I hear it all of the time. I hear about this word we created somewhere along the line... some idea that a thin film of flesh separates the unworthy from the worthy. What do you use to define virginity? Is it just the existence of a hymen? Is it the idea that that body has been untouched (dare I say... untainted)? Is it simply a moral/religious opinion that means there is an ultimate human that needs to be to be gifted your body?
If you seem to think virginity is the tiny piece of skin, as they did in the old days, when men proudly hung blood-tinged sheets out to prove something to the world, then what about the reconstructive surgeries that cost less than 4 figures to make happen? What about the multiple orgasms being had by tongues and fingers during poetry and literature conferences at Lesbos? What about the "poop-hole loophole" concept of anal penetration keeping you intact? What about the horseback riders who hits one bump a tiny bit too hard... losing everything she ever had to prove... Then again, the woman who was born without one. Or one step further, the man who has no such skin, no such currency to buy himself that value?
Oh wait... it was never meant to be on men to prove that, was it...
So maybe those definitions don't work but certainly if your body has been untouched you have your virginity. Where does the line exist in which one no longer can claim ignorance of body? Does the 2 year old child who masturbates with a baby bottle have knowledge of pleasure that is beyond virginity? How about the 9 year old who has found the glory of the water faucet? Or one who, at 14, resorts to bottles of shampoo for any fullness of penetration? Once, lost in fantasies of orgies and limbs, I may have doubted that my mind might ever have been pure enough to have been considered virgin. I wonder what my thoughts turned to un those pre-pubescent orgasms- did I imagine contact? I have never known a moment where my mind has been blank, so something SOMETHING must have been in there. Was I not a virgin then? How about a boy who encounters his first orgasm in a wet dream without so much as a slide of the hand... (you see- our brains are so powerful, you actually need no physical contact to bring yourself to orgasm). What if two people completely driven by lust and mindful connection can sit perfectly still and clothed directly next to each other and bring themselves to orgasm in tandem- sans physical touch? Are they still virgins?
How about the moral perspective that you will not engage until some pre-determined timeline has been achieved? The concept of waiting until marriage to share your body stems from a civilization where women were a liability because of their ability to become pregnant. The moment a child had menses, she was either auctioned off to the highest bidder (dowry, anyone?) or used as a strategic alliance with another family. She was certainly a virgin. She was typically 12 or so. The men they were married to never were. Additionally, we seem to think a woman who has slept with 100 men has a different tightness than a woman who has slept with one man 100 times, but never make any such disparities when it comes to men with their dolls. Aside from the semantics, advising someone to marry another without having shared their bodies beforehand seems like a receipt for disaster. Couples that are withholding sex tend to marry considerably faster than their counterparts- averaging 6 month courtship to the isle vs 4.5 years respectively. Experts suggest that couples that wait an average of 2 years to get married experience the highest relationship satisfaction. Not to mention the amount of issues that could have been avoided if you would have learned that your spouse likes to say... be urinated on... before you decided the next 45 years of your life are going to involve smelly bedsheets, or, even more common- is a highly (gasp!) A-sexual person. Is the cost of waiting to share your bodies worth the very undeniable possibility that you will be sexually incompatible, and potentially destroy said relationship over that incompatibility? But let's assume that most people now don't want to wait until marriage, just until they are in love? Does this still quality as a form of virginity? The unfortunate down side to this practice (and even more so, the education of this practice) is what this would do to a person who is dead-set on virginity until marriage and it becomes no longer a matter of choice. I personally know of several women who intended on waiting and men decided they could take ownership- sending them on tornadoes of self-destruction- like somehow there had been worth in a decision they didn't even get to chose. I'll take it one step further: a woman who has succeeded in waiting until her wedding night. Knowing that this was the "ultimate" "gift" that she could give her partner- only to realize it is all downhill from here. Her value will never be what it was, his attention for her never as focused, the amount of pleasure he feels never quite as much as that 15 second pump. That seems like a recipe for trauma.
The justification for virginity seems to fluctuate between morality and emotional health. Since I have already mentioned the physical health benefits to sex and masturbation in my "Self Touch" post, I'll leave it to the reader to explore if they want to dive into that also. If morality is the connection to the divine and the predestined, does the knowledge that reaching sexual heights connect you to the ethereal change the human perspective on limiting it? In fact, in the Hindu religion, the explorations of pleasure and sexual contact is divinely ordained, and considered one of the tenets of the faith. Imagine instead of going to church on Sundays, spending the afternoon in between acrobatics and lubricants? That sounds like a much more practical way to reach enlightenment.
New studies show that the DNA of every person we have slept with becomes deposited into our bodies. Their energies merge with our energies in ways that completely transform us, although maybe not in ways we can see. Is this an argument for keeping yourself "pure"? Maybe this is an argument for understanding others, cultivating awareness and the preservation of respect, dignity and humanity. Perhaps the changes to our energies are exponentially beneficial, if we chose people we connect with (however that connection may look). It has long been researched that monogamy has weakened the human race, allowing fertilization by sperm that would have never made it to the egg, had there been accurate (natural) competition. What if part of what has been lost in our ability to feel empathy and ethics was connected to the merger of energies that monogamous cultures see in infinitely smaller quantities?
I heard this summer that we must change the dialogue away from the "loss" of virginity and towards the "gaining" of human experience. There is no other ignorance that we consider a failure to get rid of- my "loss" of political apathy was certainly eye-opening, my "loss" of my first tooth was a rite of passage. My hope is that virginity be that which you never claim and is never claimed upon you, because only you can relinquish yourself of the lack of self and other connection.
Lastly I leave you with this: may the biggest lesson of all be the trust we have in each person to decide what feels right for their bodies. Because my asexual friend is not less human for not following an orgasm, and my trans friend is not let correct for her fluidity, and my modest friend is not less prone to rape, and my toddler friend is not less capable of acknowledging what she wants, and I am not less enlightened or connected to the divine for choosing to explore whatever connections may bring to my mind, soul and body. And it is hard HARD enough as it is to trust yourself.