All the wrong and incomplete ideas that we have about the body, about relationships, about sexuality, would give me enough ranting power to write a blog entry per day, for sure. But today I want to write about this funny (not AT ALL) word that is so soaked in religion, stained with “purity”, wrapped in warning signs and double standards: VIRGINITY. I think – and I am not even remotely alone in this – that “virginity” is also lethally injected with violence, (hetero)sexism, ridiculous phalocentrism, opression, control and a whole lotta ignorance.
To begin with, we have the most sexist of Risk games: virginity (or loss of it) as a man is from an irrelevant event to a victory (ummm “uncork” anyone?) while virginity as a woman can be a passive gift to a man, a necessary evil, up to a tragedy of biblical proportions, but it will NEVER be a victory. Like a strategy game, to occupy a territory is something you celebrate, while a territory lost in battle will never be. Once we hand over that territory, once the temple is desecrated (I’d love to be able to say I am the first one to use such a ridiculous analogy), it is not ours anymore and it will never again be. Not only that, though, but, who is going to want an already occupied territory, where blood has (Oh, we’re onto something, Watson!) already been shed?! This is what they – and by they, on average, I mean white priviledged physically able heterosexual men – tell us: it is a space that you already gave away – and it’d better had been to the highest bidder. It is not a shared space, or the union of two independent nations. OH HELLS NO. Someone else already placed their flag (pun absolutely intended) in there, so that is it for you. They colonized your body. Forever. F o r e v e r.
And just like an occupation, violent imagery is needed to serve as a warning to potential trespassers of the rigid confinements that keep our own rights to choice from us. The hymen BREAKS, there is BLOOD all over the place (what, are we dying or something? jeez), VIRTUE is lost, never to return. There is no turning back, because you’re scarred. You’re broken.
All while it is well-known now that the hymen does not break – it merely stretches and possibly tears a little bit, just like it can tear from biking, riding horses, using a tampon or it may very well not at all ever. While, contrary to popular belief (and by that I mean socialization from parents, schools and oh the lovely mass media), it does not have to hurt. If it is done right, patiently, if we get to know ourselves first (you mean poke around there and be comfortable with our own bodies?! YOU’RE TALKING NONSENSE HERE, LU!! Blasphemy!), and if it is done when/where/how/with whom we want, it doen’t have to ever hurt. But imagine the travesty: if it could just not hurt, it could even be pleasurable to us! Baby Jesus will have a bloody heart attack if he finds out.
Because if nothing breaks then there is no evidence of our filthy little acts of disobedience, and we are losing nothing. Because if nothing hurts, if it is enjoyable, then we begin to look for victories ourselves instead of taking occupations passively, and we are losing nothing.
From the very term we are warned about the tragedy forthcoming with the beginning of our sexual life, by the way. This is why I am changing the way I talk about it, and I invite you to do the same. Call it first sexual experience, call it sexual debut. It is not a loss, or the end of a biblical era, or a tragedy. And if it is, honey, you’re doing it wrong 😉
[Also, the ‘virgin’ part of virginity is based on a sorta child’s tale of a woman who could conceive a man without having dirty dirty sex, which according to this book they give away at motels is an awesome thing. If you ask me, having to give birth to a baby knowing there were no fun times preceding it is just bad business].
The first time, just as every one after that, and just as everything shared, is for both. If we start changing our language and our way of framing and thinking about things, the shame, censorship and non-enjoyment ends. You start going for more equality, more mindfulness, more and better living.
[Partly because this is what I would have wanted for myself, and because I know many who read me probably have/will have kids, PLEASE teach the gals that sex is not a gift to the guys, but to themselves, that they’re not less anything for wanting it. Teach the guys that the moment is both his and hers, that sex is not a seal of property or an occupation, that both bodies matter equally. That a woman is not worth more or less for doing or not doing, but perhaps for making decisions based on what others want for her as opposed to what she wants for herself. That they should give themselves the time and the place and the heart and that there is nothing wrong with it.]
I was forgetting a couple of things that I’ve considered regarding the sexual debut. One of them is the heterosexist nature of the concept of virginity. If virginity is penetration – vaginal, which is the one that matters, DUH, now go make me some babiez -, then a lesbian doesn’t lose her virginity? is her sexual experience less valid? (but what in the world am I saying? some women don’t need a penis to get off?!) Does a gay man, in lack of a hymen to destroy (oh, the boys love them violent verbs), not lose his virginity either? [I am ignoring here, of course, stereotypes and gay-on-gay hating going on about tops and bottoms within gay communities]. The only valid sex, the one that counts, is the one in which a penis breaks a hymen – that sex, then, in which someone was doing the FUCKING and someone was FUCKED. No equal power to the people and such BS. Domination and occupation are key in this discourse. This discourse is also a cause for concern when society cannot – lacking physical proof of their filthy filthy funky business – determine how pure homosexual and transexual people are. A ridiculous uncertainty since it is none of our business what their genitalia (or use of it) is anyway.
I had also forgotten to talk about the impact of the whole “virginity” discourse on men. As in heterosexual men. Because, yes, we feminists are concerned with men’s troubles as well, since they are also outcomes of a patriarchal, sexist, body-shaming culture. I said before that “virginity loss” for men ranges from an irrelevant happening to a victory. I may have overstated my case. It is in many cases a thing to get rid of, a thing that at a certain age declares either lack of game, a lack in “appropriate” performance, lack of “appropriate” size, or lack of the “appropriate” sexual orientation. I will talk about size later, but, seriously, men are socialized to be sex machines (and by that, I literally allude to the many analogies of guns and penises) dying to be unleashed into the (hopefully of-legal-age) sexual world, a world full of passive women who are ready to please you. Couple of teeny, tiny problems there, folks.
1. Get rid of? So if it is so precious for women and something to quickly do away with for men, is it that a guy’s sexual debut doesn’t matter? Why shouldn’t it? Is his body less of a temple than a woman’s body is?
2. Appropriate? Social constructs always try to trump nature, and it is bollocks. If nature built it like that, it must be appropriate for nature, as it should be for us. The end.
3. So many men have their sexual debuts long before they’re psychologically ready, before they have nearly enough information to make concious choices and to make the most out of it. And this harms both the guy and girl’s experiences then and later in life. Who knows, maybe if they started whenever they felt like it they wouldn’t need a map to gal’s orgasms. Just sayin’.
4. That idea that women will be ready when they are leads to disappointment in the best of scenarios, to rape in the worst ones.
In the same way, and going back to the topic of pleasure, these ideas of virginity, blood, rupture, loss, is very problematic. Thousands of girls ask themselves and we ask each other, kind of worried: what is sex? what COUNTS as sex? masturbating, oral, anal, vaginal? They all are correct answers, and if you ask me, anything that can take you to the big O is sex. But what society tells us is valid – or prohibited – is vaginal sex. The sex that is useful to make babies – because we are clearly in the XV century – and nothing else. People around the world get STIs because they don’t take care of themselves with other types of sex, they say yes to things they don’t want to because “whatever, it doesn’t count”. Similarly, because of the ridiculous ignorance about what actually happens in the female body, a Saudi, Indian, Jordan girl loses her honor – and can even die – confronting an angered husband when she doesn’t bleed.
So, considering all this, and the many other stuff that I probably missed in this blog post, let’s educate ourselves. Let’s talk about things. Let’s deconstruct what others tell us. For the love of cute kittens, crazy guitar solos and orgasms. Please, for the love of the orgasms hiding behind our distorted ideas.