Since time immemorial, women's worth, to a large extent, has been tied to one part and one part only, the vagina. Legend has it that the more a woman has sex, the more the vagina loosens, and within no time, it will simply be a large hole with no grip whatsoever. The elastic nature of the vagina, which allows it to stretch and relax to the original size and shape after sex, doesn't hold water in these discussions. It's simply a hoax.
It's from this premise that you'll hear men and women labelling women who've had several partners lose. It's hilarious that the perception here is that having sex with ten different men causes the vagina to loosen, yet having sex with the same man ten times somehow gives it some dignity, and, of course, it won't be loose.
Skewed teaching on sexual purity
Sexual purity is one topic that has been blown out of proportion over the years. In every wave of this discussion, the focus of purity is always on women. Women's vaginas are solely dedicated to the pleasure of men. And that's the major reason to maintain purity until marriage.
While STIs and unplanned pregnancies are equally powerful reasons, the argument always stops with preserving oneself for their future partner. In a bid to convince young women just how important purity is, the proponents of this belief have peddled lies that have, to a huge extent, instilled fear, shame, and trauma rather than educating women on their bodies, self-worth, and sex.
The whole narrative about purity is woven around taming women's sexuality. In fact, it perpetuates the narrative that it's something to be ashamed of. Let's look at what the purity culture reinforces and why it's oppressive.
Your virginity is the only thing of worth about you
The belief that a woman's worth is tied to how many partners they've had has spanned centuries, and it's not about to go away anytime soon. The fewer the partners, the better. If they are virgins, even better.
You'll hear men talking with pride about how they've had sex with virgins. They'll also be over the moon that they are marrying a virgin. It doesn't matter that these same men have slept with the whole village before their "honourable" encounter.
It's been taught that a woman's value drastically reduces after sex. If she is a solid ten, her value will definitely get to a negative. She could as well be worthless. No man will want her. Why is this important? A woman's ultimate goal in life is to have a man, a husband. And men, we are taught, have a preference for pure women.
Now, to get this point home, young girls are taught that sex before marriage makes them like chewed gum or over-diluted juice. Who wants some tasteless piece of chewed gum? Nobody. She might be educated, running a business empire, or having her life in order, but all that won't matter if we've seen her with one too many partners. Even "made in God's image" won't cut it here.
Again, since a woman's value is closely tied to her vagina, society, in unison, will condemn a cheating woman and, in the same breath, dismiss a cheating man with "men are like that". For that reason, a cheating husband deserves forgiveness, a second chance, while a cheating wife deserves a divorce immediately.
It's for this same reason that single mothers are scorned. The very men who impregnated them and walked away are busy on the streets searching for women who haven't given birth. They believe that they are purer compared to their counterparts.
If you have sex before marriage, everything will go wrong
While many things may ruin a marriage, the purity culture emphasizes sex before marriage. The emphasis here is not the same for boys as for girls. Unlike boys, girls who've had sex before marriage are given the option to re-virginise, a leeway to salvage their damaged goods.
Re-virginisation is a way of redeeming oneself (that's how dire the situation is). It refers to abstaining from sexual encounters until marriage after one has broken their virginity. Hopefully, this way, the woman can salvage her dire situation. Staying pure will lead them to that great man who will have the pleasure of having them within the honourable institution of marriage.
This belief assumes that sex within marriage is risk-free, which, as we all know, is not true. Adultery is high among married couples, now more than ever. There are vices like violence and pornography addiction, just to mention a few that would break a marriage in a jiffy, and it won't matter whether one was married a virgin or not.
Women don't enjoy sex as much as men
The notion that women tolerate sex while men enjoy it is subtly perpetuated with the sexual purity narrative. That's why women are taught to preserve their virginity for their husbands. Nowhere in the purity narrative will you find teachings that women's sexual needs are equally important and they should preserve their virginity to enjoy sex in marriage.
Unlike men who think about sex every three seconds, women are non-sexual. And the fact that God, in His wisdom, created the clitoris with no other purpose than to provide orgasm, is not considered.
Because of this same belief, in a sexual encounter, women are the ones who are used. It doesn't matter whether they initiated the sex and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Getting into marriage as a virgin is the greatest gift to a man
Purity culture perpetuates the belief that getting into marriage as a virgin is the greatest treasure a woman can give to her husband. Every other good aspect of the bride pales compared to virginity. Women that have taken this idea to heart stick to marriages through beatings, serial cheating, and all other forms of abuse. Their argument? "He was my first."
In their thinking, their virginity was the ultimate gift. For that reason, they deserve a happy marriage. And they do. However, if they don't get it, they stick with it some more. However, it quickly comes to their realization that you can't keep anyone who doesn't want to be kept. Their belief is and has always been a sham.
To sum it up, there's nothing wrong with telling girls to abstain from sex. However, the message should steer clear of any arguments perpetuating the same old age lies intended to shame, demean and reduce women's worth to their lady parts.
Also Read: Sex Education: Whose Responsibility Is It?