I made reference in a recent social media post that something I learned coming out of Christian fundamentalism is that virginity is a social construct. Someone asked me what I meant and here's my response.
Virginity is a social construct because it’s not a biological reality.
You probably can’t conceptualize a way to check biologically for a penis-owner’s virginity.
You may be able to think of a way to check a vulva-owner’s virginity, but the hymen thing is mostly a myth, born out of patriarchy and primogeniture (link)
Virginity is typically conceived as being a status that ends once one engages in one event of penis-in-vagina sex.
A couple of assumptions are built into this conception:
- That virginity ends upon the completion of an event. We don’t conceptualize adolescence this way (at least in the West). Why not see the ending of virginity as a process, a gradual growth in the ability to grant consent and competence?
- That hetero relationships are normative. Does that mean that all gay and lesbian relationships are inherently chaste and maintain virginity? I doubt Focus on the Family will fall for that.
Different definitions of virginity could lead us away from slut-shaming, prevent the harm done primarily to young women who are supposed to keep pure and eliminate a lot of unnecessary shame.