The ambiguity of "having sex": the subjective experience of virginity loss in the United States -- statistical data included.
The experience of virginity loss offers one vantage point from which to explore the ambiguity surrounding sex and the consequences of that ambiguity for personal identity. Societal concerns about sexuality often crystallize around virginity loss, both because it is widely perceived as one of the most significant turning points in sexual life and because of the emphasis public health and policy professionals place on first coitus and sexual initiation. In this paper, I concentrate on two subjective aspects of virginity loss. First, to what sexual experiences do women and men refer when they talk about virginity loss or the first time they had sex? Which events do they posit as producing the transition from virgin to nonvirgin identity and who do they see as eligible to make that transition? Second, how do people interpret virginity loss? How do the meanings that individuals attach to virgin and nonvirgin identity shape their expectations and choices about the transition between those identities? (excerpt)