Virginity lies in the eye of the beholder
Vaginal penetration is considered sex by most people, but it’s not the only way of “doing it” — there is also anal sex and oral sex, but not everyone would consider those acts of losing one’s virginity.
Media production junior Andrew Cochran said he considers losing one’s virginity as having an orgasm with another person for the first time.
When Cochran thinks of losing his virginity, he thinks of two separate times: his first time with a girl when he was younger, and his first time with a boy in high school.
Cochran said his first time with a girl was “awkward” and “really, really terrible.” Laughing, he said he remembers “Blue’s Clue’s” was playing on the television in the background, and he was more interested in the blue dog.
“When you lose your virginity for the first time, it immediately embeds in your mind as… ‘this is a memory, this is a milestone,’” Cochran said. “You start thinking, ‘From this point on, it’s going to be different.’ So afterward, it’s almost silent — even in your mind.”
According to Planned Parenthood, it’s difficult to define sex because its parameters are different, depending on the person. Because of this, attempting to pinpoint the exact moment a person loses their virginity is subjective.
People within the LGBT community may never have vaginal sex in its assumed form, but that doesn’t mean that they still consider themselves virgins.
“When you lose your virginity for the first time, it immediately embeds in your mind as… ‘this is a memory, this is a milestone.’ You start thinking, ‘From this point on, it’s going to be different.’ So afterward, it’s almost silent — even in your mind.”
Andrew Cochran, media productions junior
Cultural and religious influences
Open communication is encouraged when discussing sex and virginity, but it doesn’t always feel natural — especially for families heavily influenced by their cultural backgrounds.
A petroleum engineering freshman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that in Ethiopia, talking about sex and one’s virginity is extremely taboo. When he left Ethiopia and came to the United States in middle school, he was surprised by how differently Americans approached sex.
“When I say it’s taboo, I mean it was taboo to see people kissing in a movie (in Ethiopia). I’d seen one movie where (the actors) did that, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe they actually did that on screen,’ ” he said.
“Like with my parents, I’ve seen them hug … but I’ve never seen them kiss on the lips or anything.”
Biology senior Thao Mai associates the word “purity” with virginity, because religion is prominent in his life and he was raised believing sex should be saved for marriage. Mai said that while premarital sex is looked down upon in a lot of religious teachings, his parents didn’t raise him to believe someone would be condemned for it.
“My parents really wanted me to find (pure love), but they also were like, ‘It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you weren’t (a virgin),’ ” Mai said.
Sex and intimacy aren’t one in the same, but most students who were interviewed said they believe sex to be more meaningful if done with a special partner or spouse.
Accounting freshman Meshech Narcelles said his parents encouraged him to wait until marriage, and while he isn’t a virgin, he said he did wait until he met the right person — his girlfriend he’s been dating since high school.
“Sex is super personal and super intimate, and getting intimate with a girl or guy shouldn’t be seen as a goal or an accomplishment. When you have sex with someone while in a relationship, it’s seen as a benefit,” Narcelles said.
“You’ve gotten to that level where you’re comfortable with that person. So why would you go around and parade that? It kind of loses its meaning to it.”
The double standard
When students were asked to consider the different social expectations of men and women and losing their virginities, it was obvious that most men and women had been exposed to the conversation of sex differently.
Broadcast journalism junior Brenda Matute said she was raised to keep her virginity until marriage by her parents and has felt her mother’s influence on her life the most.
“Anything I did, (my mom) would be like, ‘Do good in school, and don’t get with a guy because all he will want is sex.’ That’s all I’ve ever heard,” Matute said.
Both women and men recognize the double standard but are unsure how to counteract the stigmas surrounding virginity and gender.
“If it’s a one-night stand, the guy is going to be praised, and the girl will be looked down upon,” Narcelles said. “I don’t like it, but a lot of the time I even find myself following the double standard inadvertently, because it’s so common throughout life.”
Good sex takes time
Media production senior Vanessa Phillips said her first time was very different than the stereotypical virginity stories she’s heard before. Phillips said that in the small town she grew up in, everyone was having sex very young and she felt pressure to fit in and be accepted.
Phillips said that she was 11 years old when she lost her virginity, and while her first time wasn’t painful, it didn’t feel good either. She said it took a few times before it started feeling good, and she dealt with some inner turmoil until it did.
“I remember thinking, ‘What the hell is the point of all this?’ I thought it was supposed to be awesome. The second time was still not good, because it… felt like I was just there for him,” Phillips said. “I remember feeling terrified and thinking, ‘This isn’t gonna work…it’s going to defeat the purpose of all of it.’ But then we did it a third time, and that third time was amazing. I was like, ‘This is what it’s supposed to feel like!”
Bottom line is that losing one’s virginity is different for every single person because every single person is different. For some, this act can be insurmountable. For others, it doesn’t hold much weight in who they became as a person.
Sex is an act that is constantly evolving, so the conversation concerning having sex for the first time should change too.
‘A natural, human experience’
“It was awesome — for me, at least,” said media productions senior Jonathan Fernandez when asked to share his story of losing his virginity. Fernandez said he was 17 years old when he lost his virginity to his high school girlfriend of nine months.
“It was awkward, too, because I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “Then I also didn’t expect it to happen that day … and I was scared that her parents were going to come in because they were out and weren’t supposed to be there.”
Fernandez’s experience was similar to that of other people his age, with The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reporting in 2010 that 17 is the average age most men and women lose their virginity.
While Fernandez said he and his girlfriend didn’t date for much longer after that day, he said virginity should just be taken as what it is: a “natural, human experience.”
“Don’t rush it, because a lot of people rush it. It should be something that just happens on its own when the time is right,” Fernandez said.
“Later on in life, you will meet the person you will have sex with for the rest of your life. And it’ll be the best — not necessarily because it’s the best sex or anything — but just because it’s the person you’re meant to be with.”