I read this article about 6 months ago, and it was one of the best articles that I read on Associated Content. Though the article made both positive and negative remarks about virginity, I wanted to address some of the points she made from my point of view. Here is an excerpt:
“Pairing the two word “losing” with “virginity” accomplishes two goals. First, we only lose what we consider valuable (e.g. “I lost the race,” “I lost my notebook,” or “I am lost.”). We also lose things we presume we ought to have kept (e.g. “I lost my temper,” or “I lost your phone number.”) Coupling “losing” with “virginity” implies that virginity is something of value that we ought to have kept.”
For the most part this is true. Maybe it was a bad idea for us to refer to someone who has had sex for the first time as “losing” their virginity. But the writer’s wording implies that virginity is not of any value, and we should not keep it. Of course, I don’t think that people should stay virgins for the rest of their life. Everyone will lose their virginity at some time. But unfortunately, a lot of girls don’t place very much value on their virginity. Perhaps this is why we are losing it younger and younger as the years pass. Most girls lost their virginity for other things that they value more than their bodies– love, acceptance, and popularity–and I don’t think that’s a good thing. Another excerpt:
“When we “lose” our hymens, are we missing part of our body? Are we no longer whole? Since men do not have hymens, are men presumed to remain intact or complete human beings after they become sexually active, while women are not?”
I feel that virginity is about more than a hymen. The hymen is not the only representation of virginity-it’s only the physical representation of virginity. What about the emotional and spiritual changes we undergo? Our mind, body, and spirit work together. Once one part of that “trilogy” is distorted or changed, the other two will react. Losing a hymen is the least of it. I don’t feel comfortable saying that a woman is no longer whole because she underwent a mental, spiritual or physical change, but I will say that the mental and emotional changes that take place after losing your virginity does more “taking away” than the hymen does.
The writer also asked, “Why do we attach a phrase, such as “losing our virginity,” to our sexual experiences, as if once our virginity is “lost,” part of ourselves has essentially vanished?” And to answer this, maybe we do truly lose a part of ourselves when we lose our virginities. And when I say this, I don’t mean we just lose our hymens. I mean we possibly lose a part of who we are. Too often, sex is viewed as a strictly physical matter. We never take into account the emotional and mental effect sex has on us. When we lose our virginities, we do change–not only by the physical, but mentally and emotionally as well. You can’t tell me that the person you are today is the same person you were when you were a virgin. All of our experiences effect who we are-including sex.
“In the United States as well as other Judeo-Christian based societies, the historical roots of the hymenization of virginity can be traced back to the Book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible, where an intact hymen – alleged “proof” of girls’ virginity during that period – signified life or death for women.[v]The hymenization of virginity is not based on “science” and “nature” of the physically torn hymen in relation to female sexuality. Instead, it is a social construct, rooted in one of the most misogynistic books of the Bible, Deuteronomy..”
First, I have not read the whole book of Deuteronomy, but I have read much of it, and some parts of it are pretty harsh. But there are many parts of the book of Deuteronomy that is just as teachable as the rest of the bible. The whole entire Old Testament is harsher because it all took place before the coming of Christ. Once Christ came, things changed for the better. But you won’t know unless you actually read it for yourself.
But to address what the writer says, the reason for a woman’s body being scrutinized to that extent is because virginity was truly valuable back in those days. And even nowadays, virginity is still valued in Middle Eastern countries. However, it isn’t of any value to most Americans today. We become more open or loose after we lose our virginities. I don’t mean we become whores, I mean we become comfortable. We no longer have the shyness or the nervousness that virginity brings. This is why some people refer to losing your virginity as “losing your innocence.” You are no longer shy–therefore you are no longer “innocent.”
This “lost of innocence” is why the bible instructs us to have sex only within marriage. The fact that we become comfortable after losing our virginities is why it can be disastrous to have premarital sex. When you wait until marriage, you at least become loose within your marriage, not in the world. When you don’t wait until marriage, you become loose amongst many people, and many men will benefit from that-not just one man, or your husband.
The importance and value of virginity is also exemplified by God’s choosing of a virgin to birth Jesus. Virginity is not only a physical pureness, but it is also a spiritual one. Jesus was to be born spiritually pure and without sin, therefore he had to be birthed by someone that was pure also. Get it?
“Losing” our virginity gives others power over us and linguistically forces women into mere recipients of sexual pressure. In cases where our first sexual experience was that of rape or incest, a renewed feminist linguistics and discourse pertaining to virginity may return subjectivity to us. Virginity must have everything to do with when we first decide to actively assert our sexuality as opposed to passively “losing” our hymens, having our hymens “taken away” from us, or linguistically giving someone the ability to do so.
I believe women always give others power over them for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Referring to it as “losing” your virginity is un-empowering and passive, but that doesn’t mean that women would not be losing their virginities passively had we call it something other than “losing” our virginity. Girls are losing their virginities passively all the time, and it’s because they are submitting to the guys. They want to do it when the boy says he wants it. They get pressured into it by the boy.
And on top of that, grown women tell these girls that losing their virginity later in life is not “realistic”-which also takes power away from the girl. She not only feels pressured by the boy, but she also feels pressured by adults who convince her that practicing abstinence doesn’t work, and that it’s unrealistic. The girl ends up feeling like her lost of virginity is already predetermined. This is why kids never aspire to wait. They are always in a rush to start early because we adults talk out of both sides of our mouth by saying to wait, yet telling them that it’s unrealistic to wait.
Girls are passively having sex-even women who are adults. They, too, are passively having sex, that’s why they misguide girls into thinking that taking control of their body and holding on to something that is truly valuable is unrealistic. It is realistic-I’m a virgin, and I’ll be 22 in September.
I will end with another excerpt that I agree with whole heartedly…
“When we begin to speak of our sexuality in active terms;….when we actively decide when and whether we will sexually assert ourselves, and when we make these decisions necessary components to discussing virginity, we give the power of our sexuality and sexual experiences to ourselves and the women and girls with whom we come in contact.”
Other articles you may be interested in:
Love Thy Self: collection of articles for women, black women, and teenage girls
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