Virginity is considered taboo in most South Asian countries as well as Western regions. Cultural and religious traditions place exceptional value and importance on this state, primarily towards unmarried women, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth. Like chastity, the concept of virginity traditionally involves 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 meaning and concept of virginity, and the hypocrisy of virginity.
Virginity is a social construct that needs to be deconstructed. “Virginity is considered an adornment of women’s bodies in Nepalese society. It is extremely valuable and tied to ‘family honour’,” Riju Dhakal said. “Our societal construct strictly prohibits premarital sex, which is why one is expected to be a virgin before marriage – this social norm is enforced mostly among girls and women,” she added. Due to the reciprocity of all different cultural backgrounds, there is a misconception that breaking virginity before marriage is a sin, although there is no specific medical or scientific explanation for this. Sexuality is shaped (constructed) by social processes at the cultural and individual levels; thus virginity is socially constructed.
The concept of virginity is strongly rooted in patriarchy. “Virginity is historically rooted in the establishment of paternity and rooted in male property. It is then linked to the concept of marriage. Marriage is a social institution that is perceived very strongly in society with different levels of meaning such as companion lineage likewise virginity is also signified along with sex, property, chastity and lineage and then the concept of the feminist perspective also came in. So all these instruments that facilitate it become the reason why to Such discussions are under the table most of the time,” Dhakal said, adding that there is a thought process that since most breadwinners are men, they are used to treating women as their property. They want to dominate that person all the time.
Celibacy or sexual abstinence and the power to procreate have been practiced and valued by women and men in many religious traditions. Sexual impurity is associated with the purity of women, and the tearing of cisgender women’s hymen is often marked as a loss of virginity. In the case of a cisgendered man, only his verbal remarks prove his virginity. “Religiously, women’s right to pleasure is considered unethical. In the Hindu scriptures, the Kama Sutra, female pleasure is given more importance. The concept of culture is carried by culture, as a possession, and because all these social aspects barricade it, society does not progress,” according to Dhakal.
So-called virginity tests also called hymen, two-finger or vaginal examination (the inspection of the female genitalia to determine if the individual has had or has had active sexual intercourse, is also widely practiced. Similarly, the practice of checking the sheets for bloodstains to see if the girl is a virgin or not also prevails.Many people believe that the only way to “lose” your virginity is through vaginal penetration with a penis, but this is not is not the case. have probably heard the myth that if you have a hymen, it will break during vaginal intercourse. But that is all that is a myth. A hymen can be easily torn during exercise or any other physical activity,” Dhakal said. She said, “In 2018, the WHO recognized virginity testing as harassment.”
There is hypocrisy in virginity. Women are as responsible as men in this aspect. Women who have lost their virginity, just because they haven’t been caught/opened up about it yet, think it’s okay to make fun of someone who did. People construct the idea of wife material/girlfriend material. The hypocrisy will remain and perpetuate itself if the idea of purity is not dissected.
Overall, this episode discerns how virginity is seen as a possession, an honor, why the concept of virginity has not changed even in this modern world, separates the layers of virginity as a social construct, on its history, roles of religion, gender norms, and the need for its legal implications and to reject the generally/universally accepted instinct of virginity.