In order to gather data, 70 people from the UK and Spain answered a questionnaire about virginity. Although ages vary from 18 to 39, 75% of these people were between the ages of 20 and 21, and over 60% of the participants were women.
The main goal of this questionnaire, apart from gathering information, was to make people reconsider what ‘virginity’ actually means to them, instead of just accepting whatever society says it’s the answer. I am pleased to say that I met the said purpose, and this is how I did it:
I gave two options to choose the one they think applied the most to ‘how’ one loses their virginity:
-They have penetrative sex (penis-in-vagina intercourse) for the first time, regardless of having experienced any other type of sexual relations previously.
-They have their first sexual relations, no matter if it is not penetration.
Although the results were almost a tie, ‘option a)’, by penis-in-vagina intercourse, was the most popular choice, with more than half of the participants choosing it.
Dr Pamela Young, an expert on Christianity and the Social Construction of Sexuality, who also gives her expertise in our article: ‘What is virginity?’, said:
“In general, in societies heavily influenced by patriarchy and patriarchal religion, losing virginity means the penetration of a woman by a man.”
When asked to explain their choice, these were some of the most frequent responses from the participants:
“Technically sex is penetrative just by the most technical definition I guess? Can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to it but that would be my instinctive definition.”
“Sex can mean lots of different things to different people. The arbitrary “penis in vagina” definition is very heteronormative, exclusive and outdated.”
“Because it’s when the hymen breaks.”
But I wanted to go further than that, and really make people think. So, I asked the following question: ‘If you have chosen the first option (one only loses their virginity once they experience penis-in-vagina intercourse)… If, for instance, two people with vaginas have sexual relations, how do they lose their virginity?’
To which, I must admit, some of the responses actually surprised me. Specifically the response by 5% of the people, who said “they simply don’t”.
Jasmine Cook, a 21-year-old lesbian who lost her virginity at 17 years old, shared her experience on ‘losing’ it for the first time: “My girlfriend at the time was not a virgin so she had experience, she gave me oral sex as well as finger penetration. To me, it’s not necessary to introduce any items in your vagina in order to lose your virginity.”
Dr Stephanie Harzewski, whose research interests include the media representations of female sexuality, is the principal English lecturer at The University of New Hampshire. She said that with the LGBTQ+ movement, virginity may have become more open-ended.
“I was born in 1974, and to speak plainly, a woman from my background could have engaged in both oral and anal sex, and still technically be a virgin, though in 2023, many would question if not laugh, at that notion.”
It is sad to think there are people in 2023 who still consider Paula a virgin.
When Paula learned about the 5% who think two people with vaginas ‘simply can’t lose their virginity’, she chuckled and said: “Oh, well! I guess I am a virgin then. And I will always be!
“All jokes aside, I respect everyone’s opinions but I would say that they should inform themselves more.”
Then, 75% of those who said you only lose your virginity via penis-in-vagina intercourse said that, in this case, it was different. As if it was an “exception”. These were some of the responses:
“That is more along the lines of sexual relations because it’s impossible to compare to heterosexual couples.”
“That’s a fantastic question, it really made me think.”
“By fingering, even though it doesn’t make much sense.”
Dr Harzewski stated that in its narrowest definition, virginity is associated with an unbroken hymen or an individual who has never had sexual intercourse, which has been based on a heteronormative model historically in the Western world.
At the end of the survey, I repeated some of the questions I asked at the beginning, like ‘Have you lost your virginity?’ and ‘Do you know when and how you lost it?’ in order to check if people had actually reconsidered what virginity meant to them.
This questionnaire resulted in over 30% of the participants reconsidering when, how and who they lost their virginity with and over 10% considering if they had lost their virginity at all.