Virginity is nothing more than a social construction

Kyra Kruger

Sex. The thing society has been obsessed with since the invention of society itself. Its imagery has permeated our society from cave paintings to glossy magazine spreads.   Do we love it? Do we hate it? Do we hate to love it or love to hate it? The answer to that question depends primarily on which ethicist you ask. 

Sex is both a concept and an action.It exists in the world of morals, of physicality and of emotion. Part of humanity’s obsession with the subject must be because it is so hard to nail down. It is, all at once, both an extremely personal subject and yet so public in today’s media. Almost everyone you talk to has a different perspective of what sex means, what it represents and, of course, when you should and should not have it.  

To me, the biggest object of obsession when it comes to sex seems not to be the action itself, but how having it affects you. In a majority Christian society, even if you do not identify as a Christian, it is hard to escape the value system that has been so ingrained in our society. This is especially apparent in how many people view sexuality and virginity.  

Many cultures, Christianity in particular, have traditions of viewing sex as something that should be carefully controlled and contained.  More so, they view those who do not have sex before a certain time as somewhat cleaner, more desirable, and more worthy of respect, like a shiny new pair of white sneakers.

As students at Villanova, it is more likely than not that you have read some part of St. Augustine’s “Confessions.” Augustine makes it very clear that he views sex as a way for procreation and nothing else. He also speaks of his own sexual endeavors in an extremely negative light, equating sexual desire to “chains,” “mud” and “thorns.” Some theological critics even attribute Catholicism’s association with the condemnation of sex to his writings.  

My point in this article is not to criticize this view or even any view, but hopefully to shed light on the ways the avocation of those views can be harmful to society, instead of helpful.

Virginity, rather than being a physical object that can be possessed and subsequently lost, is a social construct. No it is not comparable to that one sock that seems to have run away in the night. In fact, it’s not really comparable to anything at all.  

Some people have tried to simplify virginity to the tearing of the hymen.  Just recently, a picture of a Bride and her father holding a “Certificate of Purity” went viral. The Bride’s so-called purity was ensured by an examination of her hymen. Unfortunately for all the worried fathers out there, any doctor can tell you that the hymen can break due to a myriad of non-sexual activities (like horseback riding), and some girls are born with unattached hymens. 

On top of all of this is the well known fact that people tend to be more preoccupied with women’s virginity than men. A girl who has multiple partners is labeled a slut or a whore and is tossed aside like she no longer has anything to offer. On the other hand, girls who don’t have sex are called prudes. People on both sides can end up being hurt and shamed.

The decision to wait until marriage is a personal one, which can be a special part of a relationship between two consenting people. This, however, does not mean that those who do not wait have relationships that are any less special.  

A person’s morality should never be associated with how many people they sleep with. Virginity should have no weight in how desirable a woman or man is viewed. As long as it is healthy and consensual, a person’s sex life is his or her own business. Who are we to judge anyone else’s sexual preferences as dirty or lesser? 

Instead of teaching acceptance, tolerance, and understanding, many schools teach that abstinence is the only acceptable, safe, and morally right option. This technique does nothing to protect or inform kids on the realities of sex, and does everything to perpetuate society’s slut shaming habit. 

We should be teaching our children that despite their personal decisions, everyone has a right to choose and deserves respect based on that choice.  We should be teaching them that what makes up a person’s character is her kindness and compassion, not how many partners she has had. We should be teaching them safety and comfort are the most important factors in a relationship, not a hypothetical purity of the soul.  

Whether you want it, whether you don’t; whether you wait, whether you don’t; why should it matter? It’s just sex.