Virginity. To be a wholesome virgin, in the eyes of many, is to remain sexually pure from your birth until you enter into marriage, and then it is perfectly acceptable to lose said ‘virginity’ to your partner. There are various religious and social beliefs of how and when one ‘loses’ their virginity; however, in all of this, the truth remains that virginity is mainly revered in our society in regards to women. Dating all the way back to the Middle Ages, virginity was and remains today a measure of a woman’s worth in the eyes of society as a whole.
And frankly, the whole concept makes me feel quite unsettled.
The idea that my male peers’ virginities are viewed as unimportant, or even undesired, while mine is to be maintained, and in many cases protected, until the day I willingly ‘give’ myself to my husband is absurd and alarming.
I am of the belief that people may fall in love more than once, and that love can and does exist outside of the confines of a marriage contract. And while I firmly desire to one day marry someone whom I love, I believe that my body is not his to possess any more than his body is mine. It is about equality, and love, and openness. Not about a sense of ownership and being the first person to stake claim.
Virginity is a socially constructed idea that is used mainly as a weapon of control in today’s world. A man is not changed physically when he engages in sexual activity, and in a similar way, a woman’s hymen is a thin layer of tissue that may tear during any physical activity. And yet, a woman is somehow changed irrevocably when they engage in their first sexual tryst? Of course they are changed, but in no way any differently than a man is changed. And beyond the biological views of virginity, I believe that a person’s worth lies far outside the idea that purity equals goodness.
I have met virtuous people who exemplify kindness, honesty, and genuine compassion that have engaged in sexual intercourse with multiple partners before entering into marriage. Does that somehow make them less virtuous?
In our sexually charged world, there is a problem regarding sex, but it isn’t virginity. No, it is the meaningless and ‘no-strings-attached’ view of sex that is destroying the intimacy and love that sexual acts should be, in my naive mind, reserved for.
But losing one’s virginity should be a choice that is made by the individual. I have read about young women, not men, standing in front of their churches as children to make a promise of chastity. I have also read about ‘purity balls,’ and young women, no older than thirteen, making the promise of chastity to their churches and their fathers. These promises would be acceptable if it was a contract made between a consenting adult and whatever deity they believe in. But these young girls are held to the archaic beliefs that their virginities make them better people; however, their male counterparts are not held to the same moral principles. These young women should be taught that their worth comes from their actions and genuine goodness, rather than focusing on a skewed sexual idea.
The novel The Scarlet Letter displays how society viewed women engaging in sexual activity outside of their marital beds by shaming them, and sadly, little has changed since 1850. While women today are more sexually open, there is a stigma regarding their personal sexual choices that men do not face.
So here is what it comes down to; a person’s sexuality and the way they choose to express it should be their own. And while I believe sexual acts should be reserved between two people who love each other, I understand and respect that everyone has his or her own views regarding sex.
My fear is that girls will be raised to believe their virginities are the only aspects of what make them good and pure. My fear is that girls will believe that their pure bodies are worth more than their compassionate hearts and intelligent minds. Until virginity and purity are viewed as equal between the sexes, I will not hold it in any regard.
Virginity does not dictate my worth. That is all there is too it.