Yesterday, I explored the virginity stereotypes I’ve encountered over the years. Obviously, it was Completely false, fabricated and riddled with more foolishness than a carnival of clowns.
Marie Claire recently sat down with co-founder of Feministing, Jessica Valenti. They were discussing the release of her book The Purity Myth. I thought perhaps Valenti’s interview would give me some answers – or at least some intelligent insight. The interview disappointed me greatly. As a virgin reading the interview, it came across as Valenti’s attempts to demoralize and criticize virgins, as if we’re somehow the problem, as if we’ve given people, in particular, women who do have sex, a bad name.
It’s all our fault, apparently.
“Virginity and chastity are reemerging as a trend in pop culture, in our schools, in the media, and even in legislation.”
Neither of these – virginity or chastity – ever left, actually. People just aren’t as afraid to openly talk about it now. Something tells me it was those very stereotypes that made it go into temporary hiding in the first place.
“The lie of virginity — the idea that such a thing even exists — is ensuring that young women’s perception of themselves is inextricable from their bodies.”
Actually, it has absolutely nothing to do with my body. It’s quite the opposite in fact. It has everything to do with me respecting myself as a person. The book acts like sex is no big deal. That’s the real threat to women in their fight to change the myth a woman’s true value is tied only to her body. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those “My body is a temple” people, but a woman’s body is hers. Why shouldn’t she be proud – and protective – of it? Why hop in to bed with any Joe Schmo just to prove that women are just as animalistic as men?
The main misconception of virginity is that it exists! There’s no medical definition. It’s a completely cultural invention. It’s such a huge deal and yet it’s so amorphous. There’s no real way to define it at all.
Wow, this one perplexed me the most. I just had to sit and stare at that quote for a minute or two. So by the same token, then, the terms slut and promiscuous, but you don’t deny that those exist. Interesting.
Finally she says that “America’s obsession with virginity is hurting young women.” I’d say the opposite it true. Women are constantly bombarded with sexual images every day, images that tell them that if you’re not doing these things, well, then there must be something wrong with you. You’re abnormal. You’re a freak.
“Lose your virginity already,” society practically shouts at them. It seems to me that the book – and frankly, society at large – underestimates the role a women’s virginity plays in her life. Maybe it’s just me coming from my perspective of being a virgin, but did you ever think someone’s virginity might, possibly be about something very deeper than sex itself? Feminism itself was founded on the principle that women hold the power to make choices and decisions that are right for them, regardless of the outward pressures they face. It’s not about trying to act superior, pure or some “morally elightened” woman. It’s not about “sticking it to the sluts.”
Shockingly – and probably surprising for a lot of people – it doesn’t have to do with ANYONE.
And what’s with this whole US vs. THEM mentality? Since when are virgins and non-virgns playing for opposing teams? It’s almost as if society wants to pit us against each other in some metaphorical boxing ring. Frankly, I’ll have no of it – I just realized the same can be said of my reasons for my virginity. See, we virgins aren’t bad people. Get to know us, and you might discover that we’re actually funny! Or maybe we’re just overcompensating? No, we’re most definitely funny!
Yes, a woman’s body obviously isn’t her defining characteristic. It doesn’t define her. Like my disability, one’s virginity is merely a part of them, not the part. It scares me when a society seems to be encouraging young women to do things before they’re ready. People – and this includes men too – need to go at their own pace.
I feel the same way about the subject of virgity that I do about my disability. Please don’t place me – or anyone (and yes, that does include non-virgins) – in your nice little categorical box.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow where I will tackle the male virgin – metaphorically, of course!
[Photos via Abby Sharp]