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Is Virginity a Societal Concept?

Virginity. It's a term I'm sure we've all come across at one point or another in our lives and I'm more than sure it's a word we have all said at some point. We use it as a term to describe whether or not we've had sex. If you haven't had sex, you are 'a virgin'. If you have had sex, you have 'lost your virginity'. But where did the term 'virginity' come from? Does it actually exist? Or is it just something that society has made up and is just something we've all decided to go along with? If you have been wondering about the answers to any of these questions (I mean, let's face it, why wouldn't you have been pondering these questions?), then hopefully I'll have answered them by the end of this post.

We all know the term 'virgin' to be given to a person who is yet to have had sex. But it originally referred to something else entirely. Originally, the term 'virgin' was used to describe a free woman who was independent, autonomous, and untied - her own sovereign and her own lover (The Woman's Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets - Barbara G. Walker). I much prefer this definition of a virgin than the one we're all used to! Due to this definition, it is also believed that the idea of the 'virgin Mary' didn't actually mean that she had never had sex yet ended up pregnant anyway (we all know this to be untrue). It actually meant that she was a virgin because she wasn't married when she fell pregnant with Jesus and the term was eventually changed to the term we use today because people wanted the Virgin Mary to be seen as someone with the purest womb (obviously, I mean, she was housing the son of God in there) (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth - Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor). To make it clearer, a virgin was used to describe a woman who may have had sex/definitely had sex/never had sex but was single and NOT to describe someone who had never had sex. So essentially, if you are an independent woman, regardless of whether you have had sex or not, you are a virgin. If you are married, regardless of whether you have had sex or not, you are not a virgin. I quite like this definition.

There is certainly a lot of pressure in society today for people to lose their virginity. In the UK, the legal age of consent is at sixteen; meaning you should only really start having sex (as long as you want to) once you turn sixteen. I certainly remember that as a teenager in school there was a lot of talk about sex and people were definitely judged by how much/how little they had done in a sexual sense. Once people did start having sex, if anyone else found out about it then everyone would immediately go up to that person and start asking them questions about it. I guess it was really a curiosity thing because when you're going through secondary school, this is the time where you're going through puberty, start getting feelings for people and begin to want to have sex with someone. It's a new thing and everyone makes such a big deal out of losing your virginity. But is losing your virginity really such a big thing?

I mean, sure, when you're that age and you don't necessarily know a whole lot about sex and people around you (possibly including yourself) are starting to have it for the first time, you naturally want to talk about it all the time and swap stories. It's a bit like when one of your friends has their first baby, I guess. They're one of the first people your age that you personally know to have a baby so you naturally want to talk to them about their pregnancy and childbirth and how they're finding parenthood to try and prepare yourself for if/when that happens to you. However, I digress. As you start to get older, you don't really talk about sex that much. It's just a given that most people are having sex and it's just not really something you talk about. I'm twenty and I can't really remember the last time myself and my friends had that type of discussion or in fact any type of discussion, about sex. We might talk about it if someone in our group gets a new partner or has a one night stand, but definitely not to the extent that we did when we were younger.

But even if someone has never had sex at my age, we don't really talk about it. So what if someone has or hasn't had sex? It doesn't change who they are as a person. It doesn't define who they are. I think it's very easy as a teenager to put someone's worth down to whether or not they've had sex. We shouldn't be doing this. As I mentioned earlier, virginity used to have an entirely different definition and it's only in years gone by that it's changed to the definition we use today. It really is just a societal concept. We've made it up. It's an imaginary thing inside our heads that we've put so much pressure on ourselves to lose. We're spending so much of our time trying to live up to a societal norm that isn't even real. Sex is just sex. It's not that big a deal. So what if someone's 'a virgin'? So what if someone's 'lost their virginity'? Life goes on. You're still the same person after you've had sex as you were before you had sex.

What do you think? Is virginity a societal concept? Or is it real?

Love Beth xx

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