What Is The Definition Of Virginity? There Isn’t One!

What if Aubrey Plaza's character in The To Do List watched How To Lose Your Virginity before starting her sexual journey? | Source: The To-Do List/CBS films

What if Aubrey Plaza’s character in The To Do List watched How To Lose Your Virginity before starting her sexual journey? | Source: The To-Do List/CBS films

What the hell is virginity?

I’ve been wondering what the answer to this question is ever since I saw an awesome documentary last night called How To Lose Your Virginity. The documentary explores the filmmaker Therese Shechter’s experience with losing her virginity at the age of 23 and how that–admittedly–underwhelming experience led her to ask a simple question: What’s the big deal about virginity in the first place? The film breaks down the concept of a virgin and questions  how our society and the world at large places so much value and worth on a woman’s sexual status.

The film is funny, fresh and enlightening, but above all else it made one thing very clear: Virginity doesn’t have a clear definition, but we’re so controlled by it anyway.

We receive a ton of comments from our readers everyday about virginity and each and every single one only emphasizes my point about virginity not really having one, true meaning.

“Virginity is a simple concept. It is a vagina that has never had a penis in it. Once a vagina has been penetrated by a penis, it is no longer ‘virgin’.”

Okay, that’s nice and all and I’m sure the dictionary agrees with you. But dictionaries have never been the prime source of nuanced ideas. What if you have a vagina and have sex with somebody else who has a vagina? Are you still a virgin because a penis wasn’t inside of you? Well, that doesn’t sound right, unless virginity is some straight kids only club.

“Virginity is basically a fragile obstruction from the vaginal opening called the hymen.”

Okay, so those girls who “break” their hymens when they’re 10-years-old and horseback riding aren’t virgins, either? Did I lose my virginity when I used a tampon for the first time?

“Just curious, am I still considered a virgin if just the tip went in?”

Well, that depends: Do you want to go with the definition about p in v penetration or the one about your hymen breaking? Was it in the vagina or the anus because, depending on who you talk to, anal sex “doesn’t count” as losing your virginity. Or maybe blow jobs are enough to place one out of the virginity category if it is intense enough.

See what I mean? Doesn’t this all seem a bit maddening? I mean, if virginity was such a simple concept, there wouldn’t be so many people debating its definition. Instead, we’re wondering about penis tips, hymen breakage and what the dictionary has to say about our sexual status.

This begs another question: Why does it even matter?

All it takes is just the tip to turn her into a "slut"...because all of her worth is in her vagina. | Source: Shutterstock

All it takes is just the tip to turn her into a “slut”…because all of her worth is in her vagina. | Source: Shutterstock

We put so much power and so much self-worth onto the state of our vaginae, but for whose benefit? It doesn’t seem like it benefits us girls very much. Think about it: We’re judged if we’re virgins, we’re judged if we’re not. We use phrases like “technically a virgin” as if the only sex that matters or counts is if a penis (or just the tip!) wriggles around in your vagina. Girls around the world participate in promise ceremonies which, ultimately, place the ownership of our vaginas and virginity with our father and future husband. Rape victims suddenly aren’t virgins–pure, untouched, unsullied or whatever other bogus puritanical words you can think of–because of something they couldn’t even control…what good is this concept of virginity, really? Because for centuries it has been used as yet another way to police women’s bodies and, sadly, that hasn’t changed much.

Don’t believe me? Check out this comment we received:

I heard you have to bleed after having sex for the first time. My boyfriend and I had a big confrontation about this, because I was a virgin when we had sex and I didn’t bleed after our first time and [he] began to accuse me that I wasn’t a virgin.

So not only was this young woman’s boyfriend buying into virginity myths, he also acted as if her virginity status was something worth badgering her about. What is this, a modern day witch trial? How dare you not be a virgin! To the stake, with you!

I’m not saying any of this to make anyone who puts a lot of value on their virginity–whatever the hell it is–feel stupid. It’s totally legitimate if you want something as intimate as sex to be special or to be with a special someone. Hey, I haven’t found that person yet, either. But I can’t help but feel like this confusion over what it means to be a virgin can play into a lot confusion and perpetuate sexist narratives that define women’s sexuality and morality.

Next time you ask yourself if a, b or c makes someone a virgin, ask this as a follow up question: Why does it matter?

How do you personally define virginity? Do you think that putting an emphasis on virginity is harmful? Tell us in the comments!


Can Guys Tell If You’re A Virgin?

