Virginity Is A Social Construct

Originally posted on The Belle Jar:

Jezebel published a piece today with the title “Nearly 1% Of Women Claim They Were Virgins When They Gave Birth,” and, because this is Jezebel we’re talking about here, they used this as an opportunity to shame and belittle the women who say that they became pregnant while still virgins. And just so we all understand what author Erin Gloria Ryan means by virgins, she writes that they are women who,

“… were unpenetrated by the peen of a man when they became pregnant.”

She further explains,

“This doesn’t include women who became pregnant via in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination; these are women who gave birth the old fashioned way and were like *shrug! SERIOUSLY GUYS I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED!”

Then (incorrectly) asserts,

“Getting pregnant without sex is virtually scientifically impossible, yet dozens of women in the study (who were teens when the…

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“Hard” Questions about Abortion

Originally posted on human with uterus:

I ran across an anti-abortion post that said prochoice politicians are never asked “hard” questions akin to those directed at anti-abortion politicians.  They listed 10 questions, none of which I found that hard.  So I thought I’d answer them:

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?

I think a woman’s health and life should be paramount and that she should be able to make decisions regarding her own health and body regardless of pregnancy.  That said, if a woman seeks a therapeutic abortion for a viable fetus, I would support the removal of the fetus from her body in a way that would produce the highest likelihood of a good outcome for both.

2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the…

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Equality is not Conformity

Equality is not the same as conformity.

Women’s rights are not supposed to make all women into men. Women are able to have children, and that difference should be celebrated, not demonized or punished.

Religious freedom is not supposed to make everyone Christian. Other religions are different and beautiful in their own ways. They should be respected. Religious freedom is not supposed to turn everyone into atheists. It is supposed to allow people to choose and live by their own form of spirituality.

Racial equality is not supposed to make everyone white. Other races, other cultures, other traditions are beautiful, and people should have the right to live by their own. They shouldn’t be punished or discriminated against for being who they are. They shouldn’t be shamed for following their own traditions.

Equality is a good thing, but it leads to conformity. People are afraid of letting other people have individualities. America is called a melting pot, as if to melt everyone together into a homogeneous soup. That is not equality.

Equality is not forcing people to conform to the usual. Equality is not forcing women to give up femininity to succeed. Equality is not forcing people to convert to Christianity so everyone can believe the same things. Equality is not forcing minorities to assimilate to white culture.

Equality is not conformity.

Equality is respect.

On Virginity

So when i was in seventh grade, we had a sex ed day. We all spent the day, broken up between the boys and the girls and were taught sex ed. The boys had a “boy’s bash” and the girls had a “tea party.” We were taught abstinence.

We were taught abstinence as the only method of STD protection and contraception. At one point, the speaker put on a rubber glove and said, “if i were dying of a terrible disease would you shake my hand if this glove were the only thing stopping you from being infected?” She told us that this is what it’s like using a condom when your partner has an STD. A rubber glove is better than shaking your bare hands, but it isn’t going to really stop anything.

That was literally all we were taught about condoms, that they are as thin as a rubber glove and will do nothing to stop any contagion. We were given no actual information on the effectiveness of condoms, nor were we given any information on any other forms of contraception. They didn’t even mention hormonal birth control.

That’s also the whole of the information given to us about STDs. I was lucky enough to know how STDs are really transmitted (as in, not through a toilet seat or whatever), but i worry about the girls who didn’t.

Close to the end of the day, they handed out little rolls of paper. i opened mine, and on it was a pledge to “keep myself pure” for the person i would eventually marry. And i signed it.

I grew up believing that whoever I ended up marrying deserved my virginity. And when I did get married, I had never slept with anyone else. I was proud of that.

Then one day, i found a blog that changed my outlook, and really helped my marriage. It started a post by saying “Virginity is a social construct.” I don’t remember the rest of the post, but it started some wheels turning in my head. I read up some more about it, and this is what I’ve put together about it:

Women are told to be virgins to preserve their purity and “give it” to the right person, who then has it forever. This is a control mechanism, along with slut-shaming, that puts a woman’s sexuality in control of a man. In olden times, virginity was like a paternity test. When someone married a woman, if he was the only one she ever slept with, he’d know it was his child she eventually gave birth to.

Now, though, I was told to stay a virgin because God wanted me to, and my future spouse deserved it. I didn’t want an STD or a baby, so I was told to be abstinent rather than actually use birth control. I was told that if I wasn’t a virgin when I got married, I didn’t deserve to marry anyone. In giving up my virginity, I was giving up the chance to ever be with anyone else.

