Virgins and Cults and Morals, Oh My!

How does one lose virginity?

By Kyle Welsh

Virginity, or the lack thereof, plays a big role in how we treat women.

From religious practices to traditional lifestyles, high value is placed on women who have never had sex.

In The Cult of Virginity Jessica Valenti talks about the “virginity mystery” – that is, the realization that there is no medical or social definition for what a virgin actually is. 

Well, a virgin has never had sex, right?

Then how do you define sex?

As Valenti points out,

If it’s just heterosexual intercourse, then we’d have to come to the fairly ridiculous conclusion that all lesbians and gay men are virgins.

What counts as losing virginity?

There are countless sexual acts that don’t involve penetration or even pleasure for both (or all; no judgement here) parties involved.

How do you define something with such a broad range of options?

I’ve always considered it to be a personal choice; each person decides for themselves whether or not what they’ve done counts as sex.

You’ve given oral sex but don’t think it counts? Congratulations, you’re a virgin.

You’ve rubbed up against someone and had an orgasm and think it counts? Congratulations, you’ve lost your virginity.

It ain’t sex unless you orgasm

But I can get behind Valenti’s definition: “It isn’t sex unless you’ve had an orgasm.”

This definition is inclusive to non-heterosexuals, all genders, and places some responsibility on men to please their partners. Anyone who knows me knows that the one thing I hate more than anything is bad sex in which one person doesn’t get to achieve orgasm.

Can you blame me? It’s not just disrespectful and hurtful, it’s just plain rude.

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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 November 12, 2018, in sex and sexuality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. I can completely get behind the idea that virginity, especially in religious families, does cause women to be more desirable to men whether we agree with that or not. I remember having a conversation where my mother asked if my girlfriend was a virgin (she is a very religious Catholic) and I asked why would that matter when I myself am not one. She proceeded to tell me it was more acceptable for a man to not be a virgin instead of the woman. The idea that virginity is intact if there is no penetration is an old way of thinking. With the more accepted LGBTQ community, virginity has a different meaning for each individual. If it wasn’t for psychological and physical problems that prevent people from orgasm I would have agreed with Valenti. Masturbating and orgasming through that also be definition would mean a loss of virginity, which I believe would have a stronger rejection.

  2. The word virgin historically meant unmarried. In some ways, it was a word that holds the meaning of strength, so my question is more towards why in recent society we have given this word something less meaningful than its actual meaning? The new definition of the word virgin is nothing but a human invention, so why do we put so much emphasis on a person’s value, especially women, when it comes to their “virginity?” Even defining what it means to “lose” one’s virginity is odd.

    Though I must agree, that for some odd reason, people in society put a value on women based on their sexual experience. It’s undeniable, but again, why is it so? Why are we so consumed on determining value over a biological need and reaction when it’s just something humans do? Truthfully, I don’t believe in this idea of a virginity. I myself grew up in a Mexican household, but I was also raised Catholic, and additionally I am a woman. However, I became an atheist and am less emotional than those around me, meaning I see things objectively instead of subjectively. Instead I see it as you either have sex because you want to, or you don’t because you don’t want to. Are people entitled to how many or how little you have sex with? No, they don’t pay your bills. This is a tricky subject really, well maybe to those who perceive it differently. I on the other hand just see no point in giving value into a concept that diminishes people’s worth.

    • Yes, there used to be “Virgo (virgin)” which meant unmarried woman and “Virgo intacta (virgin intacta)” which means a woman who hasn’t had sex. Over time women began to be judged by the state of their virginity, only using the second meaning and forgetting the first one.

      This article might give you insight into why that has happened (it’s all related to patriarchy – – a system that privileges men):

      How’s The Double Standard Make Sense?

  3. This post definitely opens up the floor for an interesting discussion! It made me realize that while we each might have a general idea of virginity, there really is no concrete definition for it. Let’s circle back to your opening statement: “Virginity, or lack thereof, plays a big role in how we treat women.” You are absolutely right, and this manifests in a lot of different ways across different cultures. On a personal note, the fact that women are being treated differently based on something as broad as the concept of virginity just doesn’t make sense to me. It all feeds into promoting “saving yourself” until marriage, but not all women (or all individuals, for any matter) want that. Shaming individuals who engage in and enjoy sex outside of marriage just isn’t something that’s constructive. We need to move away from the idea that a woman is less valuable if she loses her virginity before marriage, especially since our society’s ideas of virginity are so arbitrary anyway.

  4. Monique Tiscareno

    This is an interesting topic because I grew up Catholic and it was impressed upon us at an early age that we are not to have sex until we get married in the church before God. They never explained what sex was so like in the article it could have been a number of things that we could have lost our virginity from. So their directions were “ don’t do anything” with a boy or course they thought only sex could be heterosexual.
    Now I think that losing your virginity is something that you will eventually experience and most times regret simply because you were told that it was so sacred and to lose it could give you remorse. I think losing your virginity doesn’t even have to be physical it could be feelings that are so intense that you can actually orgasm from that meditative type experience or verbal one. I think that virginity can only be determined by each person’s interpretation of virginity and not by the doctors or religious interpretations of it.

