I am almost 18 years old and I am a virgin.
When I tell people this, they kind of just stare at me. They automatically become suspicious because, to look at me, there’s nothing obviously “wrong” with me. And apparently there would have to be if I’m still a virgin. I might as well go buy a couple dozen cats and move into a log cabin on the edge of modern society, though, because if I haven’t lost it yet then I’m destined to be forever alone, in their opinion.
Let me be clear. I’ve been dating since I was about fifteen. I am a healthy, social person who has had opportunities to have sex. And I chose not to. It’s not because I proudly wear a purity ring or am “pure” for religious reasons. It’s not because I’m deathly afraid of getting pregnant or an STI or am ignorant about the topic (I’m well informed about safe sex and take my reproductive rights seriously). In fact, I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t. I haven’t sat down and analyzed the state of my hymen, but I know that it just hasn’t happened yet. And I’m okay with it. I’m just not sure why everybody else is so offended.
Okay, I do kind of understand why in an overly sexual society, where girls can either be prudes or sluts (and not a whole lot else) people my age at school and elsewhere don’t really get or accept the virgin thing – as wrong as I think that whole paradigm is. But I’m looking at you, too, feminist community.
In feminism, when we talk about sex and sexuality the discussion always seems to come back to slut-shaming and the right for a woman to chose what she wants to do with her body. We want the right to express ourselves sexually without being called sluts and we certainly don’t want the double standard that allows men to be worshipped for promiscuity and women to be condemned for the same actions to exist anymore. We want to control our bodies, from a health standpoint, but also so that we’re not tied down by children we’re not ready for. And for many other valid reasons.
For the record, I totally, 100% support this and rally for it.
But I think feminists need to realize that not having sex can be a choice (remember, feminists, we like choice!) that doesn’t necessarily represent patriarchal oppression. Sexual liberation is great, but maybe I’m just not ready to sexually liberate myself, yet. I don’t like feeling like a bad feminist because of this.
There’s definitely a stigma around sexually active girls, but there’s ALSO a stigma around virgins – in society at large, but also in feminism. And that’s something that deserves a little more attention in feminist discussions of sex.