Isabelle Leger
Isabelle Leger
Arts & Lifestyle Editor Isabelle Leger is a fourth year journalism and communications student at St. Thomas University.
November 9, 2018

Column: The stigma around virginity

Photo by Cameron Lane

Virginity. That thing you’re supposed to lose at an early age to prove your maturity. That thing that, if you lose too soon, makes you impure in the eyes of potential lovers. That thing that you’re supposed to save for that special someone. That thing that will be one of the best experiences of your life.

As a young girl, I dreamt of the day I would find a boy worthy of my “flower.” A boy who would walk me off into the sunset before entering me into womanhood. This would most likely be the man that I marry and have several children with, if he would still have me of course.

Looking back on those thoughts, I cringe.

This isn’t my reality, nor do I want it to be. I entered womanhood a long time ago and that didn’t require the assistance of a man. The boy I lost my virginity to wasn’t my “soulmate,” and that’s okay.

Men are faced with a different stigma. Have sex as early as you can and as much of it as you can. And, god forbid you be romantic about it.

In pop culture, these ideas have been portrayed for as long as I can remember. Let’s look at The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, for example. A comedy about a man who has a difficult time dating and is socially awkward because he has never had sex.

In the movie Easy A, the character Brandon is tormented at school because he had yet to lose his virginity. Emma Stone came to the rescue and pretended to have sex with him. He gained the respect of his peers while Olive, in the movie, was shunned by classmates and her teachers for being so “filthy.”   

In She’s the Man Amanda Bynes pretends to be her brother and exaggerates his sexual experience to gain the respect of the male soccer team.

Men are rewarded with cheers when they add to their “kill” count and are looked down upon when they don’t, while women are slut-shamed for having the slightest horny thought.

The idea that your first time having sex will be an amazing experience, is pretty bullshit. It’s not lit candles and rose petals. It is often uncomfortable, awkward, and might even hurt. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it was arguably one of the most painful experiences of my life.  

Because expectations are set so high for women especially, some wait in fear of their first experience not being perfect. Waiting is okay, but having a weird first sexual experience is okay too.

Having a lot of sex is okay. Having sex for the first time at an early age is okay. But, feeling pressured to do so, is not.  

Where does this leave the LGBTQ community? This stigma suggests that everyone is heterosexual and cisgender. When people speak of “virginity,” they are referring to the first time an individual has had penetrative sex.

Does this mean, for example, a cis lesbian who has only had same-sex intercourse is still a virgin? Certainly not. With this stigma in play, the legitimacy of non-heterosexual sex isn’t considered.

Our society is hell-bent on categorization. “So, is she a lesbian or not?” “Is he really gay if he’s never had sex with a man?” “Please clarify your sexual identity [here] and your gender identity [here].”

For someone who is navigating their own sexual and gender identities, I can only imagine the impact these stereotypes and categories must have. Gender is one layer, sexuality is another, and the fact that society assigns gender to genitalia complicates things even more.  

Human to human, the concept of virginity is bullshit.

Sex is supposed to be fun, and/or an act of love. Instead, it’s judged upon and shamed. It’s used to identify others without their consent.

Women, whether cisgender or transgender, do not lack purity based on the amount of sex they have had or plan to have.

Men, whether cisgender or transgender, are not worthy or unworthy based on the amount of “kills” on their scoreboard.   

Your body is not an object and how you identify yourself is not up for discussion. You don’t owe anyone anything and this includes an explanation for your sex life.

Oh, and always use protection.   

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