I’m A Virgin...and That’s Okay!
The pressure to have sex is real and can be pretty intimidating. But, you should never have sex because you feel pressured to. And being a virgin is not a bad thing. Here’s one NCS Grad’s take on why they’re happy to be a virgin and what it means for them...
There’s a lot of stuff left unsaid in sex-ed.
While squabbling over how to get the PowerPoint full screen to present you with the grossest STIs of the 21st century and tick it off the school mandatory curriculum (because that’s always successfully deterred students from ever having sex again, ever), the silence is staggering.
But questions always remain. The nitty-gritty stuff you try to delete from your search history;
Should I have had sex by now? Why don’t I want to have sex? Am I ugly?
Because, quite frankly, sex is irreversibly tangled with a sense of worth and beauty. If no one wants to get hot and sweaty with you, it’s because you don’t appeal to them. And that’s a terrifying thought.
I’ll be honest - sex has never been for me. There’s too much skin and noise and awkward shuffling when I’d rather just chill at home, thanks. That’s because I’m asexual. Others are waiting till marriage, some haven’t figured out who they like yet, others don’t have the time or energy for it, some can’t seem to be left alone for five minutes to get it done.
The reasons for being a virgin are all different. And there’s nothing wrong with any one of them.
What’s wrong is putting pressure on others to have the exact same physical experiences as you based on some twisted delusions about sex and individual worth. Some people just don’t want to do it, and no one’s lives are dependent on you having sex with the first person that buys you discount chocolate and calls you slightly above average.
Still, I can’t convince you of your beauty over a couple of words and some cool gifs. It’s really not what’s on the inside that counts if you’re just trying to get inside someone else. And not having sex is so, so much bigger than that weird mole on your butt or your crooked nose! The stigma itself is unavoidable - I’m staying anonymous in this blog, after all. Sex and sexuality are subjects too sensitive to post on the internet for friends and family to find. And that’s okay, because it’s about being comfortable in your own body and mind to say you’re simply not ready for sex yet.
It’s not about anyone else.
With Netflix teen shows taking secondary school by storm, everyone seems to be doing it with everyone - or that’s what Riverdale, with its gorgeous teenage models and cleavage that would snap my back in half, would have you believe. Even the stats are against being a virgin, with the average age of a teenager's first sexual encounter being 16. The clock’s ticking before you even take your GCSEs.
Yet, before you go off and panic buy contraception with your weekly toilet paper stock-up, here’s a crazy, controversial idea for you; virginity is a social construct.
Nothing about your physical body changes when you have sex. But, the hymen, you cry! Well actually, 52% of hymens stay intact during and after sex. Most experts can’t distinguish between a middle-aged sex worker’s genitalia and a teenage girl’s. The other 48% of hymens might not even last to their first sexual encounter. It’s a piece of elastic tissue that’s held teens by unachievable standards for thousands of years.
Then there’s the penis, which gets off even easier regarding that. But the pressures of sex present a lot differently than static labels of uptight or slag for men. Talk of sex has mingled with talk of masculinity and seeped like unwanted ooze into everyday conversation. Because, let’s be honest, the expectations of virginity are an unpleasant pick-and-mix when it comes to your gender identity.
While teenage boys are hoping no one questions their burning virginity, girls hide the condoms they’re buying under yet another pack of chewing gum.
And so amongst the sea of double standards and unreasonable standards, the secret of losing your virginity is this;
You don’t grow a fifth limb; you don’t become interconnected with all the other non-virgins around the world; you’re not suddenly dirtied. There’s a few physiological changes and you get the hype of satisfied arousal, but that’s it. It's your body, after all, and that means it’s your business. When you first have sex, all those pestering, pressuring little voices, all the sly comments and whimsical expectations won’t be there to judge you.
They’ll forget and move on.
Because - say it with me - it's my body and mine alone.
We’re so desperate to shield children from even looking at their own genitalia yet shun teenagers for not trying to bang everything with a pulse in a 69-mile radius. All this chatter and pressure and fear boils down to one idea; if someone is determining your worth based on how many genitals you’ve seen - be it some or none - then they don’t deserve your time.
I don’t expect you to give up on your quest to get laid, but the next time you’re thinking about the opinions of anyone but your own regarding it, ask yourself if you actually want to have sex or if you're just ripping off the plaster to get it over with and avoid the embarrassment. Because that’s a reason to get your ears pierced, not a reason to have sex.
If what I’m saying isn’t getting through, here are some great links working to dispel the stigma of virginity and help you understand your own boundaries:
- Virginity and shame
- Brook - an honest discussion about sex and consent
- The Virginity Fraud
- Do young people feel pressured to have sex?
- 'Now I have to check your hymen': the shocking persistence of virginity tests
If you’ve got questions about sexual health, why not check out our latest Ahhdulthood: Ask Us Anything, where your questions have been answered by experts at Brook - the UK's leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for under 25s. Or, take a look at the NSPCC’s discussion on the risks of sexting.