North Texas Daily

We need to destroy the concept of virginity

We need to destroy the concept of virginity

We need to destroy the concept of virginity
October 09
12:00 2020

Virginity is a patriarchal creation used to control and devalue women. The act of “sex” can mean entirely different things to each person, so “virginity” is just as subjective. Placing worth in something as intangible as the concept of virginity has acted as a vehicle of many current harmful ideologies and attitudes.

The social construction of virginity has been surrounded by the idea that it is something people have and lose. It is surrounded by the pressure of transformative change and stigmas that frame it as a loss of innocence and corruption of morals. You are not losing anything when having sex for the first time but rather gaining a new experience. Still, we continue to attach guilt and shame to the experience because we have been dragged into the purity myth without even knowing it.

The connection between purity and virginity depersonalizes sexual experiences and places harmful implications on sexual activity. Men have built a patriarchal system that holds and maintains control over the success of women, with virginity being a direct product. Virginity and maintaining purity for men is so engrained within women, straying from it is supposed to make them feel bad about their bodies and sexualities.

Historically, young girls who were virgins were worth more. Potential husbands would pay more, and girls’ fathers would receive more, linking our worth to monetary value and the ownership of men. Losing your virginity meant dishonoring your family. Women have been mutilated and killed solely for having sex. The effects of this kind of historical treatment and ownership linger through modern cultures and hold too much significance in women’s sex lives and status.

Societal standards, largely controlled by men’s desires, enforces the idea that women are only seen as desirable if they are “pure” and have had no sexual relations prior to a relationship. Virginity is not as important for men as it is for women because the concept of virginity is rooted in misogyny. It is used to control women’s sexuality and determine their value. Look around today and you will continue to see men being praised for their sexual activity and women being looked down upon. We are either virgins or sluts.

To combat a popular misconception, virginity has nothing to do with the hymen. The hymen is a thin, fleshy tissue located at the opening of a vagina. They are different for everyone, ranging from vaginas with so little hymenal tissue it seems like they don’t have one, to vaginas with hymens that cover nearly the entire opening. Although varying in size and shape, there is almost always an opening that exists, where people with vaginas menstruate. Believing penetrative sex “pops” or “breaks” it open is wrong.

The hymen can be stretched out before having vaginal sex. Riding a bike, doing a sport or inserting a tampon can all change the hymen. Being a virgin and having a hymen are not the same thing. You can’t tell if someone is a virgin by the way their hymen looks.

Women’s virginities have been made valuable to society, with religious and cultural traditions maintaining this. It is reflected in fathers ‘”giving away” their daughters in white wedding dresses, purity balls and virginity testing: is the inspecting of the hymen for tears and size, often using the “two-finger” test.  It occurs in at least 20 countries throughout the world in order to establish marriage eligibility or employment eligibility in order to assess the social value of young girls and women. Virginity testing cannot prove whether a woman has had vaginal intercourse or not, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These kinds of traditions contribute to gender discrimination and unhealthy relationships between women and their sexualities.

Not to leave out how exclusive our beliefs and perspectives on virginity is to the LGBTQ+ community, it focuses on cis male/female penetrative sex and excludes any form of sex not fitting within its parameters. Believing heteronormative sex is the default drives outward expressions of prejudice and invalidates the experiences of many relationships and sexualities.

Virginity is just an idea, and ideas can change. It is sexist, wrongfully linked to purity, heteronormative and sustains the patriarchy. Reframing the idea of virginity will allow us to develop healthier and more inclusive views on sex and sexuality.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Vanessa Delgado

Vanessa Delgado

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