Eric Leven

Hey Teenagers: What is a "Virgin"?

Filed By Eric Leven | November 02, 2007 12:51 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: sex ed, teens

This New York Post Article is just another example of why Sex Ed & Sex Communication classes are needed now:

November 2, 2007 -- Is your teenager a virgin? That depends on your teen's definition of "is" - as well as a few other words that parents might want to run past their kids. A study suggests 70 percent of kids 12 to 16 believe they're virgins even if they've had oral sex - and 16 percent believe anal sex doesn't count either. Researchers at the PIRE Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, Calif., interviewed more than 900 middle- and high-school students. The study is in The Journal of Adolescent Health.
My definition of virgin is any person who has not yet had vaginal or anal intercourse. Although I do refer to oral sex as having sex with someone, I do believe intercourse and oral sex are separate practices. That is to say, oral sex is not full sex but it is a form of "having sex." Oral sex is oral sex, intercourse is intercourse. My straight girlfriend, Amanda, is livid with how I use the term "slept with." While joining me at a gay bar or two I pointed out a guy that I referred to as having "slept with." She asked, "So you had intercourse with him?" "No," I responded, "I have done other things with him aside from that." "That isn't sex then, Eric." "Then what do you call it," I asked. We were both stumped.

The straight and gay world are completely different when referring to sex. More often than not, the straight people I know only use the term "slept with" when they've actually engaged in intercourse with someone. To me, having "slept" with someone means I've gotten off with that person in one way or another and does not necessarily include intercourse. When I want someone to know that I've had intercourse. I'll use the big ol "F-word" or simply say,"we had full-on sex."

Also interesting to note is, in my experience and my friend's experience, when having a just-met-at-a-bar or online hook up, gay men are often satisfied with going as far as practicing mutual oral and stopping there. Straight people however, according to my friends, take oral sex as a cue of going further. I asked my best straight friend, Eric, to share his experience.

He says, "For me, oral sex is usual a precursor to actual sex. If I've decided I don't want to have sex with someone, I won't engage in oral sex either. The same screening process exists for both. Oftentimes, sex comes first and oral won't occur until later dates."

My straight girlfriend Lindsay has this to offer: "Oral Sex does not count as sex. And it almost always leads to sex. I can't remember a time when it didn't."


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Eric, I think you're right that oral sex and genital intercourse are two different things. But I also think that this definition of sex little limiting, especially from a lesbian perspective. For me, I would say that any amount of sexual activity constitutes sex, even if I haven't strapped it on to fuck a womyn. How would you classify finger banging, a big part of the lesbian community? What about fisting? If I only go down on a womyn, does that mean we haven't had sex? I think we need to expand the definition of intercourse beyond mere penetration.

Here's something else to think about. If the definition of sex is limited to merely intercourse, has someone been raped if they have been fored to give/receive oral sex?

I'm not disagreeing with the crux of your post, Eric. And I certainly think that especially when we're talking about teens and sexual behavior, we need to be as expansive as possible. Because a lot of kids think that they aren't at risk for STI's if they're not having intercourse (which we all know isn't true).

Thanks for bringing up a great topic.

Great point Serena, thanks for bringing that to light.
Here's what one of my bisexual girlfriend's said, "...being "bi" i've seen both worlds. when i have hetero sex, it almost always includes intercourse, and oral is used to lead into that. when i have gay sex, there may or may not be penetration, but penetration is not what i mean when i say "she did me"

I just think we need to move beyond these words!

Sex for me doesn't necessarily mean getting off. I've had great long j/o sessions where no one had an orgasm. It's not just about orgasm, there're all sorts of other things that are fun about sex.

That's also why I don't like the idea of "virgin", the either you've had sex or you haven't, you're an angel or a slut, a kid or a real man.

The movie 40-year-old Virgin is about a guy who's had oral sex but not vaginal/penile, so he's portrayed as immature, playing video games, uncomfortable around women, etc. But I was like, he and women have played together? What's the big hang-up?

I think straights totally do get caught in one def. of sex as penile/vag. intercourse, really. And it's their loss, lol, because I'm having fun with other stuff.

I'm with Serena. And as a bisexual woman I've found it liberating to bring a broader perspective on what constitutes 'sex' into my relationships with men as well as women.

it seems insanely limiting to me to define sex only as intercourse. i would say that sex is a mutual attempt towards an orgasm from one or all partners.

What about post-op Transsexuals? Do they get a "second bite at the cherry" so to speak?

My word, that phraseology was infelicitous, but you know what I mean.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 3, 2007 7:23 PM

My straight girlfriend Lindsay has this to offer: "Oral Sex does not count as sex. And it almost always leads to sex. I can't remember a time when it didn't."

Wow, I am so glad I'm not straight.

I'm totally with Serena, Alex, and Nine. I like dontboxsarah's definition, too, although it's a bit goal-oriented for me.

I'm glad questions such as this are finally getting discussed --- after filling out countless "safe sex" surveys in which I've been asked "Do you or your partner always use a condom during sex?" ... and when I answer "No" I know damn well that the Scantron machine will tally me in with all the barebackers.

Is fisting a type of "sex"? How about rimming? Or rubbing someone's nipples? Not only do these activities not involve orgasms (usually), they don't even involve the genitals of either partner! Yet, based on the feel of the excitement that it going on in my mind, I don't have any doubt that both of these activities constitute "sex".

Clearly, if someone with a scoresheet is waiting for me to have penis/vagina sex before I lose my virginity, then I am very likely to die a virgin ... and apparently, so might a lot of other bedroom-active gay men and lesbians.

To me "sex" is any activity that gets one intensely sexually aroused (internally, not necessarily physically), and which is pursued specifically for that purpose. Under this definition, even watching porno and/or masturbating and/or watching your neighbor through tenth-story bedroom windows (which happens a lot in the big city) are all forms of sex. Why? Because if we weren't sexual beings, then those situations would not demand our attention so compellingly.

Remember when Bill Clinton tried this one? I have not had sex with that woman? Didn't work for him either.