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Sex…The Hot Topic!

It’s all in the Mind
Author: Angela Fabiola Cárdenas Rosales

Dictionary Definition
Virgin vir·gin
A person who has not had sexual intercourse.
Defining Virginity in Modern Times 
If you look up “virgin” in the dictionary, the 
definition of virginity seems straightforward: If you 
have had sex (meaning penis-in-vagina, and sorry for 
sounding so clinical!), then you are not a virgin. 
Before you accept this as true, there might be a few 
more things to consider. There might even be a whole 
series of “firsts”— which could be physical, 
emotional, intellectual or even political—that 
determine “losing your virginity.”
Myth: The “Intact Hymen” Determines Virginity 
First of all, let’s get clear on what a hymen is 
anyway. A hymen is a piece of tissue that partially 
covers the vaginal opening. Usually, the hymen has 
small holes (or one big hole), and those holes get 
bigger during a woman’s life. For centuries, many 
people have believed that a woman loses her virginity 
when her hymen has been “popped.”
When a woman is first penetrated, there is no popping 
sound. The hymen does not and cannot “pop.” Human 
bodies are not made of bubble rap. A vagina is not a 
zit that can just “pop,” so forget about the cherry 
Lots of girls are born without hymens, and those who 
have one often “break it” fairly early in their lives. 
When a hymen gets small tears, whether during sex, 
tampon use or hard sports, there is often a small 
amount of blood. But, these activities don’t always 
tear the hymen and it doesn’t always bleed. An intact 
hymen does not signify virginity anymore than a broken 
hymen signifies the loss of virginity. It signifies an 
intact hymen or a broken hymen. That’s all. 
Furthermore, if virginity is about an “intact hymen,” 
how does a guy lose his virginity? 
Myth: The “penis-in-vagina” determines virginity
The myth that only penis-in-vagina sex determines 
virginity raises questions since it is not the only 
way to have a sexual experience. If this were true, it 
would mean lesbians and gay men are left out of the 
game, and even the most promiscuous of them would 
remain “virgins” their entire lives.
If penis-in-vagina sex defines whether someone is a 
virgin or not, would this mean that two lesbians 
together for fifteen years are still virgins? It 
could, according to the “penis-in-vagina” definition. 
In this case, there is no word for lesbians to 
describe the significance of their “first” time, since 
only the experience of penis-in-vagina sex is 
considered “important” enough to count as sex.
The first time experience of these women could, and 
probably would, be one of the most emotionally 
significant things in their lives. It would be 
emotionally equal to what a heterosexual woman feels 
when she first has sex with a man. So, should a 
lesbian call her first sexual experience “losing her 
And how about gay men who have had anal sex? Are these 
men still virgins? How about when they have been 
together for years and years? If you count anal sex 
as “losing virginity,” would it count for heterosexual 
couples as well? 
There are many cultures that consider anal sex to be 
a “safe” way for a man and woman to have sex and still 
keep the woman’s virginity intact. So, if anal sex 
doesn’t count for men and women, does it count for two 
What is it then?
It seems like everyone has different ideas and 
attitudes about virginity, what it means to have it, 
lose it, prize or detest it. It isn’t determined by 
the hymen and it doesn’t always include a penis and a 
vagina. So what is “virginity?” What does it mean to 
be a virgin, or loose one’s virginity? 
The truth is, unless you wear a specially worded t-
shirt, nobody will know what kind(s) of sex you have 
or haven’t experienced. In the end, whether or not you 
are a virgin, and whether that is a good thing or a 
bad thing, depends on who you are and what you 
believe. So, what do you believe?
Past Virginity Definitions
In the past, and it still holds true for some people 
today, a woman with an “intact” hymen is considered a 
virgin, end of story. And of course, no 
similar “physical” test exists for men. 
In the Middle Ages, for example, if a woman stretched 
or tore her hymen while horseback riding, she was 
simply and plainly no longer a virgin. If she was born 
with a tiny hymen, or none at all, she was not a 
virgin, which for some cultures meant she was not 
worthy of marriage. For women, the virginity—as 
determined by a thin piece of skin—carried serious 
There are, however, still some cultures today where a 
woman’s value continues to be determined 
by “virginity.”