Friday, June 18, 2010

The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy

Or, People Think It's Intimidating When A Girl Is Cool With Her Sexuality.

Have you ever noticed that, when you're a young woman, society likes to place you into one of two sexual stereotypes? You're either a virgin, or a whore. Now, granted, not everyone thinks like this, but on the most general level, you get placed in one camp or the other. And really, it's a lose-lose situation for the girl in question. As the Breakfast Club would tell us, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't - if you have had sex, you're a slut, and if you haven't, you're a prude.

I read an interesting book on the matter, called "The Purity Myth", which describes this very phenomenon. It also pointed out a number of interesting things to me. For example, everyone thinks they know what virginity is, but did you know that there's no real medical definition of virginity, it's a pretty abstract concept. So if you don't 
really know what virginity is, how do you know when you've lost it? Is it when your hymen breaks? Well, no, that can't be it, because that can happen for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Or, conversely, you may be having sex and your hymen can be completely intact. Is it the first time someone sticks their penis in you, or you stick yours in someone else? Well maybe, but then what about lesbians? Are they virgins forever? What about oral sex? Maybe it has something to do with orgasm? (Though sadly, with that logic, there are probably a bunch of women who would still be virgins) What about every ridiculous invention of "almost-but-not-quite-sex" that teenagers have come up with to preserve the abstract concept of their virginity? Where is the line? Easy - there isn't one. It's something humans made up, and it's something humans change to suit their needs. I'm not blaming anyone of this, I'm just wondering why in the hell we place so much stock in something so abstract and volatile, especially when it is harmful to women.

Why is it we feel the need to be derogatory or demeaning about a woman's sex life no matter what sex life she chooses for herself? Why are women teased for being "virgins", or taunted for being "whores"? Is there no such thing as just having a healthy sex life? Furthermore, why is it that society places such a taboo on sexual activity when it is one of the most natural pleasures that exists? I am not about to say that we should all run around having sex with everyone, but if we find ourselves in a situation where we have the opportunity to safely enjoy it, WHY NOT? Why should we be ashamed?

Regardless of what the church, or the government, or your parents, or your health teacher has told you, sex is not dirty, or wrong, or bad, and there is nothing to be 
ashamed of. And that's what it really comes down to. People - especially women - are made to feel ashamed of their bodies, and what they do with them.

The obvious double standard here is that our society praises men for their sexual conquests. Newsflash, ladies and gentlemen. Most men cannot 
have sexual conquests unless a woman is also present. So how can it possibly be fair to praise him and deride her? Haven't they both performed the same act? So if she should be ashamed, shouldn't he? And more importantly, if he shouldn't be ashamed, why should she?

What's your stance on sex, and the virgin/whore dichotomy?


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