Forgive me for only just now realizing this, but i realized that I didn’t owe my future spouse anything. Nobody “owes” anyone else their sexuality. No one “deserved” to be my first, not even the person i ended up marrying.

No one “deserves” sex from anyone else. And no one should try to control little kids’ sex lives. Teaching abstinence, at least the way it was taught to me, is teaching shame and misinformation. i was not educated about sex that day. I was shamed and lied to. I was manipulated into playing along with people’s religious game. That isn’t how it should work.

I’m happy I’ve only been with one person, but i wish that had been my informed choice. I wish I hadn’t been lied to and manipulated. And i wish I hadn’t resented my spouse for not being “pure” for me. I felt bad about that for a long time. i felt like I’d been cheated out of something I deserved. That’s disgusting. I love my partner, and it doesn’t matter if I was the one and only. I am the only one now. I didn’t deserve anything from my spouse, and i feel bad for thinking I did.

I’m a better person for realizing this. I realized who’d manipulated me, and I got past it. I realized what was real, and now i’m better. I feel better about my relationship, and now i know to not let my own kids be taught sex ed by anyone but me. I don’t want my kids to be manipulated like that. i don’t want anyone to shame them into disrespecting their own or anyone else’s sexuality. Looking back on a hurtful thing in the past and getting past it has improved my life, relationship, and world-view.

Abstinence shouldn’t be taught as the only method of birth control. And kids shouldn’t be told that anyone deserves them sexually. Virginity shouldn’t even be a concept. If he or she doesn’t have an STD, does it really matter?

Post-Virgin Me

On Abortion

Today, in Albuquerque, there is a vote that may ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation. I had the pleasure of speaking with a few women on both sides of the issue who were campaigning on campus.

A group of women were there from stoppatriarchy.org . They are pro-choice, and they want abortion to be legal because if illegal, it will take away women’s rights. It will make women “incubators” rather than free agents allowed to make their own decisions about what happens to their bodies.

A few women were pro-life, and I was able to talk to two of them. Their stance is that woman and child should be treated equally, and neither should be subordinate to the other. The child should not be a casualty of the woman’s choice.

Talking to the pro-choice supporters, the stance was mainly on the lack of choice and the lack of rights involved in losing the ability to terminate a pregnancy. The stance of the pro-life supporters was mainly that babies are people too since the moment of conception, and that abortion is dangerous.

A few times, I brought up cases of when an abortion should be allowed, in the case that abortion would be safer than giving birth, in the case that the woman didn’t know she was pregnant until after the twenty week mark, and the response I got was “well, that doesn’t happen very much.”

If your law is cutting out a legitimate portion of the population, even if it is small, I don’t think it should be a law. I mean, imagine being the woman who finds out she is pregnant, chooses abortion, and then is not allowed to have one because she wasn’t showing early enough.

Imagine being the woman who is raped and has to see the stretch marks on her stomach reminding her of the rape every day for the rest of her life, even if she does adopt out the child.

I am personally against abortion, but the issue isn’t abortion. The issue is the law taking away women’s rights. Maybe abortion is bad and should not be happening, but a woman getting an abortion does not affect you. It affects only her and the fetus, who is using her body without permission.

A woman should not be forced to donate her body to another person. No one should be forced to allow someone else to use his or her body without wanting it. This is why there is not a law forcing people to give blood or mark the organ donation box on their drivers licenses.

This is why rape is illegal. No one is allowed to use anyone else’s body without his or her permission. If abortion is made illegal, a person will have the right to use a woman’s womb, even if the fetus is unwanted, even if it were created through rape or incest, even if it were incapable of surviving outside the womb after birth.

If fetuses are people, then a person will have the right to use a woman’s body without her permission. Women will be forced to submit to other people using their bodies. Regardless of your views on abortion, we should all think that’s wrong.

-Post-Choice Protest Me

On Post-Past Me

I’m a different person than I was yesterday. I’m more aware of both my life and the world around me. That’s a good thing. i think people need to realize that it’s okay to change and improve themselves, and that doesn’t mean they’re giving up who they are.

People are told that they need to “stay true” to themselves, and “never change” for someone else. The thing is though that people need to change. I mean, yeah it’s bad to pretend you’re into something you aren’t to impress someone, but people need to change.

Changing who you are is a good thing. You need to grow up and mature and improve yourself. I’m doing that. I am growing up and becoming who I want to be rather than who I’ve been.

Anyway, on this blog, I’m going to be talking about the things I learn as I change myself. As I realize new things about the world and who I want to be, I’ll post them here, so I can see how far I’ve come. Also, so if anyone reads this, they can learn something and maybe change themselves a little bit too.

I’ve made the decision to change and improve myself.

-Post-Decision Me