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Rhetorical Questions about Virginity...

books dumb people
What is virginity?

Virginity is a construct defining penis-in-vagina sex to determine the worth of a young woman to her father before she is sold to her husband. If she has had sex before, her body is second hand to her husband - worth a lot less. The paternity of her children and thus the security of the male bloodline and inheritance is called into question.

This is what virginity meant. You can argue that any other definition is wrong - in this day and age virginity is as irrelevent except as a residual social construct, especially with birth control. You can argue that only female-bodied person who is going to be sold can lose their virginity, and only when a penis enters a vagina without birth control.

Now it defines some mythical loss of innocence/moment of revelation/coming of age through sexual contact. What does it mean to be a virgin or not if the whole bride price/patriachal society thing is ignored? How do we define virginity between same-sex couples? If a woman has had rampant, enjoyable sex with 100 other women, I'm sure she isn't a virgin, even if she's never had a penis in her vagina. How do you define lesbian sex? Can male-male sex partners lose their virginity to each other? Do they only have 'proper' sex if it is penetrative? Why does that 'count more' than say, oral? If a lesbian has sex with a man to try and turn herself straight and finds it an awkward and miserable experience, has she lost her virginity? If a young girl has had a penis in her vagina, but was raped, is she still a virgin? She hasn't had sex, she has experienced violence. What about a person who is a 'sworn again virgin' - xe hasn't had sex for 20 years and never has it again. Are they a virgin?

Virginity really does mean what you want it to mean, especially in these times of relative sexual freedom. Why do people make it such a big deal, and such an issue of shame?

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
16th Feb, 2009 22:34 (UTC)
Just my two cents...
I have been wondering about the same thing lately. What's the meaning of virgin nowadays? I really don't know. The worst part is that this question has been in my head for months. And I think I will have to agree with you, virginity is what you want it to mean. I have never had sex, but with all the media bombarding sex-related things at us, I hardly think of myself as innocent or naive, which used to go hand in hand with virginity once.

Anyways, I really like the last line "Why do people make it such a big deal, and an issue of shame?" It goes both ways. If a person has already experienced sex they get called many a colourful expletives, the tamest of them being loose. On the other hand, if a person has not experienced it, they are freaks. It is incredibly frustrating.
lunacinzenta
19th Feb, 2009 05:27 (UTC)
You know, I actually have a half-finished draft of a post about this very topic sitting around on wordpress, which I started way back in October... but you've managed to make one of the main points I was going for so much more concisely than I could have done. Very well-said!
asexualunderground.blogspot.com
8th Mar, 2009 19:26 (UTC)
Asexy Virgins
I think that part of the reason that virginity persists is that is serves as a way to talk about boundaries and experience. If someone is a virgin they have permission to make having sex a bigger deal than if they aren't a virgin. Virginity is a way of saying "I have boundaries around sex." (Though the latter sentence is better communication and much clearer.)

I've run into this in an interesting way in my relationships, where sexual (and sexually experienced) people often have little experience with certain types of nonsexual intimacy. Sometimes they've never been in a close relationship without the scripts and protocols of sexuality, and they find things like just holding someone and talking for hours to be both desirable and outside of their comfort zone. I'm technically the "virgin," but often times their inexperience and boundaries around nonsexual intimacy are what we wind up exploring and challenging, which makes for some asexy times.
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