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So there is good news and bad news here. The good news is that mainstream sexual education does not deem sex as something that is only for mommies and daddies, something that strictly reduces women to baby-making machines, or something damaging out of wedlock. The good news is that sex, at least, is taught educationally and informatively in regard to how the whole thing works and what the possible “consequences” are. I’m giving society a light high-five for that one. The bad news, however, is the unfair pressure that society puts on a woman’s virginity.
If you’re a man, the sooner you’re engaging in sex, the sooner you’re good to go. The more partners the merrier, and the less serious you treat sex the more protected you are from developing feelings.
But women have it dramatically different. Not only is virginity rumored to be the ultimate expression of love with a super special partner, but it is also discussed as something one “loses.” Furthermore, it’s something one loses to a man — something that he gets to take from you and keep.
I did not lose my virginity. As a matter of fact, I know exactly where it is: the backseat of a white Jeep Cherokee. (A story for our second coffee date.) My body is not broken over the event, I don’t feel lighter, or even more whole for that matter. I feel gracious that my first experience with sex was consensual, respectful, and comfortable (leather interior). He did not take anything from me, nor did he give me any sort of enlightenment about my sexuality or who I am as an individual. It’s just how it went for me. And it was awkward, and it hurt — but, again, I felt comfortable, safe, and as “ready” as one can feel for something like that, I think.
On the other hand, part of me does wish he had been my boyfriend, or that I had loved him a little bit. That it was prom night, maybe, or in the comfort of my own bed. And this idealistic display of virginity is why I would second guess my experience for even a second. The pressure around what your first time is “supposed” to look like makes me feel as though my experience was less than perfect.
There is nothing wrong with being in love and letting virginity mean something of importance to you. But the other side of that ideal can be very damaging, shaming women into feeling as though they weren’t deserving of the proper first experience, or didn’t wait long enough to “give” themselves to the right person.
What teachers of sexual education forget to mention is that there is no right time, no right moment, no right age, and no right feeling, that dictates one’s readiness, or ideal situation in “losing” their virginity. And with so much attention on the act itself, what is really lost is the possibility of what sex can be. Emphasizing this word which literally just means “yet to be penetrated” and valuing it because the action is oh-so-holy sets aside the potential for an actual connection to be made.
There is nothing sparkly about virginity. Society has only helped make it more of a burden rather than something that is beautiful. I don’t want to be unfair because we have made positive steps with better and more accessible sexual education. But traditional expectations still linger. Age and time and moment and love still seem to matter. And in the big picture, I would agree that it does. But if your first time is not lost but shared with someone who you trust, who makes you feel safe, wanted, and comfortable — that is worthwhile.
Your virginity, your body, your heart and your decisions are entirely yours. Stand behind the actions you take. If it feels right for you, then right it is.