Everything is about sex these days. You can’t even open a magazine without seeing an advertisement with a half-naked woman (which says something about our treatment of women in media, but that’s another article for another time). And honestly? Sex is a wonderful thing. I’m glad we finally reached a point in society where sex is not being treated like something to hide away. Everyone should embrace their sexuality and celebrate how good it feels.
But what if you don’t want to engage in sexual activity/can’t engage in sexual activity/don’t have anyone to engage in sexual activity with? Well, it’s certainly not easy to be in that position (insert sex joke here). All of the sex in our media can make it seem like sex is the ‘be all and end all’ of life, especially for university age women (and men). But the reality is, sex doesn’t matter.
When you look at the facts, people aren’t having sex as much as we think they are. In fact, about 25% of university students are still virgins according to Kathleen Bogle, Ph.D. In her book Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus writes that for those students who were not virgins, the average number of sexual partners in the last year is only 1. The movies make it look like sex is happening everywhere, all the time. If you are a virgin, it’s easy to feel completely isolated and invalid.
But what is virginity? It’s a conversation that has been had a lot in the last few years, and yet still, no one can come up with an answer. Even in conversations with my friends, the responses differ. One answer? “Penis in vagina.” But this is absurdly heteronormative and rules out any kind of same sex intercourse. So it doesn’t have to involve a penis, and it doesn’t have to involve a vagina. Another response I get a lot is: “something that ends in orgasm.” But as ideal as that sounds, a lot of times sex doesn’t end in orgasm, and it doesn’t have to to be a good and fulfilling experience. And that answer raises questions about masturbation! I’ve given myself more orgasms than other people have, so did I lose my virginity to my own fingers as an adolescent? Most people would say that doesn’t count. So what does? Honestly, it comes down to one reality: virginity isn’t real. It’s an entirely outdated concept.
My best friend is about to turn 20, and she’s never had an orgasm. She’s never had sex and never felt the need to masturbate. She has often expressed insecurities about it, or thought that she should just go on Tinder and “get it over with.” I’ve never really thought much of it. Her not having sex isn’t indicative of some sort of flaw with her person—she is a brilliant friend, I feel lucky to know her. Another close friend of mine, equally kind and intelligent, is going on 21 and has yet to have her first kiss. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s more than okay. Lips don’t have timers, they won’t expire if you don’t use them by the age of 17.
The bottom line is: your body belongs to you. No one else gets to decide what you should or should not be doing with it. If sex is something you never want, there is nothing wrong with that. And if it takes you time to find the right partner, there is nothing wrong with you. There is so much more to life. Having sex because you feel like you should – just to get it over with – will probably end up being a mistake. So take your time, and love yourself.
In the end, the only thing that matters is you.