I attended a family wedding a few weeks ago and started taking an interest in learning the cultural traditions of a Chinese wedding. I discovered that the suckling pig dish served at the wedding banquet symbolises the virginity of the bride.
Then I got into thinking about the significance of virginity in our society today. When I was a little girl, my mother taught me that my virginity was a valuable asset, something which I should protect at any cause, at least until I was married.
For as long as I could remember, I had often heard how my Mother, Aunts and Cousin Sisters talked about how this girl and that girl had “lost out” to some guys. In Chinese, we don’t literally call it losing one’s virginity, but instead, losing out (as opposed to gaining/making a profit). It’s hard to translate it accurately but basically it means that the girl has allowed herself to be given to someone and hence, lost her value.
For a long time, many other cultures and societies have given similar, if not more, significance to virginity. The chastity and purity of a woman are so important that some had even gone through insurmountable lengths to protect and defend it. While the practice of chastity belt is now long gone, what still remain are other forms of more severe and painful methods; female genital cutting, as practised in Eastern African countries and stoning to death in some Islamic countries.
I was lucky that I am not brought up in these countries and the only consequences of losing out were shame and judgment by others. My mother managed somehow to instil in me that I should not lose out to any man and I must confess that I grew up in fear of losing it. It was truly a big deal for me.
So I waited and waited until I was old enough and you know what? It was not such a big deal after all. Although it was not in the most ideal of situation as it was with an infantile pig of a man, the type which my mother warned me about, I did not feel that I have lost my value. I had the consciousness of understanding that it was a consensual decision as I was not pressured, tricked or coerced into it and most importantly, my worth is not measured by my virginity. If no other men would ever marry me because I was not a virgin, then he was simply the wrong man.
In a way, I felt that it has changed my life but I no longer live in fear of losing it. Now, when I looked back at that phase of my life, I quickly realise that how girls have been misled into thinking that their virginities are their most prized assets, objects of great desire and value for love and marriage. If they fail to safeguard their virginities before marriage, they deserve to be condemned for reducing their own worth.
Here’s news for you. Virginity is not the most important thing in life and definitely not the biggest asset you have. As you grow up, you will soon realise that life will constantly challenge you with other matters of greater importance, of more significance. You will be facing various issues when you are a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, colleague, etc. When your child is sick, you won’t be sweating about losing your virginity. When your husband is unemployed, you probably wish that you have lost it to someone else!
How you will learn to face and deal with these issues, are what’s important. How you grow and become the woman that you are, are your worth and value. Women are not borne into preserving their virginities for men. There are more to life than that one special man, to whom you are brought to believe is the only one worthy of you.
Having said this, I am not advocating for girls to go out tonight and start losing their virginities to anyone. At the end of the day, it is your body and something which belongs to you alone. So, if you decide to give yourself to someone for the first time, make sure that it is what you want and that you are emotionally prepared to deal with whatever consequences you may have to face. It will change your life, but it doesn’t close it (unless you live in countries governed by severe religious code of law).
Last word of advice, do practise safe sex. Unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmittable diseases are consequences much worse than a suckling pig.