To avoid confusion, I think this node
should perhaps be entitled "Virginity should not be
a commodity" - because unfortunately in many culture
s today and throughout human history it is and has been exactly that. A girl's virginity
was a commodity in that it increased her marriageability (or made her marriageable in the first place) and marriage
was a major way for a family to achieve social status
, connections, prestige, a dowry
, etc... Thus virginity was very much like the rest of the things humans used to obtain or display status or wealth
, all of which are commodities, whether material
or conceptual.* There were and are human societies that placed little or no value on virginity, but, at least since the dawn of settled civilization
, these seem to have been in the minority.
Now we live in a society where we have (thankfully) relaxed (to some extent) the rigid codes of behavior that accompanied the commodification of people's sexuality. In fact we have gone some way to de-socializing sexuality and interpersonal relationships in general, making it less of a social act and more of a spontaneous and rewarding personal act. Unfortunately (in my opinion of course) we have not taken this nearly far enough, and seem to have even regressed a bit in recent years.
I suppose the only way not to see virginity as a commodity is to not have the value that people should not have sex before marriage. Otherwise, virginity inherently has some value if it makes someone more marriageable. The debate on whether or not people should have sex before marriage probably deserves its own node, but here is my personal take:
- Sex is a good thing. It's good exercise. It relieves stress. It offers endless possibilities for creativity and expression. It can bond two people. People should have sex. Why wait?
- Taboos about sex only lead to sexual pathologies
- I think people should wait a long time to get married - well into adulthood. This gives them the opportunity to grow as individuals and find their niche in life. And since I think people should have sex, Sex + waiting for marriage = sex outside of marriage.
- Making sex a product of marriage makes people rush into marriage
- Some people want a lifestyle where they are not married. They should not be denied sex.
- People's personal behavior should be their own bidness
So I don't think a woman's (or man's) virginity should be a commodity.
* To be sure, this burden of chastity has sometimes fallen on men as well, as societies and hierarchies have looked askance at sexuality in general, but it was primarily born by women, because they have usually been on the bad end of a male power structure. The reasons why men desire virgin brides have instinctual Darwinian origins to be sure, but this is no justification for repressive regimes.