Why ‘Losing It’ Is Sometimes the Best Term for First Sex

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. Julie Gillis says:

    Hm. I’ve always felt the phrase indicated something people (virgins to penetrative intercourse) were interested in getting rid of. LIke being a virgin was a bit of a stigma. Thus movies like “Losin’ It”
    Ironic considering now keeping it (one’s purity) is the big thing in conservative states, so much that there are church programs like True Love Waits.
    I wonder, is there new language for those wedded virgins? Sharing it? Gifting it?
    I always appreciated the visual imagery of “deflowering” but disliked the idea of sexuality as a flower.
    Words are strange things.

  2. Peter Houlihan says:

    “If the word “lose” is related to the Latin luere, as most etymologists suspect it is, then we have a powerful reminder of the full dimensions of “losing”. Luere can mean “to atone for,” to “lose,” but also to “loosen” and to “let flow.””

    Maybe, but noone actually uses it that way. I think educating kids not to have such expectations of the effect of sex is probably better.

    • I think educating kids not to have such expectations of the effect of sex is probably better.
      Agreed. For guys virginity (PIV with a woman of course) is regarded as a curse that prevents a boy from becoming a man and in order to become a man that curse must be disspelled. Which is why, “Our stereotype is that only young men are eager to “lose” their virginity.” They are eager to lose it because according to the script of being a man we have to or else we are not “real men”.

      I’ve never taught or taken any sex ed classes but I hope that something is being done to address this (and other) myths that surround sexuality.

  3. Thank you for this perspective, I’d never thought of it that way (great metaphors too). When I lost my PIV virginity in the backseat of my boyfriend’s mom’s 12-year old Volvo, I didn’t feel like I’d lost anything (except some blood). I was still the same person, just having experienced something extremely new, fascinating, pleasurable, and painful. That’s why the ‘let’s not make such a big deal about virginity’ movement spoke to me. I never felt like it was something precious that I needed to save or keep, or that I was any less “pure” after I had enjoyed sex.

    The language that makes me a lot more uncomfortable is the way we talk about men and women having sex differently. A man “GOT laid” or “GOT some ass,” while a woman “GAVE it up” or “spread her legs FOR him.” In a consensual sex situation, you should both be giving and both be getting. I actually like the way Snooki says it–“I’m getting it in,” or neutral phrases like “had sex,” “engaged in coitus,” or “bumped uglies.”

    I don’t like “slept with” because it tries to sugarcoat something that shouldn’t be shameful anyways. “Hooked up” is interesting because it’s mostly used to be vague about what you did (whether you’re trying to downplay or up-play). It includes kissing, sex and everything in between, so you don’t have to be specific.

  4. Angiportus says:

    One can talk of “losing” a pursuer…but i myself still don’t tend to use the loss metaphor/image for anything I don’t want to get rid of.
    The idea of anyone being injured to the point of losing any blood as a result of some sexual action is extremely creepy, and I think that making sure all know how to forestall such injuries is more urgent than hashing out the terminology…not that the latter isn’t important, but words don’t bleed, people do.

    • Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. There was no injury or anything, I was just referring to the hymen breaking. In lieu of this week’s sex ed theme, I’m glad it got brought up. I learned about it ‘on the street’ rather than in sex ed or from parents. I bled the first 10 times I had sex, but I know girls who never did, and the general idea that you just bleed your first time. I think it would be good to educate both boys and girls about that particular thing and that it’s normal, whether you bleed once, multiple times, or never do.

  5. Angiportus says:

    Seems to me that any sort of wound could be a strikepoint for an infection, even if it doesn’t hurt at the time, and so should be avoided whenever possible. First aid in that area sounds like it would be difficult too, and so any sort of bleeding due to sexual contact should be prevented–by a prior examination and fixing of whatever is vulnerable until the planned activity is thought unnlikely to damage any part. Nowadays teachers, like Hugo, are apparently starting to address this, fortunately.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    I understand the point that ‘losing’ something can be a good thing, like losing weight, losing one’s fear of something, etc.

    I would like to see more people refer to their first sexual experiences as launching something, like “making their sexual debut.” It’s something that starts a much longer process of exploration, enjoyment, communion, all that good stuff, mixed with all the (hopefully minimized) risks along the way. I still wouldn’t want teenagers to overestimate how totally wonderful the first time will be. Maybe it’s more like getting your feet wet instead of throwing a debutante ball. It doesn’t make you an adult, but it starts you on one of the roads that goes through adulthood.

    Why not focus on the future instead of just losing part of the past?

  7. CasualTaoist says:

    I think the problem with “losing” is that it sounds passive, almost accidental. I didn’t lose my virginity (“Oh my God, where did it go? I should have paid closer attention!). Nor did I lose weight nor my fear of heights. I was active in those activities.

    I overcame my fear of heights. I worked off my weight and I had sex for the first time (not all in that order). I took part in all these things. They weren’t accidental occurrences.


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