“Losing Your Virginity”: An Outdated Term
It’s a new decade people, and with the changing times, we have to change our language as well.
Language is one of the most, if not the most revolutionary tools in our evolution as humans. Unfortunately it can also be a powerful weapon that can be used to manipulate us, make us feel small, or take away our power.
Let’s take the phrase “Losing your virginity”. I don’t know about you, but hearing this does not make me feel anywhere close to empowered.
Instead it brings up awkward teenagers navigating the tricky territory of human sexuality. It brings up feelings of shame, and needing to hide. It is far from sexy, and lacking in education.
You Say You Want a Revolution
People have sex. That’s how we got here. Plain and simple. So why do we have such twisted views on our initiation into being sexually active?
With the incredible amount of resources and information we have at our fingertips these days (like what you’re reading right now), it’s safe to say we’re in the midst of a new-age sexual revolution. Part of this revolution is changing the language we use to talk about sex. Language that breaks barriers, allows for fluidity and greater understanding.
Here’s my grievances with “losing your virginity”.
You Haven’t Lost Anything
Anyone who has an enjoyable sex life can tell you- losing your virginity is not losing anything. In fact, you’re gaining something. Gaining the right to experience pleasure in a new way. Having sex creates the opportunity for deeper connection and sensation than you’ve ever experienced.
You’ve unlocked the ability to create life, to embrace your sensuality, and experience new levels of relating to others.
The idea that we’ve lost something is outdated, and incredibly patrearcheal. I would place bets on the type of person that came up with that term, and I certainly wouldn’t be betting on a woman.
Speaking of Patriarchy
Virginity has been prized and traded for centuries upon centuries. Men and families have gladly handed over their “virgin” daughters as a means to gain wealth, property, and status. People have handed over virgins as a tool for curing illnesses and diseases.
Take 16th century Europe where having sex with a virgin was thought to cure syphilis and gonorrhea. This is still being practiced in sub-saharan Africa as a “cure” for HIV. A dangerous and criminal form of sexual violence.
People have been commodifying women’s bodies for too long.
“Losing your virginity” sounds like a transaction. Loving, connected sex is not a transaction. It’s an interaction. An intercourse, on many levels. Let’s let’s stop thinking about sex and virginity as a form of payment.
“Losing” something implies that someone else took it. If we lose the idea that someone can hold such a sacred piece of someone else’s experience, we stand to gain a lot more collectively. More empowerment, more respect, more connection.
In the growing world of sexual identities and understanding of gender, sex is not as black and white as people once thought. Sex is not always penis in vagina. Or penis in butt, or penis anywhere for that matter- you get where I’m going with this.
Everyone has a right to have their own definition of sex and virginity. And that definition may change as they develop a deeper understanding of their sexuality, needs and desires. It’s no one else’s job to put labels and definitions on other people’s bodies and experiences.
Redefine Your Experience
An all too common reality is a “first time” that’s marked by trauma, confusion, or unclear consent. When this is the case, discussing or thinking about when they lost their virginity can be incredibly triggering for people.
This often catalyzes a sex life where they’re unable to vocalize their needs, set clear boundaries, and be fully present.
For people who relate to this, they may decide to use a different term, or to recreate the memory of their first time to one that is full of love and openness. For victims of sexual violence, this gives them a chance to take their power back and have autonomy over their bodies, while re-writing their story.
Frankly one of the biggest reasons we’re over “losing your virginity”, is because it’s weird! It’s usually a way to beat around the bush (pun intended) when people, typically teens, start having sex.
Why are we so scared of straightforward honesty? Sex is beautiful, and something to be celebrated, so let’s use language that reflects that.
So it’s decided, we’re throwing out “losing your virginity”. Bye! Now let’s brainstorm some replacement phrases. From playful euphemisms, to straightforward sentences- we’ve got endless options.
Here are some of our favorites:
- I’ve been initiated
- I’ve renounced my v-card
- I’ve joined the ranks
- Consider my rocks “offed”
- I popped my own damn cherry
- I’ve made love
- Or simply… “I started having sex”
Ok, now it’s your turn to examine your story of when you first started having sex, and how the language you use has influenced it.
Remember- it’s your body, your experience, and your story.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.