Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - a brilliant, and amazing woman. Someone who is fighting to significantly dismantle the patriarchy and advance feminist ideals. Or at least, some of them. In her book, We Should All Be Feminists (pictured, right) she discusses many elements of gender equality, including sexuality for women. And I love every word. Except this one small passage...
We police girls. We praise girls for virginity but we don't praise boys for virginity (and it makes me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out, since the loss of virginity is a process that usually involves two people of opposite genders). (pg. 32)
Does it though?
I know a lot of people who "lose" their virginity and have never had sex with someone of a different gender identity. So how does that work for them? Are they still 'virgins?' I know I am overthinking this one - but I also know that heterosexism and heterocentrist thought is dominant not only in western cultures, but also across the globe. This quote is an example of that - completely focused on heterosexual ideals of sexuality and expression. The assumption in this quote is that a penis needs to enter a vagina for it to be considered "sex" and for virginity to be "lost." This is simply not true.
"Virginity" is a construct - one that has been placed upon human beings by a heteropatriarchal society that aims to devalue sexual expression and repress everyone who is not a white cisgender male who identifies as heterosexual. Why is this concept of "virginity" so important? Why do we care if someone has had sex before? How does not having sex before a government contract and spoken word moment in front of friends and family make someone a better person or somehow morally acceptable? It doesn't. Virignity isn't something that is lost, or gained, or held, or protected. Virginity is a construct that was created to hold people back and shame them.
We should free ourselves from this idea. Focus more on intimacy and sharing of yourself, instead of the physical acts of sex. The physical nature of sex is not the true act of sex - the connection with a partner, and the enjoyment of your body and it's abilities are what true sex is, not simply the insertion of one body part into another. And, just a final thought - you can't lose an idea. You can only decide it isn't true anymore.
Have you heard the news? Sex Education is now a mandatory component of any state-funded public school. According to the new law (Sexual Health Education Policy 103.5) all public schools must provide sex education that is age appropriate and medically accurate - including education on methods of infection prevention (both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections), relationship and communication skills to “form healthy relationships based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion and intimidation.” In addition, the new law also requires students undergoing the program to develop critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and stress management related to healthy decisions and inform students about the various community resources.
In addition to the comprehensive elements above, the amended law states the program will encourage students to communicate about sexuality with their parents, guardians, care-givers, or other trusted adults. This may seem like a no-brainer to many people, but it is often something left out of sex education programs - considered to be a ‘given’ and taken advantage that students will talk to their caregivers. Recent literature shows that while most adolescents/teenagers get information about sexuality first from their peers, the internet, and other media, they turn to - and trust their - parents/caregivers more than any other source.
The only thing missing in the document related to the amended sex education programming is the word “abortion” - curiously absent. While the program is a major step forward in the education of our youth on sexuality, it is mainly focused on the prevention of pregnancy and infection… lacking any substance about what to do if you are already sexually active or have unintentionally become pregnant. There is a section (as mentioned above) about “inform[ing] students of available community resources” - hopefully, that includes pregnancy testing, adoption, abortion, and counseling services for ‘what happens after/if’ situations.
Read SIECUS’ report on the program here.
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