What is Virginity?
Frequently asked questions about virginity portray it as a mysterious state of being. Although we think we know what it is, these questions prove that there are still many areas surrounding it that are uncertain. Such questions are:
What is virginity?
What constitutes losing ones virginity?
Can someone whose LGBT lose their virginity?
And since these questions have no definitive answers, the explanation of what virginity is eludes us. So I’l start by saying that first off, there is absolutely no medical or biological proof that virginity exists. Nothing can say you are or are not a virgin, other than society that is. Which brings me to my second point; it’s a social construct, a heteropatriarchal social construct. One that says women should keep their virginity until they are married, and that men should lose theirs as soon as they are of age. One that also devalues the sexuality of people who are LGBT. One that frames a woman’s worth as implicitly proportional to her sexuality (or the preferred lack thereof). Virginity is an idea used to define a state of being, one that is pre-sex.
Losing Ones Innocence!
The concept of virginity is a made up idea, but one that exists for societies purpose, and that purpose is control. Importantly, the control over women’s bodies, and thus their sexuality. Its no surprise that such a concept exists, since throughout history similar ideas have handed much worse fates to women. The witch trials, female genital mutilation, electric shock therapies and brain surgeries have all been used as punishment for sexually active women. And since such obvious and horrific punishments wouldn’t be accepted by modern society, the threat of tarnished reputations, sullied self worth and social prejudices were created to keep women’s sexuality under control. This is exactly the reason for the link between virginity and innocence. Virginity is innocence, and the opposite of that is guilt, so if a woman loses her virginity to the wrong man, at the wrong time then she is guilty. But how is anyone to know who is or is not the right or wrong person? The church would have us believe that the right person is the one we are married to, I’ve been in a relationship for seven years, we are both committed and have no want for a marriage in our future. Does that make me a perpetual whore?
Why is innocence and purity so important though? Why does it have such a hold on our sexual experiences? The patriarchy would have us believe that saving our virginity is ultimately saving our innocence, and for men, it tells them that they will somehow lose value if they save their virginity past a certain age. When I was thirteen I was told that if I didn’t wait until I found the right man, I would feel dirty, used and ashamed. My first sexual experience wasn’t with my current partner, but that isn’t to say it was with the ‘wrong’ person. However, I was more than aware that any feelings of guilt and shame were non-existent. I was sure this meant I was dirty, perverse, which actually brought about deeper feelings of guilt. My point is, I had no option but to feel dirty, because of what I was told, not because the statement was true in itself. I no longer felt innocent, I was guilty.
What it Means?
For the women:
Women are expected to keep their virginity for as long as possible, we have something to lose by giving it away, and as such our value and self worth should be preserved. In this respect, we are seen as sex objects (in the media, arts, news, advertisements…) and to the contrary can’t be seen as sexual beings. We are guilty of something (who knows what) when we lose our virginity, and as such are punished with slut shaming, bad reputations and labelling.
For the men:
Men on the other hand are treated with opposite notions of virginity, if they don’t lose it before a certain age they actually lose some value, are branded with all sorts of derogatory terms and made fun of. Its also important to highlight that this giving and taking of virginity places a hierarchical duality between both partners, with the woman losing something that her partner is ‘taking’, thus again placing the male as the authority.
Virginity is so powerful a concept yet many questions are left unanswered in regards to what exactly it means to be a virgin, and if it was between two members of the same sex does it still count. Lets, for a moment, pretend that virginity is a real, tangible thing, then it still makes an entire group of people eternal virgins. This idea diminishes their experiences by portraying them as ‘not the real thing’.
Why We Should Screw Virginity:
Virginity is held up so high that purity rings, wedding night kits and painful surgeries are used to keep up the virginal appearance. And who would blame these women? When our only options are to fulfil the virginal role, or be the whore? Nobody wants to be guilty, labelled a slut or even feel dirty, so of course they will try to follow the innocent, virginal approach. Patriarchy has tried to prove time and again that virginity exists, through explanations of how the female body will react to its first experience, but what it fails to acknowledge is that every body is different. They use fallacies as facts, mainly with the hymen, which they have absolutely no knowledge about and through oversimplified descriptions of what constitutes sex, which is hetero biased.
Instead of asking dozens of questions about virginity, how to lose it, and the consequences surrounding it, remember that it is nothing, an idea, a restriction, a myth. When we got scared as children that there were monsters under our beds or in our closets, at a certain point we all snapped into reality and acknowledged that something non-existent can’t control us. Its no different with virginity, its time to screw the idea and have authority over our own bodies. Our sexual experiences don’t make us bad people, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.