By Demi Whitnell

Why we need to stop using the term “losing your virginity”

‘Popping the cherry’, the most common term for losing your V-card, AKA virginity. And it's probably the term you have used when discussing having sex for the first time with your friends. But did you know that nothing actually ‘pops’ when you have sexual intercourse for the first time?

You're probably aware of the recent debate surrounding the concept of virginity. With today’s society taking a stance that virginity is a fictional concept that we constructed that pins biological men and women in different categories depending on their sexual status.

Let’s discuss why we should leave ‘virginity’ in the Middle Ages.

What does Virginity actually mean?

The basic understanding of the term virginity is; a state of purity or inexperience. Specifically sexual experience and those who are in a state of inexperience are deemed virgins.

Social construct aimed to tear women down

Personally, I agree that virginity is a social construct. We treat virginity as something incredibly sacred for biological women but as a right of passage for men. Biological girls' virginity is discussed as if it is a white flower; delicate, divine, and valuable. Something that needs to be grown by a woman but plucked by a man. Note; the concept of virginity completely disregards homosexual experiences, and focuses solely on heterosexual intercourse.

Society praises biological women for remaining a virgin for as long as possible. Those who remain a virgin are deemed ‘pure’ whilst those who engage in sexual activities before marriage are whore-ifed.

The purity label serves to police biological women’s bodies with their virginity as the currency of their worth. They are downgraded with every sexual experience or partner. However, this is a different story for biological men.

Men and the concept of Virginity

I think we can all agree that biological boys are raised with zero embarrassment towards sexual acts such as masturbation and sex. I would need an extra pair of hands to count the amount of times I have heard men discuss their sex life directly in my presence.

There is no doubt that biological men are praised for losing their virginity at a young age. They're encouraged by male family members, friends and society to lose their V-card ASAP. This rite of passage is part of lad culture and to contrast female virginity, male virgins are shunned. This pressure to lose their virginity explains why biological men lose their virginity, on average, a whole year earlier than women (16 vs 17).

Neither sex can escape the pressures which encompass the concept of virginity. What's most interesting is that the individual does not change when they have sex for the first time. They do not transform into a better version of themselves or level up, you will still be you after you have sex for the first time.

Popping the cherry

Even I used this phrase when discussing my virginity as a teen but what do we actually mean by ‘popping the cherry’?

The cherry is in fact the hymen — a thin tissue found just inside the vaginal opening and is gradually worn down over time by factors such as:

  • Hormones,

  • Vaginal discharge,

  • Tampon use

  • Physical activity such as gymnastics, horseback riding and bike riding.

The cherry, AKA the hymen,  does not ‘pop’ or ‘break’ the first time a biological woman has sex. By the time she engages in sexual intercourse, her hymen may have already worn away.

Shocker, the state of a biological woman's hymen does not determine her sexual history! Yet, we still use this phrase which is so heavily tied to our understanding of virginity. However, let me ask you a question, have you ever asked a biological man if he has ‘popped his cherry’? We do not have a male version or ‘test’ to prove his virginity… smells like misogyny to me.

Why we should stop using the term virginity

  • It is archaic to think that a person's value should be based on whether or not they have had sex before. It's even weirder to have these beliefs about biological women and not biological men. Virginity is rooted in misogyny and I’m not here for that.

  • It is sex negative which promotes a double standard and contributes to slut shaming whilst praising men for the SAME BEHAVIOUR. Our sexual choices should be no one’s business but ours and our sexual partners.

  • Virginity is heteronormative, as explored before and delegitimises sexual experiences of non-hetero individuals. All sex ‘counts’ not just penis-in-vagina sex.

  • The concept sets our self-worth, or lack of and makes biological women feel ‘less’ the more they have sex. Or for the male virgin they feel pressured to rush into sexual acts to get approval of society and their friends.