So as someone who is quite attuned to the media, I knew it was only a matter of time before I could not avoid reading about William and Kate. However, the story that caught my eye on Friday morning definitely piqued my interest, so I stowed my standards and clicked on the link.
According to the AP headline, “UK royal bride’s virginity no longer an issue.” My first impression was, why the heck was this ever an issue? As I read on, I discovered why. Apparently, in 1981, Princess Diana’s uncle made a public statement declaring Diana a “bona fide virgin.” That’s right folks, not just any virgin, but a bona fide one!
I tried to find the original statement that her uncle, the late Lord Femroy said, but to no avail. It’s a testament to how obsessed our culture is with William and Kate that 10+ pages of Google results showed only that same AP story I consulted.
But enough of that, let’s get to the point of this column.
Can I say, about time? I mean, it’s incredible how much importance society places on the idea of “virginity,” so I couldn’t help but to do a little internal happy dance at the idea that no one has to make a public speech vouching for Kate’s virginity. Because let’s face it, what does virginity have to do with anything?
There’s a lot to unpack about virginity, but I think it all boils down to the outdated belief that women are property of their husbands, and heaven forbid you marry a woman who has had sex because she might give birth to some lowly servant’s child instead of yours.
Luckily, we don’t have to worry about hereditary land laws anymore, so why, might I ask, do we still worry about virginity?
Because let’s remember here – it’s not everyone’s virginity we’re worried about, but women’s. Why is that? All together now: slut shaming. How dare women participate in sex for intimacy or enjoyment. No, you must remain chaste until you marry (because if you have sex, men won’t want you!), and then the purpose of sex is to make babies! This just makes me hurt in so many ways (not least of all due to the heteronormativity).
First of all, what defines virginity, anyway? Most people don’t see non-penetrative (specifically, penis and vagina intercourse) sex as “real” sex, which is quite problematic because one, it undermines the definition of sex in which only male or female sex organs are involved, and two, because a lot of teenagers and young people becoming sexually active don’t associate STDs with non-vaginal intercourse and think that because they are still “virgins,” that they are safe.
The language surrounding virginity is also problematic. People are always “losing” their virginity. I just don’t see how you can “lose” it. You don’t just wake up one morning and go, “Oops! My virginity must have fallen out of my pocket last night. Maybe it’s under the bed.” There’s also a depressing connotation to the sense of loss, which I don’t think should be associated with having sex for the first time. Purity balls, promise rings, all of these things make virginity the end-all, be-all of things, which is really quite problematic, as the end result is always the same: shame over having sex.
Speaking of which, a Penn State study published in the Journal of Adolescence found that ”male students were more satisfied with their appearance after first intercourse, whereas female students became slightly less satisfied with their appearance.”
Now, hand-wringers and nay-sayers may have interpreted this to mean that young women shouldn’t have sex because it’s damaging to them. But I disagree. What this indicates is the double standard that often surrounds sex: men who do it are studs, women who do it are sluts. I don’t want this paradigm to exist. I don’t think your value as a person should at all be tied to having sex, or not having sex. If you have sex, great, if you don’t, also great! But when do you do, your first experience should have a sense of gain, not loss. Ultimately, I ask you to reconsider the definition and importance of virginity.
Bottom line is, go Kate and Will for having cohabited and copulated! Now that you know what you’re getting into, I hope that you set an example that the phrase “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” is complete and utter bull (pun fully intended).