Colloquial sayings have a role in cultures and communities, often acting as a short-hand for a common experience. It is one area where the meaning of words evolves faster than any academic or lexicographer can measure. People often complain at first at the hassle of changing a commonly used term but eventually through the powers of social networks, activism and deliberate intervention a word can change meaning or be cast out of polite conversation. At times it is critical to uphold the dignity of a group of people, other times it tracks with the changes in how people interact. With varying rates of success we have made linguistic progress with terms such as “gay” “retard” “pussy”. Currently people are pushing us all towards non-gender specific terminology and gender neutral pronouns. These movements occur within organic and structure paradigms, so today I would like to propose we retire the phrase “losing your virginity” or any version in which sexual experience is termed lost.
First we need to thoroughly account for the the absolute lunacy of the phrase “to lose one’s virginity”. Where does it go? Can it be found again? And does that mean that someone took it? It sounds like something that could accost you at any moment, like I was at the table eating cereal and then somehow I lost my virginity. Simply according to current trends in language we can identify the passivity of this phrase – it is something that happens to a person, not something that empowers a person. And furthermore contains a tone of sadness: I lost my keys, I lost my train of thought, I lost my grip, I lost my way, I lost my mind. I lost my virginity is not a mistep that needs to be remedied. Nor is it simply one action.
Even the trend to be anatomically correct fails to salvage this concept – when was the first time you allowed another person to penetrate your vulva or when did your penis first penetrate the orifice of another person. The absurdity comes from the sense that it occurs in a vacuum, a moment onto itself, when mostly it is a progression of sexual pleasure that leads to what is generally deemed “sex”.
Instead the phrase becomes a plaque announcing the time and date it occurred. Like a monument to a battle – On the twelfth day of April, in the year 1998, at the hour of 20:25 in the bedroom at the home at the corner of center street and eden lane, the two participants Joe and Jane committed an act in which they lost their virginity. We commemorate this transgression as Eve with the apple, a moment that can never be erased.
I do not have an adequate replacement to offer. It has been a long time since there was any meaning or depth to my utterance of the phrase I “lost my virginity” so I offer it to the young people of today. We will need a complete term that is acceptable to adults, a shorthand that can be texted, an emoji, and any other form of communication I am now too old to transcribe.
But as of today, let us all make a vow to retire this useless and utterly antiquated phrase – Here lies the tombstone where we commemorate the death of
“losing your virginity”.