Whose Innocence Is It Anyways? — The Brouhaha About Marrying a Virgin

Posted on August 25, 2010 in Health and Life

By Divya Gupta:

A girl is to get married through an arranged marriage to a rich, handsome and well educated man to whom she is attracted. But one thing that is giving her sleepless nights is the fact that she is not a virgin and how her future husband will react to it. So she comes with an idea of getting hymen restoration done in order to avoid any problems in her soon to follow married life. But isn’t this deceiving her self as well as the people who will be part of her life. Yet this is what most people in our country have to do in order to avoid questions about their virginity considered to be synonymous to purity.

In the strictest term; you are a virgin until you’ve had sexual intercourse with the member of the opposite sex. But this definition leaves a lot of people out of the loop. Maybe it is time we also revisited what it means to be a virgin.

When we think of virgins, we think of “white wedding innocents” who define sex as a synonym for gender. But the fact is the standard definition of virginity lets you get away with having a lot of different kinds of sex with still being able to call yourself a virgin. In theory, under the traditional definition of virginity, someone who is homosexual can have sex every day and still be a virgin. Someone who has oral sex regularly is also still a virgin. Does that really make sense? Something is a miss!

In medieval times, virginity became a sexual term for a heterosexual woman in a physical state of not having had been penetrated by a penis. “Virginity” was classified as a gift from the Christian God only to be released by a “husband”. It was expected for a woman to remain chaste until marriage; a woman broke her family’s honor if she was not chaste and was often punished. Tests of chastity, both medical and mystical, were used on women to verify their status.

The old concept of checking for a woman’s hymen to determine if she is a virgin is being thrown out as more is understood about the hymen. Not all women are born with hymens, some are born without fully intact hymens, and the membrane is so thin that it often breaks with normal physical activity such as running, gymnastics or horseback riding. Today it’s assumed that “virgin” means not having had been penetrated sexually. But what is considered “de-virginzing” penetration is still unclear — does it mean penetration by a penis, finger, tongue or experience alone? Even more confusing is how society judges a “virgin.” Sometimes the name is used condescendingly, sometimes in high regard and sometimes simply just as a fact.

What pinches me most as a woman is that despite opening ourselves to modernity and the influences of western culture a very conservative, male chauvinistic attitude remains! Some men go to the extent of saying that why should they use a second-hand product? Hello??? As if a male’s virginity can be checked. They think Virgin means pure. Virgin means uncontaminated. Virgin means spontaneous. Virgin means simple, innocent.

So there you have it — the history and confusion of the word “virgin.” It still leaves a question as to what “virginity” really means. As society is still confused, it’s up to us to develop our own personal interpretation of the word. We have to be open and understanding in our relations, mind and thoughts.

The whole narrow definition of virginity is in desperate need of a rewrite. Who better to do it than the first generation of new millennium teens? What does “losing your virginity” mean to you? Is it a state of mind or a specific act? Is it something that can be taken from you, or does it only counts if you willingly give it away? When does “fooling around” end and “having sex” begin? And if the men of this world think they can question the chastity of the fairer sex in terms of virginity then I as a woman today declare that we can fake it very well then!

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.