5 Reasons Why Virginity is a Social Construct
“Virginity” has been a buzzword all throughout modern society. “Losing your virginity,” arguably more. Every teen movie out there has boys, girls, and folks alike searching for that lucky someone to lose the big “V” with. If you do lose it, you can essentially check off a giant milestone in your life. If you don’t by a certain age, as we saw with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, you’re deemed an exile of society destined to be alone for the rest of your life.
Most recently, stars like Miley Cyrus and T.I. have spoken about virginity, however on opposing ends. Cyrus called virginity a “social construct.” You can cop the merch here. T.I. was (correctly) under blast for admitting on a podcast he visits his 18-year-old’s gynecologist with her to make sure “her hymen is still intact.” Aside from that being a complete violation of privacy and even safety for his daughter, the hymen is essentially a myth. Let’s segway into the 5 reasons why virginity is a social construct.
Keeping the hymen intact before sex is a myth and medically inaccurate
T.I. had it wrong. But, lots of folks have this misconception about the hymen. Let’s first explain what the hymen actually is. The hymen is a membrane surrounding the vaginal opening. Hymens are naturally doughnut-shaped and are thick when we are first born, however, that thick lining wears over time. The myth is that intact hymen determines someone’s virginity and that a torn hymen indicates that someone had had sex already. Tears in the hymen can occur through sports play, inserting tampons, and masturbation. Even if someone has not had sex yet, they can still have a “torn” hymen.
2. Virginity is based on patriarchal concepts and is not a medical term.
Virginity isn’t innate. It is a human creation. We typically think the origin of “virginity” from Christian principles, however the term is from Greek Origin. Depending on the context, Greek writers would even use the term in a metaphorical sense. With the virgin Mary, virginity became hand in hand with purity and chastity. A woman could only hold “God” if the womb was the purest. Virginity was then redefined in a patriarchial society as men were looking for the “purest” of wombs to bear their children: virgins. It also determined if there would be another heir to the inheritance. If a woman had another child, then it would affect that. It was just another way to control women to make sure they were not bearing other’s children.
3. It perpetuates the cycle of sexual shame for vagina owners
In our modern society, virginity is still seen as the pinnacle of purity for young people. We teach young vagina owners in sex-ed that they will be deemed “useless” and “overused” if they have sex with multiple partners. This is seen in many lessons in examples as chewed gum and a cup of spit. Vagina owners are also taught that there must be vaginal bleeding and pain if you’re having sex for the first time, as it “shows” you were a virgin to the partner. It is a blatant double standard as penis owners are not taught about staying “pure” for your partner. Vagina owners are shamed if they have multiple sexual partners, but penis owners are celebrated and then to just find a “virgin” to settle down with and bear children.
4. Virginity is heteronormative
Lots of animals engage in homosexual behavior, why can’t humans accept this? The conventional definition of virginity is completely heteronormative. You lose your virginity when you have penetrative, vaginal sex with a penis. We can now see what someone means when they say they’re “half a virgin,” because vaginal sex is the only sex legitimatized in modern society. This alienates LGBT folks and deems the value of sex within the LGBT community as less than and not legitimate.
5. Virginity should be redefined as a “sexual debut”
Or….how anyone wants to define it! Vagina owners need to take back the term and define how they choose — not society. This is especially important for those who have had first forced sexual experiences. It is daunting and draining to think that you don’t have control over your sexuality and what defines you as a sexual being. We need to reclaim the word and determine it for whatever sees fit — because it’s not a “one size fits all” word. It’s a social construct.