‘Virgin-shaming’ a troubling practice for women’s rights
There is a growing trend with academic critics, media and feminist blogs alike to denounce the traditional patriarchal oppression which “slut-shames” women who are sexually liberated.
Events like the Slutwalk initiative, which attempt to bring attention to the tendency of society to blame women for sexual abuse, are necessary in order to eliminate double standards of sexuality and blame.
With extreme right-wing politicians, who ignorantly and publicly argue against birth control, abortion and bring up notions of ‘legitimate rape,’ it is crucial the debate against women’s bodies is finally settled.
What a woman chooses to do with her body is entirely her decision.
But with such passionate advocating that reprimands the act of slut-shaming, the other spectrum of women’s sexuality has become oppressed, ridiculed and stigmatized, a trend I can only call ‘virgin-shaming.’
Somewhere in the second wave of feminism, liberating your physical body became a staple of the women’s rights movement.
What was previously considered deviant became more acceptable to discuss in the mainstream, leading to positive changes in the way society regarded gay rights, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual education and of course the way sex was viewed outside the confines of marriage.
The sexual revolution absolved women of their sins and shame for having a sexual appetite and not wanting to wait until marriage to fulfill it.
Naturally, these are positive progressions in the way society regards the presence of sexuality; however, the battle of body authorship left a problematic legacy in western culture.
Whether virginity became encoded as a form of patriarchal oppression or culturally regarded as an unpopular and undesirable status the fact remains, it still demonstrates an active control over the body.
If we defend promiscuity, why can’t we defend abstinence?
While popular culture is often to blame for depicting women as sluts in movies and on television, shows on TLC like Geek Love and The Virgin Diaries serve as a space to gawk at real-life virgins.
These shows portray both male and female virgins as either religious fanatics or, plainly put, incredible weirdos that nobody wants to touch.
Reality dating shows like The Bachelor, and most recently the Canadian franchise, typically feature at least one virginal contestant.
What should be a minute signifier becomes deeply wrapped up in their entire character as they struggle with how to tell their potential mate about their past.
Why do girls feel coerced into sharing their sexual status with a potential partner as if it’s a burden?
Rarely do sexually-active girls feel compelled to explain they’ve had numerous partners nor does it become a defining characteristic.
The fundamental problem with these popular cultural archetypes is their reinforcement of the idea that self-worth and sexual status are somehow linked.
In this respect, it sends a message to younger girls that in order to be appreciated or deemed admirable, you need to have sexual experience.
It’s as if the shame of regret is completely ignored by those who defend meaningless sex.
With such enormous pressure put on women to lose their virginity before they reach their late teens, I can’t even imagine the humiliation that is put on men in a society that’s essentially evolved into a giant locker room.
The dread of beginning university as a virgin for most men is enough motivation to ‘lose it’ with anyone whose willing and several girls in my high school offered their services that mutually benefited most parties.
Congratulations. You have the ability to do what every human being is biologically engineered to do.
I’m not suggesting people start rocking purity rings like a Jonas brother, but virginity should not be something that is criticized or reflective of a person’s self-worth.
It’s important to be conscious on the implications of extreme feminist ideas that ironically, function to shame an entire other aspect of sexuality.