WOMEN

7 Absurd Things Pop Culture Taught You About Losing Your Virginity

Why you always lyin'?

Ah, female virginity. For most women, there's a moment where they become hyper-aware of their own virginity, suddenly realizing that they're in that so-called in-between of being "not a girl, not yet a woman."

Virginity is something we are told, alternately, to either obsess over or not acknowledge at all. You should safeguard it, but give it away to the right person, but make sure not to hold onto it too long.  The biggest myth about virginity is that it's something easily defined when, in fact, it has a myriad of definitions and they all depend on how you feel about it. 

And yet, so much about how young women feel about virginity is dictated by society and pop culture at large. Below are just a few of the biggest pop culture lies women are taught about what happens when you finally lose your so-called V-Card:

1. You will die. 

There are countless scenes in countless horror movies (see: "Cherry Falls," "Nightmare on Elm Street," "Friday the 13th," "Halloween") where the innocent, virginal teen girl finds herself the target of a boogie men right after -- or during -- getting it on. If a girl manages to keep her virginity intact by the end of a movie, she's rewarded with being the Final Girl. It's a silly and predictable trope, but it also speaks to general, subliminal horror that surrounds the concept of teenaged sex, and specifically that of the virginal teenage girl. Women are implicitly taught that their sexuality is dangerous, possibly even life-threatening, and that to lose your virginity under "less than honorable" circumstances is to meet your certain doom. Yawn. 

 2. You will get pregnant, instantly. And then your baby will break your spine and eat you from the inside out. 

OK, that second part is a plot point from Stephenie Meyers's "Breaking Dawn," the final installment of the "Twilight" franchise, where Bella Swan is effectively killed by her unborn child before being turned into blood-thirsty vampire in order to save her life. But the pregnancy-right-after-sex thing isn't something that only exists in the "Twilight" universe. We see it across movies, books, and television, from '80s classics like "For Keeps" where 17-year-old Molly Ringwald gets preggers after losing her virginity to her high school boyfriend, to every Lifetime movie ever. This narrative further adds to the anxiety that surrounds teenaged sex. And the idea that no matter how safe and responsible you are, you're definitely going to get "knocked up" and ruin your life, is as ridiculous as it is false. 

3. You will be a clingy, sappy mess. 

There's a scene in season two of "Girls" where Shoshanna is rejected after revealing to a guy she's about to have sex with that that she's a virgin. "Virgins get attached," he says. "Or they bleed. You get attached when you bleed." While the scene is played for laughs, turning the narrative we usually see about "clingy virgins" on its head, the idea that female virgins get "clingy" after losing their virginity is a concept that's reiterated and reinforced all the time. A prime example is in the movie "Cruel Intentions," where Selma Blair's character becomes obsessed with Sebastian after losing her virginity to him. Yes, emotions may get involved for some women (and that's totally normal and OK), but the myth that all women are emotional messes who can't possibly separate sex from love is patently untrue. Plus, it puts unnecessary and unfair expectations on young women who feel ready to lose their virginity. 

4. It will change everything. 

Speaking of ridiculous expectations, the event of losing one's virginity has been built up to enormous, unrealistic heights. Pop culture teaches young women that losing their virginity will be the most momentous thing that ever happens to them in life ever. Teen movies like "American Pie," "Little Darlings," and "Sex Drive" center on the loss of virginity as a pivotal, profound turning point. To be clear, this isn't to say that having sex for the first time is absolutely no big deal, but the reality is that losing your virginity doesn't have to be a monumental moment if you don't think it is. How you feel about your virginity -- and sexuality in general -- is not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal, no matter how many teen movies would have you believing this. 

5.  If you don't lose your virginity as a teenager, there's something seriously wrong with you. 

We live in a society where young women are slut-shamed for being curious about or enjoying sex, but simultaneously called frigid or "prudes" if they choose not to be sexual. According to the CDC, the average age for virginity loss in America is 17 years old. But there are also plenty of women who remain virgins well into their 20s (and even 30s) -- and not all them for religious reasons. While virginity is viewed as something that young women should "give" away selectively, older virgins often deal with a different kind of stigma. Of course, what someone chooses to define as virginity and when they choose to "lose" that virginity should be totally up to them, not some weird age window that society has deemed socially acceptable. 

6. If you don't lose your virginity to someone you love, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Some people feel most comfortable being sexually intimate with a person they are in love with. For others, it's not a big deal. But our culture perpetuates the idea that if young women sleep with someone they do not love, they will not only get "clingy," but then feel humiliated once they realize the person they slept with is just not that into them. Once again, this myth feeds on the idea that women are overly emotional, and that their sexuality has everything to do with what someone else thinks about them. But who we choose to have sex with for the first time should only have to do with what makes us comfortable. If a sexual experience is consensual and enjoyable, that's really all that matters. Period. 

7. Lesbian, queer, and trans women aren't part of the "virginity" conversation.

Think about it -- how many mainstream depictions of LGBT women experiencing their sexuality for the first time do we ever really see? The virginity narrative in pop culture -- and outside of it -- nearly always hinges on heterosexual pairings and penis-in-vagina penetration, failing to represent a whole group of young women who are experiencing their sexualities in a completely different way. These one-note depictions drive home the idea that virginity is a thing someone (a.k.a. a man) "takes" from a woman and always in the same, penetrative way. In reality, sex can be many things, shifting in importance depending on the people who are experiencing it. 

Wanna learn more about virginity -- the myths, the way we think about it and what it really means in our culture? Check out the latest HuffPost Love & Sex podcast:

 

  

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