Virginity, a complicated concept surviving the tests of time. For women, we often see it displayed as an idealized status marking her as “pure” and a commonly used plot line in popular porn, even daytime television. Women are often taught to “protect their flower” and to not “cheapen” their value by giving up their “special gift”.
So what’s the deal?
A woman’s virginity is only an indication as to whether or not she has had sexual intercourse, or if the tiny little membrane, known as the hymen, is still intact. Doctors, and other medical professionals, have stated that virginity is not a term that is medically referenced, instead physicians recognize the term as being socially constructed through time. Hear that folks, socially constructed concept shattered. Not to mention that a hymen can be moved or shifted by the use of a tampon or even by simply working out.
Most of us have sat through history classes learning of great kings and their young brides inviting others to look upon their bed sheets, after they have consummated their marriage, to assure the traces of blood are there to mark the loss of a maiden’s virginity. Talk about an invasion of privacy. Not to mention that biblically, virginity is extremely valued and a marking of a woman’s purity, faith and undying loyalty to her husband. Cue the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus. Even in Greek mythology, Zeus had a predatory obsession with sleeping with virgins. The importance of virginity has been reestablished through history and through generations of women.
Men want it and you have to protect it.
As we reach maturity, young women are often taught to refrain from sexual urges and to protect themselves by not having sex. Although there is much more conversation on safe sex and deciding if one is ready to engage in sex with their partner as of late, there is still far more conversation on refraining from sex to safeguard your virginity for the one you ultimately end up with. But don’t worry, if you insist on engaging in sex, there is a brief 20 minute lecture on all forms of birth control and STDs that public education created way back when for your listening pleasure.
Many women are left confused, feeling unsure of themselves, of their bodies, and sometimes ashamed of their desires. These are natural urges, people!
Engaging in sex, whether it be vaginal, oral or anal, is a big decision. And one that you have to be comfortable in making. Sex shouldn’t be a scarlet letter on your integrity as a person. We should be more educated on safe sex and how to engage in safe sex instead of being taught to safeguard our virginities for our significant others when we are 30 or to obsess about staying within a decent range of the “perfect number” of sexual partners, which is just a whole new can of worms waiting to be opened.
Stop telling us what to do with our bodies.
Losing your virginity isn’t an indicator that you will be unfaithful to your partners in the future or that you are “spoiled goods”. Your virginity is not a product being marketed to the public; your body is not a good to be bought or sold. Tell us about different forms of birth control and how to use them accurately, teach us about consent, being honest with our doctors when we are sexually active, and the importance of being comfortable with our partners. It isn’t just about having sex the first time; it is about being safe when you become sexually active. Stop glorifying virginity in the media and in porn; a virgin shouldn’t be a trophy added to someone’s collection. It is important for young women, and young people in general, to define what virginity means to them and what they feel comfortable doing with their partners. We shouldn’t be ashamed to have questions or to ask them; more transparency means improved sexual health for all!
Somewhere down the line, as boys were high-fiving each other in the locker room for finally swiping their v-card, girls had their car windows decorated with the word slut scrawled in lipstick and we forgot to teach that someone’s virginity, no matter their sexuality or identity, is not a prize to be won. Engaging in sex each and every time is a decision we have to make, regardless of whether or not we are “virgins”.