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Virginity a social construct

2021-09-03  Frieda Mukufa

Virginity a social construct

You are more respected by society and men as a woman who has kept her virginity. This is because you are said to be pure and undefiled. I honestly have to laugh because that socially-constructed narrative annoys me to the core. For aeons now, women have not only been socially oppressed by this construct, but it has also mentally subjected them to keeping something intangible to themselves, because they want to get married faster as it is seen as a sign of good luck. Because of this construct, women can’t be sexually liberated as men, because they will be regarded as ‘used’.

However, when you take a look at this construct, you can’t even solely define it without linking it to concepts such as purity, religion, heteronormativity and sexism (there was never a big concern with finding a physical way to identify a man as a virgin). Thus, virginity is an abstract concept because there is no specific definition. It is said that when women still have their virginity, their hymen isn’t broken. But you can break that in many non-sexual ways—or have penetrative sex and not break it at all. The hymen is just a useless piece of tissue that scientists still can’t figure out the function of anyways. Some women don’t have a hymen, some do, some tear and bleed, while others don’t. The hymen can tear when inserting a tampon, riding a bike, playing a rough sport, and just about anything. So, it’s not valid to think of virginity physically.

If we put it practically, some people argue that oral sex is what counts as breaking your virginity, others don’t. If you don’t think it counts, then my friend who is a lesbian is a virgin for life.

If you think it’s just heterosexual sex, then gay men are virgins for life, too. If you think it must be penetrative, then what has to be penetrating what? There’s no way to provide a definition that would encapsulate the entire range of sexual experience, because virginity is always subjective, which makes it a construct. To make matters worse, women are often fed information about how their first sexual experiences will be like. They are told that it will be painful, their hymen will bleed, it will hurt and it will be scary. Women are fed this absolutely horrifying image of what having sex is like as a means to ensure they remain “pure”, and only break it when they are with their husbands.

None of that is true. When a woman has safe, consensual sex with her partner, it’s an amazing thing.

It doesn’t need to be, and nor should it be, painful and scary. Also, there is no reason to hold onto something subjective that would bring you pleasure. Go experiment, chomi. Another gentle reminder is the fact that with ‘losing’ your virginity, there’s no such thing as you having a loose vagina because of the many sexual encounters you will have as a woman. Again, that is just another social construct started to keep you away from the pleasures of sexual intercourse as a woman. Your vagina is a muscle, and it will stretch in order to accommodate your pleasures. When it’s wet and a woman is turned on, the vagina will naturally become a bit wider to make sex more comfortable and penetration easier, but that is only in one state. Remember, the vagina is built for a human to pass through it; why would it be so weak that it would change its shape due to penetration?


• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.

2021-09-03  Frieda Mukufa

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