By Abhishek Jha for Youth Ki Awaaz:
What exactly does virginity mean, folks?
Before the most sought after secret of the century is handed over to you, of course, you must go through some rituals of initiation. Hence, the question.
So what exactly is virginity? What has it got to do with “popping the cherry”? How can men lose their virginity? These are questions that haunt a lot of teenagers today and probably upset a lot of adults too. It is today commonly known as the state of not having had penetrative sexual intercourse. However, people remain divided on whether this penetration could include that by the tongue or fingers and whether it necessarily should be by the penis. Oxford and Merriam-Webster are even divided on what sexual intercourse means. Virginity is a highly contested concept. Virginity for women also has come to mean an intact hymen, which is a myth propounded in the absence of sound medical knowledge.
That medicine shies away from defining it means that virginity is not a real thing.
Popular perceptions of virginity:
Let’s say that there are only popular perceptions of it. The norm of losing virginity has been perceived or defined only for the special case of hetero-sexual intercourse involving “insertion of a man’s erect penis into a woman’s vagina“.
A lot of these perceptions are shared by a lot of people and they do a lot of harm (oppression is the word). The myth of the hymen (or the “cherry”) being a marker of virginity often lands women in trouble, as the hymen- being a membranous muscle- can get worn/broken even by daily exercise. Some women may not even be born with it. One might say that the myth exists only to scare girls into not having sex before marriage, chastity belts being an example of that. This myth then is a bad bad bogeyman.
Male virginity, on the other hand, is something even more mysterious because nobody talks about it. Or doesn’t care at all. Men are just supposed to lose it as fast as they can. And most people believe it to be lost when a man has penile-vaginal intercourse. A friend once even suggested that one lost some membrane and blood from the penis during this “intercourse”. Parents and teachers could help in this regard. Sex education anyone?
Both these myths completely discount ‘sex’ in the case of a gay or lesbian couple (basically non-heterosexual), and would deem them to be virgins for all their lives. This means that virginity is a hetero-normative concept. Which again means that it is only a norm and one perpetuated by our complicity in accepting only hetero-sex (that too only when penetrative) as normal.
So can you get it ‘back’?
Unfortunately or fortunately, No. If you go back to the ordinary, hetero-normative beginning of virginity being that state of being where you hadn’t had sex yet, getting it back would involve you taking up the herculean task of inventing time travel.
Or else, you can understand that it is only a norm, an oppressive norm, and one that needs to be redefined or done away with. It’s as simple as that as that. Or, perhaps, still just as hard.