Perceptions of virginity

Rocket survey leaves questions about human sexuality unanswered

Published by Sarah Anderson, Date: February 9, 2023

Type “virginity” into the Google search bar. It will be defined as “the state of never having had sexual intercourse.”

Below that will be different articles about what virginity is, resources and advice, among other things. Now scroll to the bottom of the webpage.

Related searches revolve around what the right age to lose virginity is, physical signs of lost virginity and how to check if a girl is a virgin.

Where does virginity come from?

According to, one of the first known concepts of virginity comes from Greek mythology in reference to the goddesses Athena and Artemis. Virgins were “free women,” with no connection to men or sex.

Athena represented wisdom, courage and justice, being known for never taking a lover or marrying. Artemis historically is the goddess of the hunt, known for protecting young girls and aiding women in childbirth.

History continued to represent virginity in various symbolic ways. In Roman society, Vestal Virgins were sacred in society, having more rights than other female citizens.

In biblical history, it is seen that Virgin Mary’s “virginity” is a translation error and serves as a reflection of her age and gender.

These are just a few examples of how virginity was originally viewed. Popular culture and religion are largely the influence on virginity’s skewed meaning.

What is virginity to college students?

In a survey of 94 local college students, there were various definitions of virginity. The majority of respondents believe that virginity can be defined as the first time someone has consensual sex.

A large number of respondents also noted that the concept of virginity is up to individual interpretation, implying that there is no universal definition for what it means.

“I honestly think virginity is a social concept that is highly sexualized or sexist,” an anonymous respondent wrote. “I think it’s this thing that women specifically are meant to [be] looked at as ‘sacred and treasured.'”

Seventy-eight percent (73) of respondents said virginity does not matter when looking for a sexual partner.

The majority of respondents stated that virginity does not impact their decision to have sex with someone, but it does depend on the circumstances.

“I think virginity should be talked about before engaging in your first sexual act as a way to let your partner know you don’t have experience,” an anonymous respondent said. They spoke on communication mattering for both partners’ enjoyment.

Another respondent said, “It [virginity] does not matter because everyone has been there [a virgin] at some point. Everyone is different and ready at different times, even if it may be later in life.”

You and the partner will just need to discuss what is okay to do and may make each person uncomfortable. It’s almost a learning lesson for both partners and how to navigate that section of the relationship.”

Many respondents refer to virginity as a social construct, which is a common thought among college-aged students, especially in recent years.

The concept of virginity affects many people as they enter adulthood and feel pressure to hit the same milestones as their peers, according to art history major Mia Schembri.

“I think that a lot of people, at least that I know, feel a great deal of embarrassment about not being sexually active, or having not been sexually active by [the time they reach] their college years, or during their college years,” Schembri said.

Lack of proper sex education

Forty-two percent (39) of respondents received the bulk of their sexual education through friends, and 27% (25) learned about sex through the Internet. Many people also learned about it through a combination of the two.

Over the years, college-aged students have discussed the lack of proper sex education in school. This discourse is often shared through memes on social media about the generation’s collective uninformed perspective about sex.

“Most education systems don’t actually teach students about safe sex and safe sex options,” an anonymous respondent wrote. “[The] curriculum is absent, so people (specifically teens) don’t learn how to protect themselves.”

General sex education is lacking, but there is a larger disparity for LGBTQ individuals and being educated about sex, according to Schembri.

“A lot of sex education neglects to acknowledge queer people, and if you are queer, your understanding of sex changes in a lot of ways.”

[For example] if you’re a person without male genitals interacting with other people sexually who don’t have male genitals because a lot of sexual contact in that context does not involve penetration,” Schembri said. “So, you’re deviating from the cultural understanding of the loss of virginity involving penetration.”

No really, what is virginity?

According to New World Encyclopedia, human sexuality is referred to as “the expression of sexual sensation and related intimacy between human beings.” The survey concludes that these conversations can be uncomfortable for many.

There are no clear answers to what virginity means because human sexuality is different for everyone. The survey shows that a lot of people leave it to their own or their sexual partners’ lived experiences.

“Virginity is not as big of a deal as we make it out to be. No one really cares most of the time. ‘Lose it’ at your own speed,” an anonymous respondent wrote.


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