Let’s Talk About Virginity

As I have grown older, I have come to dislike the concept of “virginity”. The dictionary definition of virginity is: “the state of never having had sexual intercourse”. Planned Parenthood states that although the general definition for a virgin is an individual that has never had sex, many people interpret this definition differently. Sex means different things to different people, so virginity can mean different things, too. For instance, some people think of sex strictly as ‘penis-in-vagina’. This illustrates how a gender binary is a crucial element in some people’s view of sex. Following this logic, one could infer that people in same-sex relationships that have never had sex with the opposite gender would be classified as virgins, despite being sexually active. Of course, this reasoning is flawed, but it is informed by social constructs that perpetuate homophobia and gender roles, and therefore sexism. And we can all agree that these social issues are illogical in themselves.

There are people who believe that “virginity” can be tested, as if it’s a legitimate thing and not an abstract concept. People who are subjected to “virginity tests” are usually women (surprise surprise). One of the ways in which the status of a woman’s “virginity” is checked, depends on the condition of her hymen: if it’s torn, it’s assumed that you have had penetrative sex and if it is not, you are considered a virgin. The testing of one’s “virginity” is controversial because it is invasive, it is not supported by medicine or any other form of science and the means used in some countries and cultures are detrimental to the women involved. The whole idea seems to be incredibly unethical. Lastly, the testing of “virginity” is inconclusive because it is not really real. The focus on the women speaks to the underlying patriarchal ideologies that seek to limit the sexual liberty of women.

Women have been conditioned to attach a value to their bodies and there is a general idea that the more sexually liberal a woman is, the more this abstract value attached to her humanity is decreased. Women have been reduced to their vagina’s track record or lack thereof. This is due to the influence of the concept of virginity. Women that are subjected to virginity tests are traditionally tested as a means of determining if the prerequisite of “innocence” is met when marriage negotiations are being made. The objectification of women and “virginity” go hand in hand because the importance that is attached to sexual interactions is made to link to one’s worth as a human being. This is not applicable to men, because they have the freedom to exercise their sexual agency as they please (no pun intended). Again, this all stems from systemic patriarchy that breeds sexism and misogyny in society. “Virginity” is used to police women and their bodies. The result of this, is that women are made to feel like every sexual interaction is a loss for them, it is as if something is being taken away from the women and there is something to be gained by the man. This is reflected in how most people consider penetrative sex between a man and a woman to be the definition of sex. You will hear of women that are willing to engage in a variety of sexual activities, such as oral sex, but will abstain from ‘penis-in-vagina’ sex because they want to remain virgins. The way in which people express their sexuality is none of my business, but there is an inherent flaw in thinking that one particular form of sex is superior and that it plays an important role in how a woman perceives herself. I think that the concept of “virginity” is destructive and counterintuitive to a society based on equality amongst human beings.