I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of
virginity. It's so unfriendly. If you are "a virgin" in the
traditional sense, you are somehow more innocent and pure (regardless of how
much of a little bitch you may be) than your somehow wiser, shiftier and
It's also physiologically dodgy (horses, bicycles, anyone?) and far too,
well... slippery. It's also so ingrained into our culture, that young girls
routinely think blowing their boyfriends or allowing back access
"preserves" their innocence. And all that's aside from the very
common, clumsy logistics of heavy petting and "almost penetration"
But "virginity" as we currently define it is much more ominous than
A chat I had with a Women24 blogger last year sticks in my mind. We were
discussing the ages we lost our virginity, and she mentioned a horrifyingly
pre-sexual age, and then apologised, saying that "it's a different thing
for her, because she'd been raped as a child, and her virginity stolen".
This cut me to my quick, as I am sure it just cut you.
My next reaction was one of outrage... seriously? We have a society so lavishly
rotten that we don't only routinely maim and hurt children, but that we leave
them with a societal taint too? This intelligent, brave and interesting woman –
who is now 40plus – feels she does not have the right to mark her own passage
into sexual identity.
Well, screw that. I don't want to live in a society where a 6-year-old child
can't be a virgin. I don't want to let mean girls blow the planet and then
flaunt their "virginity" over their peers. Where lesbians can
conceivably be virgins forever.
But mostly, I believe that until we reinvent the idea of virginity, an
outdated, possessive male construct , we can't give real weight to women's
All that in mind, I have a question. At what age did you lose your virginity? And I don't mean your hymen.
I mean how old were you when you had your first satisfying sexual experience, penetrative or
not? It might be the first time you had an orgasm by yourself, or the first
time you had an intimate, consensual sexual experience than opened up the world
of fulfilling sex for you?
I was 16. (But you knew that, Mom. Stop cringing.) Buy me a drink and I'll tell
you the story; suffice to say it was clumsy, gentle and sweet.