Kat recalls losing it
There was a time not that long ago when a woman’s virginity was pretty much the only bargaining chip she had in the Game Of Life: Extreme Hard Mode Edition, and it wasn’t even her chip to play.
Now, I’m no historian, but here’s how I’m pretty sure it would go down if you were a woman in 12th century England: one night, your dad and some guy named Snug the Joiner, who he met at the local tavern last week, would run into each other at the local tavern after a hard day of being a dad and a Joiner (respectively), and they would get drunk together. Your dad would start gambling, which he knows he shouldn’t do because the drought’s been wreaking havoc on the crops. Your dad would quickly start losing because he never learned how to play dice and refuses to let anyone teach him. He gets further and further in debt to Snug, who knows your dad can’t pay him back at this point. Your dad offers the farm. Snug is not interested in the farm, because it’s the worst farm in town. Your dad gets an idea, then blacks out for a couple hours. The next morning, your dad and Snug barge into the room you share with your brothers and sisters, who you’ve taken care of since your mother died in childbirth. Just before he pukes all over little Seamus slumbering away by the cookpot, your dad tells you, “So you’re gonna marry this guy!” And he points to Snug the Joiner, and Snug smiles, and you don’t say anything because Snug is the worst Joiner in town, and someone has to get all that vomit off Seamus before the stench of pure alcohol seeps into his pores. Smiling can wait. You have your whole life ahead of you to figure out how to smile back at the dude who just bought you.
So that doesn’t really happen anymore, what with the whole ‘holy shit women are people!’ movement in full effect, but virginity – especially women’s virginity – has a long, storied history of being used as a value marker, and it’s a history that has repercussions to this day. Sure, we no longer have to worry so much about dads brokering shitty business deals with Joiners, but we now have entire industries dedicated to telling girls, “Be sexy, but not too sexy. Be willing, but not too willing. Give it up without giving it away. Don’t be good, don’t be bad, just make sure to constantly enforce and subject yourself to the whims of a non-specific set of rules that are constantly changing and never quite explainable and can always be used against you if needs be OH BUT TOTALLY BE YOURSELF YOLO <3”
We have school systems that refuse to educate kids and teens, and as such allow some pretty sexist bullshit to continue unaddressed. I was the girl in school people talked to if they had questions. No, your vag doesn’t stretch out because you had sex once/twenty times/a zillion times. No, not every girl is born with a hymen, and some girls naturally break their hymens doing crazy things like gymnastics, horseback riding, or standing there and watching your friend’s brother try and fail to do an ollie for like twenty goddamn minutes. No, you won’t be dirty forever because you had sex. No, you’re not unlovable or ugly because you haven’t had sex yet. Your vag isn’t disgusting. Your vag isn’t a flower. Your vag is a vag, and it’s awesome the way it is, and whatever has (or hasn’t) happened in there doesn’t affect your worth as a human being. You are so much more than that.
Growing up, I chose to place no value on my virginity, but that doesn’t mean I placed no value on myself when I chose to lose it. Unlike 12th century England, I got to decide when I lost my virginity based on how ready I felt (which was super ready oh God I want sex I want it noooow), how knowledgeable I was about birth control and disease prevention (which was super informed, I collected books about sex like they were friggin Pokemon), and how comfortable I felt with my sex partner (which was super comfortable, because neither of us had had sex before, and neither of us wanted to wait any longer, and like whoo Frosh Week you know?). I didn’t have sex because someone else told me I was allowed; I had sex because I knew myself enough to know I wanted it.
We’re all playing the Game of Life, and sometimes it still feels like we’re stuck with Extreme Hard Mode Edition. Wherever your life takes you and whatsoever you do, know this: your sexuality isn’t a commodity, or a prize to be won, or something to be guarded at all costs. It’s not who you are, but it’s a big part of you. And you deserve the best for you.