  5. A woman’s virginity and a mans claim to it are an absurd thing. This is something that should belong solely to a woman yet religion, culture and men stake claim to it and turn it into something perverse. Just today trending on Twitter T.I. posted about how he takes his eighteen-year-old daughter to the gynecologist every year to ensure that her hymen is intact. This young woman is eighteen and he is lauding her virginity for all to see. He wrote about this as if this were an amazing and wonderful thing for him to do as a father and did not and could not see that this was something perverse and creepy. That he was taking from her a choice in her own body and life decisions. Women are thought of as too fragile and too ill informed to be in charge of their own virginity or birth control.
    This post also reminds me of a song by Garfunkel and Oats called “The loophole” where they themselves parody the discussion on what constitutes virginity and how good Christian girls can still have “sex” with their boyfriends while keeping God happy. Its true that virginity itself is ill defined. If its an intact hymen what does that make girls who ride horses regularly or had some sort of accident to break their hymen? Are they not virgins anymore? Jessica Valenti describes losing one’s virginity as having an orgasm however there are problematic pieces to that as well. Perhaps we should stop giving so much weight to the word virginity and just let people explore their bodies and wants and needs as they arise rather than lift up the pure virgin and just let girls take ownership of their own bodies.

  6. It was interesting to read what Valenti pointed out that about how its believed that having heterosexual sex was considered as losing ones virginity then gay men and lesbians would be virgins, I never really considered that idea before. I have never thought that much in the past about what counts as losing ones virginity because the main idea that was placed in my head was one is a virgin up until they have sex, but then again the focus was mainly on vaginal sex. In high school, the sex ed part of Health class never really specified the different types of sex/sexual acts that counted as loosing ones virgintiy and no one really questioned it either so we just moved along with the class. Therefore, after reading this article I began to understand and agree that one should be able to choose what they think counts as having sex and then later decide whether or not they have lost their virginity because the definition can be change for based on different peoples beliefs. 

  7. Mirella Corona

    The concept of virginity in today’s society is a way of putting a label on women. Virginity is given a lot more attention when it has to do with women so others around can decide if they are “valuable” enough to have a relationship with, sexual or not. Although I agree with the point of view that men and women should be able to decide what counts as virginity in their own terms, it still does not deter others from deciding for women what counts as virginity. It has become a scary subject and as mentioned, some religions place a lot of pressure on it. Now with new technology, young girls go as far as reconstructing their hymen through surgery and ensuring they will bleed the first time they have sex. This belief is not only scary but untrue, given that a hymen can break from simple activities like riding a bike. This new concept of virginity only puts women’s lives at risk in order to determine their value.

  8. This topic is so interesting because I feel like everyone’s perception of sex and virginity comes from a very different place. Depending on your own personal beliefs, the environment you were raised in and your own experience, each person’s view on the subject could change drastically. I think that, for these reasons, it is almost impossible to define the act of losing your virginity in a way that everyone can sympathize with.

    When it comes to this idea of the “pure” and “clean” virgin it seems that there are some traditional and somewhat outgrown ideas at play. Although while in my opinion the stigma around sex and virginity, particularly for women, is greatly exaggerated and idealized in our society, it does seem to come from a time where it had somewhat better reasoning. Before contraceptives and other forms of birth control were available and legal (particularly for unmarried women) women were generally expected to wait until marriage to engage in sexual activities. At this time the stigma around sex became a form of birth control, preventing women from risking the possibility of becoming pregnant before marriage. Today, however, the fear of becoming pregnant before marriage is severely decreased by contraceptives and society’s overall understanding and greater acceptance of such a situation (not to say that it is completely un-stigmatized). Subsequently, the idea of the idealized virgin woman is not held on the same pedestal that it once was, and society has begun to question the mentality behind it as its purpose is no longer relevant.

  9. This was an interesting read. As someone who was never really talked to about sex, who wasn’t raised with a religious background ( though we did go to church occasionally) and who was a late bloomer when it came to dating/relationships of any kind ( sexual or otherwise) sex is still a point of contention for me. Even though I’m married, it feels like a taboo subject to discuss even with my husband. I definitely have some hang ups from past relationships and also from the information I received when I was younger being that all of the information I received came from third party sources: the media, friends, etc. Honestly, sex ed wasn’t even taught when I was in school ( and I was homeschooled throughout high school) so that probably didn’t help anything on the information front on my end. I know that this post is about virginity and when/how people lose it, but I think there’s also something to be said for educating people and making sure they have the correct information in schools rather than using scare tactics like we seem to do these days. I also think that the media has a huge responsibility in portraying its characters in a better light in relation to sex as well.

  10. I have always been puzzled by the idea of women needing to be virgins and that being something that people look for and idolize in a woman. The concept of virginity is so broad that there is no one way to define it that works for all kinds of people and relationships. For so long virginity was based around penetration but there are so many people who do not like penetration or that is not a way that they desire to have sex. I do not think that society will every allow people to self define virginity and I think if we do get there it will take a very long time because of everyone’s obsession with it. I am a strong believer in “you do you” so you decide what the definition is for you and live your life how you want to because at the end of the day as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else it is anyone else’s concern.

  11. Cultural stigmas around women being virgins are very vague. Virgins are considered “pure” and “clean” in the eyes of society. But what is a virgin? Is it someone that hasn’t kissed anyone? Or someone that hasn’t engaged in any sexual act?
    This article brings up a very interesting point. The definition of being a virgin is very indefinite blurred. Growing up, I always though that by kissing someone, you lose your virginity. Obviously once I got to high school and heard my peers talk about sex, I realized that virginity is lost through sexual penetration. I agree that losing your virginity should be defined personally– whether you think losing it requires you to orgasm or just engaging in oral sex. I think the definition of sex can also be pressuring because if it requires reaching climax, then not everyone could fall under that category because some people have trouble doing so.

    • That’s true.

      I like this point that Kyle made:

      I’ve always considered it to be a personal choice; each person decides for themselves whether or not what they’ve done counts as sex.

