The idea of virginity is really a strange thing - psychologically, a very daunting and/ or exciting, and scientifically, not much really. Somehow, along our weird human path of destroying everyone sacred and fun, we twisted the idea of virginity, or moreover losing your virginity, into a taboo and stigmatised subject. It's not talked about much anywhere, especially not conservative or religiously dominated countries, and those that do discuss it are often the exception. But why? As ever with sexual topics, I promote a progressive viewpoint; as humans, we can only conceivably 'move forwards' through openness, progressiveness and inclusivity.
In the UK, there are a range of different views on the concept of virginity and "losing" that majestically made-up creature. From the female-oppressive labelling to the patriarchal-favouring branding, losing your virginity in the Queen's Country can be a confusing process from a sociological point of view. Now, I'm aware that losing your virginity in the United States of America can be a wholly different experience, whether that's for the better or for the worse, however this is more of a "look what we're like, here!" article, so you can decide whether we're the best at dealing with it, or whether you think we're just crap.
Firstly, let's talk about the 'good' end of the shitty stick, a.k.a - the experience guys face. It is a terribly sad reality that gendered stereotypes and expectations wholly apply to losing your virginity in the UK. Just as you'd expect, men get the better deal usually at the expense of females (or other men). For starters, at the news a guy has lost their virginity, they're treated with heroism and victory, as though they've emerged from some valiant war with a kill count numbered in the dozens. Their mates 'egg them on' (a terribly British phrase, I apologise) to 'fuck her' more, and as such, the female in that situation is treated more often as an object than as a person, than as someone with dignity, individuality and personality.
The only 'plus side', other than that of which the men themselves feel, is that it's a positive experience for them. There is usually little-to-no backlash for a man losing his virginity.
On the other hand, the backlash does come if he doesn't lose it by a certain age. Typically, young men in this country like to conform to a heteronormative masculine and patriarchal 'norm', an ideology conditioned through a plethora of means from a young age, and one of these norms is to lose your virginity at a young age and maintain sexualised behaviours until settling down with a partner. As such, deviance from this norm in the UK can often lead to the male being brandished as "gay", "boring", "nerdy" and a whole host of other saddening labels - a reality I recognise is similar to young men in the US.
Now to the other end, the end that many in the UK chose to not recognise or even acknowledge. The oppression and stereotyping of women who do not lose their virginity at a young age is, sadly, on the rise. In an increasingly patriarchal society, those women who don't conform to their 'gendered norm' established over decades of masculine societal domination fall victim to the worst kind of labelling, the labelling that excludes them from set societal groups, belittles them and degrades their very individuality as a female. Pride, happiness and comfort are completely stripped from them, usually at the hands of other females, all because they haven't "popped their cherry", because they haven't had sex. Common labels include "frigid", a descriptive that is objectively feared by females in British society, or "boring", a label typically given by men to females that yet again forces them into a defensive, submissive position - one they really shouldn't be in.
On the flip side of the virginity debate, there is no silver lining. There is no 'pot of gold' or rainbow after the storm for females, in that if they lose their virginity and conform to a masculine idealisation of the female, they're still negatively labelled. Weirdly, yet again usually enforced by other females, they're labelled "whore", "slut" or "slag" - the latter being a word of equal meaning to 'slut', but often received much more harshly. These degrading terms are designed to belittle the girl, perhaps into seeking more masculine comfort in some sort of contorted patriarchal master plan, or more likely out of sheer jealousy from other girls. You see, sexuality is a completely normal aspect of life. It's the reason we all exist, everyone here, and is often a truly positive aspect of most healthy relationships. But some people just don't get that.
A sad conclusion
To some, sexuality is a weapon of degradation and belittlement, or humiliation and harm.
In the UK, our view of virginity is really a very destructive one. Now this isn't to scare-monger negative views of us guys, because we have many truly wonderful societal values that are often the envy of countries like the US; tea parties, house parties and political conventions amongst many. BUT, and that is a terribly big but, our views on virginity are still shrouded in negativity, dismissal, patriarchy and subjugation.