By Lucia V. Smith
I was recently eating breakfast at my campus cafeteria one morning when this girl Rachel sat down next to me. I wouldn’t consider her a best friend, more of an acquaintance whose relationship to my life had been self-determined through numerous haphazard and slightly embarrassing events to say the least. Rachel was an intriguing young lady. She was southern and sheltered, a “child of scripture” so she called herself. But a real undercover freak. Like real undercover freak. Like probably knows more tricks than Superhead freak. Everyone knew that you couldn’t go a meal or a conversation with her without having to listen to her belt out a rendition of Trey Songz with whiny, breathy gasps and moans. If you’re lucky and really in for a show you might see her throw it down in the cafeteria and pop a butt cheek or two.
That morning Rachel was sitting next to me and as I peeled my banana and tried to drown out the conversation about white male penis sizes, she leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “Do you think it’s okay for me to take my own virginity?”
I damn near choked on my banana. What the hell?
“I want to take my own virginity. You know with a cucumber or something.” She went on to explain that she didn’t believe that she was going to find any good black men at our predominantly white institution and she wanted to be sexually prepared for when she finally met the right guy in the future. Thus, “taking her virginity” would be the best option, so that way she wouldn’t have some horror story or bad relationship to look back to and say, “Yeah, that jerk took my virginity.”
“It would be safe with me. Who better to trust than myself, right? Don’t you love yourself too?” she asked.
I chuckled at her under my breath and told her how I felt that she was confusing the whole concept of virginity in itself. At first approach, her reasoning sounded quite self-endearing; women taking control of their sexuality instead of allowing a man to determine the pivotal time and place when you can say that you began to explore your sexuality. I laud her for ruminating on that one. But isn’t that what masturbation is for? Before I retorted with a straight and haughty answer, I had to catch myself and think it through. Can a woman really take her own virginity?
Virginity in its truest form is the pure sexual state a woman possesses before she is broken, usually in the act of love through sexual intercourse. Depending on one’s sexual orientation, this can mean mutually through penetration, anal intercourse, or mutual masturbation. What becomes misleading is the connection of virginity, this absolute ethereal characteristic, to the breaking of the hymen, a physical bodily construct and what this means to a woman’s control of her sexuality. From my perspective, breaking the hymen does not mean losing your virginity. There are many women walking this earth that broke their hymens through sports or other rigorous activities before they engaged in sex for the first time. Losing one’s virginity is connected to a higher emotional and physical level. Virginity is an individual trait, but breaking it is not a one-person act. You never forget that first time. You would really have to only be attracted to yourself (and be able to induce your own child without the help of anyone else) to come close to the idea of “taking your own virginity” and even by medical definition, it would still be considered masturbation and you would still be a virgin. Thus, taking your own virginity is not even possible. The act, through history and time, has become regarded as something special that can ultimately link two people together forever, despite the results of their relationship. Virginity and its preservation or alteration of it is both morally and socially valued and guarded.
One person can break their hymen, if they really wanted to. And in Rachel’s point, it seemed that a lack of confidence or acceptance of herself was driving her to explore this idea. What she shared demonstrated a fear of a future that had yet to be realized, her mind consumed by the trepidation of not being good enough for the “right” man because she was unwilling to consume to the pressures of casual collegiate sex. She believed that her inexperience would keep her in a downward spiral, where she would never be able to find a man that would lovingly accept her. The looseness that parades many college campuses seems to damper the idea of sexuality or makes sex appear to be something less valued than it may be for many. Yes, it hurts during the first time if your hymen is still intact, but that pain in itself is both a beautiful and powerful thing, just like the process of labor and childbirth.
No woman should feel pressured enough to want to harm their own body or sacrifice this ultimate milestone for oneself in order to be viewed as more sexy or beautiful for the next guy. Because in the end the idea of female empowerment becomes flawed and subdued; men that you have never met, or society to a degree, end up winning as you slip into a place where you comprise your self-respect for someone else’s.
What’s sexy is knowing your own and taking care of your own. Women should see it as a strength that they are able to hold out longer than the next chick. What some women fail to realize is that less is more in a variety of cases. Men will bang the video girl who slept with fifty guys because she’s bad, but he’ll marry the girl who slept with five because she’s badder. And that’s an important concept that women need to remember when they are thinking about their personal sexual appeal. Because there is a whole lot more to you than your vagina and it takes a real woman to recognize that.