Published On: November 9, 2022 01:30 PM NPT By: Samiksha Shrestha

#Sexploration episode 9- Virginity

#Sexploration episode 9- Virginity

Virginity is regarded as taboo in most South Asian countries as well as in the Western parts. Cultural and religious traditions place exceptional value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor, and worth. Like chastity, the concept of virginity has traditionally involved sexual abstinence. In this regard, host Kriti Adhikari and guest Riju Dhakal, President of Yuwa, discuss the concept of virginity. Episode 9 of Sexploration talks about Virginity, the Religious History of Virginity, the Medical significance and concept of Virginity, and the Hypocrisy of Virginity.

Virginity is a social construct that needs to be deconstructed. “Virginity is taken as an ornament of women’s bodies in Nepali society. It is extremely treasured and tied to ‘family honor’,” said Riju Dhakal. “Our societal construction strictly forbids sex before marriage, hence one is expected to be a virgin before marriage- this social norm is enforced mainly in girls and women,” she added. Due to the reciprocation of all different cultural contexts around, there is a wrong idea that breaking virginity before marriage is a sin, although there is no specific explanation medically or scientifically whatsoever about it.  Sexuality is shaped (constructed) by social processes at the cultural and individual levels; thus virginity is socially constructed.

The concept of virginity is highly rooted in patriarchy. "Virginity is historically rooted in establishing paternity and entrenched in male ownership. It is then linked with the concept of marriage. Marriage is a social institution that is perceived very strongly in society with different levels of significance such as companion lineage, similarly, virginity is also signified with sex, ownership, chastity, and lineage, and then the concept of the feminist perspective also came. So, these all instruments that facilitate it becomes the reason why such discussions are under the table most of the time." Said Dhakal. She added that there is a thought process that since most of the breadwinners are male, they are used to treating women as their property. They want dominance over that person all the time.

Celibacy or sexual abstinence and the power of reproduction have been practiced and valued by women and men within many religious traditions. Sexual Impurity is associated with the purity of women and hymen tearing of cisgender females is often marked as losing virginity. In the case of a cis-gendered male, only their verbal remarks are proof of their virginity. "Religiously, women's right to pleasure is taken as unethical. In the Hindu scripture, Kama Sutra, female pleasure is given more importance. The concept of culture is carried on by culture, as a possession, and because all those social aspects barricade it, the society is not progressing," according to Dhakal.

So-called virginity testing also referred to as hymen, two-finger, or per vaginal examination (the inspection of the female genitalia to determine if the individual has had or has been active in sexual intercourse, is also practiced widely. Similarly, the practice of checking the blood stains on the bed sheets to see whether the girl is a virgin or not also prevails. Many people believe the only way to “lose” your virginity is through vaginal penetration with a penis, but that’s not the case. “We have probably heard the myth that if you have a hymen, it will break during vaginal penetration. But that’s all that is a myth. A hymen can be torn easily during exercise or other physical activity,” Dhakal said. She said, "In 2018, WHO recognized virginity tests as harassment."

There exists hypocrisy in virginity. Women are as equally responsible as men in this aspect. Women who have lost their virginity, just because they are not caught yet/opened up about it yet, think it's okay to mock somebody who has done it. People construct the idea of wife material/girlfriend material. Hypocrisy will remain and will be carried forward if the idea of purity is not dissected. 

Altogether, this episode discerns how virginity is considered a possession, an honor, why the concept of virginity has not changed even in this modern world, segregates the layers of virginity as a social construct, about its history, roles of religion, gender norms, and the need for its legal implications and to reject the generally/universally accepted instinct of virginity.

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