  12. To be completely honest my parents never talked about sex, it was always this forbidden conversation. I was told never to have a boyfriend until I was 18 and losing my virginity to me meant kissing a boy for the first time, which happened when I was 13 years old. So as I read this article I found it interesting as to what others considered losing “your virginity”. I am so glad my reasoning was so off and so not normal. Women like my mother have made virginity such a huge deal and for her, it meant having sexual intercourse. It didn’t matter if there was an orgasm or not. The fact that you had been that close to a boy meant you were no longer a virgin. This was a very well written article and I loved how it was expressed. Everyone should have their own definition of virginity it doesn’t even have to do with anything sexual. It can be the first time they got emotionally attached.


    I honestly went through the article and I cannot find anything to add because it was so thoughtful. I think that losing virginity is a matter of perspective. For me, losing virginity happens when you have an orgasm for the first time and it has to happen in a sexual interaction with someone. For example, I don’t consider that someone who masturbate and cum for the first time lost his virginity. This apply to women as well.
    Virginity is the most precious gift that god gave to women, that’s what my mom always use to tell me. Not that it doesn’t matter for boys, but it really means something to women. It is that way because, women life has never been easy. They are expected to give birth, take care of the family. They are in the same way expected to choose one man to loose their virginity with. The reason why they are judged is because these men are aware of these expectations and judge them accordingly. The girls that are virgin are seen are the good girls. The one that have experience are seen different. It still the case nowadays in some place in the world but this image is starting to disappear. Losing virginity has been gendered.

  14. While reading this post, I started to think outside of the box about my first time, was I ready?? In the Cult of Virginity, Kyle also quotes Jessica Valenti talks about the “virginity mystery” – that is, the realization that there is no medical or social definition for what a virgin is. I don’t think sex should be defined by penetration, or that people should think of being a virgin as not being penetrated. Sex can mean many things, also describe many different acts too. When I was a little girl, sex was seen as a bad thing. When I became a teenager, being sexually active was seen as the cool thing to do. Everyone was having sex, but when I got to college not being a virgin, you were seen a fast, dirty, and unwanted. I and some of my close friend lied about having sex for the first time or lied about how many people we had sex with. I would have to agree with Kyle’s’ views, mentally I was a virgin when I lost my virginity, so I felt like a was still a virgin in anyways.

    • ” there is no medical or social definition for what a virgin is”

      Actually, the following medical dictionaries define virgin:

      Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of
      Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition.

      Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary

      Dorland’s Medical Dictionarv for Health Consumers

      The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

      Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009,

      Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and
      Nursina Farlex 2012

      Collins Dictionary of Medicine

      • There is much confusion on the definition of virginity. Jessica Valenti researched at her university library, I think it was Harvard, and couldn’t find consistency in the definition. It doesn’t even make logical sense because then gays and lesbians can never lose their virginity.

      • “Jessica Valenti researched at her university library, I think it was Harvard, and couldn’t find consistency in the definition.”

        That’s odd, the definition is 100% consistent in these medical dictionaries.

        “It doesn’t even make logical sense because then gays and lesbians can never lose their virginity.”

        Because it comes from the Latin virgo, meaning a maiden. So strictly speaking, it’s only a woman.

        “a woman, esp. a young woman, who has never had sexual intercourse”.. Webster’s New World College Dictionary

        And indeed in biology it means just that…
        a female animal that has not copulated
        a female insect that lays eggs without impregnation by the male

        That gays can’t “lose their virginity” has really no impact on the meaning of words.

      • You haven’t checked all of the medical dictionaries at a medical school, which are inconsistent on virginity. Just showing one dictionary definition doesn’t show all the inconsistencies between sources.

        Virgo Originally meant a woman. Virgo entacta Meant a woman who’s hymen had not been disturbed.

        But the word “virgin” is used in a variety of ways, and inconsistently – even in medical dictionary’s — these days.

  15. Losing your virginity before you are married is considered a sin in many religions. In my community the women that aren’t virgins before marriage are considered to have sinned. I believe that it’s unfair that women get criticized mostly for not being a virgin and get called so many names. Long time ago the women that were not virgins were considered dirty or not worthy for any man to be with. For men it’s a different story because if men are not virgins they are praised for not being virgins. It’s like an accomplishment for men in our society which is really messed up but it is what is is. This is the cause of masculinity in society because men are considered higher power which is not right. But why is virginity so important? The reason people think virginity is so important is because it’s a part of us that we have until we have the courage to take it.

  16. All throughout high school there was this huge focus on someones virginity. For some reason everyone was curious to see who was having sex and what was going on even though its a very intimate and personal act. I enjoy reading this article because it brought attention not only to the virginity of woman being a big deal here but in other religions as well, with many religions we see that there is a lot of importance and attention brought to the virginity of a woman. It was really interesting to read about the definitions that everyone has about what constitutes losing ones virginity, its not something that I have thought about but makes a lot of sense. Although one person might think they are no longer a virgin another might because of their different views on intercourse. Although there is no set definition I agree with Valenti’s definitions that it is not sex unless you orgasm, I think completion is a good way to determine copulation

  17. Sex can be a very important rite of passage for some people. It can also mean squat to others. Depending on how you were brought up and/or how you grew your own opinions on the matter, your virginity can make or break you. You could make it your whole life and obsess about the perfect way to lose it, or you could not think much about it. I was never that interested in losing my virginity right away. In fact, I lost it to a one night stand I met at a bar on a Tuesday night. The next morning, I didn’t feel bad or good. It just felt like another day. I do think it’s a good idea for each person to choose when they’ve lost their virginity. It’s our bodies. We get to decide how we feel about it. But sex doesn’t always have to involve an orgasm for it to be considered sex. There are a lot of women who are unable to orgasm during sex no matter how hard the guy tries or how hard they both try together. There’s no shame in it, and you can still gain a lot of pleasure without reaching an orgasm. It’s like that saying, “Life is about the journey, not the destination”, but instead of life, it would be sex.

