We ask: How is virginity seen through your eyes?
For as long as I can remember, a premium has been put on virginity. Maybe it wasn’t always in the way my all-girl religious high school would have wanted, but a premium had been put on it nonetheless. The select girls that were experienced were talked about in hushed tones—not always to put her down or because gossip, but to satiate a genuine curiosity we all had.
No one talked about sex in my world. Neither my teachers nor my parents ever sat me down to give me the story of the birds and the bees.
When I entered a co-ed university, i noticed that a shift in conversation happened. I remember a particular incident where a male friend and I were enjoying a cigarette break and he asked me if I was a virgin—no warning, no build up. Surprised yet refusing to give him the upper hand, I told him the honest truth: I was.
He took on the topic so nonchalantly that it surprised me. And then I realized that maybe he didn’t have the same thinking towards virginity as I did. There was a line to be drawn between how virginity is seen through his eyes and through mine.
And now that first experiences are far behind me and most of the people my age, I discussed it with them. How did you see virginity? Was it a big deal when you lost it?
Most of the boys I talked to admitted it wasn’t a big deal to have sex for the first time. There was no thinking about whether or not it was wrong—they were more worried about whether they were doing it right.
More strangely though is that they didn’t feel the need to hide the fact that they had done the deed. There was no fear of being talked about or judged or called out. They didn’t wait that long to tell their best friends or barkada or anything; they just didn’t want the news to reach their mothers. Then I asked how their circles took it, if there was shock or disbelief or curiosity or maybe even a sense of pride that was exchanged. Apparently not; it wasn’t that big of a deal.
There were, however, the few boys that did value their virginity when they lost it (and kept their mouths shut in the weeks that followed).
On the other hand, most of the girls I spoke to admitted that their first sexual encounter was a big deal and they didn’t announce losing their virginity at all. At most, they told their best friend who were sworn to secrecy. On a personal note, my friends and I admitted our sexual status to each other as a group—all for one and one for all—none of us reached out to the other until that morning after a sleepover.
I remember dancing around the topic for a while; no one would just outright ask about it. We were talking about the boys we were dating and our virginities (or lack thereof) became the elephant in the room. And when we started to come clean, there was a collective feeling of shock and questions were thrown about; there were stories exchanged and timelines drawn out.
To be honest, it hurt a little to be left out of something so big that had happened in their lives as it happened. But then again, I would have been a hypocrite if I gave them any shit about holding out on the information.
There is no medical reason to explain the difference of how virginity is seen between boys and girls—it’s societal. We tell girls to keep their legs closed; we high-five boys when they have their first kiss. My parents don’t discuss these things; I have a friend whose dad was willing to pay for him to “become a man.”
How would you approach the topic of sex with your daughter? How would you talk about it with your son? Here’s to hoping there’s no distinction between the two.
Art Alexandra Lara