Virginity Stigma: An Extention Of Libration?

John ‘Dare Okafor

When an individual tells you he is sexually liberated, what’s your first thought? In the 1960s to 1980s, there was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behaviour related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and other developed countries. This social movement was tagged a sexual revolution. It gave room to an increased acceptance of sex outside traditional heterosexual monogamous relationships. There was also the normalisation of contraception and pills, public nudity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, alternative form of sexuality, and the legalisation of abortion. 

In contrast, there was a particular time in history where our society was more conservative about sex. Then, sex was majorly considered immoral and sinful. To get access to pornographic materials, you had to travel miles to get them and when you would have eventually gotten them, you wrap them in paper bags to avoid stares. Parents didn’t find it necessary to educate their children about sex, as the mention of the word alone was enough to lead to eternal damnation. Virginity was seen as a godly virtue every person should imbibe (especially for the female gender). 

This conservativeness around sexuality, among other things, was responsible for people’s choice of sexual liberty, which this writer has nothing against, seeing as changes in our society occur according to different global factors. Also, individual choices and decisions must be taken into consideration regardless of contrary opinions or objections, so far the individual is willing to bear the ripple effects of such a decision. 

Unfortunately, with recent happenings, sexuality and sexual decisions are now an object of concern, as those whose choice was formerly infringed on are now the ones infringing on the choice of other people. 

True liberalism should be the willingness to respect or accept behaviours or opinions different from one’s own; and also openness to new ideas. That means there’s a problem with someone who claims to be sexually liberated but has issues or is triggered whenever sexual purity and abstinence leading to marriage come up. You tag it sexual liberty when you freely talk about your sexual escapades and body counts; talk about how it’s advisable to give children access to porn; how abortion should be legalised; how posting of nudes on social media should be seen as art, and so many more liberal actions. However, you find it a problem with the liberty of others when they tell you how long they’ve abstained from sex and how they see virginity as a gift to be given to their partners. You chant live and let’s live, but you restrict the oxygen flow of others. 

Definitely, virginity does not determine how good in character anyone is, but this should still be no reason why it should be downplayed. 

I understand that our society is becoming more sexually liberalised as days goes by, however, there should be an extension of such liberation to those who choose the path of chastity. Virginity as a sexuality choice is now being seen as shameful, as people no longer want to associate themselves with the tag of being virgins even when they are still virgins. This very notion of virginity or virginity stigma depends on a social construct and not a biological one, as you cannot tell if someone is a virgin by looking at their hymen, penis or other genitalia. Being that there are many definition of sex, there’s no clinical definition of who a virgin is. 

I think we also have to understand that people choose to remain virgins for various reasons personal to them – from being unable to find the right partner, to being just comfortable waiting, or just a total lack of interest in sex. 

Virginity stigma is associated with the idea that everyone wants to lose their virginity; shame about remaining a virgin; viewing virgins as categorically different from non-virgins; using ‘’virgin’’ as an insult  or a way to bully someone. You may be of the opinion that the stigmatization of virginity is just myth spread by the media, but according to a new study in The Journal of Sex Research, people are also judgemental of virgins in real life. 

According to Rachel Keller, a Maryland therapist who helps individuals and couples with sex and intimacy concern, perceptions often don’t match reality. She explained that “most people assume others are having more sex and are more sexually experienced than they are, which is usually not the case. Young men in particular tend to assume that everyone else tend to assume that everyone has had sex but them. They feel ashamed and wonder how they can possibly tell a future partner they are still virgins. Once they finally have the conversation, they realize it’s not nearly a big deal as they thought. Being confident in who you are, open-minded and generous are more important in creating sexual relationship than the amount of experience you have’’. 

Sexual liberty should bring about respect for the sexual choices and belief of others and not oppression nor intimidation in whichever way. If sexual freedom is truly experienced, then, it should be extended to others who also see their sexual choices or decisions as freedom.


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