This is the 2nd episode of Sex-Positive Gamer, where we play popular videogames whilst answering your shagging questions. Now your male friends have no excuses for not knowing their sex education (unless they were too busy with Planned Parenthood volunteering or something). Our adviser is occasional Feministe contributor Echo Zen.
Finals are here, but we managed to squeeze out one last episode before semester’s end. Yes, it’s related to the question we answered last time, but… Okay, we really just wanted to do a simple, non-intersectionality-laden question, to avoid extra stress on top of revising for exams. But even if you already know everything about virginity, feel free to watch if you want to be entertained by what we played whilst answering the question…
Welcome to the second episode of Sex-Positive Gamer.
Today we sex educators are playing Call of Duty: Ghosts, whilst answering your sexy-time questions.
So, today’s episode involves the most common topic we get in our inbox…
The question was, “Do virgins literally pop their cherries?”
Here’s the email we got.
“Hey, so I don’t have a question on having sex.”
“I have a question on talking about it.”
“Why do people say ‘popping your cherry’ when talking virginity?”
“I’m pretty sure nothing in the vagina pops, when you shag for the first bloody time.”
“For that matter, when did people start equating virginity with cherries anyway?”
Okay, this question requires a bit of clarification.
“Popping your cherry” is a slang term, and virtually all slang has multiple meanings.
For instance, many people think of cherry-popping as virgins having any sexual contact…
…including touching certain body parts.
Here though, you are referring to vagina sex, specifically popping a hymen in a vagina.
The trouble is hymens don’t actually break or pop, when virgins first have intercourse.
In fact, the hymen’s not even in the vagina.
It’s a membrane on the vaginal opening, and contrary to popular belief…
…the hymen does not cover the entire vagina.
Otherwise, a virgin would never be able to menstruate, without an opening down there.
Since hymens already have openings in them, it’s impossible to break or pop open a hymen.
Moreover, hymens themselves change over time.
During childhood, the hymen starts becoming stretchier, for reasons having nothing to do with sex.
Some obvious reasons include exercise, tampons and fingers.
But even simple things, like hormones and menstruation, will eventually thin out a girl’s hymen.
By puberty, the hymen will have become naturally elastic, another reason it can’t be popped or broken.
A penis or vibrator can only stretch a hymen, not break it.
Now, in male-dominated cultures, most people think virgin hymens are supposed to bleed from intercourse.
But considering the majority of women don’t even bleed when they first have sex…
…it’s a safe assumption that virgins, cherries and popping have nothing to do with reality.
This brings up the second part of your question…
…namely how the notion of “popping your cherry” came to be, and why it continues to endure.
The term “cherry” might sound like a reference to Biblical forbidden fruit…
…but it’s actually much more modern and mundane.
It first appeared in the U.S. in the late 1800s, supposedly due to virgin hymens looking like cherries.
But after all this time, why is “cherry” still a popular synonym, when it comes to virginity?
Two possible reasons exist.
The first one is cherries, when crushed, supposedly resemble spilt blood…
…the way virgin hymens are “supposed” to bleed if they’re popped.
The second is that cherries are known for their perishable nature.
Since virginity is regarded as something girls lose, as they grow into old people…
…it makes sense that imagining the hymen as a symbolic cherry is a compelling idea.
Well, hopefully this answers your question, since we’re almost out of gameplay footage.
If you have other questions for us, post a comment on Feministe, or message our Tumblr.
Also let us know if there’s other stuff you want us to play.
Till next time, farewell.
This particular episode took a month to make, since it coincided with Echo tapping a disability activist to assist with making the vlog more accessible to the non-able-bodied. Feedback for the previous episode was that many had difficulty with parsing the visuals, so we focused this time on making text and information easier to read.
A noticeable revision to the vlog is the new sidebar, which helps to illustrate key points. It’s one of those changes that seems minor from outside, but was actually a ton of work – the main hassle was constantly writing and rewriting bullet points to try getting them under five words, to fit in the sidebar whilst still matching with narration we’d already recorded. It would have been less time-consuming if we’d written those points first, and then written narration around them. But hey, we’re not complaining (much) so much as we’re warning other potential vloggers to learn from our mistakes.
If you count the pre-reboot vlog, these last few episodes have mostly been biology lessons, revolving around old mainstays like virginity, vagina myths, etc. They’re respectable topics, but frankly not relevant when it comes to addressing trending issues – for instance, gender pay gap denialism or Obama’s scathing report on campus rape. Now that experimentation with the vlog’s visuals is winding down, we definitely want to do episodes on more timely issues. Culture is more interesting to us than biology anyway, and we bet readers here would prefer that too. (We can tell by which episode topics get no comments.)
We’ll do 4 more episodes over summer, and then we have to take a break to do a miniseries on… the history of Call of Duty guns? That’s the deal we brokered with the techs – they help us for a few months, then we help them with their stuff. For the sheer amount of work everyone puts in, we really should do mainstream material. If we made Call of Duty guides, for instance, we’d get thousands of views, easily.
Instead we’re trying an untested strategy – directing sex education at YouTube’s huge gamer demographic, especially young males, by playing their favourite games whilst answering submitted questions. Some famous YouTube gamers do something similar, i.e. gaming whilst answering questions from fans, but we believe this is the first time anyone’s done it for education purposes.
Obviously there are reasons this strategy might fail. Maybe folks don’t want sex education from non-famous YouTubers, or female viewers will be turned off by all the gaming, or people will be too disconcerted by the mishmash of videogames and sex education to take it seriously. But it’s impossible to know without trying first. This is an evidence-based experiment, after all (and we’re being graded for this).
What are your thoughts?
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