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Virginity Culture:
The Facts

How To Lose Your Virginity is the first documentary to fully examine how the concept of virginity shapes the sexual lives of young women and men by journeying beyond the Abstinence movement to examine the intersecting forces of history, politics, religion and popular culture.

Arbitrary and absurd, our obsession with this outmoded construct continues to define a young woman’s morality and self-worth. In the midst of silence, misinformation, sexism, and society’s corrosive messages, How To Lose Your Virginity and its online spin-offs will:

  • Push-back against a culture that is shaming about sex, especially for women who are judged no matter what sexual choices they make
  • Create new language around virginity ‘loss’ to reframe it as an ongoing process of becoming sexual
  • Create safe space communities where users can anonymously share stories
  • Challenge sex ed curricula to include different timelines and sexualities, as well as consent and pleasure

Virginity and Sexual Assault

Women’s bodies and sexuality are controlled through intimidation, shame and misinformation. Conservative and religious mores valuing women solely by the status of their virginity dismiss rape as something sexually active women are ‘asking for.’

  • 1 in 10 women aged 18-24, who had sex before age 20, report first experiences of sex as non-consensual. [1] 

Virginity and Youth Sexuality

Most high school and college students have never received any comprehensive sex education, and one third of entering freshman self-identify as virgins. Messaging around sex comes from two totally divergent sources: abstinence, which promote chastity until marriage, and so-called ‘hookup culture’ which reinforce an ‘everybody is doing it’ atmosphere

  • By their 19th birthday, seven in ten teens of both sexes have had intercourse. [2] 
  • Many sexually experienced teens (46% of males and 33% of females) do not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first have sex.[2] 
  • Although 15–24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half (9.1 million) of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year.[2] 
  • On average, young people have sex for the first time at about age 17, but don’t marry until their mid-20s. Young adults are at increased risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections for nearly a decade.[2] 

Virginity and Queer Youth

  • Queer youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.[3] 

Virginity and Abstinence

  • Between 1996 and federal Fiscal Year 2010, Congress funneled a total of over one-and-a-half billion tax-payer dollars into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.[4] 
  • The 2010 health care reform package made available $50 million annually for five years (2010–2014; a total of $250 million) for grants to the states to promote sexual abstinence outside of marriage.[4] 
  • Among youth participating in “virginity pledge” programs, 88% broke the pledge and had sex before marriage.[5] 
  • Once pledgers began to have sex, they had more partners in a shorter period of time and were less likely to use contraception or condoms than were their non-pledging peers.[5] 
  • No abstinence-only program has been proven through rigorous evaluation to help youth delay sex for a significant period of time, help youth decrease their number of sex partners, or reduce STI or pregnancy rates.[5] 

[1] Centers for Disease Control  [2] Guttmacher Institute  
[3] Pediatrics, 2011  [4] SIECUS  [5] Advocates for Youth