repeat after me:
- virginity is a social construct
- you don’t lose your virginity
- there’s nothing valuable or precious about virginity, it’s an imaginary concept
- virginity is inherently heterocentric
- your worth is not defined by whether or not you’ve had a dick inside you
- what you define as sex is up to you, you get to decide how many people you’ve had sex with
- the end
At the tender age of fifteen, an event occurred which I still consider to be way up there in my most humiliating please-kill-me-now moments (and there are quite a few to choose from). My then-boyfriend Matt had earlier announced to a friend in an English class that we had had sex. This became a rumor which was overheard by teacher who apparently became concerned about my reputation. Cue the school nurse pulling me out of a science class, leaving everyone speculating that I must be pregnant, resulting in me sitting opposite the nurse and deputy head while they looked at me with utter disdain and asked me:
“So.. what exactly did you get up to with Matt?”
Expecting no more than a lecture, a few leaflets on sexually transmitted diseases and maybe a free condom if I was lucky, I made the very poor decision to just be honest. Unfortunately, I got quite a lot more than I bargained for. The school later called up my mum and told her the details of the conversation, which I thought had been in confidence. But even worse, they had also reported it to social services because they thought I was promiscuous and at risk.
At my school, apparently it was OK for teachers to listen to students’ gossip and label me as ‘promiscuous’ based on nothing more than rumor. Apparently it was OK to go behind my back to speak to my mum and social services, without even asking me how I felt about the whole issue. Apparently it was OK to make me feel ashamed and humiliated about having sex.
When the teacher first overheard Matt talking about us having sex – did they assume he was promiscuous? Of course not. Were social services informed just because he had decided to have sex? Not a chance. Had they even considered that he could be vulnerable? No way. The teacher speaking to him just told him to make sure he ‘put something on the end of it’. We had both done exactly the same thing and yet for me the consequences were much more severe. I either had to be vulnerable or promiscuous if I was having sex as a teen, whereas for Matt it was completely normal. The message was very clear – if you’re a girl having sex as a teenager, you’re a slut. If you’re a boy having sex – well, you’re just a boy.