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like a virgin

While I wrote about the topic (in a rather blathering, abstract way mind you) not that long ago, my fury has once again been ignited by this product: 18 again.

For those too lazy to click on the link, the product called ’18 again’ is basically a vaginal tightening cream that is designed to keep women’s vaginas “virgin fresh”. (They didn’t actually say virgin fresh, but they may as well have).

Now the last time I wrote about this, I criticised society’s weird and unhealthy obsession with virginity, but I didn’t get into why this was. Why do people still have these attitudes? Why did they to begin with?

I didn’t answer this question last time because quite truthfully, I didn’t know. So I did what I always do when I don’t know the answer to a question: I Googled it. And the answer is surprisingly simple, and one that comes up in almost all feminist debates: power.

After all, what better way to control someone than through their body? And no, I’m not saying that having sex with someone is “giving” them your body (as some have accused me of saying before). But this fixation on virginity is certainly all about controlling what women do with their bodies.

Rules and regulations have sprung up all over the world in regard to what women are allowed to do when it comes to intercourse and who they are allowed to do it with. While Australia has come a long way and women do have some sexual freedom after a lot of struggling for the right to have so, when it really comes down to it we are still being controlled through sex.

We are still being judged for what we choose to wear, when we choose to sleep with someone and who we choose to sleep with. And virginity is still prized in women, while men get away scot free.

Society has this weird idea that virginity is a gift that women give to men; making it look like sex is a present that men receive, rather than an act of equal participation. Just look at the lingo used at women when talking about sex: “Don’t give away the goods too soon” and “save yourself for marriage”, whereas guys “get lucky”. It’s as if sex is something that women have to save up and then give to a man that deserves it. It also makes it seem as if sex is more important to men; it is something that they “need’ and “earn”.

Another part of this is that this giving virginity idea implies that the man who takes it owns them, or at least owns that part of them. They are the ones who have “taken” their virginity. They are the ones who have ‘had’ them. These terms are everywhere: movies, books, hell, I myself have even used them in conversations with friends.

While power is a big part of why so much of history is filled with hypocritical attitudes and rules aimed at controlling what women do with their bodies, another part of the power is fuelled by jealously. Men don’t like it when another man has slept with their partner. Plain and simple. While girls aren’t exactly jumping for joy when they think of their partner sleeping with other women, it just does not seem to bother us as much.

Because unlike men, women aren’t programmed to believe that sex is a gift to receive. They aren’t programmed to think that they are “taking” virginity. There has just never been this attitude when it comes to men. Men are able to sleep with whoever they want, whenever they want, without fear of judgement or in stricter cultures, serious repercussion. Their virginity is not prized — it is there and then it is gone without any debate or opinion about it.

Lastly, there is this idea that girls who haven’t had intercourse are nicer and more innocent than girls that have been with someone. I have had my own personal experience with this attitude when I slept with an ex-boyfriend for the first time; though both of us had prior experience. And he couldn’t have been more awful or unfeeling. I think his exact words afterwards were, ‘thank god that first time is over and done with’. I confronted him a few days later: ‘You wouldn’t have treated me like that if I had been a virgin’, to which he replied simply, ‘Well no, of course not.’

And that’s when I felt it. I felt like used goods. I felt like because I had slept with someone else before, I wasn’t worthy of respect. I felt like I wasn’t innocent anymore. I also encountered this attitude when I first told my friends that I wasn’t a virgin. ‘You’re just like those girls at school’, my best friend told me. And I knew what she meant by “those girls”. The girls that we had branded as “sluts” in our judgemental youth. The girls that we criticised for being human.

And I couldn’t understand it, because I felt like exactly the same person. I WAS exactly the same person. Nothing had changed: I hadn’t lost anything. I hadn’t given any of myself away.

That is when I realised that this whole idea of virginity is ridiculous. There isn’t a term for when someone first learns to drive, just as there is not a term for the stage in someone’s life when they have never driven a car. Virginity is intangible — it is a concept created by society to keep women lower down than men in social standing.

Granted, I may have been reading waaay too much into the product ’18 again’. It could simply be designed to make the vagina a little tighter and not be saying anything about society’s obsession with virginity. But heck even so — who does a tighter vagina please? Usually the man (some girls out there may beg to differ, but all I can think is And besides, how dare they tell us that a tighter vagina is better? That having the vagina of a virgin is something we should all attain to? This product, like so many others, is telling women that they are not good enough as they are. This product, like so many others, is trying to control women through their bodies.

I am tired of what seems to be the whole world caring about when I choose to have sex and who I choose to have it with, simply because I am a woman.

And I would like to keep my vagina exactly the way as it is, thank you very much; non-virgin like and all. In fact, I’m proud of the experiences that I have had with it, regardless of what any busybody may think.

*Note: I have not mentioned same sex relationships because this idea of virginity conjured up by many societies does not seem to take into account that there are different definitions of sex, rather than simply vaginal penetration. If this annoys anyone else (it certainly irritates me!) I would encourage you to write an article about it and submit it to Lip.

(Image credit)


8 thoughts on “like a virgin

  1. I don’t usually comment, but a few things in your article really irked me. It seems your heart is in the right place, but I feel like a lot of your blanket statements about the differences between men and women are not really helping the cause for gender equality. (On re-reading, that sounds quite condescending, but it’s how I feel. I know how angry topics of inequality make me, but I don’t think you’ve gone about addressing it in the right way.)


