Wait! Am I A Virgin?!
by: Ann C.
Traditionally speaking, a woman is no longer considered a virgin when her hymen, a membranous fold of tissue that partly or completely occludes the external vaginal orifice (“hymen”), is broken. Historically the physical presence of the hymen was considered essential in determining the virginal status of a woman. While conventional beliefs surrounding the hymen are still held by some, most people recognize that virginity can not, and should not, be determined by whether or not the hymen remains intact. For many women, the hymen is broken during childhood while engaging in physical activities such as horseback riding or playing soccer (Cool Nurse). Injury or trauma, such as a car accident, can also cause the membrane to split (Cool Nurse). In some cases a part of a woman’s hymen remains intact after having sexual intercourse, and some women are born without a hymen at all (Cool Nurse). When the concept of the hymen is removed from the definition of virginity, losing ones virginity becomes based on personal sexual experience.
A “goldstar lesbian” is a “lesbian who never has, and never intends to have sex with a man” (“goldstar lesbian”). It is possible that a lesbian’s hymen would remain intact for the duration of her life, despite being sexually active. While this defies the traditional definition of virginity, “goldstar lesbians” do not consider themselves to be virgins. Participants in an online discussion forum confirm this standpoint. One woman states, “Virginity has absolutely nothing to do with the hymen being broken anymore. As a matter of fact, many women keep a small part intact naturally” (Molten Orange). Another defends, “I have never had sex with a man but I certainly wouldn't consider myself a virgin. If I am, then my girlfriend has failed in her quest, and I don't think so!” (S, Erica). Others believe in a straight virginity, and a gay virginity. “I lost my straight virginity to my gay best friend and my gay virginity to my gf (sic).” (Freedomfighter00x), asserts one woman. This standpoint is more traditional in that a “straight virginity” is referring to a penis entering a vagina. The concept of virginity is changing as a result of societal attitudes becoming more tolerant of sexual diversity.
Historically, a woman’s virginity has been heralded as sacred. The presence of the hymen was a declaration of her purity. As the concept of women’s sexuality has changed over the generations, the function of virginity has also transformed. While the presence of the hymen was originally used to determine the status of a woman as virginal or not, it is no longer reasonable to use this as a guideline, because in a world of sexual diversity, virginity is a state of mind, rather then physically measurable.