Follow Gurl!
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram

Posted in: Virginity
Tags: ,
  • Shadowwraith

    The best way I can look at virginity, is the simple action of engaging sexual activity till either or both engaged, actually climaxes [aka orgasms]. The act itself, who or how it is achieved is irrelevant in my eyes, only the act of orgasm by sexual intercourse with a mate(s). Masterbation I do not consider losing ones virginity for say, as it is usually done by oneself, however masturbation by a partner I would attest as an exception to losing ones virginity.

  • Adam

    Thought this was very interesting! From a guys perspective I myself completely agree. My friends all pester me about having girlfriends that ‘aren’t virgins’ asif they had been convicted of some crime? I really don’t see the point of the word ‘virginity’ in society.. Just because someone has been on a (e.g) rollercoster doesn’t make them any less or anymore of a person?

  • Open

    Well babies are a gift from God no matetr how they’re conceived. Now what if your dad was a rapist? You didnt ask for that. But shit happens! You writers really shouldn’t mock the teachings of the Bible. Call me overly sensitive, but you cannot deny that children are a blessing. If children were so bad, wouldnt fertility clinics have no customers? Some people want a baby badly, it isn’t fair to downplay that by making light of the seriousness of the situation just to mock some rich, out of touch CEO.

  • CeCe

    Virginity is not something a person must have or not, or must believe in. It can be used against people and that’s totally wrong. It does not make a diff. whether or not someone has had sex or not and frankly what somebody else wants to do with their own private life is none of any one else’s business. It’s downright insidious how much society sends out the message that people who are virgins or not virgins are so fundamentally different.i think as your grow and experience more close bonds with partners, intimacy is a part of your life you’ll gain much joy from- so why do people tease and humiliate each other based off these stereotypes about what having sex does to a person anyway . Virginity is an age old concept that served to keep men entitled to control women’s reproductive or sexual choices. There shouldnt be this patriarchal notion any more that girls have to be pure for their husbands and boyfriends. I say, if anyone ever questions your sex life or dares to accuse you of having/not having virginity tell them everybody has a right to decide when and how they want to express their sexuality and no body should ever make someone feel bad by making them talk about it when they dont want to!

  • Anotherpasserby

    This post got me thinking again to Laci Green’s video “Let’s Lose Virginity” on youtube where she discusses what “virginity” really means; and why does it have so much power on us. Thought provoking.

  • xboobearx

    I think the editors of this website have a point, it’s like how You yourself, defines the word normal. SO i have to ask, is virgin, and virginity the same thing. or is it interpreted the same way?

  • Knowitall

    Believ it or not…as far as I’ve seen boys are also put on alot of pressure on this whole virgin thing…….. They are judged and all that….. So, technically speakiong both genders have pressure…

  • Maria José

    I’m still a ‘virgin’, but i’d rather say that i havent had sexual relationships since the word ”virgin” is just something made up by society thats constantly screwing all the girls life. I mean, for me, you stop being virgin when you’re not innocent anymore, because whether we have had sex or not, we certainly think and talk about it anytime.
    Society is chauvinistic because we let it be.

  • Allyson

    I’m 27 and a Christian and I am proud of my virginity. Yes I am a virgin and my virginity is very important to me. I also believe in sex inside marriage so when I meet the man God has for me, he will be the only one who I give my virginity 🙂

    • Jess

      Now somebody is speaking my language!! 🙂 I feel the same way… well im not 27… 17… but you get my point though! Thanks for posting your comment… helped more than you realizes.

  • brenda

    I am a virgin bt sometimes when i a cross my legs it look as if am having sex.

  • N

    Personally, I believe one’s virginity is lost when they engage in any sexual activity involving both their and their partner’s penis, vagina or anus.

  • Matt

    I think that virginity is simply not a very specific thing. If you are a lesbian, then of course it’s considered losing your virginity if you’ve had sexual relations with a woman. And one thing raging feminists always seem to disregard is men, losing your virginity is not about the vagina it’s about humans having sex in general, in whichever way. It comes down to this, it’s a matter of perspective. If someone for whatever reason believed that any form of physical contact was considered losing ones virginity, then in their reality, their partner is no longer pure or a virgin or whatever you want to call it. People like you tend to look too deeply into things, you’re being way too technical. Yes the meaning of the word varies but the same goes for many big words… Like ‘love’ for instance.

  • Faith

    I don’t think the boyfriend you wrote about thought virginity was something “worth badgering her about”, you know, he was just ignorant about what happens so he thought she had lied.

    I personally think that choosing to have sex with someone is a big deal, I’ve always put a lot of value in the concept of virginity. I’m also pretty sure my hymen broke during a horse race when I was 8, so it’s not even a mere physical fact.

    Now, shaming women for having/not having sex, that’s bullshit. Sex is private business, unless the person decides to let others now. ù.ù

    • Jess

      SO TRUE!