Posted: March 30th, 2022
The textbook definition of virginity presumes a guy is no longer a virgin once he has inserted his penis into a woman’s vagina and ejaculates or a woman is no longer a virgin once they have taken a man’s penis inside their vagina, which results in the breaking of the hymen (Bearman & Brückner, 2015). This definition is flawed in that it presumes that we live in a perfect society where sex only takes place between men and women. However, we have lesbians and gays and the also have sex, which means that they would be virgins even if they have enjoyed sex with each other. Lesbians would not allow a guy to penetrate their vagina, but they would enjoy sex with another woman and this would mean they would no longer be virgins. The same applies to men who have sexual relations with other men, they are no longer considered to still have their virginity. Therefore, the correct definition should be virginity is the state of an individual never having had any sexual intercourse.
Differences in Different Cultures
In most cultures, virginity is only emphasized for women. A woman who still has her hymen intact is presumed to be a virgin even if they have had other forms of sexual intercourse. If the hymen is broken even if the woman has never had sexual intercourse they are considered to be sexually experienced and most men would not marry her. In Asian societies, virginity is not just vital for sexual control, but also as a business asset. A family can sell off their virgin daughter in order to move up their status or maintain their high status. Islamic cultures lay great emphasis on the woman being a virgin on their wedding night. A woman who is no longer a virgin can be punished by their family because they have brought shame on the family (Amer, Howarth, & Sen, 2015). Punishment can include physical beating or even killing her. Traditionally African cultures placed great emphasis on virginity before marriage and virginity was something that a woman was proud of. However, this is no longer the case and there is no emphasis on preserving one’s virginity anymore.
Slut Shaming on Virginity
A majority of people in our society nowadays have a hard time accepting the fact that there are virgins within our midst and these people have made a choice not to have sexual intercourse. The failure to understand and accept the choices made by individuals is what results in slut-shaming of virginity. Virginity is no longer viewed as a good thing or a pure thing that the individual would love to preserve (Amer et al., 2015). Virginity is viewed as something weird and unacceptable. Slut shaming on virginity could also be pushed by the notions that other societies have placed on virginity, which the western society has seen as old and outdated. It might be for this reason that most people see virginity as something that is bad and should not be encouraged. This results in them insulting and bullying an individual for their virginity. Slut shaming on virginity should be discouraged in the same manner that slut-shaming of women is being discouraged.
Different Expectations of Virginity for Men and Woman
It is clear that virginity is only encouraged for women and not for men. This is because there is no way to tell if a man has had sexual intercourse or not. Since women have a hymen, most people believe that a broken hymen means the woman is no longer a virgin, and they use this to disadvantage or control women. Virginity is expected for the woman, but it is not expected for men (Bearman & Brückner, 2015). The virginity of men has never been an issue in most societies. The virginity of women is mostly laden with notions of purity, worth, and honor. This places more emphasis on women virginity than on men virginity. The cultural emphasis on virginity hurts women because it places undue emphasis on a non-existing notion instead of encouraging safe behavior within the society.
Amer, A., Howarth, C., & Sen, R. (2015). Diasporic virginities: Social representations of virginity and identity formation amongst British Arab Muslim women. Culture & Psychology, 21(1), 3-19.
Bearman, P. S., & Brückner, H. (2015). Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse1. American Journal of Sociology.
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