Thought Catalog
March 15, 2017

What Losing Your Virginity Is Actually All About

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What is the issue?
jessie essex

I don’t technically know when I lost my virginity.

And honestly? I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Was it at sixteen, the first time that I got naked with a guy? Was it a year later, with my first real girlfriend, both of us tangled in the sheets and consumed with both exhilaration and confusion? Does an emotional connection at the time count? Does it not? Does it count if I still had my bra on? Does it count if I didn’t do the same things to him as he did to me? What if there were toys? What if there was nothing but skin on skin?

These are the questions that come to my mind when I think about the so-called Holy Grail of sexual milestones, aka losing your virginity. The whole phrase in general is perplexing to me.

Virginity is, in all reality, an idea.

It’s intangible; so how can one “lose” it? Folks seem to generally agree that the process involves the first time that there is vaginal penetration with a penis (sorry for using the word penetration). Traditionally, there is supposed to be blood, but there isn’t always. Traditionally, it’s also supposed to be painful for a girl, but that isn’t always true, either. So what does all this mean for someone like me?

It completely invalidates my sexual experiences to label me as a virgin unless there’s been a penis present inside my body.

Does that mean I could sleep with a thousand women and still qualify as a virgin? What an asinine thought. It also insults and devalues my sense of self to label me as a non-sexual being until this arbitrary act occurs. My sexual status does not depend on a penis. I don’t need to have had sex with a man to become a woman, or to feel sexually powerful, and the idea that I do is harmful.

We also tend to place way too much importance and judgment on this singular event. Sleepovers with teenage girlfriends always include the question, “So, when did you lose your virginity?” The answer to that question decides so many things. If you “lost it” at fifteen, you’re a slut, and if you haven’t experienced that moment yet at twenty-one, you’re marked as frigid. There are so many other shades to sexual experiences, and so many other ways to discover and grow in your own sexuality, without demoting the entire process to a single event that, in one fell swoop, decides your entire future and reputation.

I decided on my own that I would choose the experience that I wanted to define as “losing my virginity.” But for me, that doesn’t have anything to do with the first time that a penis entered my vagina. I decided that an emotional connection did matter to me. I decided that what made the moment most significant for me was the overwhelming urge to bare all of myself, body and soul, to another person. It was the moment that I had no questions or concerns, the moment where the most important thing in the world was to connect as closely as I possibly could to the person in front of me. There was no fear, and no hesitation. It was a moment of complete trust, and it was blissfully simple because at the core of everything was just the feeling that I would surely implode without their touch. I lost myself in that moment, and I simultaneously saw myself.

That’s the moment I choose—the moment that changed me, and defined a vital part of who I am.

I think that choice is everyone’s right, and if that means you choosing a more traditional view of losing your virginity, that’s totally fine, too. But don’t feel that that moment has to define you if it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Some girls remember their first time as painful, or even unwanted, but feel that they still have to label that experience as the one where they lost their virginity because of the more technical aspects of the phrase. I disagree. The moment doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be special.

It’s your body, and your right to choose the experiences that help define who you are. TC mark