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

4 thoughts on “On Virginity

  1. I believe my future wife deserves all of me, and hope she sees fit to withhold such a priceless gift for the one she will love for life. Immortal romances have been dealt a fatal blow in favor of fleeting pleasures, but I like to keep the old traditions alive.

    • I’m sure. But would it be a problem if she weren’t? Would you reject her because she wasn’t “pure”? Would it bother you to know she’d been with someone else? Virginity was a concept created by people who wanted to control women’s sexuality. I know society tells us that it is romantic, but it is a concept created by people… It’s meaningless… How would you feel if you get married, she isn’t a virgin, and feels ashamed because you expected her to be?

      • Yes it would be a concern.

        As for societal constructs, can you please explain what evidence you have for that? Beginning with why virginity is a decision in the extreme minority.

      • Why many people no longer wait until marriage:

        “1972— The Supreme Court (in Baird v. Eisenstadt) legalized birth control for all citizens of this country, irrespective of marital status.”
        http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?id=18&compID=53
        DNA paternity tests started being available in the 70s as well.
        http://www.dnacenter.com/science-technology/dna-history.html
        In 1973, “As a result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of many states.”
        “1976 The first marital rape law is enacted in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.”
        “1994 The Violence Against Women Act tightens federal penalties for sex offenders, funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, and provides for special training of police officers.”
        http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline3.html
        “With rare exceptions, all known human cultures have policed the sexual behavior of girls and women, and America, circa 1959, was no different. Before women obtained the power to control their fertility, they had compelling reasons to comply with whatever arbitrary double standard their society imposed.”
        http://www.alternet.org/story/153969/how_the_sexual_revolution_changed_america_forever

        In other words, in the last few decades, women are no longer obligated to remain a virgin under threat of pregnancy, STDs, extreme social stigma, or execution.

        Evidence for it being a societal construct:

        “In medieval times, virginity became a sexual term for a heterosexual woman in a physical state of not having had been penetrated by a penis. ‘Virginity’ was classified as a gift from the Christian God only to be released by a ‘husband.’ ”
        http://www.pamf.org/teen/sex/virginity/defining.html
        Leviticus 21:13-14
        “And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin”
        Deuteronomy 22:20-22
        “But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
        “Losing your virginity at the wrong age (usually being “too young” in this case), at the wrong time (“too early” on in a relationship, or not during one at all), with the wrong person (usually someone you aren’t “in love” with) or with the wrong feelings (doing it for any other reason than loving your partner and wanting to pledge your love and devotion) has social consequences.
        These factors are all subject to speculation and judgment by others, particularly by slut shaming….
        Slut-shaming doesn’t give women sexual autonomy, but instead constrains their behavior and choices by placing these expectations on to how they should go about being sexual (i.e., they shouldn’t).”
        http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/08/losing-virginity-for-good/

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