Redefining what it means to be a virgin

Between all the oohhing, awwing, groaning and groping I never thought that me jerking off to Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba was when I lost my “virginity” back in middle school. Did it happen when I received oral sex in high school? I still considered myself a virgin at the time. Or was it finally “officially” lost when I had sex with my girlfriend for the first time in college?

When does virginity actually vanish and the cherry pop? Is it when there is some sort of penetration, whether it be vaginal or anal, in the strict traditional sense, or when my hand became my groin’s best friend? Does it matter what came first: the hand or the lips?

I hate the term “virginity” and it should be abolished from our vocabulary. Culturally it has become irrelevant and attempts to define it only complicates and confuses its meaning. Virginity should be defined as having experienced sexual pleasure.

The dictionary, try as it might, doesn’t define it concretely. According to Merriam-Webster, virginity refers to an individual who has never had sexual intercourse. But then let’s look up sexual intercourse: “Heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis or intercourse (as anal or oral intercourse) that does not involve penetration of the vagina by the penis.” This is just too ambiguous.

It highlights that chastity is a fleeting and outdated term that can never be defined to be all-inclusive. So why do we need to define virginity? The English language is constantly changing and each individual person creates their own connotative meanings with words.

And why would it matter considering that our culture is becoming much more erotic and sexual on a daily basis?

In advertisements we are greeted with women in skimpy outfits or men with impressive, built-up physiques promoting household items such as vodka, blenders, bed sheets and lawnmowers with poses that invite sexual fantasy. I can’t even say innocent phrases out loud like “get down,” “that got hard,” “sigh of relief” or “pull that hard” without someone making a glance or raising an eyebrow.

The percentage of those who claim virginity appears to be increasing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics study released in 2010 of 2006 to 2008 data. Among 18- and 19-year-olds, about one-quarter of men and women said they hadn’t had sexual contact with another person, up from 17 percent of women and 22 percent of men in 2002. Among those ages 20 to 24, 12 percent of women and 13 percent of men said they were virgins, up from 8 percent for both sexes in 2002.

But when looking at what the terms and definitions were, the survey admits that it only counted vaginal penetration between heterosexual partners as a loss of virginity. The survey excluded homosexual sex and other acts of sexual pleasure such as masturbation.

So as it stands, even national surveys and studies are limited in their definitions and don’t take into consideration the wide range of sexual practices and possibilities.

Although the government data offers no explanation for the growing percentage of virgins, there has been plenty of speculation, also stating that the study referred to vaginal penetration as being the determining factor for virginity loss and excluded anal and other forms of non-penetrative sex such as cunnilingus, fellatio and mutual masturbation.

Also contributing to this virginal vagueness was the case of Nicki Blue, a porn star who caused controversy in January when her company was going to broadcast her deflowering live via the Internet.

Although she had plenty of anal and oral sex on camera, Blue never once had her vagina penetrated. She stated that her hymen was intact. She had dildos penetrate her anally but never had one go through her vaginal area because she didn’t want to lose her virginity to a sex toy. Are we to think that a porn star can still be a virgin because there hasn’t been vaginal penetration?

Are we just supposed to stay with an antiquated term that has lost its cultural value of prized esteem in the United States? Virginity has never been clearly defined and is a word that is becoming more slippery than KY lubricant.

Let’s get rid of this word and replace it with sexual experience. This in turn can avoid such technicalities and confusion. So when does the “fooling around” end and “having sex” begin? Let’s leave that question alone.

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Redefining what it means to be a virgin