine when his bride to be, asked him what he would think if she wasn’t a virgin he answered: What I suppose to do with a virgin anyway. light candles to her like in church?

    Now I am not callous, certainly the topic does not seem to be as important as it was when a woman would suffer shame, and rejection if she would lose her virginity before marriage.
    My opinion people should do it for love, not to get it out of the way, but in my view it’s not a topic you should ask for a referendum as to what you should do?

    It’s totally a matter of personal choice, and your own judgment on the matter, hopefully if you are mature enough you would do the right choice, if you are asking what to do, obviously you are still immature.

    Are double standards for men and women?

    You bet!
    As a male when young it was a batch of honor to lose your virginity ASAP

    For women to protect and save it until marriage, otherwise you may face shame and condemnation, or at least a not too happy husband, there is no doubt depending on the place you live, and the moral codes prevailing at the place, not the same in different countries, and societies, and different groups of people within the society ,like in the case of very observant religious people versus not practicing, or non believers.

    And no doubt the fact you can protect yourself against pregnancy now days a lot easier than in the past, its a factor to render the subject less of an issue..

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about all of this. I hate to say that that vaccination thing is actually kind of funny. So important to follow what is authentic to us!

  6. “One thing that I can see is disempowering for women is being held to a double standard that says men are free to have sex but women should not…”

    Yes, but there is also an equally pernicious double standard at work for men: women are encourage to explore and experiment sexually with multitudes of different men to find out what works for them sexually. Or to simply check off their bucket list. When men do this, we are often accused of objectifying women.

    • This isn’t true: “women are encourage to explore and experiment sexually with multitudes of different men to find out what works for them sexually.”

      Women get very mixed messages. Some people DO say what you just wrote. Yet all of my students have also witnessed or experienced slut-shaming. Women end up in a bind where no matter what they do they are told it is “Wrong.” So men and women must do what is right for them.

  7. Virginity, like so many other values in life, is fast losing its charm as a cherished concept even in conservative societies. Ideally these things are best left to the individual concerned. An aware student and an understanding and broadminded teacher, as in the given situation, is the right prescription that will take societies forward.

    • The only good sexuality is authentic sexuality. That can mean different things to different people. I get really annoyed when people try to convince others that their way is the best (for some reason people tend to think that however they want to do sex is how everyone else does, or should).

  8. I’m going to ask a question here which is a slight expantion on another post that was commented on. My friend I mentioned in a previous post actually disclosed to me that she wasn’t a vergin which poses this question for me as far as asking questions goes re relationship status or talking about disclosure. If you are getting to know somebody with the intention of possibly being in a relationship with that person is it appropriate for virginity to be disclosed or is that a no go zone when it comes to asking questions? The friend I mentioned who often said she’d like to be in a relationship with me and my reluctance to commit disclosed to me early on that she wasn’t a vergin now I would never even have sex with anybody unless my intentions were to be in a relationship and even consider starting a family I would never go out there just to have casual sex although this friend did ask me would I ever consider having sex with a friend and my answer was no simply because I had no experience and I was confused about the varying opinions and because any sex education was severely lacking in school and I was too ashamed to ask about the facts of life to my own parents fear of rejection probably plays a huge role in this too and I guess this probably has nothing to do with the post but it’s just where my mind is at when it comes to asking questions.

    • So I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking whether you should ask about virginity? I think that if virginity is important to you you can let the person you’re interested in know that. But I wouldn’t ask if they are virgins.

  9. I was more asking whether there is ever an appropriate time for virginity to be disclosed it’s not something that should be disclosed if you first meet somebody that’s what I’m trying to say I was somewhat of the idea that by the age of 29 or 30 there would have been a lot of people who had experienced having sex generally speaking I actually said this to a taxi driver thank god it was just the two of us and we were being discrete and his response was “you never know” but that probably doesn’t have a lot to do with this post but to summarise, the question was whether there is an appropriate time for virginity to ever be disclosed it’s more about appropriateness than anything else.

  10. I sort of expect most people to have pretty messed up ideas on the subject. Unfortunately, it does appear that some authors who focus on sexuality don’t do much better. Damned shame to see.

  11. Virginity as a whole is a concept with very little relevance anymore. Old-timey standards have a pattern in which women should be submissive (to their husbands or men in general, depending on the context). Scientifically a person’s body doesn’t change whether said person has had sex or not, which really leaves the concept of virginity to be exactly that – a concept, nothing more. It holds no scientific bearing, it’s just one more way to shame women and men alike into having or not having sex.

    Moreover, the concept of virginity just sets women up to be shamed. If a woman remains a virgin and/or abstains from sex she’s a prude, and if she doesn’t she’s a slut. It’s shocking how many times I’ve overheard men complaining that their girlfriends won’t put out, but upon seeing a woman who enjoys wearing more revealing clothes and partaking in sex (you know, that thing that said men wish their girlfriends would do) it’s all “have some self respect” – you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Virginity is an outdated social construct designed to control women and keep men on top (pun somewhat intended), nothing more.

    (Somewhat related, This reminds me of a Tumblr post that said something along the lines of “If men are supposed to have lots of sex, but women aren’t, and being gay is supposedly wrong, then really society is just telling men to go f*ck themselves!”)

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