â€œI donâ€™t really believe in virginity.â€
I heard â€œThe F Wordâ€ blogger Holly Combe say this during a segment on BBC World News yesterday morning. She had a slightly different view of virginity than did Miriam Babooram, a woman who, at 33, is a virgin and has decided not to have sex before marriage.
If youâ€™d like to listen to the segment, it starts at about 17 minutes in. I also undertook the painstaking task of transcribing the interview, since I couldnâ€™t find it anywhere else (and since I need it for a project you may hear more about soon). Below is the conversation Iâ€™m pretending to have with Combe, or someone who thinks likewise, as I entertain the thought of virginity as a social construct.
Just to be clear: This conversation has not taken place, with Combe or anyone else. Also, please note that my purpose in linking to Miriam Babooramâ€™s interview with the UK Daily Mail is NOT so you can comment here (or there) on whether or not she and the other women pictured look like trolls. If you make such statements here, they will be deleted.
COMBE: I donâ€™t believe in virginity.
COMBE: I think itâ€™s a social construct.
ME: So, wait. You donâ€™t believe virginity exists?
COMBE: Only in our minds, in the way we choose to label and categorize things to create hierarchies in society that benefit some people and restrict others.
ME: So â€¦ that thing that happens when a penis goes into a vaginaâ€¦
COMBE: Exactly! Thatâ€™s why I say itâ€™s a social construct. Is a lesbian whoâ€™s never had sex with a man a virgin? Is a homosexual man whoâ€™s never had vaginal sex a virgin?
COMBE: And why are there so many pejorative terms associated with it? Like â€œloseâ€ your virginity. Loss implies grief. â€œSaving myself for â€¦â€ If thereâ€™s safety one place, thereâ€™s danger in another. â€œGive my virginity toâ€¦â€ That means someone on the other end has to be the taker.
ME: Or the recipient of a gift.
COMBE: Again, a social construct. I mean, arenâ€™t gifts just objects? If virginity is so precious, why is it also considered a commodity?
ME: Because â€¦ Well, sex is bought and sold. Has been for centuries. Even virginity has been. Hellloooo, Memoir of a Geisha? Wait. Is this a trick question?
COMBE: And if it isnâ€™t a commodityâ€”something to be lost, given, taken, gained, preserved, etc.â€”and it isnâ€™t used as yet another way for us to define whoâ€™s good and whoâ€™s bad, what can virginity be?
ME: Um â€¦ a physical state, I guess?
COMBE: A physical state that only heterosexuals can change?
ME: No, that doesnâ€™t seem fair.
COMBE: So what if the label, â€œvirginity,â€ doesnâ€™t exist at all, and people just participate in various sexual activities when theyâ€™re ready?
ME: Hey, some of these sexual activities make babies.
COMBE: Okay.Â Then letâ€™s tell people that. What if we tell kids: a certain sexual activity often makes a baby. You should do this activity when youâ€™re ready to start taking care of a baby. Youâ€™re going to feel like doing this activity before youâ€™re ready to start taking care of a baby, and there are ways to prevent the baby when you do this activity, but I want you to understand that the baby is the big deal, not the activity itself. The activity is just something that most people do at some point because itâ€™s fun and it feels good.Â But not doing it doesnâ€™t mean anything one way or the other. Â What if conversations in the boysâ€™ locker room go from, â€œDude, youâ€™re still a virgin? What a loser! When are you going to become a man?â€ to â€œDude, you started making babies yet? Yeah, me neither. Iâ€™m having too much fun for all that.â€Â Or if the girls went from saying, â€œGirl, I love him! I canâ€™t wait. Iâ€™m going to give him my virginity!â€ to â€œGirl, Iâ€™m ready to make babies! On second thought, no, Iâ€™m not.â€ Or from, â€œHo. Slut. I heard about her. Sheâ€™s nasty,â€ to â€œShe hasnâ€™t made any babies.Â I havenâ€™t made any babies. Hey, nobody we know has made any babies!â€
ME: Idealize much?
COMBE: No pressure to get rid of this horrible thing that makes you a social pariah â€¦
ME: Yeah, but câ€™mon. Thereâ€™s an emotional component to virginity because thereâ€™s an emotional component to sex, especially for women. We release a bunch of attachment hormones during orgasm.
COMBE: Sex can be emotional without virginity.
ME: Are you sure?
Thatâ€™s the extent of my devilâ€™s advocacy here. Please share your thoughts!