Here’s an article from TOI that I think encourages sexist fallacies. “Great things about being a virgin woman“. (Thanks for the link A and Remya)
The article tells women to “just remember that there are many advantages of being a virgin. It is one of the most special gifts god has given you.“
Here’s why I think the society, men and women, should not obsess over woman’s virginity (and sex life). Rambling thoughts, might edit and add links later.
An obsession with women’s virginity makes it look like we are okay with double standards and hypocrisy. (Also, since everybody loses their virginity only after sexual experience, and only some are expected to preserve it we don’t think of questioning the need to preserve inexperience.)
This obsession starts connecting a woman’s morals with her sex life. It indicates that women who do not refuse to have intercourse until they are married are somehow not nice people. We know this is not true. A woman’s sex life is just a part of her life and personality – focusing on it makes it seem like her ‘body’ is more important than herself. It’s disrespectful to women, for a society to value her body parts more than her life – I think it is at the root of a lot of other evils and controls on women’s life.
It also prevents women (and indirectly men) from experiencing sex – obsession with virginity makes sex look like something women do for men, like something women give and men take. (“So now, save your virginity. Don’t give it away on a platter.”)
It encourages sexual crimes. One, by making a serious crime become more about a woman’s ‘lost virginity’ and secondly, by making it shameful for women to even talk about this ‘great loss’. Some Indians see it as so shameful that they kill the victims. The shame has now become a habit and the same mindset also affects how we deal with Child Sexual Abuse.
Since the obsession involves only 50% of the populace, it has also resulted in millions of children and women being trafficked and kept in inhuman conditions – because Patriarchy believes that the 50% for whom the virginity is being preserved have their ‘needs’.
When we see sex as something men want and women provide, then we see our Police and rapists (and many other people) believing that women, who are not criminals, sex workers or just bad people, cannot want sex. And once it is established that all good women hate sex, then it becomes easier to silence rape victims by conveying they ‘asked for it’.
It prevents women (and society and law makers) from seeing sex as an activity where women are equal participants. Often just their participation (and anything that leads to it) is seen as condemnable.
This also affects how widows, divorcees and rape victims are seen – as ‘used goods’. This obsession also leads to young women being killed if they are suspected of not being virgins.
Please think about it, how does virginity benefit women?
Maybe it assured a father (before the DNA testing days) that the first child he had with a virgin most probably did carry his genes – but isn’t there more to a man-woman relationship, doesn’t it indicate lack of trust and a lack of respect for the mother?
Maybe it also assured their partners that any sexually transmitted diseases they have, have been passed on by their other non-virgin partners. It also made it easier for their partners to pretend the woman was frigid.
Maybe it meant that many women never knew their bodies could not just produce babies and please their husbands, they could also be used for their own pleasure.
How is lack of knowledge and experience a ‘virtue’?
Now when women are marrying later than ever before, I wonder if it makes sense to wait to have sex until they are married. Who does it really benefit and why?
The article claims, “…there are many advantages of being a virgin. It is one of the most special gifts god has given you.”
Is Virginity a gift from god? Who is this gift meant for? Does this gift from god make women lead better lives?
Obsession with virginity affects children too. We worship mothers who have husbands (it is assumed that they were virgins till they were married), and condemn mothers who don’t – their children (boys or girls) are ostracized.
The articles lists these benefits for virgin women.
“No pregnancy fears:” – Readily available information about contraception would be a more practical option, though in some cultures married couples are advised abstinence to prevent pregnancy.
“No STDs:” Doesn’t this apply to men and women both? Today in India many married women and their children have AIDS. These women were virgins when they married and their non virgin (and not necessarily faithful) husbands passed on the virus to them. Some countries in Africa and other countries that obsess with women’s ‘purity’ face similar problems. If virginity was not such an issue, all these other related issues would not be brushed under the carpet and serious discussion would be possible.
“No emotional trauma of a relationship: Sometimes there is nothing left in a relationship after sex. Love is not all about sex so there are many things a couple can do without sex in a relationship. Remember, a sexual disappointment can make you feel hurt, lonely and angry.”
I would have thought knowledge and experience should help in such cases. And emotional trauma in a relationship is possible with or without sex, unless one of the partners insists on seeing virginity as a ‘gift from god’.
And does this imply that it is okay if there is no ‘relationship after sex’ for married couples?
Agree with there are many things that couple can do in a relationship – but didn’t understand why sex shouldn’t be one of those things, if both the partners want it and no coercion or emotional blackmail is used?
“Your man will feel so proud and happy: It’s a fact; most men still prefer a virgin woman. No guys want to think about his girl having sex with other guys. Even though virgin women are not sexually experienced, men still love them and feel more sexually excited. He will respect your innocence, and also there won’t be any arguments on your past relationships.”
Sexist generalizations. So a woman should stay a virgin to make a man ‘sexually excited’? (Such non-virgin intentions are innocent?) Also consider – what would make a man prefer a virgin? Fear of being compared to her other partners? What about the woman having similar concerns?
“You are pure as an angel: Virgins are probably one of the sanest people on earth. Most virgin women have morals and respect themselves. Also they take relationship and marriage very seriously.”
This made me wonder if this article intended to provoke reactions like this post.
Or, Poe’s Law? (Thanks Natasha S 🙂 )
So do you think women and the society benefit from women ‘preserving their virginity’? How?
What do you think would change if such controls were not there?
Why exactly do we disapprove of Live-in relationships and Premarital sex?
Driven by tradition, Kanjarbhat elders force Virginity tests.
Shameless – By: Priya Alika Elias, Ultra Violet, Indian Feminists Unplugged.
Great Things About Being A Dimwit – Women’s Web, Aparna
We like our virgins – Amit Sharma