This article was inspired by a conversation I overheard on a bus a few months ago between a group of five guys all aged 16. The lot were trying to decide which girl their friend should choose to date. The first girl was identified just as “hoe” and they talked about how she had a few sexual partners in her life. The second girl, also nameless, was a virgin. They seemed to associate the former with more sexual desirability, but, consequently, she was less respectable and “easier”. Whereas, the latter was more boring because she was a virgin, but also more respectable.
It seems that female virginity is a lose/lose situation. If a female chooses to actively express her sexuality or partake in sexual activity she is immediately branded a slut, sometimes this label becomes her primary identifier. On the contrary, if she abstains she is prude or lacking an important maturing experience. Every action (or inaction) girls seem to make around her own sex life seems to provoke an adverse reaction or unjust consequence.
The paradoxical rhetoric surrounding female virginity is highly problematic. It removes the possibility for females to make a choice that is unobstructed or uninfluenced by others on a topic that is highly subjective and personal – her own sexuality. It establishes a new standard for females to attain and maintain and perpetuates the Madonna-whore complex.
The Madonna-Whore Complex
This concept was created by the infamous Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that men based their judgement of women primarily through there sexuality and, accordingly, men placed females into two polarizing and mutually exclusive categories: the Madonna and the Whore. The Madonnas are the virginal and maternal figures that are respected by men and whom “men love, but do not desire.” Whereas, the Whore are are dirty females that men cannot respect but whom “men desire, but cannot love.” This complex appears irremediable and, thus, creates anxiety for men.
Perhaps this is when the paradox was first identified. In this case, female sexuality is determined exclusively by men, which still seems relevant today.
Current Western society forces feelings of shame and uncleanliness onto females who choose to be sexually active. These perceptions are amplified by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, if the female is young, if she has or has had multiple sexual partners or if is sexually active outside of a committed relationship.
On the opposite side, females that choose to abstain from sex for long periods of time or entirely are seen as inept or immature. Sex seems to be an experience that is a prerequisite for a happy life. But, in many cases the two do not have a causal relationship, such as for individuals that identify as asexual. Also, there seems to be a mindset that one cannot be a sexual being if they are a virgin.
Between these two polarizing standards, females are forced to maintain an appearance as a sexual being without actually acting on their sexual needs and desires.
Let females choose without judgement. Let the choose to have sex with whomever they want. Let them choose not to have sex at all. As long as they are safe and responsible there is no need for the opinions of others.
Remember your sexuality has nothing to do with your character.