I had sex for the first time when I was 14. I was young, scared and lacked the knowledge mothers often pass down to their daughters.
He told me if I loved him I would have sex with him. He told me he deserved it after waiting for me for so long. He used every cliché in the book and I fell for all of it.
It hurt. A lot. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out and to save him from feeling bad. Once we were finished I felt raw — empty. I lay in his bed hoping for the gnawing feeling in my gut to subside, then I noticed the blood. I ran to the bathroom, cleaned myself up and sat in the corner crying until he came to check on me.
A week later, he broke up with me. My grandmother found out and stopped talking to me for weeks. He told his friends and soon it spread throughout a campus of 2,000 students, and I was ridiculed for no longer being a virgin.
Because I was no longer a virgin, my value as a person decreased and I was no longer seen as “pure.” I was not wanted by other boys because I had already been “conquered,” and girls who experienced the same thing sneered at me because we’re taught that a woman is less when she is no longer whole.
But that is bullshit.
There is nothing missing from me. I did not lose anything. I was not conquered. My vagina is not a car you drive off the lot, and once it touches the street it is no longer as valuable as it was when it was sitting pretty in a display case.
Virginity is a social construct and so is the concept of purity and its perceived value in women.
After a woman’s first time a “cherry” is supposedly “popped,” therefore signaling the loss of virginity.
The hymen, renamed the corona, is what people refer to as the cherry. But the corona is a tissue that stretches and grows with a person throughout their life. It is something that can wear out after a period of time, and is something that can be torn with everyday activities such as stretching, riding a bike or working out.
It can be torn during sex if the person is not properly aroused and lubricated. However, because there is a lack of knowledge on the matter, it was easy for this “popped cherry” myth to run rampant.
Virginity as purity was socially constructed to deter women from being sexually active before marriage. A woman’s virginity was seen as a commodity and placed value on a woman to be wedded off to an eligible bachelor. The possession of the woman would pass from a father to a husband, and her “purity” intact is what was promised in the exchange.
This was also a medieval way of determining paternity and ensuring the man’s bloodline would remain pure.
In “The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth,” authors Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor, explain the origins of virginity, which originally indicated a woman was not tied to a man, not claimed by marriage and was seen as a “free” and “wild” woman.
In a patriarchal world, a woman who couldn’t be contained and controlled, was something to be feared.
I hope in this day and age we can begin to deconstruct social constructions and tear down the patriarchy that continues to demean, devalue and degrade women. We can begin to do so by placing value and worth within ourselves and on our own terms, rather than those placed on our bodies by men.
I had sex for the first time at a really young age. But that has no correlation to my value as a person. I am not worthless. I am not missing a part of myself. And I am not broken.