The Open UniversitySkip to content

Deconstructing virginity: Young people's accounts of first sex

Holland, Janet; Ramazanoglu, Caroline; Sharpe, Sue and Thomson, Rachel (2000). Deconstructing virginity: Young people's accounts of first sex. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 15(3) pp. 221–232.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


In their first (hetero)sexual experience, young people are enticed into the gendered practices, meanings and power relations of heterosexuality. This paper draws on findings from two primarily qualitative studies of young people's sexual practices and understandings: the Women, Risk and AIDS Project and the Men, Risk and AIDS Project. The paper suggest that for young men, first (hetero)sex is an empowering moment through which agency and identity are confirmed. For young women the moment of first (hetero)sex is more complicated, and their ambivalent responses to it are primarily concerned with managing loss. By exploring and contrasting young people's accounts of their first sexual experiences and the meanings that virginity hold for them, the paper reveals the asymmetry of desire, agency and control within (hetero)sex. The paper concludes by considering the implication of these findings for practice.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2000 Routledge
ISSN: 1468-1994
Academic Unit/Department: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG)
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 19628
Depositing User: Katy Gagg
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2010 09:49
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 10:32
Share this page:


Scopus Citations

▼ Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340