Language develops subtleties that we often don't even hear when listening, but recently the lanaguage surrounding virginity has been bothering me. I had been talking to a lovely lady who came from a culture where women are expected to be virgins when they marry. She had married young, as a virgin, and has never had sex with anyone bar her husband. We asked each other questions, exploring the difference in cultural expectations; she was curious about how I remembered the boy/man I lost my virginity to (did it feel special and memorable etc), and how I feel about the risk of disease. I asked whether she was worried about not knowing any better, than the single experience of sex she had access to. It was a supportive, kind and thoughtful discussion; no judgements at all.
However, it reminded me of the language we use around virginity, We lose our virginity, and we ask who took it.
As I explained that I couldn't really remember much about the actual event of having sex for the first time (it was along time ago!), but that I remembered that I consented, and felt fine about the whole occasion. I became uncomfortable with the words I was using. I didn't accidently lose, or misplace my virginity. It wasn't stolen, grabbed or taken.
These nuances may seem irrelavant to many, but in a world where I hope for teenagers to experience a healthy and happy relationship with their own sexual feelings and activities, they feel important to me now.
So, I didn't lose my virginity. I gave it away.