"My sister-in-law gave me a towel."
The concept of losing one’s virginity is deeply ingrained in society, often associated with a significant rite of passage into adulthood.
However, the definition of virginity and what counts as losing it can vary among individuals and cultures.
Join us as we explore the different perspectives on what constitutes losing one’s virginity, the importance of consent, and the diversity of experiences people may have.
Virginity is commonly understood as the state of not engaging in sexual intercourse.
Traditionally, this has been associated with penile-vaginal penetration.
In South Asian culture and religious beliefs, this plays a significant role in shaping the concept of virginity.
In some cultures, maintaining virginity until marriage is highly valued, often with purity and virtue emphasised.
In contrast, other societies may have more permissive attitudes towards premarital sexual activity.
Any sexual activity must involve informed and enthusiastic consent, be safe, and align with personal values and comfort levels.
It’s a topic that individuals should approach with care, communication, and respect for themselves and their partners.
An individual’s personal beliefs and values strongly influence their perception of virginity.
Some may define it strictly regarding physical acts, while others may consider emotional or psychological factors, such as forming a deep emotional connection.
It is important to remember that the traditional definition of virginity does not apply to same-sex couples or individuals who do not engage in vaginal penetration.
Therefore, alternative explanations and perspectives are necessary to reflect their experiences.
What is Consent?
Regardless of how one defines virginity, the main factor in any sexual activity is consent.
Consent is the cornerstone of a healthy and respectful sexual relationship.
Both partners must willingly and enthusiastically agree to engage in any sexual activity.
Consent should be clear, unambiguous, and ongoing throughout the encounter.
It is important to remember that consent is not a one-time agreement but an ongoing process.
At any point during sexual activity, either partner has the right to withdraw their consent.
It’s essential to respect each other’s boundaries and immediately stop sexual activity if one person is no longer comfortable or willing to continue.
Consent should not be assumed or implied. It is a choice made freely by the individual.
The Importance of Communication
Effective communication is essential when discussing sexual boundaries and consent.
Individuals must express their desires, limitations, and comfort openly and honestly.
This communication helps ensure that both partners are on the same page and can lead to a more satisfying and enjoyable sexual experience.
Laugh and have fun, fumble and giggle together.
It is important to remember that the feeling of being shy or awkward is normal in an intimate setting.
For many, losing their virginity is synonymous with penile-vaginal penetration.
It is commonly believed that you are still a virgin until you have had penetrative sex.
Penetrative sex includes anal sex and is not exclusive to any specific orientation or gender identity.
There is nothing wrong with being a virgin, and it is up to the individual to decide what ‘losing your virginity’ means.
The traditional definition of virginity does not apply to same-sex couples.
In these relationships, virginity may be defined differently.
For some, it might involve other forms of intimacy, such as oral or manual stimulation, as their first sexual experience.
Experimentation is healthy as long as all parties involved are willing to participate.
This is all part of sexual exploration and curiosity and it is perfectly natural.
For some individuals, virginity extends beyond physical acts and includes forming a deep emotional connection with a partner.
Losing your virginity is a memorable time for many and a relationship milestone.
Others may consider their first emotionally intimate experience as the moment they lose their virginity.
Ultimately, feeling close to your partner can make the experience more meaningful.
Asexuality and Abstinence
Not everyone chooses to engage in sexual activity.
Some people identify as asexual, experiencing little or no sexual attraction to males or females.
Others choose abstinence for personal, cultural, or religious reasons.
In such cases, the concept of virginity may not apply to them.
Both asexuality and abstinence are valid and should be respected and understood in the context of individuality and personal beliefs.
Individuals are also not obligated to discuss their personal choices.
Whether being fingered means losing your virginity can vary depending on individual definitions.
Some people consider virginity loss to involve sexual penetration, typically referring to penis-in-vagina intercourse.
Others have a broader meaning, including being fingered, oral sex, or even riding a horse.
Recognising that virginity is a personal and subjective concept is essential, and there is no universally correct answer.
There is no medical definition of virginity.
You may decide you are a virgin until you’ve had a penis in your vagina, until you’ve had oral sex, or until you’ve been fingered.
Kaneez* was just 20 when she was introduced to her husband:
“I had no idea what my in-laws were like. All I knew was that they wanted me as their daughter-in-law and that I was pure and a virgin.
“In reality, I lived in a strict South Asian household but I was no virgin.
“I was so scared they would find out. I spoke to a close friend who suggested I prick my finger and dab the blood on the bed sheets.
“I was so nervous. What if my husband noticed?
“So, I discreetly took a needle and tissue with me in my purse and put it beside my bed and when I had sex on my wedding night, luckily my husband fell asleep exhausted.
“I quietly tiptoed to my purse and pricked my finger and smeared it on the bed sheets, to make it known to the family I was a virgin on my wedding night. This is my secret.”
Varsha* was 18 years old when she was told to marry the man her family had chosen for her:
“I had boyfriends, but the furthest I ever went was kissing and being fingered by them, but I did not have sex until my wedding night.
“My sister-in-law gave me a towel and explained that I would need to take it downstairs and show ‘it’ to my mother-in-law, which would then prove I was a virgin.
“This was over 30 years ago, and I still remember the day my mother-in-law was standing in the kitchen with her arms folded, waiting for me to show her that towel.
“It was so embarrassing at the time, but it is what happened in many strict South Asian households. This would never happen today.”
What counts as losing one’s virginity is a deeply personal and culturally influenced matter.
The most crucial aspect of any sexual activity is informed consent and open communication.
As time goes on, you will become more relaxed as you take your time discovering each other’s bodies, whilst ensuring you focus on what feels good for the both of you.
Having sex also means being safe. So, visit a sexual health clinic or make an appointment to see your doctor to get advice on contraception.
As society becomes more inclusive and diverse, it’s essential to respect and acknowledge the experiences of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal beliefs.
Everyone is different, and it is polite to respect individuals and try to understand the reasons behind the choices made.
By appreciating a culture of respect, consent, and open dialogue, we can create a more understanding society where individuals are free to define their experiences in meaningful ways.
Harsha Patel is an erotica writer who adores the subject of sex, and realising sexual fantasies and lust through her writing. Having gone through challenging life experiences as a British South Asian woman from an arranged marriage with no choice to an abusive marriage and then a divorce after 22 years, she started her journey to explore how sex plays a significant role in relationships and its power to heal. You can find her stories and more on her website here.