  18. First of all, I think it is stupid to say “did you lost your virginity?” Actually I think this question are made for women, but I am confused. Why only women have to be a virgin? How about men? If you want your girlfriend is a virgin, then you be a virgin first. I think it is unfair to women. I think there was a word in Chinese called “不守妇道” which in English is “woman is dissolute” I can not believe there is a word that strait criticize women. In Old China, women can not have sex before marry, but there was brothel for men. I think it is ridiculous. I think it is 21 century already, so we should care about fairness. I have a friend, he told me he have to find a virgin girl to get marry. I was shocked. I asked him “why?” He doesn’t have any reason. I told him “if you want a virgin girlfriend, you must be virgin too.”

  19. This was such an interesting read! I grew up in a very conservative household where my family was Christian and part of the Jehovah’s Witness organization. They believe that the moment someone starts dating, its with whole-hearted intention of getting married and having children. Sex was not to be had unless you were married and were sure to spend the rest of your life with this person. If sex was had with a partner before marriage, a female would be considered something demeaning such as a whore or a slut. But how boring to limit yourself to one partner for the rest of your life, but if it makes you happy, then by all means. It all truly depends on the morals of each individual person. I agree with the concept of virginity and losing it being something only oneself can define and determine. I used to think that only physical penetration meant losing your virginity, but now I can see that there is a variety of ways to lose it as long as it makes a person orgasm, just as Jessica Valenti has mentioned. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Virginity was something I was taught was sacred growing up, but never with any explanation. Like several others who posted, our family was Catholic, and it was not acceptable to have pre-marital sex. Although I agree that both young women and young men be educated about sex, and that that they understand the importance of respecting their bodies. Shaming as a deterrent to having sex only creates feelings of guilt. Society has also placed a higher standard for women to maintain their “good girl” or “pure” status than men when it comes to losing their virginity. However, the pressure on a young man can be even more significant to lose his virginity. As an adult, I changed religions, but I am still a firm believer in educating our children. I have always taught my daughters and son that it is like giving a little piece of yourself away each time you have sex with a different partner. When the time comes, they should make sure it is with the right person and for the right reasons not just because they feel pressured.

    • The important thing is to do what feels authentic to you. And interestingly both women and men tend to prefer sex with in a bonded relationship. I don’t think anyone should feel pressured to do casual sex. But the guilt that is so often communicated to girls can end up leading to a lot of problems.

  21. Virginity was always such a weird thing for me. I do agree with what Valenti has said about sex” It isn’t sex unless you’ve had an orgasm”. When I grew up my parents tried to deter me away from sex or anything sexual for as long as possible. They raised me with a lot of traditional Catholic values, so that meant they really pushed for me to not lose my “virginity” until I was married. My mom made it very clear to me that you don’t have sex until you are ready and you know that that is the person you will be spending the rest of your life with. It didn’t happen for me that way and it made me feel very shameful for a long time because I did the one thing my parents told me not to do and to wait on. So I lied to them and to this day they think I’ve only ever slept with two people my entire life. I think that virginity is something that shouldn’t be a thing we teach to our children. Instead, we should just teach our kids about safe sex, and not making them feel shameful if they do have sex or if they don’t have sex. We should teach healthy habits and communication around it. Because in reality, virginity isn’t a thing

  22. Virgins and Cults and Morals, Oh My!

    In the face of our sexually-dysfunctional culture, the church longs to stand as an outpost of God’s ways of love and marriage, purity and wholeness. My mother was a devoted Christian and she believed that women should maintain what she called their “innocence” until they found the right man and got married. Well, I let her down and I definitely was made to feel that because of losing my virginity before marriage I no longer had the sense of innocence that men would desire. I hate to say this but my mother was wrong. I chose not to define my character by that belief system or believe that God would forsake me for having pre-marital sex. There is too much condemnation when it comes to ones decision to have intercourse before marriage if they are a part of a religious group. In my opinion, if you decide to have sex and lose your virginity it’s simply a decision. You should never feel like you are not pure and worthy of love and a great partnership if you have had multiple partners prior to getting married. My hope is that young woman that grow up in religious homes will seek to understand that they don’t have to feel invaluable or tainted if they have sex before marriage.

  23. We talk about discrimination in a lot of different ways but a type of discrimination we don’t talk about is discrimination of people who no longer have their virginity. I find this outrages because like Welsh says there really isn’t a set definition about what losing your virginity is and there shouldn’t be. Everyone should be able to decide for themselves what actions they do to lose their virginity and when they want to. When anyone decides that they do want to lose their virginity, they shouldn’t be judged for their actions. Although stereotypes are becoming less common there is still some about the views on virginity, Male being praised when they lose their virginity. Compared to females which are looked down upon if they decide to lose their virginity to early. This idea may seem so old fashioned but so many people still think like this. So many things have changed but the people’s beliefs don’t change as things start to change it takes so much longer for people to start accepting those changes.

  24. Sex is a very sensitive topic for some people, especially those who are religious. Being pure is something many cultures strive for before marriage. You are looked down upon if you have sex before marriage. Most of these rules are imposed on girls. In my opinion, virginity is only lost if you have a sexual relation with someone, with or without penetration. This is because if you only count losing your virginity, everyone who is not straight would be considered a virgin. I also feel like virginity also applies to girls only. It might just be that I have never really heard a guy say that he lost his virginity so I have always associated that word with women. I mostly thought that penetration was the only way you could lose your virginity but after reading this article I realized that it is up to the person entirely to decide whether they lost it or not.

