“Lost” Virginity

When people talk about their first sexual encounter, it commonly includes the word “lost”.  I am not a fan of this term.  It makes it sound like something is being taken from you.  This term may be appropriate for those whose first time is forced, tricked or guilted from them.

This post is not dealing with those situations.  Remember that very important caveat when I put forth my ideas.  I am referring only to completely consensual acts, so please do not point out such exceptions.  This is about when a consenting individual enters into a sexual situation informed.

There are many definitions of the word lost, but the most fitting here seem to be “no longer in your possession or control; unable to be found or recovered”, “spiritually or physically doomed or destroyed” and “incapable of being recovered or regained”.   The third is certainly true, once you have had your first sexual encounter that is it.  You cannot go back to pre-sexual encounter you (the importance of this “milestone” is debatable, and again a discussion for another day).

The first one seems like it could be true.  I do not like what “no longer in your possession or control” implies.  The idea that it is not in your possession has two important implications.  First, that it is something you can “possess”, like comments about v-cards suggest.  Second, that since you no longer have it, someone else must.  This says to me that you are giving part of yourself and your body to someone else, instead of a mutual growth.  Sex is an experience.  You can put as much or as little meaning to it as you want, but at its core what happens is a simply defined act.  In my mind, sex, if it is your first or thousandth time, is a gain.  It is a new experience that shapes who you are.  Not a loss of something.

As for the second definition, “spiritually or physically doomed or destroyed”, most of you may not see this in your definition of “lost virginity”, but you cannot deny that there are many that do.  And a lot of people believe that if your first sexual encounter is not in some sort of romantic situation you are in some ways tainted.  As someone whose first time was not romantic in the least I can tell you that it does not automatically leave some taint.  Nothing is tainted.  This may be a situation where something is “lost”, though, if you compromise some ideal of a romantic first time.

Some of you may be about to point out that referring to it as a “first time” is also common, as it is the term I tried to use here.  I don’t disagree with that, and I have trouble getting a sense of what is more common or if one is starting to eclipse the other.  Either way, I believe that the common use of the phrase “lost virginity” says something about how we view that situation.  At least for women, the implication is that once your virginity has passed you are something less than you were before.  Until you gain the virtue of the, probably wed, mother, that is.


About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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