Virginity, a proof of fidelity or not?

From ages past, virginity has been perceived to be a woman’s most prized possession, but what of men? Nobody questions a man's virginity status.

Is virginity a proof of fidelity?

From ages past, virginity has been perceived to be a woman’s most prized possession.

While some men don’t mind marrying women who are sexually active because they are believed to be “more experienced” in bed, some others believe that virgins make the best wives.

For them, it’s "a virgin or nothing". Some ladies are seen as being promiscuous and indecent simply for the fact that they are no longer virgins.

The construct of virginity began in a time when women could only equate their worth with a cryptic concept of purity.

Some people saw virginity as a means to impose control in a patriarchal society. Since then till now, there have been different notions about virginity.

The view of virginity from History

From ancient times, virgins have always been valued by both the secular and the religious world. Historically there were certain cultures that placed a really high value on a woman’s virginity.

For example in the Tiv tribe of Nigeria, before a woman is married off, A man from her family preferably her brother would be summoned to ask his sister if she had been tampered with and if it turns out that she’s been tampered with, the man she slept with would have to appease the gods with a female cow.

The lady would have to go through a traditional cleansing called "megh". Biblically, In the book of Deuteronomy, it is written that if a woman was found out not a be a virgin, she should be brought to the door of her father’s house.

The men of her city shall stone her to death because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house.

In the Jewish tradition, On the wedding night, the groomsmen would wait outside the marital bedroom. When the newlyweds are done consummating, they will inspect the sheets for signs of blood, which would ostensibly prove that the bride’s hymen had been broken during intercourse.

This measure was not just designed to test the bride’s chastity; it was also meant to ensure honesty on the part of the groom honest.

If for some reason he wanted to revoke the marriage and tried to hide the bloody sheets, in order to falsely claim that his wife was not a virgin, the groomsmen would prevent him from doing so.

Also, in Japan, Geisha girls were traditionally displayed and sold for their virginity in special rites and celebrations, until it became illegalised in 1959.

Likewise, in ancient Indian culture, virginity was seen as the greatest virtue of a woman. In some cases, young virgins were being auctioned, and the highest bidder takes them home.

Historically, an intact hymen has always been taken as proof of maidenhood.

Virgins were seen as a symbol of purity and chastity that in the Ancient Roman religion, six priestesses, known as the Vestal Virgins were chosen between the ages of six and ten, and were required to keep their virginity until the age of thirty.

This is in devotion to Vesta, goddess of the hearth. It was said that those who failed to keep their virginity until then were buried alive.

Myths about virginity

People have believed and said different things about virgins and virginity. In some countries, it was actually believed that sex with virgins cures AIDS.

It was also believed that the only way to capture or tame a unicorn was by way of using a virgin as a lure, due to her implied purity.

In the Aztec empire, virgins were prohibited from eating avocadoes, as they were (and still are) believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Is virginity really a proof of fidelity?

There are a lot of questions that have been lingering in the minds of many with regards to virginity. Some of these questions being asked includes:

Why is a high value placed on the virginity of a woman? Does losing your virginity make you any less of a virtuous woman? Do virgins have the happiest marriages?

Is virginity really the best gift a woman can give her husband? Why are these traditions only applicable to women? What right does a man with a history of numerous sexual partners have to marry a virgin?

These are questions that have lingered in the minds of thousands. In some marriages, the basis of trust gets shattered once a man discovers that his wife is no longer a virgin.

In a bid to appear 'righteous' or chaste to their husbands, a lot of women undergo hymenoplasty prior to their wedding night. The hymen is a membrane that can rupture naturally; some girls are even born without one.

It is totally preposterous for a man to use the virginity of a woman as a yardstick for marriage. There are various factors that should be considered in choosing a life partner, and a woman’s virginity should be the least of it.

Virginity is a social construct packed with religious connotations, societal expectations and heteronormative assumptions.

It is quite unfair that society put a lot of pressure on women to remain “pure” while men need not concern themselves with such anatomical variables.

Losing one’s virginity doesn’t make one a lady of easy virtue or being said to have a wanton behaviour. In society today, we have to do away with certain terminologies and notions surrounding virginity.

Virginity should be seen as a personal decision taken by a person simply because they don’t want to engage in pre-marital sex.

It shouldn’t be seen as something being owed to anyone because there are certain instances where such resolutions lead to disappointments. We have to learn to see women for who they are and not based on their virginity.