My Male Friends Who Read This Blog Should Maybe Go Away For This Post?

On a date recently, someone had the temerity to inquire whether or not I was a virgin. I replied that it was none of his damn business, and what kind of a creepy question was that, anyway?  He was interested, he said, because he had a hypothesis he wanted to test. He was quite sure I could not be a virgin, because the way I talked and acted was not the way a virgin talks and acts. Which meant, as far as I could tell, that I looked him in the eye and said what I thought without blush, apology, or nervous titter.

You can guess how he fared and how the date ended.

At times like these I like to think of my favorite statue in the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Female virginity has become entangled with a sickly, sentimental construction of passive femininity; a kind of chivalric purity that smells of heavy imitation rose perfume and requires a china doll untainted by passion, experience, or thought.

But the most famous of all the virgin goddesses, Artemis, was  a huntress, and she was merciless. Athena, the protector of Odysseus, tormentor of Ajax, refused marriage.  Virginity was not a retreat into sweet fragility–it was savage freedom. Innocence was ferocious, and not something to be casually appropriated or messed with.  It refused to be domesticated, and provided no safe playground for male sexual jockeying.

And while we’re at it, the actual virgin mother of God–you know, the one who crushed the head of Satan, whose radical yes brought redemption to the world, the woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet? She doesn’t sound like much of a shrinking violet to me.

**********************************************************

Virginity is so easy to fetishize–but the fact is, for most of us, it’s not the chosen consecration of a nun. It’s something temporary, a function of our state in life and the way said life has turned out thus far. It’s not the key to mind-blowing orgasms and mystical union on the oft-romanticized wedding night, nor the reason one practices chastity, nor the dividing line between the Nice Girls and the whores (well, maybe for some people it is, but who wants to be a Nice Girl, anyway?).

Despite all this, some people seem to think that one’s virginity or lack thereof is a matter for public discussion, or that they have the right to know and shame you for your sexual history, whatever it might be.

Your virginity is nobody’s business but your own.

Your virginity is nobody’s business but your own.

Your vagina is not public property.

Your hymen is not public property.

It does not belong to your father, or your boyfriend, or your future husband. It belongs to you, and you belong to God.

So remember that the next time someone tries to sexualize your boldness, your free and frank enjoyment of life–or the next time someone uses your sexual inexperience to put you in an infantile and sentimental box.

And the next time some man dares to intrude on your privacy with a question by which he hopes either to slut-shame or dismiss you–smile sweetly, and ask if he’s ever heard the story of Acteon.

“Read it, you’ll love it. You remind me of him so much.”

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14 thoughts on “My Male Friends Who Read This Blog Should Maybe Go Away For This Post?

  1. It is so weird and horrifying that guys think they have a right to know whether or not a girl is a virgin, or that it’s perfectly okay to ask. And of course if the girl refuses to answer, they take that as proof that she’s not one. Since when do girls have to go around proclaiming their virginity? It’s nobody’s damn business. If a guy wants to know if a girl is chaste, all he has to do is observe. That’s it. There’s nothing else he has the right to do or ask. If she’s not acting like a slut, she’s not a slut. End of. And I mean actually acting like a slut and not doing something normal like wearing a bathing suit or talking to a stranger at a bar.

    I got asked basically the same thing in an underhanded way on a date once as well. I said a past relationship had been intense, and he said something like “You mean physically??” and I was like “WHAT THE HELL.” This was a traditional Catholic guy who I had gone to highschool with. We had basically the same background and upbringing, basically asking if I had slept with my ex boyfriend, who was also traditional Catholic. Yup.

    In another situation I was introducing a guy to a good friend of mine. He was smitten, but felt the need to ask me later, in a very meaningful way, if she “had ever had a boyfriend” and if she “was a good girl.” It was pretty clear what he meant by that. Like it was my job to screen my friend’s virtue for him, instead of him being respectful, remembering that I don’t hang out with prostitutes, and basically being a gentleman instead of a creepy virgin fetishizer. Both of those instances came out of nowhere and I didn’t even realize what I was being asked until afterwards. Clueless non-religious guys who act like virginity is some bizarre thing they’ve never heard are also annoying but I’m willing to cut them a little more slack just out of sheer ignorance. For Catholic guys to be doing this kind of thing is totally vile.

    And as you rightly point out, staying chaste requires strength and a strong will. NOT some weird, shrinking, simpering Fascinating Womanhood childishness with no spine. Tiresome. But that same guy who asked about my “intense” relationship also felt the need to tell me that he preferred to date women in their very early twenties because “they weren’t used to making their own decisions and had less baggage.” I mean, the dude can date whoever he wants, but there is a direct contradiction between staying Catholic in modern society and being incapable of making your own decisions. Men who can’t think logically are a serious turnoff.

    Yeah, what with the controversy over at Seraphic and a few other things, I’ve kind of been thinking about Madonna-Whore complexes all day, and now have a headache.

    • Ugh no, another controversy over at Seraphic?
      Also, I’ve been reading your comments re: modesty obsessed victim-blamers over at Simcha’s thread. It is SO nice not always having to be the one to say these things.

      New theory on single most important subtle red flag for virgin-fetishizer, bully, or crypto-misogynist: directly or indirectly positing that you are a “challenge,” and that’s what makes you attractive.

    • “It is SO nice not always having to be the one to say these things.”

      I generally think the same thing when I read your comments. The discussion at Darwin Catholic over the “dressing immodestly is like rolling in manure” meme, for example.

