Riveting Rosie: A Feminist Perspective
I was raised a feminist.
Ever since I was a child, my mother encouraged me to be strong in my femininity. I never heard the words “boys will be boys” cross my mother’s lips when I told her a boy at school was picking on me. She told me that if he hit me to hit back.
Not once did my mother encourage me to trade in my Batman action figure for a Barbie. I was an incredibly gender-fluid child, and if anyone mentioned it to my mom, they got a sharp reproach. Whenever we would talk about my future, my mother would make a point of calling my future spouse my “life-partner” instead of the heteronormative “husband.”
I went to the relatively poor elementary school that my mom taught at, and I had friends of all races and socio-economic statuses. My best friend in Kindergarten was the son of a Middle-Eastern diplomat. My mother has always encouraged me to be all-inclusive, kind, and socially aware.
I was given a head-start in my life as an activist, and it has served me well. I learned to recognize what rules were influenced by patriarchal values and to subsequently challenge them, but that took a while, even with my ingrained feminist perspective.
In early middle school, I started hearing about virginity. Some of the older girls didn’t have it anymore. I had absolutely no idea what this concept was, but it seemed to be a good thing to have. According to the older girls who wore their V cards like a badge of honor, boys wouldn’t like you if you didn’t have it. I wanted boys to want to date me.
In sex-ed my eighth grade year, I finally found out what the abstract concept of “virginity” was. It was just that, an idea. Still, it was one I held sacred. I promised myself that I would be 18, madly in love, and have dated the lucky lad for at least a year before I would give up my precious V card.
I didn’t so much as kiss a boy until my freshman year of high school. I didn’t mind. I dated a few boys, and we hugged a lot; even that was embarrassing. I kissed the boy to get it over with. I felt ashamed that I had never shared that part of my life with someone. It was sloppy and wet, and fairly uncomfortable.
My first sexcapade two years later wasn’t much different. In my three years of high school, I grew to hate the word “virginity.” It was all any of my horny theatre friends could talk about, who had it and who was getting it instead. Any time someone asked if I was, I hated the praise I received when I responded “yes.” I wasn’t a mythical creature worthy of adoration, I was an awkward and pudgy sixteen year old girl.
When I met Sean, I knew. I didn’t really want to date him, but he was cute and showed interest in me, and I was done lugging around my V card like a ball and chain. We waited a few months. I refused to give it up on prom night; I fancied myself with too much dignity to add to that statistic. So we waited until the day after.
It hurt. It didn’t feel like I thought it should. People in movies always talked about it like an ethereal experience. This was just clumsy fumbling on a ratty couch in an unfinished basement.
While the patriarchy puts stock in female purity, it took me a long time to realize that my decision to trash my virginity was just as affected by society as those who decide to wear purity rings. I didn’t have sex because it felt right or because I wanted to; I did it to rid myself of the guilt of a social construct.
Virginity isn’t real. There is definitely experience and lack thereof, but you don’t “pop a cherry.” With my current feminist support group, I have learned so much about virginity and sex. Many girls bleed the first time they have sex because they aren’t properly “warmed up.” Vaginas don’t “get loose” when they have a lot of sex. Women push 5+ pound babies out of that opening, a seven-inch penis isn’t going to suddenly transform a woman’s reproductive organ into a cavern.
Feminism advocates the right to do what you want with your body and other consenting adults without shame. If you want to have sex with hundreds of people, feminism supports you as long as you are using protection of some sort and receiving consent. If you want to wait until marriage or not have sex at all, the feminist world has your back. Be safe. Be kind. Be a feminist.