Saturday, January 22, 2011

Virginity: What is it Good For?

Recently, a young woman named Nicki Blue appeared on to officially "lose" her virginity on camera and online. They even did a video close-up of her hymen to assure that she was indeed a "true virgin." And sex-positive bloggers have been posting and commenting about this event before the big event.

Now, there are all sorts of questions about the commiditization of sex and sexuality which I won't touch on here. I happen to think that, so long as we live in a society which markets everything including air in "oxygen bars," we might as well allow people to sell sex if they freely choose to do so.

Here's the question which has been bugging me: Why is virginity still a big deal?

In every other human endeavor, knowledge and experience is valued above naivete. Only in the realm of sex is the opposite true. We prize virginity, and even continue to argue about what that means, while looking down on people who have bothered to garner first-hand experience of sexuality and relationships. Worse, we maintain a gender-based double standard about it -- females are expected more than males to remain virgins until marriage, or at least for as long as they can, while male virgins are often ridiculed.

Lack of experience, for whatever reason, says nothing about a person's character, intelligence or capacity for love. A virgin can still be a lousy person, while someone who has been branded a "slut" for can still be caring and trustworthy. By the same token, one's first sexual experience isn't always magical, or traumatic -- sometimes it can be a letdown. So, why don't we stop playing such paradoxical games?

Let's start by ditching the idea of "losing one's virginity." Think about it: Does it really make sense to talk about losing a lack of something? Think of how we talk about a person's maturity with regard to sexuality and relationships...
* First kiss (gain)
* First sense of attraction (gain)
* First date (gain)
* First signs of puberty (gain)
* First steady relationship (gain)
* First sexual experience (loss???)

No, it doesn't make any sense. Especially when so many continue to view it as a loss for one side (female) and a gain for the other (male). It's only a loss when it's coercive and abusive; it's a gain when done in the spirit of love and mutual pleasure.

I usually respect, but in this case they fell back on antiquated notions of sex, and especially as it pertains to women. Had they talked about Nicki Blue sharing this milestone on camera -- and ditched the so-called "Hymen-Cam" -- I might be inclined to speak favorably about this. But given how they presented it, I'm not so happy.