      The guys who think you’re a challenge and want to conquer you–in my experience, they tire of this game very quickly. It’s never as much fun as they think it’s going to be.

    • I’ve wandered over here from Seraphic’s…. Great post, and I like your vehemence, which exactly proves your point – virgins are not delicate flowers, but rather strong trees which have withstood many, many storms, if I may make that comparison.

      On a somewhat related note, one of my favorite quotes is from Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela”, who certainly fought for herself (although you can question whether it was for moral convictions, or because she wanted to be ‘rewarded’ at the end). It shows virtue under attack is not anything new for our times:

      “A-lack-a-day! What a world we live in! for it is grown more a wonder that men are resisted than that women comply. This, I suppose, makes me such a Sauce-box, and Bold-face, and a creature; and all because I won’t be a Sauce-box and Bold-face indeed.”

  2. It’s funny, the way Pamela gets labelled for her non-compliance is the exact opposite of the exact opposite of the stereotype a lack of sexual experience will get you today.

    I’m endlessly interested in the shifting and contradictory ways you can be shamed for not doing what a man wants.

    • Of course. It would be interesting to live in a world where significant numbers of women felt entitled to know all about their men’s sexual histories on the third date.

    • Seeing as how some STDs can’t be tested for in men (which a surprising number of Catholic women don’t know), I would think they should be asking.

      The same goes for men – they are allowed to be worried for their health, especially in regards to STDs. And no, there is no fail-safe way to determine that someone is free of STDs; please don’t pretend there is, or worse, lie about such important information.

      Basically, what I read in your post is that a man’s concern for his health is second to your ideals. If there’s anything sickening (no pun intended) about discussions of virginity, that would be the thing.

      ——

      “It would be interesting to live in a world where significant numbers of women felt entitled to know all about their men’s sexual histories on the third date.”

      That’s an interesting thing to say. I’ve been asked by a woman what my sexual history was (on a date, the second one). And you know what? I didn’t throw a fit about it. I just answered her question (nothing to say, either), since I know that there are serious health implications. That would be the mature response. In a faith that places great value in waiting until marriage, I find it strange that questions inspired by such notions would not be thought incorrect.

      Beyond all that, the poster above calling men who ask such questions “creepy virgin fetishizer[s]” is quite uncharitable. I think some men might just use the virginity question to filter out people who are so quick to make personal attacks like that.

    • Our faith also places a great value on modesty, and discretion, which means not asking intimate questions before an appropriate intimacy.

      No one is saying that you should never discuss mutual levels of experience. But the time to do that is close to engagement or marriage.

      If you ask a creepily inappropriate question, you will be called creepy. Playing the charity card is especially silly given that you are arguing for fewer personal boundaries in favor of safety.

      “I just answered her question (nothing to say, either)”

      This blog is not a place for you to air your sexual history or lack thereof. You have been warned once, and will not be again.

    • “Our faith also places a great value on modesty, and discretion, which means not asking intimate questions before an appropriate intimacy.”

      You don’t define “intimate” and you don’t define “appropriate.” Beyond that, our faith also places value on prudence, of which STDs are an important consideration.

      “But the time to do that is close to engagement or marriage.”

      According to who? Seraphic? By that point, relationship inertia (aka “investment syndrome”) has taken hold. Again, you don’t seem to have any concern for someone’s health.

      “If you ask a creepily inappropriate question, you will be called creepy.”

      Can you define creepy? (Otherwise, begging the question with a touch of ad hominem.)

      “Playing the charity card is especially silly given that you are arguing for fewer personal boundaries in favor of safety.”

      Safety is clearly a terrible thing. Anyway, all research done on the topic, that is, discussion of sexual histories, has shown that relationships benefit when it is discussed earlier rather than later.

      “This blog is not a place for you to air your sexual history or lack thereof. You have been warned once, and will not be again.”

      May I ask where such a mentioning is prohibited? Your warning also seems rather selective, since I’ve noticed others making similar comments.

    • 1. No, I don’t have to define intimacy, nor discretion, at this time. The point of the mention was that “Waiting till marriage” is not the only nor the primary value at stake here. This is facile.

      2. “Safety is clearly a terrible thing.” Right. Everyone has said that. You are the only one who cares about safety. Good job, you!

      3. All the research. Can you link to some research? I’d like to address this, but really can’t with such a vague claim.

      4. Such a mentioning was prohibited when I decided to prohibit it. This is how personal blogs work. I could give you a detailed description of my criteria for prohibition, but you already seem a bit entitled.

    • No, I don’t read Seraphic, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Relationship inertia is something grownups have to deal re any any number of factors and pitfalls. This is in fact how relationships work, and the price we pay for the practice of courtship. You do not simply get to insist on protection from all the emotional struggles inherent in courtship, at the expense of more general normative considerations .

      Oh for heaven’s sake, the ad hominem whine. You are trying to shut down criticism of a particular type of behavior. The fact that that behavior might be yours is not my problem.

      Again, you made the perpetual and perpetually silly charity plea. You were reminded that there are other concerns at play. I’m not going to define creepy because that is not actually what we were discussing. This is not begging the question, this is merely a disinclination to reroute the conversation as it suits you.

  3. I will throw you a bone: a better way to do this might be to say “I’m really worried about getting STDs, and I wouldn’t be interested in anyone who might have them.”

    Now, I still think mentioning this in the early dates is symptomatic of a gauche and unhealthy approach to dating. But if you don’t want those girls, that’s your perogative, and this way you’re not an aggressor.

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