What Does ‘Virginity’ Really Mean?

By Jessica Mahmoud, Contributing Writer

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Virginity is a social construct, not a physical state. Photo courtesy of Sarah Scicluna (Flickr)
Virginity is a social construct, not a physical state.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Scicluna (Flickr)

Many of the ideas that we think of as normal parts of life are not real, but socially constructed. Understanding gender as an identity-related construct is often discussed, but a construct that people hardly ever talk about is virginity.

It takes a little time to realize that virginity is a construct, but that’s because the idea that one is a virgin until they lose their virginity is so ingrained in us. However, that is an idea that has been developed over time. In reality, it does not really exist.

There is no medical definition for virginity. If you put the word into Google, you’ll see the definition appear as “the state of never having sexual intercourse.”

What is this state? Virginity is not a physical thing. It’s just a label that society has created. You don’t hold a physical thing called “virginity” and then give it away to someone when you have sex for the first time.

This can also be thought of in terms of individuals who promise to remain abstinent until marriage. When they do have sex on their wedding day, what are they giving to their partner? What have they been saving?

Since virginity isn’t a physical thing, it is only a socially constructed idea that virgins are often seen as pure and better than those who have had sexual intercourse.

Another way to question virginity is thinking of what really defines intercourse. Often, people think of it as vaginal sex between a man and a woman. But what if a person never experiences that?

Do members of the LGBTQ community who only have sex in same-sex relationships remain virgins forever?

All of this has made me realize that virginity is not real and that one’s sexual experience should not be defined by a label. I think we should all think about this a little more before we put any significance to the word “virgin” and the concept it represents.

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