Find me a teen movie, any teen movie, and I'll show you at least one character obsessed with losing their virginity. The storyline is used in just about every YA book, teen TV show and movie, perhaps because it's so eminently relatable. The manner in which a person has sex for the first time – how, when, and with whom — is typically a major decision, and ideally an exercise of personal agency.
In movies, virginity loss scenes often contain hidden messaging about what sex means, and what its repercussions are for an individual. For male characters, sex is viewed as a conquest, and the loss of virginity is accompanied by a metaphorical trophy that says: Welcome to Manhood. Entire movies, like American Pie, are centred around boys relentlessly pursuing sex. Typically, that's not how sex is portrayed for women characters (exception: Michaela Cole's Chewing Gum, a TV show centred around one sheltered woman's quest to lose her virginity). If a movie shows a woman losing her virginity, it's either some momentous and romantic occasion, or something that comes with major repercussions, for better or for worse.
We've been imbibing these messages our whole lives. Let's take a look back on these first sex scenes, and read what they're really saying.