  25. When I think of virginity, I recall in my adolescence being told I needed to save myself until I found the right man to marry. And I would be considered impure and committing a major sin under the Catholic faith if I didn’t abide. As for me, I had no problem in ever finding the right man, I was more concerned about finding the right woman. The value that is put on this whole “virginity” inhibits women from ever really exploring their sexuality. I remember feeling guilty from my first sexual experience. Men are encouraged and even praised for having multiple partners. My guy friends think “lesbian” sex isn’t really sex because there is no actual penetration from a man’s undercarriage. I suppose it varies from person to person what intimacy is to them and what you find of value along the way.

  26. I can definitely agree with the little picture that’s available for this discussion, growing up I don’t quite remember what I believed losing one’s virginity meant, but once I learnt about the human body and heterosexual penetrative sex, that is what I considered losing one’s virginity to mean. That of course didn’t stand for very long such as the article mentions considering that on this ridiculous claim, lesbians or gay people are forever and still are virgins. I agree with the idea that it is up to the person themselves to decide when they are or aren’t a virgin, but I think one fact that I always place of importance is that of pleasure and enjoyment, for ultimately that is the sure way to lead to a climax or satisfactory sex.

    This blog post doesn’t delve further into the idea of virginity and the double standard that exists for both women and men. To touch on a few, in my person experience, I’ve heard men been called a pussy or not man enough when he hasn’t had sexual intercourse with a female, and is put down and moreover his confidence is put down. On the other hand, when a man finally has sex or is believed to finally have sex, it seems as though he has achieved a great feat and is finally in his final form of a man. To add upon this, we see men who have sex frequently and with various different females to be considered a playboy, or a Casanova. Not a negative attribute rather a positive attribute given to these males.

    This is where the double standard comes in. Women don’t have these sort of positive attributes or adjectives that are used to describe them in any way when they have sex or don’t. When women are ‘virgins’ or aren’t and haven’t had penetrative heterosexual sex, and refuse to for whatever reason be it person, religious etc they are labeled a ‘prude’ or ‘stuck up’. It’s similar to men when they are put down for not actively pursing women and acting upon their manhood so to speak, but once a women has sex it all changes. A woman is now tainted and is used, and not pure. This objectification continues as a woman continues to have sex and explores her own womanhood. Once a woman is known to have had more than one sexual partner labels such as ‘whore/hoe’ ‘slut’. Degrading labels that put down women and further discourage them from interacting with sexual acts only to again be put down for not having sex or putting someone down.

    Surely, one can notice that these sort of contradictory statements exists for both women and men, but the double standards almost exists solely for women, if not are highlighted on women very prominently.

  27. yaritza Valladolid

    In my personal perspective when the term virginity is used I believe that it has a very complicated definition because this term can have multiple definitions depending on people’s beliefs. Since for many people losing your virginity is only refer to having sexual intercourse leaving aside other sexual consent. In other factors come into play, for example, a religion that sometimes have their own definition of virginity that it is defined by never been touched and are allowed to marry into the religion. As well as family views that are established by thoughts that have been educated from family members from one generation to another of what virginity means. On the other hand, it is also the value that families have given the term virginity. Especially when factors like rape or other kinds of factors come into play. Which sometimes are left for granted because of the education they have been given on this term.

  28. Until recently I also thought that only after penetration one loses their virginity. I saw a video where It explains almost the same thing as in this blog that “there is no medical or social definition for what a virgin actually is.” In the video, it explains that we defined and decided whether we are virgins or not. It revealed that some people thought that they had something like a layer that when they had sex, it was going to break, but then in the video, it explained that is was just a myth. The only thing that I am still thinking about is how it was that in the past parents were taking their daughter to the doctor to check if they were still virgins, is that a myth too, that doctor can know if someone is still a virgin?

    In the other hand as mentioned in the blog I also think that virginity, or the lack thereof, plays a significant role in how we treat women. In some religions in the past and maybe even now, men wouldn’t marry women that weren’t virgins and would make them feel less if they were not virgin.

  29. Growing up, my family has always had traditional views on the topic of virginity. Myself, I believed that everyone is capable of making their own choice regarding their virginity; what is most important is if you are fully educated about sex and completely ready to make this step. From my own experience in high school, all students were given the option to take a class on sex education and sex was talked about pretty openly; it wasn’t looked down upon as much as I was used to from my family. I think that as long as you are 100% sure that you want to lose your virginity, you give clear consent, and you do it with someone who respects you and your opinion, then it really is up to you in the end. Being a virgin or not being a virgin doesn’t define who you are; it is your body and your life, what matters is if you are safe and comfortable.

  30. I dislike the word ” virginity.” This word is very socially constructed. This society is always trying to find ways to denigrate us woman. Growing up I remember always being told that I had to wait to have sex until marriage. If I didn’t I would be a woman of sin. There are different meanings to this word, virginity. I feel like its a word that makes woman feel less of themselves if they lose their virginity. Sex is a part of us mammals. I wish our society could start focusing more on the reality of this world.For example, more schools should have better sexual education programs in their schools to help promote a healthy sexual life. I used to participate in a program called ” Teen Talk” back in high school and went to different middle schools to help educate students on the importance of condoms and health check ups. I was a teen mother at 16. I had the honor to participate in panels that allowed students from all over the Peninsula ask questions about what it really is to be a teen parent. The goal was to prevent teen pregnancy. These are things that I feel should be important to our society instead of trying to make “virginity” a thing that has to be kept, because in reality its not something that is followed.

