Virginity does not exist.
While that idea may seem strange to some, consider the fact that there is no biological or medical definition of virginity. The dictionary defines virginity as “the state of never having had sexual intercourse,” but that begs the question, what is sexual intercourse?
According to most people, sexual intercourse refers to penetrative sex. It harks back to the notion that womxn remain virgins until they have sex with a penis, at which time something irretrievable is lost and they are no longer pure. Historically, the idea of virginity was created in an attempt to control female sexuality by perpetuating the myth that a womxn’s worth is inversely proportional to the amount of sex she has had (with men). Sex with one man after marriage was considered acceptable by society, while any other form of sexual activity outside of marriage was shameful and would ruin a womxn’s prospects. While we might not banish womxn for having sex before marriage in the 21st century, the idea of virginity has been so firmly entrenched into our communal psyche that womxn are still vilified for having ‘too much’ sex, while men are praised for having lots of sex. This in turn perpetuates rape culture by slut shaming womxn for having sex and placing their entire worth between their legs.
Nowadays many societies like to consider themselves more liberal than their medieval counterparts, but in reality the archaic idea of virginity still plays an important role in dialogues about sex. In high school, my first sexual experience was with another self-identifying womxn, but according to my friends that experience didn’t count as losing my virginity because I hadn’t had penetrative sex with a man. The notion was confusing to me: if I never had sex with a man but continued to have sex with womxn, would I remain a virgin forever? Apparently the answer was yes, which means the concept of virginity is intrinsically homophobic. It reinforces the heteronormative idea that penis-in-vagina sex is somehow the standard and thus more significant than any other type of sex, essentially invalidating the experiences of anyone who doesn’t engage in heterosexual sex.
While we are on the topic of heterosexual sex, now might be the time to talk about the magical virginity testing device commonly known as the hymen. According to my high school buddies the biggest piece of evidence for my continued virginity was my intact hymen, so let me take some time to bust the notion of cherry popping.
The hymen, also known as the corona, is a thin membrane located at the opening of the vagina. It is not inside the vagina, nor does it cover the vaginal opening. Think about it – if there were a membrane covering the vaginal opening that was only ‘broken’ or ‘popped’ during penetrative sex, how would ‘virgins’ be able to menstruate? They wouldn’t, and yet young womxn the world over get their period before having sex, and if that isn’t further evidence that virginity is a societal concept I don’t know what is.