Summary: In this video, Laci Green, a peer sex educator and YouTube blogger, tackles the issue of virginity and illustrates how past social norms contribute to contemporary ones. Green starts out by establishing the concept of "virginity" as a social construct—that is, the definition of virginity changes over time and across cultures. For instance, the definition of virginity is rather unclear. As Green explains, virginity can be hard to define with same sex partners, or in the absence of vaginal intercourse. So, what is virginity? Well, Green says it started in the Neolithic Period, back when there was no birth control and male-bodied people controlled most of the resources. There was a problem with establishing paternity if a female-bodied person had slept with more that one person. So, virginity was the answer. In order for a young female person to be eligible for marriage she must have been "pure" and virgin. There was also a financial element tied to this. In exchange for a virgin daughter, a father was paid material goods from the husband-to-be. Green highlights remnants of these early social practices in contemporary societies. For example, in honor-based societies, women who lose their virginity out of wedlock are often subjected to beatings and death for dishonoring their families with their "impurity." In other societies, fathers "give away" their white clad daughters at weddings, the white dresses being a symbol of virginity and purity. Importantly, Green acknowledges that, just because virginity is a social construct, doesn’t mean that it’s not "real." Virginity affects people’s material lives and values in many ways. The concept of virginity has a lot of power and shapes many aspects of people’s lived experiences, from controlling their sexualities to promoting heterosexism. Green suggests that we try to take away the power of the term virginity, and call the experience a "sexual debut" instead. For more of Laci Green’s peer sex ed and social justice videos, check out her YouTube channel or another post on The Sociological Cinema featuring one of her videos.
Submitted By: Abigail Adelsheim-Marshall