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Thursday, November 4, 2010


(The following is a re-print of a post from the blog My Life As A Serial Dater.)

It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue. -Voltaire

Virtue is a word used to describe moral excellence or a trait or quality that is morally excellent.  Purity is a virtue.  Virginity means you are pure and thus you are virtuous. Without your virginity, you are not pure, you are not virtuous. Throughout time and within different cultures, the emphasis on a woman's virtue has cycled in and out of importance.  But, rarely has a man's virtue ever been called into question through his possession or loss of his virginity.  Men are seen to be virtuous for other reasons, not having to do with their chastity.  When challenging a man's virtue, his courage and honor would be called into question, not a small layer of skin in the depths of his genitals.

There are many different definitions and ideas on when a woman's virginity ceases to exist; when she is penetrated vaginally, when she is penetrated anally, with fingers, with a penis, with an instrument.  Is a woman robbed of all virtue if she is raped?  Does giving head, but not having intercourse mean one is still a virgin?  Can virginity be restored through prayer?  Can a virgin be 'born-again?'  And why does it matter?

Virginity is seen as a virtue that is to be taken by a man.  It's something to be preserved until one meets the right man that will penetrate and break the flesh threshold.  The first time for a woman is never described as something that brings pleasure.  It's awkward and uncomfortable.  It's painful, but a woman should be happy that it is something she can share, something that she has saved for a well-deserving man.

I know very few women that are still with or even still talk to the man they lost their virginity to.  The passing of the sacrificial hymen isn't an agreement.  It doesn't come with any requirements or promises of loyalty.  It really means nothing.

After I 'lost my virginity,' I didn't know how to feel.  The phrasing itself left me with a feeling that I should feel a loss.  Should I be mourning my childhood, my purity?  It was fun.  I felt sexy.  I liked the boy with which I shared my first sexual experience.  We were good friends and it was fun.  It was wholesome.  It was his first time too.  I didn't feel like anything was missing.  I felt enriched, like I knew something others didn't.  I had sex.  I was sexual.  I was proud.

But, one night, it caught up with me.  I remembered the external influence.  I remembered the things I had learned as a kid and adolescent.  I heard the voices preaching the importance of purity and virtue.  I remembered that I had 'lost' something.  I lost my virginity.  It didn't matter that it was a very positive, loving experience.  I felt bad that I didn't feel bad.  I wasn't a kid anymore.  I had to be more mature now.  I wasn't a virgin anymore.  And in that moment, lost in the expectations of others, I forgot that I had made a good decision.  I forgot that I was in love and that I was still a kid.  I forgot that I had a pure heart and that I was a good person and I shed tears of mourning for something intangible, something that had never brought me joy.  I mourned a small mucous membrane that had probably been broken by a tampon or by my fingers long before my first boyfriend ever entered me.

I understand it better now.  When I think about my first time, I smile and I feel happy.  It was a beginning to a healthy wonderful part of my life. But, at the time, I had no one to turn to to share my shame.  My sister and mother had never made me feel bad for having sex.  No one was ashamed. No one put pressures on me.  I was 17 and I had taken a natural step in life.  My friends and family thought it was nothing to bat an eyelash at, but somewhere deep inside, I knew that society was frowning on my decision.  It may have been a natural progression, but feeling loss and shame were also natural, right?  It was, after all, inherent in the phrase.  It was lost.  I wasn't enriched.  I was missing something.

Now, I know this was bullshit and I frequently stop myself when I am about to say "I lost my virginity." It's not lost.  I know exactly when I decided to have sex for the first time.  I am not missing anything.  I am not without.  Nothing was taken from me.  I still talk to the man that gave me sex for the first time.  He gave me my first orgasm and he gave me love and respect.  Unfortunately, it took a little longer for me to give myself the love and respect that came so easily from him. It took more maturity for me to realize that virtue is a social construct that can't be defined by an act or a small layer of mucous.  My virtue and purity can't be taken and will never be lost.

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