“Mom, what’s a virgin?”
When my daughter recently asked me that question during lunch after school, I must admit I did a pretty good job of not choking on a piece of potato I’d been chewing. She has a habit of just tossing out a question at the most inappropriate times, which by the way I’m aware she does after carefully consulting her How to Deal With The Parental Species and Win handbook.
Ask when their mouths are full. – If you’re unsure about something.
Ask in public. – If you sense a punishment could be the result.
Ask when the battered piece of chicken is just being dropped into the frying pan. – If you’re bored and just want to mess with their heads.
Ask when Grandma is within earshot. – If you want to do that thing you’ve been forbidden to do.
Ask exactly three minutes after dad follows your unassuming mom into the bedroom and sneakily shuts the door. – If you want him to buy you something. (Knock first.)
It was clear that she was unsure about the question, but also more obvious was that she seemed quite bothered by it. I could tell because she kind of stage-whispered the word “virgin.” So, I decided to not ask her where she’d heard about it, (I’m growing more used to these kinds of questions popping up at the end of a school day), instead, I reminded her of one of our house rules.
Words don’t control you. You control them.
I guess I’m not one of those people who gets their panties in a twist if I hear someone swearing. Neither do I scream at my kids for using inappropriate words on the off chance that they do. Kids hear shit, then they like to experiment with that shit. It’s normal, and no point in having a coronary over it by bringing the house down. I prefer to let them know that there are good words and bad words. But, more importantly, that there is an appropriate time, place and age when you can use certain words, and that it’s not cool when kids spew bad language (especially in the presence of adults). It makes them sound ill mannered, not grown up (or worse, cute)
She got a matter of fact answer. A virgin is a person who has not had sexual intercourse. I braced myself for the follow up questions, but was surprised when she looked confused for a minute, then said “A person? I thought it was a girl thing. That’s what my friends were saying, girls are virgins and they have virginity.”
A girl thing.
Girls are virgins.
If I could have curled myself up into a ball on the floor right then and cried my eyes out, I would have. She got that from school, from her friends. Girls. Girls who heard the word used somewhere, or were probably even part of a discussion on virginity and virtue. So, they’re talking about virginity, and right now they’re testing out the word on their tongues. What’s coming next? We all know…
The pros, the cons, the do’s and don’t’s, the should I or shouldn’t I, the is she, or isn’t she, the virgin or the slut?
I am beyond disappointed, because… Still? Are we still talking like this? In 2014? Really? Is this what we as parents have to look forward to with our daughters when they come of age or whatever the hell it’s called?
Will I have to sit by and listen to my daughter soon saying things like “I’m saving myself for marriage.” or alternatively “I love him so I’ve decided to give him my virginity.”
Is this still how it’s going to be while on the other hand we scream about how forward thinking we are?
Are we still so fucking determined to insist that female virginity is some kind of virtue measured in worth only and only by the almighty penis? That a woman’s biggest and most important contribution to a relationship/marriage/a man is her “purity,” and that said purity is a “prize/gift” which a man wins when he penetrates her with his dick and breaks her hymen?
Are we still putting a goddamned noun up on a pedestal and forcing women to worship it, aspire to representing the warped meaning we’ve given it, encouraging our sons to view it as a thing to distinguish between “pure” and “damaged” and become assholes with double standards? – Really?
Why is virginity so damned important to us? Why are we letting something so subjugating and damaging towards females still control our society? Why are we still handing over control of our bodies, and minds to men, to bullshit? Why are we even using the word “virgin” to define girls and their characters? So we can keep up the oppression? Make sure they keep understanding how horrible shame is? Continue to let ourselves and future generations of girls be devalued like this?
Why is this term still viewed as a process towards a milestone? What the hell do mothers and fathers (or society as a whole) call their daughters before a girl cuts her first tooth, learns to walk, gets a degree? What did we call ourselves before we did all those things?
Shouldn’t the progress towards those milestones be more important than the bullshit society constructed one of waiting to be fucked by a man?
Why are we not talking about what’s really important? Why are little girls still coming home from school and asking their mothers about virginity? Why do they need to? Why do we need to consider the best answer, or feel pressured to explain things like virtue, morals, and whatever the fuck society thinks is right based on a piece of female tissue? Are we being honest with our children? Our daughters? Is this really the only way we can talk to them about their bodies, and sexuality? If not, will they suffer for it later? Be outcast if they shun societies rules, or mocked if they don’t?
Are we as women really just so content to be meaningless slabs of meat stamped with one of two degrading titles like “Is a Virgin,” “Isn’t a Virgin” and propped up on display counters being priced either up or down accordingly?
Is that all young girls are worth? Is that all we want to think we were worth in our youth?
If so, then I think it’s time we asked ourselves this.
Why don’t we respect ourselves enough to put a stop to it? What’s stopping us?