Am I still a virgin if it’s just oral sex? I know all sex is sex, but if I’ve never had vaginal sex, aren’t I still technically a virgin?
First, let’s address the concept of “virginity.” There is no medical definition of virginity. Depending on someone’s culture, religion, and life experience, a person may have many varied ideas about what virginity means. I myself was raised Italian Roman Catholic, where virginity rhetoric basically boils down to “as long as you remain a virgin before marriage, you are good; if you don’t, you are damaged irreparably in the eyes of God.”
Charming, right? Guess I have an orgy in hell to look forward to!
The idea of virginity is also steeped in heteronormativity and sexism. In current US society, women are still punished for having sex while men are rewarded for it. Take what’s presently happening with the reproductive health rights movement as an example. As archaic as it may seem, women are only green lit by politicians for sexual activity when that activity is for the purpose of – and results in – procreation. This is a holdover from our history, where women were seen as property to be passed on from their father to their husband with marriage.
Supposed “sex education” programs in the majority of our schools typically mirror that rhetoric, inundating young people with very little factual information and a megaton of undeserved shame. Socially, when we encounter someone who discloses that they’re a virgin, their perceived gender all but determines our reaction to that disclosure. It’s a very valuable thing to have if you’re a woman, and a very perplexing thing to have if you’re a man.
Personally, I think virginity culture is bullshit. It’s not up to me - or anyone else, for that matter - to tell you how to define virginity for yourself. Only YOU can do that, because only YOU deserve speak for your body, your desires, and your decisions.
So yes, while many oppressive and persistent virginity narratives dictate that you’re a virgin until you’ve had sexual intercourse (read: a penis inserted into a vagina) and/or have had your hymen broken, I encourage you to shed everyone else’s expectations, assumptions and attempts to control your sexual expression. Instead of focusing on whether oral sex still makes you a virgin, I’d be asking myself the following questions instead:
- Is having oral sex my own autonomous decision, or am I being coerced or pressured in some way?
- Are my oral sex partners committed to making sure I experience pleasure and satisfaction during our time together, or is it mostly one-sided?
- Do my oral sex partners communicate with me openly and non-judgmentally about the sex we’re going to have - as well as the sex we did have - or do they shut me down when I try to initiate dialogues with them about it?
- What sexual health risks am I undertaking by participating in oral sex, and how do I want to address those risks?
Best of luck to you!
If you have your own questions about sex, love, relationships, or any of the moving parts involved therein, drop Andre a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to use the subject line "Ask Andre," so we know where to direct your thoughtful questions.