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By Madeline Perez

Virginity. Chances are you’ve been haunted by this concept in some way or another. Maybe you’ve been taunted by the metaphorical or not-so-metaphorical children of the playground, circling you like some foul ethereal vulture, tormenting you with cries of “Virgin! Virgin! You’ve never had sex, loser!” Or maybe you’re still disturbed by images of the goblin-esque creep, asking you your purity status while seething behind a wall of Discord DM’s. Maybe you wanted your first time to be magical, and in the fantasy, forgot to consider the limitations of reality and your own psyche. When the time came, the performance pressure got to you and you snapped, triggering low self-esteem, regret, and nothing less than a string of child murders; killer still at large. 

Whatever the case may be, when I look around, I see people hurt by this concept. And whom does it help? Maybe the insecure girls who want to feel like they still have something special to give away. The anxious teen boy who, in a way, wants to feel a bit superior to his inexperienced friends. Maybe the low-confidence men or women who want to target people with no experience, since they would have nothing in which to compare, and it feels weirdly special to them to be with someone who has never been with others. While this may seem like an unfair generalization, I will be making the argument that our current social take on purity is harmful to everyone – not just women – and that by redefining our view of sex we can mitigate this harm. Hopefully while keeping the positive aspects of “virginity” as we know it. 

The titular query of this article poses the very important question: Is virginity real? In simple terms, yes. Welp, that was easy. Article over. You all can go home now, and yes, I can validate your parking. But wait. Sure, the concept is real, but how “real” is that? Doesn’t the concept of virginity just exist in our minds, kind of like how my relationship with Jessica Rabbit only exists in my mind? If we all collectively thought differently about this concept, then its social utility would change. Couldn’t it become something else entirely? Or is there some sort of concrete example of “virginity” that exists on its own?– aside from Bing Review members, that is. 

Trees exist. You can perceive a tree and even when you’re not perceiving it, it doesn’t give a shit. It’s a tree. Now, our perception of trees is metaphysical. What is and what isn’t called a “tree” is a matter of the linguistic and scientifically categorical definitions that help us (society) think about things in scopes larger than their bare existence. In turn, your idea of what is and isn’t called a “tree” is a social construct. However, just because something is a social construct doesn’t mean it’s not real—it just means it doesn’t fully exist on its own apart from our societal perception and prescriptions thrust upon it. When people say things like “gender” or “money” are social constructs, this is what they mean. Sure, the money itself exists and you can touch it or lick it or shove it into the crevice of some stripper, but our perception of its value and use is a construct that can change or cease to exist if and when the zombie apocalypse comes. 

Virginity is a construct that exists in the great collective consciousness(as opposed to Carl Jung’s collective unconscious. Sounds like a sleepover, huh). If it were erased, our definition of “virgin” (in this case, people who haven’t yet had straight penetrative sex) will still exist, but drawing attention to their belonging in some sort of group would be as arbitrary as any other trait. “Group A are those who have owned an air fryer, and group B will be people who have clearly, never owned an air fryer.” We don’t have arbitrary grouping and words centered around other sexual or romantic activities, so why is “peepee go in hole” so important to us? 

You’re smart. You probably know where I’m going with this. To make a long story short, the concept of virginity has historically been used as a stand-in for a woman’s morality. Virgin = good, non-virgin = evil wench. Back in the day, to be sure a child was his, men would take up virgin brides, no doubt also allured by the fact these women were untouched in a culture where chastity was such a virtue. This still remains, in part, today, but the social utility has all but died out. The idea that women have something special that they can “lose” if they make the wrong decision is absurdly harmful and creates unneeded shame and pressure around having sex. And, like many of these gendered problems pervasive in society, we see a perverted flip-flop of the problem on the other side of the coin, though many would say it’s not as severe. A new insult for inexperienced men who, for their own reasons, haven’t dipped their disco stick into the alluring honey pot of some willing female. 

Now that times have changed and we no longer need a category to increase a woman’s dowry, why has the original concept of virginity persisted? Aren’t there other ways to have sex rather than just repeatedly jamming a steel rod into the metaphorical pit of quicksand? To that I say – yes! I’ve been so confused lately. So if a virgin is someone who has never had sex, why does only vaginal penetrative sex count? What about anal? Or oral? Or some sort of mutual Twister™-esque hand-job sesh? While these things can be specified as “anal-sex” or “oral-sex,” it should simply be sex. And a sex so powerful that it can alter your virginity status, at that (that is, assuming we’re not throwing the baby out with the baby water.) I simply don’t think it’s right to so narrowly define something so diverse. Are lesbians and gay men restricted to a life of narrow-sense virginity because they don’t meet the criteria for “losing it?” I’ve heard that it just doesn’t count for them – and why not? If we as a society are going to create these great parameters for the virgins and non-virgins, isn’t it unfair to keep so many people in the purgatorial grey area? No one wants to be there. Going to the doctor for a yearly check-up gets very confusing very fast. “Are you sexually active?” Well yes, but uuhhh, no… so, ummm. Maybe? Not in the way that you’re asking, doc. 

As mentioned before, there is a rift in how virginity negatively affects the genders. This is cultural knowledge that you no doubt are familiar with. Virginity for women is something they are urged to hold on to for as long as they’re able to not put out, but for men it’s a hot potato they should get rid of as quickly as they can. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a general trend; one wound that I believe has been trying to heal itself for a while now. I honestly don’t care about exactly how much sex one should be having. All I care about is whatever standard you create is held equally to men and women because, and not to be gaslight-y here, this is all in our heads. If we simply stop thinking it’s bad for women to have loads of partners but good for guys, as a rule, we should see an evening out which, let’s face it, we kind of need. Have you SEEN the skyrocketing virginity rates for guys right now?? Mans is too busy playing GTA IV and listening to Radiohead to even entertain the thought of pussy. 

There is an acute obsession with young virgin women. Plain and simple. You see it all the time on porn sites, not that I have a clue what those are. What am I talking about again? Oh yeah. It’s all over the place: freshly 18-year-old co-ed gets taught sex-ed, Watch me turn this lesbian girl straight with my massive schlong, Barely-legal teen makes a balloon animal with his conk, I could go on all day. There is clearly a sexualization of youth, naiveté, and submissiveness in women, which ties into why the perceived importance of virginity refuses to disperse. 

What do we do from here? How do we change things in a world of blind traditionalists pointing at a dictionary and screaming “BUT– BUT– THAT’S NOT WHAT IT REALLY MEANS! YOU CAN’T REDEFINE WORDS!!” That’s where you’re wrong, Ben Shapiro underlings, because words are meant to serve us, and not the other way around. I propose a change – a world where the shorthand use of “sex” can mean any sort of sexual activity you had with someone else. A world where “virginity” adjusts itself to either fit this all-encompassing definition of sex or awkwardly leaves the common vernacular as one would a party with no Dorito bowl. A world where the concept of virginity itself doesn’t possess half as much societal stress as it does today. But I think we’re already getting there as a culture, making this whole article just about as obsolete as a dental dam. Those are the things toothy beavers build, right? 

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