5 Reasons Why Virginity Is A Damaging Social Construct

5 Reasons Why Virginity Is A Damaging Social Construct

An outdated social construct that enforces medieval gender politics
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Women's bodies have been the source of personal and political debate across centuries. Thirteen-year-old girls have been bought and sold by forty-year-old men, had their reproductive rights regulated by male politicians, and have had their bodies fetishized by mainstream media for decades. Traditionally, virginity was a way to measure a women's purity before she was sold into marriage, a practice which can be traced back before the 1200s. The continued importance given to virginity binds women to medieval social politics that have sexually policed women's bodies while becoming obsolete when involving men.

While contemporary society has become significantly more liberal and sex positive over the course of three waves of feminism, the concept of virginity still holds a toxic patriarchal weight when it comes to our contemporary discussion of sex. Here are five reasons why virginity is a damaging social construct that should be abolished.

1. Virginity imposes double standards.

Virginity holds a considerably heavier weight for women than it does for men. Traditionally, women are taught that their virginity is a valuable commodity that reflects upon their moral character. If a woman “loses” it to someone who she wasn’t in a relationship with, or wasn’t married to, she is regarded as “loose” or “impure.” While women are shamed for having sex, men are empowered by society and encouraged to have sex as much as possible. Historically, men didn’t face cultural consequences if they weren’t virgins when they got married. On the other hand, women were often beaten or killed if they weren’t believed to be “pure” according to the degrading cultural practices that measured a women’s purity.

We like to think that these cultural practices are limited to the fading paragraphs in history textbooks. Unfortunately, the invasion of women’s bodies is a very real practice even in the modern age. Virginity testing was used on women entering the United Kingdom on a “fiancee visa,” when they said they were immigrating to marry their fiancees who were already living in Britain. The British government said that “if the women were virgins they were more likely to be telling the truth about their reason for immigrating to the country. In 1979, a woman arrived in London and was required to undergo a virginity test claiming that she was there to marry. This practice was exposed in The Guardian in 1979, and the policy was quickly changed.

2. Virginity causes people to view sex in a negative light.

The concept of losing one’s virginity is a medieval social practice used to police women’s sexuality. When virginity is given great importance to sexuality, it adds considerable amounts of shame and guilt to the way that people use to connect to each other and procreate. It makes connections between people difficult and complicated. As a sex positive feminist, I firmly believe that adding politics of fear to personal connections is a very very bad idea. The idea of virginity suggests that sex is something that will tarnish one’s character and complicates the very thing that binds people together and creates human life.

3. Virginity is non existent.

Virginity is a entirely a social construct that is actually completely irrelevant in a biological sense and equally non-existent. According to historical and women’s rights activist, Hanne Blank, virginity doesn’t "reflect [any] biological imperative and grants no demonstrable evolutionary advantage."

4. Virginity contributes to slut shaming

As previously mentioned, the concept of virginity applies a double-standard to sex. When sex is equated with an “impurification” of the body, it results in slut shaming. Slut shaming essentially involves instances when people place feelings of guilt and shame on a women who dress in a revealing way or are perceived to have lots of sex. Slut shaming is sexist and forces a toxic mindset based upon medieval values and ideas about sexuality.

5. Virginity is extremely heteronormative.

The definition of “losing ones virginity” primarily denotes vaginal sex, which applies primarily to heterosexual relationships. A lesbian who has had plenty of sex with other women is still regarded as a “virgin” according to this heteronormative definition of virginity. For trans folks, the issue of virginity becomes even more exclusionary and convoluted. When society uses such a limited word to describe what constitutes sex, it legitimizes and disempowers many different groups within the community.

I propose that we abolish the word “virginity” or else reclaim and use it a source of personal power. Within the linguistic economy, the notion of virginity has been permeated as a measure of morality throughout a variety of cultures to control, shame, and demonize women’s bodies. In recent years, we have made great progress as a society and have become more critical of the media and our own personal biases with sexuality but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. This work, like many others within social politics begins with the very mechanism we use to wield inequality. Language.

Cover Image Credit: Columbia Spectator

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.
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Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school.

I'll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted.

Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I'm 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?"

A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?", I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week." I let it roll off of my back, I've spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back"… but I think it's time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister.

She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn't have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her.

I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn't though. I didn't let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization.

Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn't directed to what we, in today's society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one's self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God's creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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Pelham Range Is A 'Lost' Treasure

Personally I believe there is a certain price we must pay at home for freedom, and losing a couple communities for a training facility, is not a bad trade.

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Going north on Highway 431 just north of Anniston, Alabama you will unknowingly pass by the army training facility known as "Pelham Range". It is about 1-2 miles off of the main road, and then pass through 2 guarded gates to receive access to the facility.

Pelham Range is named for Confederate Major John Pelham, who served in the war between the states. John Pelham's homeplace is said to be just across the road from the range entrance, right behind the current restaurant "Chef T's".

Pelham Range was established as a training facility during WWII in 1941. This eventually led to more land requisitions, and eventually growing the acreage to over 22,000 combined acres. Pelham range is used by Alabama National Guard Units, as well as units from around the country.

The issues from these land gatherings is that entire communities became swept up. Houses, churches, and even cemeteries, all swallowed up for the price of freedom.

While these lands were used for training purposes, the United States Military still allowed for families to go visit their loved ones graves on Memorial Day (3 days) weekend. Most families take flowers and clean stones so they are legible next year.

If you happen to go to Pelham Range, I recommend taking some bottled water, full tank of gas, windex and towels (To clean graves), maybe some flowers, a rake, and a camera. Upon arrival at the gate, you'll receive a pamphlet that they give families to help them understand the process of visiting their loved ones graves.

The handout lists the names of communities, cemeteries, and shows their location by a map. There is also a community spring that has been refurbished to a picnic area. The have yearly gatherings for the descendants of those that lived in the communities.

The United States Military maintains these cemetaries, but they do not hold ownership of the lands. They try to make this very clear for the visitors. Personally I believe there is a certain price we must pay at home for freedom, and losing a couple communities for a training facility, is not a bad trade. In fact, I feel honored that my ancestors are resting so close to those that keep us free!

The Government did not confiscate these lands out of spite or even hatred, this is a price our community paid for freedom.

Cover Image Credit:

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