    • Up until the age of 23, I believe women should wait till marriage to have sex. Growing up in a traditional, catholic home, there were certain expectations placed on women. Saving your virginity for your husband, was one of those expectations. There was always a little part of me that questioned all these expectations for women. First of all, why are women expected to remain virgins, while men are spared? Also, I agree with this blog. What is virginity really? I had a few friends who were devout catholics/christians. They did things with their boyfriends that I considered, well, not very pure, in catholic terms. Then they would say they were still virgins. I am not judging them, women/men are free to do as they like, but I just didn’t agree with the whole “I’m still a virgin”. They would judge women who had vaginal sex, but did not judge themselves. There was something not right with that. In my opinion virginity is a social construct. It is a construct made to shame women. To make them feel dirty if they are not “virgins”.

  31. I feel as though people who are virgins are put on a pedestal or are being called “prood”, but when you aren’t a virgin you are called a “slut” or “hoe”. I think that’s so rude of people to be calling these women or men these tasty things over having sex or not. Now having sex could mean different things to many different people. I think sex is between someone you love or someone you don’t up to you, but both people should enjoy it and be pleasured. So all and all I think sex is a beautiful thing it can create life, and it can connect people, so however you have sex if it works for you and the other person that’s all that matters in the end.

  32. In my opinion, I believe that virginity is very subjective. To be a virgin can mean many things, it could mean to act upon sexual pleasure or to sexual interaction. In our modern society, to be a virgin isn’t something that is too big as it used to be especially back in the years where Christianity had a very strong grip on Europe. Although the Pope didn’t own any other nations besides the Vatican City, he held religious power which then turned to political power in other nations. One thing he advocated for was to remain a virgin until marriage because it is holy and this was an idea that had a grip on many of those who believed in religion of Christianity. Now in the modern day, many don’t heavily believe as strongly in the religion,and so virginity and not to have virginity isn’t something special in modern day.

  33. Being a virgin or not should not define how you treat a women. Men and women should be able to express there sexuality freely without judgement and when ever they are ready. Why society is so fascinated on virgins I will never know for example why people think the longer you stay pure means you are a better person. As stated in the article there is no scientific term for what a virgin is and when does a virgin actually ”lose it” we will never know. I do like Valenti’s definition of loosing there virginity is when you orgasm. It is inclusive to everyone not just straight men and females.

  34. Culture Learner

    This article was interesting to read. I already knew the concept of virginity but I’ve never thought about the non-existing medical or social definition for what a virgin actually is. Like this article says, it plays a big role in the way how we treat women. As a Korean who spent my whole life is Korea, I want to share something, hoping it doesn’t make you guys feel uncomfortable. But, this is just my personal opinion, not representing the whole Korean men.

    I guess it’s pretty much same in America. When men have sex with a girl, many of them would look forward to the girl’s virginity. The younger they are, the more the man would wish the girl to be a virgin. It will be rude and hurt the relationship if the man asks, “Are you a virgin?”. So, what men usually do is checking if the girl bled after sex. I’m 27 years old and when I was a high school student, the average age of having first sex (personally thinking) was 16. So, most of my friends expected their girlfriends to be a virgin. But, when some of them didn’t bleed after having first sex, many of my friends started to blame their girlfriends by judging and treating differently. I also saw many of my friends show off their proud sex experience with virgins, “I did it!”. Also, I saw some of Korean TV shows or dramas, dealing with sexual relationships. Men tend to wish to have sex as much as possible with different partners and when it’s time for those men to get married, they try to find a virgin, which doesn’t make sense in fact.

    Here is the point that I want to share. Around 10 years ago in Korea (or even till today), there were many women who pretended to be a virgin to find a good man to marry, without being judged, by having a surgery so that they can bleed again after having sex. This phenomenon suggests me to think not only about “what counts as losing virginity” but also about “What the definition of virginity should be”. Furthermore, men need to think “why we are so obsessed by virginity”. Since I’m taking a class, “introduction to women’s study”, nowadays I think more often about gender discrimination. By getting educated from this class, I got to think that it doesn’t make sense any more in 21st century to discriminate women and I feel expecting virginity is a type of gender discrimination as well, unless men stop wishing to have sex with many different partners to be just sexually satisfied.

  35. A big reason why women’s virginity are stressed are because it is observable when a person lost their virginity. In Kyrgyzstan, after a women gets married, the bed sheets with a blood stain on it from the night of the wedding is hung so that everyone in the village can see. Virginity that society has known is the virginity in which a person can see or notice at closer inspection while with men, it is impossible to know whether or not that person has had sex biologically speaking. Different kinds of sex acts other than penis-vagina sex has been looked down upon in many religions so people assumed that nobody performed any other sex act so the main focus was the bone that is broken and the blood that is released when performing intercourse. Today in many Western countries, sex at an early age before marriage is expected yet ironically people still believe in traditional ideas about a woman’s virginity. The definition and expectation of virginity is based off of traditional beliefs that generally do not fit within current society.

    • And yet there are other reasons why women may not bleed on their wedding night other than losing virginity. Some women have stronger Hyman’s than others so for some women it can break just by running.

      Plus, how do gays and lesbians lose their virginity?

