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An outdated social construct that enforces medieval gender politics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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You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Revival Of The Coal Industry Is Unattainable

Clean beautiful coal will never be a reality. President Trump's backing of a declining industry is misguided and will have despairing environmental impacts.

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The coal industry and its workers were placed at the forefront of American politics during the 2016 election cycle. President Trump promised a revival of the coal industry and promised to secure the jobs of coal country. The President, halfway through his first term, has so far taken measures to do just that. Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, threw out Obama's Clean Power Plan, and did away with an Obama-era regulation that would prevent coal ash from entering streams and other bodies of water.

On one hand, it's quite extraordinary for a politician to do good on his campaign promises. On the other hand, is anyone considering whether or not the President is putting all his eggs into the wrong basket? Coal has been on the decline for about a decade now. Even without environmental regulations, the energy produced by coal is expected to reduce by 20% by 2030. Renewable energy such as wind and solar are replacing coal.


For an election campaign, it's easy to see why a candidate would align with coal. States like West Virginia and Pennsylvania are key when running a national campaign. The votes are there in those counties that support the coal industry. They will vote for any candidate who sides with their industry. But from an environmental standpoint, there's more on the line than just an election. It's about our clean air and water. Climate change is real and the effects of coal will only accelerate the process.

Coal ash that finds its way into water streams can damage that water supply for good. It could also impact the wildlife within the area. Coal also pollutes the air we breathe. Clean coal is a myth. Plain and simple. Coal is anything but clean. Clean coal sounds good in a stump speech, but we all know it's a fallacy.

Mountaintop mining also has a deep environmental impact. The Appalachian mountains have been destroyed from surface mining. West Virginia residents hold their beautiful mountains in high regard. Now, some of them look very different and the destruction is permanent. If the mining continues, the mountains of the Appalachia region will be gone. It would be a shame if you went to West Virginia to admire their mountains, and none were left.

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President Roosevelt also ended the coal strike in 1902. The United States was much more dependent on coal in the 20th century than it is now. Roosevelt knew the coal strike had to be resolved because the cold winter would have been fatal. The change of the Republican party over a century later is quite intriguing to ponder. The party went from a strong conservationist in Roosevelt to Trump, who is willing to move mountains for a dying industry.

All of these facts surrounding the coal debate cannot be ignored. The rest of the western world will move on to new forms of renewable energy. While the United States will be stuck in neutral, reviving coal. Renewable energy should be strongly considered if we are to protect our water, air, and lands.

Disclaimer: I understand the risks coal miners make when they show up for work. I know that safety regulations are not always up to par and that coal mining is a very dangerous profession. I also understand the viewpoint of coal miners and their reasoning for disagreeing with me. I know they want to work and provide for their families. That's what we all want to do. As I write this, I wish not to offend coal miners, I only aim to critique the President and his policies about the coal industry.

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