1. Myth:You’re the only one. Everyone else gets ‘busy’ and during the act probably whispers and laughs at your sexless existence.
Busted: Everyone else is not having sex all the time (even if you can hear some funny sounds through the walls of Clunies). Half of Australian high school graduates haven’t had sex before. At a college diverse as our very own International House, we get people from over the sex spectrum and we fold them all into our warm platonic embrace.
2. Myth:‘Virgins’ have ‘hymens’. There’s some little flap of skin hiding within your flower that needs to be torn asunder by pulsing manhood in order for your ‘cherry’ to be ‘popped’.
Busted: Here are the facts The word hymen comes from the Greek word for membrane and also happens to be the Greek Goddess of marriage (hm, suspicious). The hymen is generally a donut shaped membrane (though this certainly varies) that is thick in newborns but thins out through childhood and adolescence Hymens play little role in pain or discomfort associated to a woman’s first time, which is usually associated with anxiety, lack of lubrication and tight vaginal muscles (think tight in the sense of tight hamstrings)
Reasons it’s really messed up to propagate the hymen myths:
- It makes virginity more of a girl thing, which contributes to judgement and shaming.
- Historically, hymens were a way of judging the value of a woman in your possession – virgins were more valuable and were often subjected to incredibly invasive procedures to determine if their ‘hymen’ was intact (a concept that isn’t even particularly biologically valid).
3. Myth:It changes who you are. The rose petals have been carefully placed on the bedsheets, the candles are lit – you’re ready to metamorphose into your next evolutionary stage.
Busted: The first time you rode a bike was pretty nifty, but it certainly didn’t fundamentally alter you. We go through hundreds of ‘firsts’ in our lives and while ‘first sex’ might have an impact on you, it’s possible that ‘first overseas trip’ or ‘first marathon’ or even ‘first day at uni’ has the potential to change you just as dramatically as the whole sex shebang. Let’s take a look at the phrase “lose your virginity”. The concept inherently implies you’re losing something permanently, that you’ll never be the same again, and this is a really harmful pressure that warps the importance of the act. This is all not to say it shouldn’t be something of personal importance, but unpacking the societal expectations that are wrapped around our ‘virginity’ concept gives you the space to make the right decisions. Furthermore, let’s face it – you don’t suddenly graduate into a sexual maestro after your first awkward encounter. You’re probably only 1% more knowledgeable about what you’re doing and 1% less nervous than the first time.
4. Myth:You should give your virginity to ‘someone special’
Busted: sex shouldn’t be a transactional affair. There shouldn’t be any ‘giving’ or ‘taking’ or ‘losing’. Waiting for the right time, when you feel you’re ready is highly important – but waiting because you feel like this is a gift that you can only give once reinforces the idea that you’re fundamentally different after it all goes down.
5. Myth:Penetrative sex is the sex. All the sex. Fooling around is for high schoolers and losers – cut straight to that jackhammer action and do what you’re made to do.
Busted: this idea sucks for a lot of reasons. Firstly, it totally excludes people not having really conventional sex from the conversation. Do lesbians stay virgins forever if they never have “real sex”? What if the guy doesn’t get off, does that count? When we start qualifying what’s real sex and what isn’t, we really narrow our minds to the diversity present in human sexuality. Also, when we focus on the penetrative act we support all that hymen rubbish that is based in the historic ownership and oppression of women.
So if the concept of virginity sucks, what do we use instead? Sexual health educator Laci Green popularised the idea of a “sexual debut”. It isn’t rooted in oppression of women, it doesn’t exclude people who don’t have P in V sex, it doesn’t isolate rape and sexual assault victims from the conventional coming of age sexual journey – essentially it’s a way of acknowledging that you’re getting jiggy in some real weird ways and you’re ok with it. So real talk: maybe the next time you gossip with the girls/lads or have a dnm, steer away from the word ‘virginity’.