Thursday, June 12, 2008

The trouble with virginity

To me, the demand that a woman be a virgin when she gets married is prehistoric. Nobody has a right, except the body's owner, to decide what to do with it. In human history, men have never had this particularly female problem of people meddling with their bodies, attempting to control their bodies, crusading and punishing for control of what does not belong to them. But for women this is as ancient as Adam's rib (another offensive little myth). If it's not virginity, it's abortion and if it is not that, it's the crazy demand for women's bodies to conform to someone else's fantasy that has nothing to do with actual human beauty. But the outcome is the same: it makes women feel that they have no say in the matter of their own bodies, their own selves and their own destinies. It makes us less than we are.
What appalls me is that women have been complicit with this kind of debasement for centuries. Forever. We still are. Mothers who demand to see proof of virginity after the wedding night are only doing the men's bidding and a disservice to their gender. I know I sound like Betty Friedan 30 years ago, but it needs to be repeated. Women have to be the sole designers of their own fates. And men can kiss my ass.
In the West, advances have been made, at least in the camp of virginity. In other cultures apparently not. In France they are having a mini crisis because some Muslim guy (although this is not exclusive to Muslims, it is the province of despots of all faiths) expected his bride to be a virgin and he wanted the marriage annulled her when he alleged that she was not. They went to court and the court ruled in the man's favor. The French, (liberté, fraternité, egalité, etc) hit the roof and with reason. WTF? Who is he to demand this? Does he own her? It is a cultural thing, but what an asshole. As a fellow Muslim said:

“The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

I have trouble with the concept of honor too. This benighted concept in which the woman has to remain pure and chaste for the benefit of the man, otherwise she may be forever disgraced (if not stoned to death or some such grizzly retribution) is yet another form of domination and control.

This is the modern world. There have been advances in human rights for women. We are not in the dark ages anymore. I don't see what is so complicated about adhering to the laws and customs of the land you live in. If you don't wish to live in the modern world, there are plenty of countries where you can behave in the fashion you want with nobody even batting an eye.

The other day I saw a horribly disturbing XXX rated porn video, which also brings us back to the dark ages. The woman in this video was completely debased by her very own self and a bunch of men. The most disturbing aspect of it was the way they treated her, as if she had no will, no opinion, no self. She basically became a collection of orifices (and you know what, there are only three so after a while it becomes rather pointless and boring). Now, to me this comes full circle to those men who demand that their women be chaste. It is exactly the same thing, as both treat women like things that have no will of their own, no history, no self, no desires, no ideas, no inner life, no say in the matter.

I posit it is our fault. If we women allow this to continue happening, we have no one but ourselves to blame. It has to stop.

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