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The Impact of the ‘Virginity Myth’ on College Women

The concept of virginity is very relevant to women our age, yet sometimes there is a veil of shame surrounding the conversation, especially at a Christian university. At Her Campus SPU, we are committed to breaking through these barriers, to come together and unlearn harmful ideologies about our bodies. What you do with your body is your choice.

Sex itself is hard to define; is it vaginal penetration, oral sex or orgasms? Depending on the quality of sexual education a person may have received, you could have been taught about virginity and sex in a variety of ways. The very things abstinence entails are hard to pin down. Being cautious about sexual interaction is a responsible thing to do, but it becomes harmful when all the pressure to maintain boundaries is placed solely on the woman. It takes two people to have intercourse, yet men rarely get reprimanded for their decision to have sex. In fact, men tend to get praised, and women tend to get shamed by their communities.

Additionally, the norms about when to first have sex, often influenced by certain religious ideas, harm those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sex without penetration is still valid, and this can be true for those who are in a same-sex relationship, so why do we feel the need to maintain the glorification of a heterosexual standard? Virginity is not a real medical concept; it is an intangible social construct. We have the power to leave its outdated ideals in the past.

Where did the concept of virginity come from? There are many different factors influencing this concept, but we cannot deny the presence of religion. We attend a Christian university where many of us may feel a deep connection to religion, but it is important to remember that it is impacted by social currents, just like any other institution. In regard to Christianity — did Jesus really teach that women should be sexually submissive? Or did these ideals simply appear in the bible as a side effect of the patriarchal culture and the set of values already in existence? Just because an ideal is present in the Bible does not mean that it is necessarily what God wants. Do you think Jesus would be proud of our culture’s current patriarchal state?

The Bible was written by human beings, specifically men, who have historically enforced the cultural context that they wanted for themselves. Did you know that the original Greek Bible didn’t even use gendered pronouns? Translators introduced them later on according to what made sense in the given culture. Whether you are a Christian or not, it is imperative to be critical of historical texts that have the power to influence public opinions and generalize about gender in such hurtful ways.

Growing up, many girls are taught that once they have sex, they will no longer be pure —labeling them as “dirty” and “unclean.” The emphasis society puts on girls to stay a virgin is extremely damaging. The moral stigma surrounding virginity links “worth” to how “pure” a woman and her body are. This minimizes and eliminates all other attributes of the woman and  conditions girls to judge their self-worth by their sexual experiences or lack thereof.

Women are incredibly valuable and worthy no matter their sexual status. Women are strong, smart, and powerful no matter what they decide to do with their body. This mindset can be difficult to unlearn as many women have internalized it, but together we can normalize self-care and love for our bodies.

Sex is a natural way for two people to connect and express their love physically. The constructs built around a woman’s purity is detrimental to a woman’s sexual experiences and self-worth. When you let go of the purity myth, your sexuality becomes empowering! Women are worthy of the intimacy and pleasure that comes with sex. Let’s push past these patriarchal barriers and normalize female sexual power.

Classes to Take:

Intro to Women’s Studies - WST 2350

Issues in Women’s Health - HSC 3000

Women in Christianity - THEO 3331

Gender in the Global Context - SOC 4210


Books to Read:

Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape

By: Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti

The Purity Myth

By: Jessica Valenti

Articles to Read: