One of my absolute favorite shows on television is “Community”. The writing is impeccable, the actors are hilarious and the show itself is more meta than any other show on TV. My only complaint, after all these years, is to a joke made in the first season. A character reveals that even though she is in college, she is also a virgin. Another character responds by saying, “Being a virgin in this day and age is something to be proud of, you’re like a unicorn.” While I understand the joke and still laugh at its presentation to this day, the fact that characters display shock that someone among them is a virgin makes me think whether or not this is meant to be an exaggeration of the idea that a person in college is expected to have lost their virginity. I think this because I myself am a college student and a virgin.
The first time I was labeled as a “virgin” was in the fifth grade when we all thought we knew what the phrase meant. To us, it meant you hadn’t kissed a girl yet. If this were true, I would have lost my “virginity” in high school and probably wouldn’t even be writing this article. The point is, nobody knew what a virgin really was and yet everyone seemed to be concerned with making sure they weren’t one.
Fast forward a few years: I’m now in the eighth grade and still nobody can give me a better understanding of the word. By now, I was more clear on the facts of life and was about to be called into a school assembly that was supposed to “answer any questions we had about sex.” They separated the class by gender and put us in separate classrooms where we were met by our parents who were there to make sure we understood what was being said by the presenter. After an hour of being told by a representative of a Christian group against abortion, I was thoroughly convinced that I wouldn’t be getting one done anytime soon. I left the classroom with more questions than answers about what exactly “sex” is.
In retrospect, I understand that a Catholic grade school couldn’t give us a lecture explaining sex but I still felt cheated out of an explanation as to what a virgin was and why other people in my class said they weren’t one. People were telling me that there were rules to what made somebody a virgin and what made somebody a… This is another point that’s confused me. Despite my being an English major, I find that there isn’t a word for someone who isn’t a virgin. Therefore, I’ve chosen to use writer John Green’s suggestion and use the word “virgOUT”. Once I got to high school, I realized that virginity was an open book. People interpreted what it meant in different ways based on what they thought it meant.
In high school, I fell in love. I “fell in love” multiple times in high school but this time I, honest to God, slipped, trip, busted my lip, and fell in love. Once I was in this relationship (my first one, by the way), I found people asking me all sorts of questions. The most popular of which was whether or not we had had sex. I’ll spoil the ending for you and tell you that we didn’t but that didn’t matter to either of us. We loved and were loved in return and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. We were young and awkward and are now older and slightly-less awkward but to this day, neither of us care whether or not we had sex. We loved and that was all we needed.
After years of wondering what a virgin was or wasn’t, I came to a realisation: I didn’t care. The term was introduced to me by my fellow God-fearing classmates who had been raised on the idea of sex being a villainous act that robs a person this beautiful thing called virginity. Virgins are no more beautiful than virgouts and virgouts are no more special or gifted than virgins. The term virgin had gained a different meaning since I had first been called it and all the while, it seemed to lose its sting.
Being a virgout has no effect on who you are as a person. Losing your virginity, an expression intended to make it seem like a piece of you dies when you first have sex, is a term that gained popularity in the olden days, when sex was something that was understood to happen, but never spoken about or mentioned (sort of like the Green Lantern movie. Your virginity or lack thereof does not make you any more or less of a human. Words were created to explain the human experience to one another but “virgin” is a word that has lost that power.
I can obviously only speak from the male perspective but I can only imagine what the experience of learning about virginity is like for women. It’s coupled with terms like “deflower” that bear the visual of a woman’s beautiful bloom being lost as soon as she has sex. The idea of virginity should hold no more importance in a man’s eyes than a woman’s. The double standards that women have to face in our society are disgusting enough without the idea of being criminalized for having sex included in them as well. This begs another question. What about the homosexual population? What does the term virgin mean to them? The archaic nature of the word is made obvious when it fails to apply to a large portion of the population.
By the time college rolls around, the term should be obsolete. As I say to every freshman I meet, college makes every person be the very best they can possibly be. If this is true, then why focus on whether or not a person has had sex when you can focus instead on the deeper characteristics they possess that shine past their virginity or lack thereof.
If a person is saving themselves for marriage, I entirely understand. Why not save the ultimate expression of physical love for the person you ultimately love? In high school we had a speaker who came to talk to us about virginity and how important it was to stay celibate. While I disagree with nearly everything he said about how important it is to remain “as pure for as long as possible”, I do respect his belief that his wife should be the first person he shares his body with.
The word virgin is a word that doesn’t make sense anymore in its current use. It acts almost as a border between innocence and adulthood. For some, it means someone hasn’t had sex. For others, it means someone that has had a sexual experience. There are those who think that virgin is a term that defines a person and there are those who seek to redefine the term virgin. Regardless of what it means, the fact of the matter is that our obsession with the word is time and effort that could be spent on other things (such as remaking the Green Lantern movie or inventing a word that means “not a virgin”).