Sexual definitions and the control of our bodies
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Virginity is almost as obsessed upon in our society as sex. The pressure to lose it, stories of losing it, and teases of losing it are abundant in pop culture, as well as in our formative teenage years. Everyone focuses on their first time, or is secretly ashamed over having not done the deed.
Ultimately, the concept of virginity was invented as a puritanical method of control. The notion of “sexual purity” is gross and incredibly harmful, as it is shaming others for having any sort of sexual intercourse. As the idea of consent was not taken seriously by most of our patriarchal society until quite recently (and is still widely disregarded), many losses of virginity were—and still are—due to sexual assaults.
Sexual intercourse takes many forms and can vary from person to person. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have sex in a lot of different ways, many of which are not the traditional “penis penetrating a vagina” form society knows. That’s not to say that heterosexual couples adhere strictly to the “traditional form,” either. Many people go their entire lives with regular and healthy sexual activity, but never losing virginity in the traditional sense.
It’s not just the LGBTQ+ who may not fit in with the traditional virginity structure. Those who have suffered abuse or trauma involving sex have psychological or physical intimacy problems. They can still have intimate relationships with partners, but that form of sexual conduct may not appeal. The same goes for those with issues or disabilities that physically prevent them from traditional intercourse. Sex is a private matter and there is no single “right” way to do it.
The concept was primarily used to discourage girls from taking control of their own bodies. In days when women were considered property of their fathers and then husbands, virginity was seen as a controlling tool. All too often, even today, girls who have committed the unspeakable sin of doing something sexual are seen as “damaged goods” or “not pure.”
A woman’s hymen, a piece of membrane inside the vagina, is often seen as an indication of virginity in many cultures. Traditionally, the hymen breaks upon first penetration. However, it can and does break as a result of many other physical behaviours, including simple exercise. Thus, there is no physical or medical way to tell if a girl has actually had physical intercourse. Anyone who discusses hymens as a virginity detector doesn’t have a clue about what they’re talking about.
The toxic patriarchy doesn’t just hurt women in virginity pressures. “Manliness” focusing on whether or not a male is “still a virgin” is just as harmful and terrifying for the same reasons listed above. By focusing heavily on this, shame and anger can grow, and some men begin to resent those who aren’t interested in having sex with them. Your self-worth is not defined by sexual activity, nor is your empowerment or attractiveness.
In the end, virginity was made up by others a long time ago to control our lives. It’s time to reject the outdated concept and understand the variety that goes into sexual activity, with room for interpretation and privacy.