  36. In every culture and religion, Virginity is always thought as holy or pure and that in a world of sin, that is something rare and looked highly upon. And so the definition of being a virgin comes down to whether you have engaged in sexual acts, and while there are some sexual pleasures that don’t involve penetration, I don’t find it to be subjective. Virginity is something pure, and so by doing other sexual pleasures ( with another or alone) defies that pureness, and that in my definition I wouldn’t see that person still calling themselves a virgin. The reasoning for my definition is that engaging in sexual acts has always looked at being a sin, and it has been looked upon as a sin because it acknowledges that fact that person has reached adulthood, and many literary books such as “To Kill A Mocking Bird”, adulthood means the loss of innocence. Innocence is another word for pure, so by engaging in the act of sexual pleasure, means the loss of innocence and thus their virginity. In our society, we acknowledge purity as very high because we all understand that any form of sexual pleasure loses us our purity and thus it is a rare. Although many who would call themselves a virgin, but really aren’t may feel agitated by this, I say that these people shouldn’t be. there isn’t any shame in not being a virgin and has become a social norm to not be a virgin. Now, I’m not saying that we need to go out and lose our virginity just for the sake in doing so, but we have to acknowledge our purity and I believe that when one loses their virginity, they should make it a special occasion and not just waste it, it should be cherish able and memorable.

    • Well, people can have their own ideas about what it means to be a virgin. But there doesn’t seem to be a clear cultural definition with many Christians having oral and anal sex to maintain their virginity, which would mean that gays and lesbians can never lose their virginity.

  37. I definitely felt the part about how people will treat you differently, depending on if you’re a virgin or not. I do not like the name calling of people who are not virgins, because at the end of the day, having sex is a person’s choice. I feel like if there was not so much judgement in the world, people would be more open to talking about their experiences to educate others. I have known several people who are not a virgin but lie to everyone saying they are. The fact that not being a virgin is so shunned that people must lie to be accepted is ridiculous. However, if you look at guys who are virgins vs. those that are not, the ones who are virgins get more harassing. The world has gotten so involved in other peoples’ sex lives, that people are no longer comfortable expressing their sexuality. If you are not a virgin as a girl, you will be called a slut or whore. If you are not a virgin as a guy, you will be praised. There are so many people in the world who in general are not allowed to feel comfortable with their choice.

  38. When a man or woman decides to lose their virginity, it should be up to them. There should be no judgment or any type of negativity for when and if they do. Doing such a thing is actually a very emotional thing to do. When one decides when they lose it or how it is, should be defined by their own definition. Gay, straight or lesbian is dependent on the person and their is no way to truly prove is there is a thing such as virginity. With whatever deed or act that you do, by your definition that is how you decided what it is, then good for you, its your choice. One should not be forced to do it either if they aren’t ready. In regards to the idea that if you don’t orgasm then it isn’t sex, I have to laugh and agree with. You should be able to enjoy it and you should also be able to have everything that you want in bed that your partner of course is comfortable with.

  39. As someone who is part of the LGBTQ community and is attracted to both male and female I have always felt like the person decides whether or not they are a virgin based on what sexual acts they have and have not done. The word sex is a very broad term, to some it may mean penetration while to others it means just having an orgasm. Either way the whole idea of glorifying someone who is a virgin is actually quite disturbing. Many factors come in when taking about sex, such as religion and personal choices. While I also believe that teasing someone who is a virgin is also extremely uncalled for. The whole conversation around virginity shouldn’t be as important as it’s made, everyone has their own body and should be able to chose when they are ready to lose their virginity, no matter what they consider that to be. 

  40. Speaking as someone who dates both men and women, I have always struggled with what I consider as someone “losing their virginity”. Most of my friends are gay, bi, or somehow part of the LGBT community, and they also struggle with the construct of virginity. For me personally, I think that virginity is an outdated social construct created by men to shame women for being sexually active. If someone thinks that virginity is important to them and they want it to be special to them, I think that’s okay as long as it’s not due to societal pressures. I recognize that everyone has their own beliefs and ideas, and the only truly bad ideas are the ones that you force on others, or are harmful to yourself or others. I like the idea that sex can be interpreted in different ways by different people, and the only thing that’s required to have sex is consent and orgasms.

  41. I will henceforth define losing ones virginity as having achieved orgasm without physical contact in space. I think it’ll make for a much funnier version of 40 year old virgin.

    I actually have a fantastic story about trying to donate blood only to have the nurse ask if I had sex with a man before. Who didn’t know gay men could donate blood? Gay men! That’s who! Any way, while not having had penetrative sex with a man, I had had a threesome with another male and my girlfriend at the time. The other male and myself hadn’t pleased each other in any way, but we DID have sex while each of us are present…I guess I got lost in the semantics on what is meant when some says sex WITH someone…The nurse kindly defined sex, as used in the medical world, as vaginal/anal penetration and oral sex. So, after all of that I was indeed able to donate blood…I’m still sad gay men can’t though…

    All of this to say, I think the medical definition is the most efficient way to define sex. It includes everyone including with LGBTQ+ community. While I do share the opinion that partners should care about each others pleasure, I do think that defining sex and thus loss of virginity, as having had an orgasm puts more pressure and stress for people to have orgasms..which isn’t easy for everyone. Also, I have definitely had some rockstar sex in which I didn’t orgasm. I don’t want you to take that away from me. :p

  42. James N Hindery

    I think that in high school people seemed to care whether or not you were a virgin or not regardless of gender. This led people to either form a good or bad opinion of them; usually, if you were a boy it was bad and if you were a girl it was either irrelevant or good. But, after leaving high school I haven’t seen that much attention being paid to who is or isn’t a virgin and whether that means something. If it does come up with someone I’m friends with or meeting or whatever I usually just listen to as much as they want to tell me and acknowledge that everybody has their own paths and reasons for their behavior that’s completely valid. So I guess I agree with the author in that who really cares how you define your virginity and when you choose to say you’ve lost it. On the issue of making sure all parties involved are orgasming, that should be a given, otherwise what’s the point?

