The Unlucky Virgin: Being 20 and not trying to keep your V-Card
To me, virginity had always been a social construct. I feel so strongly about this issue I even made this into a cross stitch. We hear a lot about slut shaming, since it is important. A woman’s worth isn’t diminished about how much sex she has. But at the same time, a lot of people forget about us that are on the other end of the spectrum–the ones that have had all of zero sex. For some reason, whenever us sexless are mentioned, it’s always about how our not having sex is a choice and that always irked me. It’s like, once you get to this certain age, say 20, you have to have some big reason as to why you haven’t had sex yet. Like the only thing that could possibly divert a 20 year-old from doing the nasty is something like waiting before marriage because of Jesus, or just waiting for that one special Prince Charming down the road. But I wasn’t waiting for God, or anything special really. It’s just that the opportunity hadn’t presented itself yet and the world around me felt like a huge obstacle with the sole mission of making me celibate forever. Trying to have sex for the first time in your 20s is like trying to get a job right after college — you have to have 2 — 5 years experience to get the entry-level position but how are you supposed to get that experience in the first place, and then you finally get the damn thing and end up quite dissatisfied.
I’m not against hookup culture. Honestly, I was at some small-ass school in almost the middle of nowhere and I didn’t want to stay there my whole life. I never had plans when first getting to college that I was going to meet my lifelong partner, but I also wasn’t opposed to having a little fun while I was still in the age range of “young, pretty, and stupid.” And I know a lot of other people at my school feel the same way, except they’re somehow in a different category than me since they lost their v-card to their high school sweetheart. Somehow, there were two categories of people: people that can hook up because they managed to bang someone in high school or freshman year, and people who can’t hook up because they never dated someone in their teen years and therefore, are too pure, oblivious and innocent to partake in what the “big kids” do. Once the beans were spilled that I had not yet had sex, everyone and their cousin started having an opinion on my sex life, or lack thereof.
I never realized how much people cared about virginity. I never really thought about keeping it. Sure, I wanted to have sex with the right person–everyone does. And by right I mean someone who I think is attractive who also thinks I’m attractive and there are no diseases and it’s consensual. I just hadn’t found anyone with even those very simple criteria. I’m quite an unlucky person, especially when it comes to other people liking me. Eternal love was never a qualification for me, like it is to a lot of people who remain virgins into their 20s. Like I always thought it was up to the person–if they have it a lot that’s cool, if they have it a little that’s cool, if they want to save themselves for marriage that’s cool, and if it’s just taking a few more years to find a potential sleeping partner who may or may not be a long-term partner that should be okay too. Guess I didn’t get that memo. It hurt that I couldn’t have my own, unconventional, politically incorrect reasons (or lack therof) of never having sex. I was automatically put into the Purity Brigade and no matter how hard I tried, the forces keeping me in wouldn’t let me go.
Because people are obsessed with using metaphors, they call virginity a gift–something that you wouldn’t give to everyone, just that one special person. I really don’t think virginity is a thing at all, but since a lot of people do I’ll describe this outdated concept of female sexuality on different terms. For me, my virginity is like an expired Target gift card. It expired on, let’s say my 20th birthday. Before it expired, it had worth. I could get something with it when I wanted to. It was usable and it was normal to keep around because of that. Nobody questioned my intentions–I had a gift card and was planning on using it in the near future. Now that it expired, though, it’s more like, “Oh that’s a bummer. Should’ve used it earlier.” There was no love behind the Target gift card, it was just there. But it’s done, the expiration date passed and no matter how many times I called Target’s support center, there was no way to get that gift card balance yet, and no matter how disappointing it was, I didn’t feel any love or any heartbreak. The meaning behind the gift card was gone, and it just took up space in the back of my wallet somewhere. I didn’t throw it out because I’m just kinda lazy and the design of my gift card was kinda nice looking with a cool holographic dog.
I sometimes forgot that I had this expired Target gift card in my wallet. Nobody really knows that I had an expired gift card in my wallet because that’s not something you normally tell people. The only time it becomes a big deal is when I’m at Target and think I have a gift card, but it’s that damn expired one so I can’t do anything with it. But that expired gift card haunted me. Like I’d be getting busy with a guy and for some reason the fact that I still had this expired gift card in my wallet pops into my mind, I felt compelled to tell him about it. I don’t know why, it was like how you’re supposed to tell your partner that you have an STD, but it was the exact opposite of that, except the possibility of commitment is something worse than catching crabs. “What’s wrong with her?” he asks himself. “Most people that age don’t keep expired gift cards in their wallets.” Most people either spend all the money on a gift card before it expires, to get the most out of it. And if it does expire, they throw it out because it’s garbage at that point. Now the guy freaks out. Because if she still has this expired gift card then she obviously has attachment issues, and that’s too much of a pain to deal with. I might have to date her, even marry her after this because her gift card is expired. She’s too immature to understand to get rid of expired gift cards, so she can’t handle anything in the real world yet. Then he leaves and I’m stuck and confused, with this expired gift card still in my wallet.
After two or three times this happened, I started to worry. For one, why did I always feel compelled to tell people that I still had this expired Target gift card on me? Two, why was it such a big deal? Useless pieces of plastic don’t normally show any insight to a person’s personality, but the more people knew that I still had this gift card on me, it started to be the only thing that defined me at all. Either nobody kept their gift cards for very long, or they kept it years and years after it expired because it meant something to them. That’s not me. It’s just there, in my wallet, forgotten most of the time until it appears again to ruin my night. I don’t really care if I have it or not, but there’s a cool holographic dog on it so why not keep it for a little while longer? It’s just there, and it’s basically garbage at this point, but it’s not hurting anyone just sitting there in my wallet.
And everyone started to form opinions about my expired Target gift card. Some of my friends said to never tell anyone about it, or to get plastered and find some guy at a bar to unceremoniously get rid of it. Some people showed me theirs, and it does not have a cool holographic dog on it but instead says some Bible verse and says that you’re a sinner if you throw out your expired gift cards. And some people, my least favorite of all, saidthat I need to wait for someone who just absolutely loves expired Target gift cards and loves me because I have this expired Target gift card, and that there is like only one guy in the entire world who will ever love me for me, and love the fact that I have this expired Target gift card.
When you replace “virginity” with “Target gift card” it starts to sound silly that people are making a big deal out of it, doesn’t it? When it was finally my time it was with a guy who was kind of my friend, we laughed, we walked home, and I never once felt broken. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, but it was a first time with many other times to come. I am an adult woman who is in control over her own body and her choices. The feeling of regret that some of my friends felt when they had sex for the first time when they were fifteen or sixteen is not the same as what I would feel at 22 years old. Luckily for me, I had some cool friends who gave me their congrats and their “it’s about time!”s. Nothing about me has changed — I’m still creative, funny, and the life of the party — except for now I’m a person who has had sex versus someone who has not had it. I didn’t “lose” anything, but I did gain experience, and that’s how it should be.