So you’re a virgin in college……?
By Amelia Pooser
Everyone at some point in their life has been a virgin, a universal human truth. But as universal as this phenomenon is, the topic continues to be taboo, Why? Most are exposed to the topic of sex and virginity at a young age which should normalize the topic but virginity and losing it remains a censored and naughty topic of conversation. But what truly constitutes virginity? There are certainly pressures around having sex and “losing” your virginity, but this narrative is mainly centered around women who have something to lose, and something for men to take away.
While media and the conversations you hear around campus might make it seem like everyone is having sex, data from a SKYN’s 2019 Sex & Intimacy survey found that 30% of Gen Z respondents (ages 18-22) were virgins, with another 2016 survey indicating people are losing their virginities later than previous generations. In college, the topic remains somewhat taboo and I wanted to explore just how illicit it is on this campus. To gauge general feelings about being a virgin on campus, I put out an anonymous survey that produced some interesting results. When asked why they think virginity is taboo, students had many places of origin in mind, including religion, conditioned awkwardness, and family values. One anonymous student said, “People like to attach virginity with moral values, especially in religious communities. Losing virginity can be seen as a loss of innocence.” They continued bringing up a perspective on sexual value, saying, “many people see being a virgin as an inability to have sex. Therefore, something must be wrong with you if you don’t lose your virginity while you’re young.” Being “inexperienced” or “bad” at sex are common insecurities for many and compound the pressures around trying to be sexually active in college.
Others elaborated that the whole concept of virginity was over-dramatized, saying, “it’s portrayed to be a milestone in someone’s life by our culture, but in reality, you’re the same person before and after it happens and it is really insignificant.” The over-dramatization of virginity is ingrained in society as the media sensationalizes sex and the supposedly life-changing journey of losing one’s virginity.
When asked if students felt pressure to have sex either in the past or now in college, many said “no” or “somewhat,” but a few said “yes!” One student continued, “there was so much of me that wanted to get it over with.” Others said there were more subtle types of pressure, saying, “There was smaller social pressures like general talks that I couldn’t participate in which felt like pressure, but weren’t explicit.”
Students were lastly asked if they would have sex with a virgin. There were varied responses; the majority said they would have sex with a virgin and those who said no did not elaborate on their response. One student who said yes said, “There’s nothing wrong with being a virgin. If they’re consenting, why not?” Another student said, “if we were in a relationship I would but not for a hookup.”
While virginity is still taboo, campus seems to be on the progressive side of things. Students understand the pressures of having sex but also the dramatization around something that is simple. Virginity shouldn’t be something people are embarrassed about — at the end of the day, virginity is a socially constructed idea that aims to make people feel shameful about having sex or not having sex. It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t having sex, everyone is still a completely valid human being with normal needs and desires. In the words of a very enjoyable survey response: would you have sex with a virgin? “Yes.” Why? “Cause sex is amazing.” Why is it taboo? “Cause people suck.”