Virgins No More
I hate to disappoint you, but this blog article isn’t about my sex life.
But am I a virgin? It’s not about that, either.
It’s about rejecting the question, and with it, rejecting the whole concept of “virginity.”
Virgins vs. Sluts
In my high school, we had the virgins and the “sluts.” Both we and the guys were quick to apply the “slut” label. The virgins were considered better than the sluts, though there wasn’t really anything wrong with most of the girls we labeled as sluts.* And a lot of us virgins actually weren’t.
So “virgin = good” and “slut = bad.” But notice what those two labels have in common: they both define women by their sexuality, as if it’s the only important thing about them. As Jessica Valenti points out in her book The Purity Myth, the virgin and slut labels are just different sides of the same dehumanizing stereotype.
In researching her book, Jessica found that the idea of virginity is confused. I agree with her that it’s confused, but I think it’s mainly just stupid. The idea of virginity is that a woman shouldn’t have sexual intercourse. She can do anything else, but not that one thing. It’s so that on her wedding night, she will be “pure” for her husband.
Some girls even go to “purity balls,” escorted by their fathers. (Am I the only person who thinks that there’s an incestuous subtext going on there?) The fathers vow to protect their daughters’ “purity” while the girls promise to stay virgins until marriage.
Excuse me, but what century is this again? It sure doesn’t sound like the 21st century. Maybe the 10th century.
“Pure”? Never mind if a woman is intelligent, loving, kind, honest, and faithful. What we want to know is if she’s done the deed. If she hasn’t done it, then she can be as sneaky, spiteful, and dishonest as she wants. She’s a virgin, so her sexual value is intact. And after all, what other kind of value could a woman have?
The Idea of Virginity is Obsolete
The idea of virginity made a kind of misogynistic sense in a patriarchal society where women were considered property and had no legal rights. It doesn’t make sense anymore.
In a patriarchal society, if a man acquires a wife (just like he might buy a horse), he wants to be sure that any children are his own. So a woman’s “value” increases if she hasn’t had sexual intercourse.
In a more enlightened society, where women are recognized as people and have rights, that concept makes no sense at all.
It seems strange that sex abstinence programs, pornography, and virginity are just different expressions of the same oppressive idea, but they are. They all define women solely as sex objects, dehumanizing us and ignoring the fact that we are people.
So am I a virgin?
Here’s my answer: I am a kind, loving, smart, educated woman. Deal with it.
*In her book The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine explains that spreading vicious gossip about rivals is one way that teen girls compete. Chapter 2 of her book, “The Teen Girl Brain,” made me laugh because it described my high school years so accurately.
Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.