Column: Being a virgin in your 20s is not something to be ashamed of

By Bianca Kreusel, Deputy Director of Photography

Colleen Hogan

You just got a text from your friend: She is telling you her latest Tinder hookup story. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard about their sexual encounters, as all your other friends seem to be in some type of relationship or have been in one before.

Except for you.

Now you’re sitting on the couch feeling like everyone has experienced some kind of sexual encounter, and you have not. You feel left out, alone and maybe even a little weird. You are not religious; you are not saving yourself (or maybe you are, that’s okay, too); you just have not found the right person or even the right opportunity.

According to Planned Parenthood, the average age for an individual to have sex for the first time is 18, when people enter their first step into adulthood.

I left for college at 18 on birth control and wanted to get out into the dating world. I went on a few dates and went to a few parties but ultimately ended up partnerless … and still a virgin.

I am now 20, and I have not even had my first kiss. According to a study by California State University, the average age when people have their first kiss is 15. Hearing that made me seem like an outcast, and there’s a feeling of shame that came with it.

Sex is ever-present in the media we consume, whether it is through television, music, posters or nearly anything that corporate America can get its hands on. With the constant ideas of sexual encounters being shoved in our faces, there is a looming pressure to have sex and the embarrassment that comes with thinking that you should have experienced it by a certain age.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Virginity is a big, socially-constructed idea that makes us virgins think there’s something wrong with us because we haven’t had a sexual experience yet.

In reality, sex is not everything in life. Sex does not define your career, your education or your relationships with other people. It does not define who you are.

The concept of virginity is heteronormative, sexist and erases trans and queer sexual — or nonsexual — experiences. It is a damaging social construct that can lead to many problems down the line, including self doubt, sexual shame and relationship frustration, according to GoodTherapy.

The best way to embrace your virginity is to begin to destigmatize it, support yourself and your friends and start challenging the media’s hypersexual culture.