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The Paradox Suffocating Female Virginity

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.

The Whore

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.

The Madonna

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.

The Resolution

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.



Alanna is an 18 year old feminist and psych major who, contrary to popular belief, is rarely angry (unless it comes to social injustice) from Toronto, Canada. She is usually found listening to music or reading a horror novel.

Alanna is an 18 year old feminist and psych major who, contrary to popular belief, is rarely angry (unless it comes to social injustice) from Toronto, Canada. She is usually found listening to music or reading a horror novel.



  1. Josh

    March 14, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Yes woman are so oppressed.. You, along with many other women, simply have a problem with human nature, and prefference. Other than illegal activity, or certain religious practices, women are not forced to have sex, or forced into how they should feel about themselves regarding sexual activity. If your caught stealing, and everyone found out you would be considered a thief, even if you never stole again as long as you lived. That is just how things are. Honestly, how serious would you take an article about how unfair it is that men are judged on the amount of income they supplement. Maybe an article about how bald men should be considered just as attractive as a man with a healthy set of locks? I’ve seen girls snicker at men openly admitting their virginity. The “studs” get bad mouthed by ex’s, and are labled as pigs, or a!#holes. As you can see, sex can be a catch 22 for men as well. The main difference is that guys generally are better about not caring. You want to have sex? Have sex. Don’t want to? Remain abstinent. Want everyone to agree with the choices you make? Wish for it hard, along with ending hunger, and world peace. Own who you are, and the choices you make. Regardless of how perfect one may be, or even how one may prodominately be perceived. There will always be someone who dissaproves of who you are, and the things you do.

  2. PN

    March 15, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Alonna, I loved your article. Girls from the time they are infants are programmed with the Madonna/whore syndrome at EVERY turn. Men, on the other hand are encouraged to act like whores with a complete bypass of judgement and a get out of jail free card laced with invisibility and unaccountability. As problematic as is the dilemma for both sexes the answer does lie in not caring just as the last poster said. I don’t agree with him that men are “better” at not caring. Well maybe they are but I don’t believe it comes about inately or as a natural happening. They are systematically told,taught and literally programmed that it is “manly” and “manlike” not to care and to indulge their urges where as women are systematically told ,taught and programmed that they should deny their very strong urges at every turn. Women have to heal this within themselves because men like to propogate the lie because they get to have their cake and eat it too. In my opinion many men are simple minded and not really worthy of the seats of judgement women so wholeheartedly hand them. Women really need to start caring less about what men want and more about what empowers them and makes them happy. They need to really embrace their own very potent sexuality without fear or regret. Both men and women are so royally screwed up in this area that its going to take a lot of doing to get to the core of what is really going on. This whole topic came to light for me again when I saw Beyonce celebrating her beautiful motherhood and womanhood in her golden regal costume exposing her twin baby-filled stomach . Some guy made the comment that she should stay covered because (and I quote) “What man will want what every man sees”? After seeing the regality and beauty of beyonces budding motherhood the statement made me laugh out loud. Some random Joe thinking its just fine to put his own self absorbed shallow desires before the celebration of femininity and motherhood. Fortunately there are some men out there who are mature enough and bright enough to know that real men honor the loveliness that is woman just as real women honor the beauty and strength that is man. For me, this topic has always been a difficult one.

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