Regarding Virginity’s Existence

Nakiya wrote this post about sexual violence and virginity published today, and I feel selfishly relieved to see someone criticize the “virginity is a social construct” discourse (not because it isn’t a social construct, but more the context in which that phrase comes up and how it’s handled).  My personal experience has more to do with this asterisk:

*I think ‘virginity is a social construct’ as a phrase also rubs me the wrong way because of how it’s used in the sex positivity movement, a movement I want nothing to do with because of how they talk about survivors

…because.  Yeah.  Theoretically, saying “virginity is a social construct” would just mean that it’s more of a cultural, social, and interpersonal idea than it is an embodied physical status and people construct that idea in the ways we communicate about it… but the times I’ve encountered VIASC proclamations it came off more as having a vibe of “virginity doesn’t exist and has no consequences and if you treat it as something relevant to how you conceptualize anyone (including yourself) then you’re wrong” and the priority felt more like a narrow focus on “don’t say negative things about women who have enthusiastically chosen and sought sexual experience,” which, um, sure, but that doesn’t do anything to address how being sexually experienced can be socially weaponized, or to interrogate how and why that sorting mechanism has cultural relevance, or do anything to help me out as a dirty virgin prude.

Makes me think about being told the story of how Evangelical Girl* cut off a guy from participating in a conversation about sexual ethics by saying, “How can you have sexual ethics if you’re a virgin?”

*Evangelical Girl is not an evangelical Christian.  I started calling her that because of how she evangelizes about sex, and because I figure that she would hate me framing it that way.

Anyway I guess my point is the VIASC stuff as I’ve encountered it has been more about getting people to stop using the word/framework of virgin/virginity without fighting to give space to people to stay “virgins” if they want to or have a negative relationship with sex in any way and so in my brain everything has just kind of merged into feeling like VIASC is itself a hostile statement.

Also I highly recommend Nakiya’s post if you didn’t go read it first already.

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3 responses to “Regarding Virginity’s Existence

  • Arrela

    I don’t really have anything to add right now, but I want to talk more about this, because yes, this is a thing that has bothered me also. Because the VIASC battle cry sounds an awful lot like “your sexual debut should hold no emotional importance for you whatsoever” sometimes, or even, “what are you fuzzing about you sexist prude, virginity doesn’t matter at all so you should go out there and have sex!” And I just? No thanks.

    We should know by now that “social construct” does not mean “without importance”. Maybe we could even acknowledge that people choose not to have sex for other reasons than ones relating to virginity, maybe even that sexual debuts can be important to people.

    I don’t know, I just don’t even understand what people are trying to accomplish by repeating it all the time? Yes, virginity is a social construct, what else would it be? I don’t understand, like, even if there was a biological thing, the importance we give it would obviously be a social construct? I just don’t understand what you are trying to do here. Saying “virginity has no effect on your value as a human being” makes sense, but just. Yes, it’s a social construct. So what?

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