Upon arriving at university it never really occurred to me that virgins existed this side of sixth form. When playing “I have never” and “would you rather” I didn’t really think about the fact that there might be someone squirming in their seat because they’d never actually gone past first base. Perhaps a little ignorant of me, but I don’t think I’m alone in assuming that the world and his wife have been having sex since the word go.
In my friendship group, there were huge gaps between each of us losing our virginity and it happened in various circumstances. Some lost it at university, some with their first boyfriend, some through the medium of a one night stand and some can’t really remember it. For some of us, it was a huge deal, and for others it really didn’t matter-it was just another hurdle you had to overcome on the road to adulthood. I don’t think we were to blame however for having this somewhat blasé take on what was quite a huge step in each of our lives. After all, it is nothing new to suggest that sex is everywhere. But the fatal flaw in this sexual propaganda is that everyone is missing the step where people actually start “doing it”. You see all these sexualised images on billboards and on the television of people having great sex and looking impractically sensual but the steps you must go through to get to this utopian sex life is never addressed. Young people are familiarised with sex before they’ve even tried it themselves. It’s a bit like trying to make a soufflé before you’ve even attempted beans on toast-how are you supposed to learn like that? By promoting idealistic images of sex, not only are you making youngsters feel the pressure of performance but you’re giving away the ending. Let them learn for themselves.
Earlier this year we saw that soldiers were exposed for abusing women by carrying out “virginity tests” in Egypt. The women were stripped naked and checked over whilst male soldiers looked on and took photos. Elsewhere in the world these virginity tests are carried out on a regular basis to determine whether a woman is eligible to be married. Not only are these tests degrading and intrusive, they are scientifically inaccurate and unreliable. The issues raised around this debate served to remind me that a far greater importance is placed on virginal status outside of the UK and although I am in no way whatsoever agreeing with these humiliating procedures, I think we should start to think a little more about the importance of virginity in this country and place a little more importance on the start of our sex lives rather than only take an interest once it’s up and running.
Although I would urge anyone to wait for the right person, mistakes do happen and it’s not something to beat yourself up about. So one thing I cannot stand is women (or men actually) who claim that waiting until they were 30 to lose their virginity gave them a sense of empowerment and a dignity that those of us who lost it at a younger age do not have. I can’t see how this is true. Surely losing it with someone at a young age who you chose to is just as empowering as waiting an extra ten years for an equally eligible partner. Plus, those ten years spent searching are ten years that could’ve been spent trying to reach that sexual perfection!
However, I must now apologise for making the same mistake that most people make. I have written ‘lost’ or ‘lose’ virginity five times so far. Perhaps if we stopped passively referring to the first time we have sex as losing our virginity and start thinking of it as giving it to someone we trust, our decisions might hold a little more credibility.
I think here the phrase “start as you mean to go on” has never been more apt.