“Virginity” is the buzzword we’ve all come across, ever since we turned twelve (in my case sixteen). Losing your v-card – the term that we have commonly seen all throughout the modern society. Every teen and rom com flick out there, has teenagers or young adults on the lookout for their THE one – to finally give up their virginity to. Losing your virginity is like checking off a giant essential from your life’s to-do list. In case you don’t, then by the time you reach a certain age you are branded by the society as a loner for the rest of your life. This is also the classic plot line of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”.
In 2019, Miley Cyrus made a powerful statement on her social media that virginity is a social construct. And guess what? She’s not wrong. Take a look at the rest of this article and you will agree with us too.
What Is A Social Construct?
When you Google “Social Construct”, this is what you see: An idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society .
This simply means that it’s something how we, as human beings, have understood the world. A “social construct” is definitely isn’t something concrete that we see, like for example, rivers and oceans. Societal pressures and norms are the base for these constructs to exist in the first place. Social constructs when enforced for a long, long time generally turn into social norms. And this is why people still continue to follow them, uphold them. These constructs are an integral part of how we understand our society and our own selves.
All such pressures, expectations and myths that exist around the age old idea of ‘virginity’ are two hundred percent a result of human created ideas and norms.
Three Reasons Why Virginity As A Social Construct Is Damaging:
1. Retaining the hymen before sex is a total myth and medically not correct
It’s pretty sad that many parents take their daughters to a trip to the gyno for the reassurance that their hymen is still intact. Like the ancient times, even today this misconception around the “hymen = virginity” still exists. Let’s first get the true meaning of hymen out of the way. The hymen is something that is around the vaginal opening, like a membrane. Hymens naturally come in a doughnut-shape and are thick when women first enter this world. This thick lining however, wears out as time flies by and they grow up.
The myth is nothing but: someone’s virginity is determined based on the fact that their hymen is still intact. A torn hymen is a sure indication that they already had sex with someone. Contradictory to this myth, a hymen can get tears because of many other factors such as playing sports, masturbation and using tampons. A torn hymen is a high possibility, even in someone who hasn’t lost their v card.
2. Virginity is not a medical term, but something based on patriarchal norms
Virginity is a human created concept. The whole idea of virginity as we know it is not at all based on real facts or any science. It sure as hell is not a medical word. This term however, is from the Greek Origin. Greek writers even use this term in a metaphorical sense, depending on the context. In Christianity, virginity in a woman has become the common synonym for purity and chastity; because of the virgin Mary. Only if the womb is “pure”, a woman is eligible to hold “God”. The patriarchal society, obviously like many other things, has redefined the meaning of virginity. Men started looking for wombs that were “purest” to carry their heirs: virgins.
The problem with such social constructs is that they have many harsh consequences. Virginity tests are hundred percent legal in countries like Afghanistan. It’s done to reassure that a girl is eligible for marriage. Also, non-virgin women could be imprisoned for involving in adultery. Many other cultures like the middle eastern and western and even Asian, have linked virginity with purity and goodness. This is truly wrong on so many levels because it is downright slut shaming and sexist. Also, I would like to take this moment to point out that it’s usually only women’s virginity that gets the spotlight. Ever since the king and queen times, men losing their v-card before marriage was considered important and necessary; like learning how to eat and ride horses. Hence it is also highly gender discriminating.
3. It Is A Highly Heteronormative Concept:
Many animals and other living organisms indulge in homosexual lifestyle. But for some reason, human beings can’t seen to accept this. The standard definition of virginity is absolutely heteronormative. One is said to have lost their virginity, only when they have penetrative vaginal sex with a dick.
Virginity means different things to different people. Lesbians who are sexually active and never had penetrative sex with a penis – are they considered virgins their whole life? What about oral and anal sex? How do they play into this concept? And, the people who identify as trans?
The people from LGBTQ community are clearly alienated since only vaginal sex is legitimized by the society. The more we look into this constructive concept, the more it becomes subjective.
Understand this people, virginity and abstinence are two entirely different things. In pointing out the way virginity has been socially constructed, we are not shaming the ones who simply choose to abstain from sex. We also aren’t saying that teengaers should rush their way into sex either. We are just shaming this system that wrongly places a very high value on the whole virginity concept.
Any system, tradition or culture that downright nullifies someone’s respect and rejects the choice to their body autonomy should be cancelled and shamed. Everyone, even non-virgin women absolutely deserve respect and protection; not only the ones who decide to follow the societal rules of having sex.