All aboard the Virgin Struggle Bus: The intersection of virginity and queerness
By Hamda Lawal
When I was 16, I made a convenant with God that I would remain a virgin till I got married. Along with a group of girls, I wrote my promise on a small piece of paper and burnt it in a church (let me just note here that I’m not even Christian. Looking back I wonder if I imagined this episode, I had forgotten about it entirely until I finally sat down to write this piece. Because I have let go of patriarchal notions on worth, the “hymen” and virginity, I have allowed myself to forget how much of a big deal the concept of virginity is/was until recently. Especially for those of us that have vaginas.
Recently I was made aware of the fact that some women who have sex with other women (WSW), consider themselves to be virgins.
To say I was amazed may be an understatement, it was more a case of being amazed with a huge dose of confused. I’ve read stories of girls who engage in anal and oral sex but still profess virginity because they haven’t done anything vaginally…and this seems to be the same, or at least a closely related to the case of WSW.
It struck me that not enough thought has been paid to how the concept of virginity intersects with queerness. Can virginity be lost if two vulvas come in contact with each other?
Take this example, you meet a woman you’re sexually attracted to and things get heated. In the bedroom, she says that she does not enjoy being penetrated and because you’re an adult you respect that. You get to know her better and after months of mind-blowing sex in all sorts of positions and styles, you hear her proclaim she’s a virgin. She proceeds to further buttress her point by stating that the fact that she has not being penetrated by anyone means she’s a virgin.
Would you not find that funny?
What of another woman who just recently started sharing intimate relations with other women. She feels guilty due to her religious convictions but navigates her way around this by convincing herself that sex with other women is not ‘real sex’ and so doesn’t count so she is still a virgin.
If there’s just one reason that the concept of virginity is bullshit, it’s the fact that a lot of us are limiting it to ‘penis in vagina’ sex, when the reality is that sex happens in so many different ways and cannot be limited to just that one.
Possibly the first step is the need to redefine sex?
I have often wondered, since I found out about this notion that sleeping with a woman still qualifies you as a virgin, what is it when one’s intimate relation with a woman is not sex? Does it become “love play”? What do you call it then?
I believe a lot of the misconception is tied to this idea of a “hymen” so I shall use this opportunity to do some debunking. The “hymen” as you know it, does not exist. The vaginal opening is not covered by a membrane that ruptures on penetration. Rather what has come to be known as the vaginal corona is located 1-2 centimetres inside the vaginal opening. Your vaginal corona is as unique as your nose and labia, they differ in size, colour and shape from person to person. It is an elastic and stretchy membrane that will always be there.
Giving birth through the vagina changes the appearance of the vaginal corona but in older post-menopausal women who haven’t given birth vaginally and don’t have regular penetrative sex, the vaginal corona may close up again. As far as we know, the vaginal corona has no real function. It is a membrane that can be stretched, those who have thicker vaginal corona may feel pain when it is stretched. There is the possibility of ruptures in the mucous folds that hurt and may lead to bleeding when one is tense, nervous and too dry during vaginal penetrative intercourse.
But I bet if you’re so invested in the idea of a “hymen”, then even science won’t change your opinion. Regardless I hope this has inspired a few to think critically and consider hoping off the struggle bus, unless of course there’s no struggle on your bus.
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