  43. It’s always good to treat each other nicely!

  44. Have never thought in deep of how other people might think being virgin is.. Have always thought only after penetration one loses their virginity..

  45. the same reason penetration is seen as sex or losing virginity, probably the hierarchal views out culture has of men but also the male ego and centered around that. And as a result the phallus or dick seen as the dominant or important aspect to sex or that governs it. Like you’ll see guys share this belief and have seen it. For example, I’ve seen dudes say how women can’t ‘fu**) a guy. Only men Fu**, Yet I’ve looked into the history of that. I thought the origins of that word was fornicate under consent of the king or something like that. But every definition I’ve every looked as, says nothing about to fu**, literally means to penetrate as far as sex or the penetrator as the one who fu***. . Yet as a result of the term being seen as a strong sex action or aggressive, it’s just automatically assumed men can only do so because they have dicks. If that meant or had anything to do meaning to penetrate, then that would be a valid argument, but I’ve never seen the definition of to fu** means penetrating during sex. I’ve only ever seen it to mean as sex act or as in the one thrusting and so forth or action. But nothing that literally has anything to do with penetration.

    Women can thrust and all that, they just don’t obviously penetrate. I’ve seen that view that women can only fu** a man is be using a phallic object on a man and penetrating him. I’ve seen the explanation was that even when a woman is on top, the man is controlling the action for some reason just because, she’s penetrated? Can’t envelopment be just as much of an action back? And I brought up oral sex for example. A man can be dominant with a woman giving a man a bj. But it doesn’t mean so. Some dudes just apparently think because their dick is in some type of hole or penetrating that they are dominant. I argued that it’s actually the mighty penetrating dick that’s the vulnerable part there, as it’s in between a body part with teeth and can bite….just saying. So this notion about such stuff is interesting and crazy how patriarchy seeps into some dudes egos, with male dominance or feeling their male body is the end all, be all of importance and dominance in it’s interaction with women, no matter the context and situation. Even though the reality of submission and dominance has a lot do with what’s done, the body parts involved, who it’s from and how it’s done. Nothing automatic there,but plenty of dudes think their dicks are almighty apparently, but that;s our culture again.

    • When I was in high school I had an English teacher who informed us that F U CK Had originally been shorthand for “for unlawful carnal knowledge” because sex outside of marriage was illegal at the time. Van Halen must’ve heard the same thing because they named one of their albums “for unlawful carnal knowledge”

      We do live in a patriarchy that eroticizes male dominance so I’m not surprise that goes you know see things the way they do. I guess you know that I prefer partnership culture over dominance culture.

      • Well you had a blogpost before with terms that are used or associated with sex or the difference with what men use in reference to sex and how women’s parts are coined. Like “boning”, ‘tear it up”, ” beat the pussy up” “screw”, etc. It’s ingrained and when you have terms like that it shows how many guys internalize that and see their male anatomy as dominant and sex acts in a one dimensional way. No wonder some dudes can only see women as “being fucked’ and not guys by women in PIV, heterosexual sex. If all that is being done and women are passive or women’s sex organs are seen as passive or just nurturing simply or just receptors and not active. It’s no wonder guys can carry a chauvinist notion that they can only dominate as a result even if a woman is on top because if this overestimating of the phallus and their male members in particular as a result and thus causes men to underestimate and underrate women’s sexual prowess and such.

        Very ironic too and also shows this is the word usage in relation to “balls” and men’s testicles and shows the lack of logic to it. Betty White, she’s amazing, despite her age she’s still kicking and still witty and funny. I saw a quote about her with some raunchy humor. How pussy is often used in reference as weak or sissy, whereas vaginas can take a pounding and well the fact of handling babies come out of them. They are the exact opposite of weak and quite tough. Yet balls are used as brave, tough and strong. But one good hit to them and not only is a strong man in great pain, he can be permanently infertile. That doesn’t sound like a very strong, tough body part to me ha. If anything the terms should be reversed if we look at it in the literal sense….

      • “ironic too how pussy is often used in reference as weak or sissy, whereas vaginas can take a pounding and well the fact of handling babies come out of them. Yet balls are used as brave, tough and strong. But one good hit puts a man in great pain”

        Paraphrasing you there, that’s such an astute point. Is that from Betty White?

        Culture has so much to do with how we see things. The point above and also the point about who is dominant based on whether one is inserting or, you might say, engulfing (vagina engulfing penis). Because being engulfed is not to be in a position of power.

        Having your door opened for you also depends on culture/context as to whether it is a symbol of power or disempowerment. If a man opens a door for a woman someone could see it as “she’s weak” or as “she’s powerful.” After all, kings and presidents don’t open their own doors.

    • This and some of your later posts touch on an argument I was having with a former partner of mine. It was my argument that dominance and submission, at least in terms of sex, are almost entirely mental, while she maintained that their were some inherently submissive sex acts. She considered penetrative sex as being submissive if you’re being penetrated, just as preforming oral on a man is submissive. What I find interesting about this argument is that a man performing oral on a woman could go either way. I think there is some internalized misogyny at play here. I remember watching Spartacus at one point, and there’s a scene where Spartacus is forced to have sex with his master’s wife. She was getting penetrated, but if he didn’t do exactly what she said she could have had him killed. I don’t think it matters what position they were in, she is definitely in control there. To me, it seems that most people default with men being dominant and marginalize the situations in which women can possibly be in control.

  46. A gentleman would never be rude 🙂

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