    “…while men get away scot free.”
    “Men are able to sleep with whoever they want, whenever they want, without fear of judgement…”
    I know of/have heard of many cases of women as well as men avoiding the opposite gender with the “player” reputation. And the same goes for both women and men stressing about “still being virgins” after the socially accepted time for losing their virginity.

    “Men don’t like it when another man has slept with their partner. Plain and simple. While girls aren’t exactly jumping for joy when they think of their partner sleeping with other women, it just does not seem to bother us as much.”
    Is this statement just your own bias about what men are and what women are? Is it really necessary to divide us into two so exact groups?

    “…how dare they tell us that a tighter vagina is better?”
    Is lube telling us that a wetter vagina is better? Is that ice-lube stuff telling us that a colder vagina is better? ._.
    The 18 Again product is giving women options. Which I think is empowering to them! I have not given birth, and I don’t really know how much everything goes back to pre-baby format after, but I can imagine if I changed a lot I’d love the option to be tighter again, and it would have nothing to do with being perceived as a virgin (I’m not sure where you got your findings about it being “usually the man” but I think writing that sends out the very un-gender-equal message that sex is more enjoyable for men. I certainly enjoy the feeling of tightness.)

    “I am tired of what seems to be the whole world caring about when I choose to have sex and who I choose to have it with, simply because I am a woman.”

    Seriously? I don’t care who you have sex with, unless it’s me 😉 To me this article screams that you have issues about virginity and you’re taking it out on society. Yes, we can blame society/our up-bringing on pretty much anything. But a lot of the time we need to take responsibility. Stop letting other people’s judgement control your sex life, stop attributing everyone’s actions to their gender, and if tight sex is painful use more lube.

  2. Hey Kate. Firstly- thank you for you comment. Although I don’t agree (for obvious reasons), I can tell that you read my piece and did think a lot about the issue.

    In regards to blanket statements: It’s an opinion piece. Obviously I don’t mean every single man or woman, or even a majority, but it would be a pretty pointless article were I to write ‘in some cases’ or ‘of course I don’t mean EVERYONE’ after every sentence.

    Also I don’t believe I am making comments about either gender in regards to how they act or what their beliefs are. I am writing in terms of how they are treated when it comes to their sex life- by both men AND women. My issue is that I don’t think one gender’s virginity should be prized above the others. Granted, I probably shouldn’t have delved into the whole jealousy thing- let’s just say that I got carried away.

    However I do believe that you are looking at this in terms of attitudes towards virginity in Australia. Before writing this article I read a lot of articles by women in India who are certainly treated differently when they engage in intercourse- particularly outside of marriage. In many cultures across the world a woman’s virginity is prized while men are free to sleep around- to bring up this very real truth is a step towards gender equality, not away from it.

    And if ’18 again’ had put out an advertisement that said ‘a tighter vagina for your pleasure and his’ I would have been all for it, but considering the video screams ‘I feel like a virgin, I feel like a virgin’ over and over again- well of course it got my back up.

    As for your last comment: I actually thought that it was quite cruel. I get the whole ‘wooo internet, no one knows who I am, power to say whatever I want’ rush, but sometimes it pays to think before you type. I don’t have any issues about virginity and am all for sexual freedom. I am just tired of right-wing politician acting like virginity is something that should be prized in women, rather than what it is: none of their business.

  3. Dear Kate,
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, Kaylia was just brave enough to voice hers. Just because its different to yours is no need to be cruel. Now here’s some advice for you: take that foot up out of your ass and go suck a dick 🙂
    Someone Sick of Dumb Bitches

    • Hi Alexandra, I really do appreciate the support. However let’s try and keep things polite- I think that over the internet it can be difficult to judge someone’s tone and after reading Kate’s reply, it is apparant it wasn’t meant in the way that it seemed. The beauty of lip magazine is that all opinions are heard, even those that are different to our own, but personal insults are best kept out of it.

  4. Great article, with some serious issues that arise in our society. Of course it is not the case with everyone and every situation but as a generalisation, yes woman often do have the lower hand and I think that it is important that we are reminded of this so that the gap between woman are portrayed in this manner and those who couldn’t care less is minimalised. I don’t think you came off as being superior or arguing that all men are sexually secure.
    Being a woman that has had a baby, I find the idea that my body needs to be perfected insulting. No, it is not like applying lube because it suggesting altering my physical body. If someone suggested a tummy tuck after having a baby, they would be criticized to no end, why is this any different?
    Really thought provoking and definately ideas that marketers should consider because for many, THIS IS AN ISSUE!

  5. Haha, sorry. Maybe I got carried away too? Didn’t mean to be cruel at all. The last comment was meant to be more light-hearted.
    I completely understand that the situation is VERY different in many other countries.

    But about the ad. I saw the man and the woman portrayed as being – at the very least – on equal grounds. She is in control, she knows what she wants, sex is feeling pretty damn good for her, and she is the one doing the pursuing, putting her in control of the situation. To me she doesn’t seem to be portrayed as submissive and innocent, “giving away” her virginity. She is taking what she wants. Even at the end of the ad it is the older woman doing the typing, putting her in control too.

    Anyway, thanks for writing, I really enjoy reading the articles on LIP. And I apologise for being/seeming rude 🙂

  6. Hey Kate, thank you so much for your response. I think it was just one those days where I was taking everything a little too seriously :p

    I totally get what you mean about the advertisement- I think that it can be viewed either way. It was just the language they used that annoyed me.

    But I think I mainly wanted to rant about the issue of virginity in general, and this product was my scapegoat haha.

  7. Pingback: Lip Top 10: Unnecessary Feminine Products | Culture | Lip Magazine

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