My Daughter Is Worth Way More Than Her Virginity
Being a woman seemed to come with rules, even when I was small. Most of it hinged on being a ‘lady’. You know, â€œLadies don’t run in the hallway. Ladies don’t climb the monkey bars. Ladies don’t get their clothes dirty. Ladies don’t fart at the dinner table.â€ I always thought that as I got older, I’d have fewer rules. Instead, more came. And these rules seemed to be hinged on just one idea.
You’ll get a reputation.
That was always the reason I got for why I shouldn’t have sex before I was married. I didn’t really understand the problem. A reputation? Wasn’t I always told that I shouldn’t worry about what other people thought about me? Wasn’t I always told that I should live my life so that I would be happy with myself? And if having sex made me happy, and I could do it safely, I didn’t understand why I shouldn’t do it.
More to the point, the thing that really seemed to cling to me was the fact that my brother, older than me by two years, wasn’t told this. He had no concern for getting a reputation based on his sexual experiences. It seemed par for the course that he would have sex before being committed to someone. Being the younger sibling, my sense of inequality between the two of us was sharp, and I instantly asked my mother why it was different.
The simple answer was that he couldn’t get pregnant. I pointed out that he could get someone pregnant, and I didn’t see how that was too much different. My mother just mumbled that it was different. It was different in a way that she couldn’t say. In a way, I completely understood the physical ramifications of getting pregnant, but I didn’t understand why me getting pregnant was worse than my brother getting someone in that predicament.
And then I knew without my Mom saying it out loud, it was because I would get a reputation. I would get a reputation as a slut. I would be a girl who just spread her legs. Like my worth would be less because I slept with someone when I was young and a child came of it. Like me getting pregnant would release the elephant in the room that I was having sex, and that was a source of shame.
Words can’t even begin to express how much rage I felt at that. Why is there shame in a young woman having sex before marriage, but not a young man? For that matter, even when you go back, a woman had to be a virgin when she was married. Otherwise she was dirty, she was wrong, she wasn’t worth marrying. In short, she was worthless.
I’ve been mulling that thought over and over in my brain since I found out I was having a girl. Why is worth attached to being a virgin? How do I feel about my own daughter having sex before she’s signed a piece of paper saying that she and another person are committed to one another?