This Just in- Your Concept of Virginity is Outdated (and Probably Sexist)

By now we have all heard the harrowing story of how T.I. has subjected his teenage daughter to yearly ‘virginity checks’ via gynecologist appointment, but what are we to take from all this? This is more than a snappy tabloid controversy, T.I.’s poor parenting is actually indicative of an even more oppressive system. To begin examining exactly why T.I. did was inappropriate, we must fist solidify a definition of virginity- and how it should be modernly adapted. The outdated connotation that tends to follow virginity is one that upholds sexist, heteronormative ideals. Typically, it refers to the first time a person engages in penetrative sex that- presumably- “breaks” the hymen (the thin membrane covering the vaginal opening). Modernly, this definition has completely run its course because sex can be and is different for everyone dependent on mutable factors like sexuality, consent, and gender identity respectively. Assuming that sex is solely between men and women is not where the problematic behaviors around the concept of women’s virginity stop, either.

Change neon light signage

Despite the sex-positive moment among many women and young activists, plenty of people still engage in behaviors that chastise women for not being ‘pure’ enough or, alternatively, not being sexually adventurous enough. No matter what, young women seem to be caught in the crossfire of this dichotomy, entirely unable to win and this abusive invasion of privacy committed by T.I. clearly demonstrates this; virginity, or lack thereof, should not determine one’s worth or moral standing. The way virginity is portrayed in the media and taught in schools directly influences our own views and the outrageously archaic view of women ‘losing’ something when engaging in sexual behavior is entirely inaccurate and misguided. It takes autonomy away from a person's choice and undermines the progress we have made in the strive for gender equality. This is only exacerbated by the consistent societal need to determine a person’s value based on what they bring to the table, sexually.

In addition to this, young men are not expected to uphold the same standard of sexual purity, in any regard. Quite the opposite. Most young men are lauded accordingly for the frequency of their sexual experiences, even by parental figures as is the case with T.I. and his fifteen-year-old son. Meanwhile, the examination T.I. has been subjecting his daughter too has been going on for centuries and is not even considered to be medically relevant in the present day. For example, many women are born without a hymen intact or have very minimal tissue, to begin with. The hymen could also naturally deteriorate from various athletic activities, like dancing or riding a bike. Thus, basing a woman’s value on the presence or absence of a membrane is completely absurd.red and green LED string

The best way to combat these harmful stereotypes is through education. Primarily, in the U.S., schools’ sex education programs focus on preventative measures, rather than means of contraception or valuable information regarding consent. Destigmatizing sex and making the active decision to implement comprehensive Sex Ed, rather than abstinence-only education is an important part of the conversation about women's rights and combating inequality in society. How T.I. violated his daughter's privacy, no matter how well-intentioned, could have easily been avoided by listening to the gynecologist’s educated advice about women’s health. If there are parental concerns about someone’s sexual activity, the easiest way to soothe them is through mature discussion. Stereotypes are largely irrelevant and, in this case, dangerously misguided. To progress as a society, we need to come together and dispel rumors that only serve to aid misogynistic thought patterns.

 

 

Credit: Cover, 1  2