Column: Virginity is a social construct

SeX and Relationships, a BRAVE Column

By Hannah Thompson, A BRAVE Peer Educator


Repeat after me. Virginity is a social construct. Hookup culture elevates the prevalence of virginity and places certain pressure on “losing/taking” one’s virginity, especially on a college campus. In this environment, it is necessary for us to take time to process and break down the true meaning of virginity, how it varies from person to person and the societal expectations that surround it. 

Virginity was conceptualized as a Christian ideology, where a woman’s state of not yet having sex was referred to as being a “virgin.” A woman who had “saved herself” for marriage was more attractive to men and seen as pure, whereas a woman who had sex outside of marriage was known as promiscuous and unholy. This ideology not only perpetuates misogynistic behavior toward women who have sex but also allows for the erasure of other sexual experiences. 

Growing up in a Catholic household and attending Catholic schools my entire life, I have been taught that the only sex that “counts” is between a woman and a man, completely discrediting any other sexual experiences outside of a straight, heterosexual relationship. The Christian background of virginity is inherently heterocentric and is ignorant to different sexualities, gender identities and sexual experience that does not include a penis and a vagina. 

Truthfully, virginity was created in a patriarchal society to give men another reason to hold power over women and police people’s bodily autonomy. When you have sexual intercourse or a sexual experience with another person, you are not “losing” anything, nor is anyone “taking” something from you. The idea of virginity is specific and different to each person; whether you place value on it or you don’t at all, it is crucial that we remember our virginity can only be defined by ourselves.

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