Just doing my part to spread pobre habladora’s cool new way of talking about having sex for the first time, discarding your virginity. So that it’s at the very least an active process, even if still riddled with problems.
Like what, J19?
So glad you asked.
Like how we have this idea that penile-vaginal intercourse is Real Sex, and so that’s what makes you lose your virginity. As if the clitoris, the only body part in any human being that is explicitly and only there for the purpose of sexual pleasure, has nothing to do with sex. Ha! This is not only great for perpetuating sexism, but it helps prop up heterosexism, too. People assume – in the face of evidence of real, meaningful, satisfying, exciting sexual experiences of homosexual and queer couples – that non-heterosexual sex can’t be Real Sex – based on the very shaky theory that penile-vaginal is the only possible Real Sex. (“Oh but that’s the only way to get pregnant, and pregnancy is The Point of sex!” Tell that to someone who got knocked up from semen on her thigh, and then explain to me why humans continue to have sex when the female is pregnant and after menopause and when they’re sterile and, well, when they’re a homosexual couple. And then study bonobos.)
Like how we have this idea that there’s a clear line between virginity and whoredom lost virginity. My friend said she learned in Anthropology that the !Kung (the ! means you click your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth) people don’t have a word for virginity, and people explore their sexuality from the time they’re young, and it’s more of a spectrum than a now-you’re-a-virgin, now-you’re-not thing. (This is a common theme; my culture needs to get over its obsession with binary categories.) Really, do you think someone who’s had sex is all that different from the way they were before?
Like how we base the whole thing on a piece of tissue that isn’t even always there to begin with. And seriously, it’s just a little membrane. There’s no need to psychoanalyze the meaning of it. It’s not a gate. It’s not a treasure. It’s a little membrane that didn’t open up all the way while the fetus was developing. (Natalie Angier’s Woman: An Intimate Geography made it clear to me that making body parts into metaphors for their owners or seeing them as microcosms of their owners is stupid. Although I did smile when she talked about ovaries as pearls. Highly recommended book, in any case.)
Like how since that membrane only exists in women, we put much more emphasis on female virginity than male. Except that’s not the real reason, is it? I don’t think so. But people use it as justification, anyway.
Like how virginity is associated with purity, even though sex doesn’t make you dirty (ok, there are bodily fluids, but those wash off). If it were about the potential for infection, we would demonize handshakes, too, but we don’t.
Like how the emphasis on purity and virginity for women leads to things like foot binding, genital cutting, locking women up inside, giving them false information about contraceptives, refusing to give them contraceptives, maltreatment of prostitutes, double standards for cheating, killing, etc. (Note how the East and West issues are all in the same list, because anyone who thinks it’s ok to mistreat prostitutes has no business looking down on cultures who mistreat other women on the same basis.)
Like how it’s glorified in absolute terms, even though those who glorify it generally do accept sex within heterosexual marriage. This either means they aren’t thinking things all the way through, or they really do think married women have lost some value. For instance, no woman can live up to the ideal of the Virgin Mother. I mean unless she adopts, but I don’t think you quite get ideal status if you skip the pregnancy.
How about we discard the entire notion of virginity? Do what you want to do if whoever you’re doing it with can and does consent; don’t do what you don’t want to do, whatever reasons you may have for not wanting to. But just call it whatever it is. I’m tired of the word virgin and all its unwarranted connotations.
Edit: I just read the article that Pobre habladora linked to, The Hymenization of Virginity by Jessica Zaylia. I’m with her on everything except the claim that boys are never subjected to invasive virginity tests. I’ve read online that in South Africa there are virginity tests for males that involve the examination of body parts – sometimes it was like, knees or something, but I think there was also a test that had to do with the foreskin of the penis. I don’t know if that’s true, but there it is, anyway. I’m sure the vast majority of those tested in the world throughout history have been and are female, though. Neither male nor female virginity tests can prove presence or absence of virginity, of course.