Ambiguity is Absolute
Female virginity is anything but a singular definition. Men in power have and continue to confine female virginity to a woman who has never had penetrative vaginal sexual intercourse. Because men hold the uppermost power in Western societies, women have been conditioned to believe that female virginity is an exclusive definition. The current, and singular, definition of female virginity dismisses a woman’s ability to make a choice. No single definition of female virginity will suffice unless women have the absolute right to define female virginity on personal terms.
Female virginity has no physical value hence a woman is unable to lose female virginity— unless that idea is closest to the woman’s definition of female virginity. Laura M. Carpenter is an author and associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University who claims, “…interpreting virginity loss as a step in a process holds the most promise for enhancing the ability of all people, regardless of gender or sexual identity, to experience virginity loss in ways that are empowering, health-enhancing, and consonant with their desires” (Carpenter 362). Carpenter’s definition argues since virginity loss is a process and not a singular action, the idea is applicable to virtually anyone— any woman. Contradictorily, Carpenter fails to acknowledge that virginity is anything besides loss. Carpenter’s definition has quite the opposite effect, nowhere near health-enhancing and empowering; Carpenter’s definition confines a woman’s freedom of choice. Viewing virginity as something a woman loses is anything but progressive— Carpenter’s thesis is regressive in its manner. A proposal inclusive to all women, regardless of sexuality, experience, and personal identity would be to disregard viewing female virginity as a loss but rather viewing female virginity in itself a process determined by the woman. Female virginity is ambiguous and abstract, like the universe, female virginity is always expanding, surpassing all perceived barriers.
Men hold superior power in society. Used as a weapon, limiting defining lines of female virginity protects men’s authority over women. In order to secure societal control and power, men objectify women as a whole in order to keep the status of women inferior to men— a practice that has been relevant for centuries in the West. Authors of “OBJECTIFICATION THEORY: Toward Understanding Women’s Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks,” Barbara L. Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts claim, “…men tend to be portrayed in print media and artwork with an emphasis on the head and face, and with greater facial detail, women tend to be portrayed with an emphasis on the body” (Fredrickson & Roberts 176). Women are seen in mass media as sexual objects for personal use and/or pleasure— often being portrayed as promiscuous. Such depictions in mass media damage the reputation women have in society, alienating women. As biased depictions reach more people, the more women will continue to face discrimination. Fredrickson and Roberts continues, asserting, “…the sexual objectification of the female body has clearly permeated our cultural milieu…” (Fredrickson & Roberts 177). The damage has been done. Because women are portrayed in media as sexual objects up for use, female virginity is narrowed to penile-vaginal intercourse. Slyly, this idea of female virginity takes the forefront of definitions in Western society because it allows men to stay on top. In order to alleviate discrimination against future women, men must not be portrayed as the end-all-be-all.
Men with power define female virginity as avoiding penile-vaginal intercourse which in turn excludes women who express nonheterosexuality. In Western societies, heterosexuality is taught to be the forefront of sexualities. Linda Eyre, a contributor for the Canadian Journal of Education, argues, “…curricula continue to reflect heterosexist assumptions…” (Eyre 273). Eyre continues to argue that lesbian, bisexual, homosexual, gay, and transgender teachers and students alike are forced to stay silent about nonheterosexuality, claiming, “…many lesbian and gay students and teachers continue to hide their sexuality, often with disastrous personal consequences” (Eyre 274). This barrier creates distance between diverse peoples in larger society— a crisis that effects all peoples. As the classroom teaches individuals to stay silent about diverse sexualities, heterosexuality continues to dominate groups who are deemed minorities by the same men who objectify women and define female virginity. Penile-vaginal intercourse as the leading definition of female virginity is heterosexist— assuming every woman is heterosexual. This assumption is restricting and outdated for not every woman is heterosexual nor defines female virginity as avoiding penile-vaginal intercourse. Like viewing female virginity as a type of loss, also viewing female virginity as something only achievable by heterosexual couples is regressive. This singular definition fails completely. An abstract, female virginity is anything but a one line sentence but in order to exclude women of diverse backgrounds and to promote heterosexuality, men with power limit female virginity to one sentence.
Female virginity is limitless and free flowing— a decision every woman has the right to make. A weak one line sentence, the current definition of female virginity fails to meet a progressive outlook where all women have a freedom of choice. Ambiguity as the leading definition of female virginity is best because ambiguity allows for personal interpretation and lack of judgment in society. Complex, female virginity is multilayered with a lack of a singular answer. By defining female virginity as ambiguous, women are provided with a road point and or the decision to dismiss any definitions or ideas, if chosen— a choice, which women were without before this proposed definition. To ignore man’s persistence on objectifying women, in turn objectifying female virginity, women must ignore man’s persistence— difficult but achievable. Female virginity has no merit value as men like to debate. There is no debate. Women are anything and everything, not objects for a man’s personal use and or control. Misogynistic approaches towards defining female virginity are of the past an in order to stay in the past, women must hold ground in order to repel a conservative, singular definition of female virginity. Ambiguity will always be absolute. Meeting the progressive outlook women have the right to, in ambiguity there is freedom and a choice— a choice in which every woman is entitled to.
CARPENTER, LAURA M. “Gender and the Meaning and Experience of Virginity Loss in the Contemporary United States.” Gender & Society, vol. 16, no. 3, 2002, pp. 345–365., https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243202016003005.
Eyre, Linda. “Compulsory Heterosexuality in a University Classroom.” ProQuest, ProQuest, 1993, https://www.proquest.com/docview/215374474?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=13605.
Wight, Daniel, et al. “The Quality of Young People’s Heterosexual Relationships: A Longitudinal Analysis of Characteristics Shaping Subjective Experience.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 40, no. 4, 2008, pp. 226–237., https://doi.org/10.1363/4022608.