Why Virginity Is Kind of a Really Stupid Concept
I feel like it’s generally common knowledge that the social construct of virginity can be harmful. What first tends to come to mind when one thinks of being “deflowered” or “popping the cherry” is the tearing of the hymen of a cis female after engaging in sexual intercourse. This idea of a hymen tearing during intercourse is simply not true. The hymen is a thin membrane surrounding the opening to the vagina that, yes, can be stretched by sex, but this can also happen naturally with tampon usage, athletics, and even just by walking. So, no, if a cis female experiences terrible pain when they have sex for the first time, it’s probably not their hymen “breaking” but instead irritation of sensitive vaginal tissue as a result of poor lubrication or a partner being too rough.
So long story short, “losing your virginity” or “giving yourself away” doesn’t actually mean that you are losing or changing anything about yourself. Sex is important—it’s a special life experience—but nothing about you is inherently changing as a result of it, despite society’s tendency to make you think that.
For centuries, women’s sexual purity has been used to transfer wealth within patriarchal societies. In a world before effective contraception, choosing to have sex for the first time was understandably a pretty big deal. Chances of having a baby were relatively high. Yet, even in modern day, many traditional conservative cultures still shame women who have sex before they are married. I completely respect people who make the decision to wait and don’t like that this choice is often considered prudish, but I start to have a major problem with it when the “waiting ’til marriage” ideology is used to imply that after a woman has sex she has become impure, damaged goods, and her worth and value have declined dramatically.
The concept of virginity can be harmful to cis heterosexual women. But what about everyone else? The concept pretty much assumes that you are a virgin until you have had a penis in your vagina, or you have put your penis into a vagina. So, I guess cis heterosexual women and cis heterosexual men are the only ones that can have “real sex” — talk about heteronormative. Apparently oral sex and anal sex and all the other possible things that you can do while you’re naked with another person just don’t “count” in our culture as ~actually~ having sex, for some reason. Sorry anyone else, I guess anytime you partake in a sexual act that is not putting the P into the V then you’ve just never had sex.
By applying concepts of virginity to your own and others’ sex lives, you are reinforcing patriarchal norms about the worth and value of someone’s sexuality. So I have a proposition: Let’s stop making women’s sexuality into a commodity. Actually, while we’re at it, let’s just not force sexuality into a tiny box that erases everyone else’s experiences. That’s just not cool.