If I Abstain I’m a Prude, If I Have At It I’m a Slut – Shamed if I do, Shamed if I Don’t

By: Rawan Khalil

Sex is a big deal, socially speaking. We tend to put sex always in the front row, right in the center. It’s on everyone’s mind, but not everyone’s tongue. Whether it’s said or not we think about it- a lot. The more we are told not to, might be the more we talk about it. And, the thing is there is a lot of pressure around having sex and not having it (which is why we think about it). Because, we are a confused society. A critical society. We are a society of people, and people love to talk and when it comes to sex more often than not that talking is in the form of shaming or praising. See, what I mean when I say confused; and it’s because the people who praise you for having sex are the same ones who would shame the ones who didn’t, and vice versa.

“Look at her, she is a 28 year-old VIRGIN. What a loser?!”

“He is 23 and he did not have sex, he must have a small penis. Such a prude.”

“Oh, you know Sally she literally fucked every male within 10 meters of her. She is a slut.”

“Look at my man, he just lost his virginity yesterday. Give him a pat on the back, eh.”

Also, please note I know not everyone would shame you but I mean it in the context of the people who do take that extra step to shame people who do not fit into their cookie-cutters.

Having sex before marriage was a big deal, it of course still is especially in more conservative societies like our own. But, as more people started to break that stigma and speak up about how your beliefs do not have to match everyone else’s and frankly the stigma doesn’t mean that people won’t do it. It just means that people are still doing it, but minus the safety which would have been granted if we did not stigmatize the idea in the first place. Now, as more people arise with these beliefs and fight for them pushing sex positivity forward, moving away from slut shaming, but also for some odd reason closer to prude shaming. And, it just seems that no matter what you do with your body tends to end up sparking a conversation of shame by at least one party.

Our society has an obsession with virginity, and the lack thereof. There is an invisible ink which dictates the value of virginity for women, and in particular young women who are continually praised for maintaining their “hymen” meanwhile women who don’t are shamed or in better words slut-shamed, especially if they have a body count which cannot be counted on one hand. To the point that there is an abundance of men who refuse to be with women who have slept with more than 5 men, meanwhile they do not remember how many women they slept with. There is this admiration of keeping your hymen intact until marriage because penetrating that hymen tends to be a prize to be won- total bullshit. (I will not start talking about hymens because Hanya has already dived into that and I urge you to read her article if you haven’t).

So, now for most young women there is this dilemma. When trying to fit in between their friends where having sex is applauded, and not having it makes you a loser or a prude. And, hence making the decision to stay a virgin, wait for the right guy, or just wait to have a certain level of intimacy with a person before hooking up seems to translate to that girl being either closeted or frigid. However, in between the older generations like her mum and aunts staying a virgin is an expectation. It’s a must, an almost non-negotiable must. And, this dilemma end up in a tug of war because for one you do not want to be a social pariah, or you are not ready and at the same time your familial obligations, and the ‘ethics’ you are expected to follow are pulling you in the opposite direction.

Similarly, for men the idea of being a-so-called prude is so alarming. Being a ‘virgin’ for men tends to have these societal ramifications, because if a man spends his teenage and a part of his adult life not having sex it somehow concludes that something is wrong with him. A male claiming that he’s never had sex is a loser, a liar, or something is seriously wrong with him, and quite frankly none of these things are exactly ones one would like to announce. And, so once again we end up in a dilemma which includes readiness opposing societal implications.

So, we tend to value virginity, but it also seems to translate to suspicion.

Oh, and I forgot to factor in pop culture which of course has an enormous impact on the way we think. Pop culture highlights sex. The cool kids are always the ones having sex. Pop culture in it’s core has this built-in idea that sex just simply sells. There is an abundance of content where people are shamelessly having sex, but a paucity of content which represent people who are choosing to abstain. And, that is quite hard to disregard that fact especially if you are a virgin.

The only conclusion to the wave of bamboozlement thrown at us by those around us is that: society is weird about virginity and everyone no matter what you do has their own opinions. However, at the end of the day sex is a private thing, and yes the conversations do end up in the public sphere. But, nonetheless it’s still a private thing between two people. You should not be pressured to talk about it, and you should have faith in the choice you make whether it is to have sex or not have it. Because, no matter what you do there will be people out there who attack your choice. Wala keda 3agbeen, wala keda 3agbeen.

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