The word ‘virgin” can mean that someone has never had sex (that can also be a boy) or someone whose hymen is still intact (this is always a girl)
What do we mean by ‘sex’?
Some people count only sexual intercourse (coitus, fucking) as sex, but most people include masturbation (solo sex) and making love with hands and mouths (manual and oral sex).
If we use the wider definition of sex, a girl can have sex without breaking her hymen (virginal ‘membrane’). This is practised a lot under the name ‘non-penetrative’ sex. Girls refuse absolutely to ‘go the whole way’, so the penis does not enter their vagina. But for the rest they like kissing and necking. They save ‘the first time’ for the man they are going to marry. On their wedding-day they can tell their spouse that they have never had ‘sex’, by which they mean they have never had sexual intercourse (just like President Clinton, who solemnly swore that he never had sex with ‘that woman’ Monica Lewinsky: she only gave him blow jobs).
What is the hymen?
There is a lot of ignorance on this subject, because people think that it is a membrane, but in reality it is only a small rim of tissue around the inside of the vagina. This tissue is elastic and will give way to a finger or tampon. Usually there are small impairments in the hymen. In most cases, a penis can get through (provided that the vagina is sufficiently excited and wet). In four out of five girls there is no tearing or bleeding the first time. Many people do not know this. They think there should always be bleeding the first time. When that does not happen, the girl may think she must have lost her virginity by masturbation, with her finger or an object. The boy may think she has had sexual intercourse with someone else, even though she denies it. They may get into an argument or worse over nothing.
Where and why is virginity a problem?
In most cultures with traditional ideas, which can resurge strongly in conservative times, boys want the girl they marry to be a virgin, by which they mean that she must not have had sexual intercourse with anyone else. They want to be the first and only one. The origin of this primitive idea is to be found in the distant past. It is part of our natural heritage and is characteristic of many animals. The male wants to be sure he is the father of the offspring, because he wants to pass on his own genes, and is less interested in raising someone else’s child. Now girls also like to enter their marriage ‘pure’, because instinctively they choose the male who will give them the best possible children and will help to take care of them. So she wants him to know, or trick him into thinking, that he is the only one with whom she has intercourse. The virginity cult is thus sustained and continued by both sexes, by women as much if not more so than by men.
Repair of the hymen
And this is why some girls ask their doctor to repair their hymen before the wedding day. They want to bleed on the first wedding night, so that her spouse knows that she is still a pure virgin, which means that she has waited for him all her life. She is certain that they can then live happily ever after in harmony with their wonderful relatives. Some doctors give in to this request and put a small stitch in the opening of the vagina. Others prefer to educate the girl, giving her information about the misguided significance attributed to the hymen and virginity