[Two Pronged] Am I still a virgin?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I am a virgin. At least, I think I still am.
I am an average girl: not super fat, not super thin, not super beautiful, but not super ugly either.
I am also nbsb (no boyfriend since birth). But it is not because I am ugly. Some boys tried to court me but I always said no. That is what I promised my Mama when I went to Manila to study. I am living with my auntie in Metro Manila.
I joined Facebook and became friends with “Jamey,” a popular boy from school. He is always surrounded by people, so we never talk in school, but sometimes he looks at me and smiles this secret smile. We PM each other every now and again.
And then it became everyday, and later 5, 10 times a day. He knows I am a virgin.
One day I went to his house to study. He cannot come to my place because my auntie never allows me to have visitors, males or females. He tried to kiss me so I left.
He apologized to me on FB and promised he would always respect me. So I gave him another chance. I went to his house to study the next Saturday. He gave me something to drink, something that would relax me. I did not know what it was, and did not want to drink it at first. But he reminded me of his promise and said he would be hurt if I refused the drink. He said it would show that I did not trust him, especially since he promised he would not touch me.
I did not want to hurt him. I accepted the drink. There was nothing bad in it.
We studied for 1 hour, and then took a break. We do this every time we have a study session. Usually, we just talk or listen to music and then study again. This time he suggested we go swimming. His parents were not home. I had no swimming clothes with me, so I just swam in my underwear.
He tried to kiss me in the water so I got out of the pool. I had no towel, so when I put on my clothes, they became so wet. He told me I was doing this on purpose just to arouse him. But I did not even know that my wet clothes meant they became see through. He tried to kiss me again and this time I could no longer stop him.
I went home afterwards. Although we never spoke in school (just like before), now he doesn’t give me the secret smile he used to. HE doesn’t even look at me. Now he no longer PMs (private messages) me.
I tried to PM him 3 times already but I get no answers.
I want to know if I am still a virgin. My mother told me men just want one thing from a woman, and once they get that, they leave her. Is this why he is behaving this way? Please help.
Thank you for your email.
Given the definition of female virginity – no penetration of a vagina by a penis – there is no objective test that can be performed after the event to prove or disprove whether someone is a virgin. Even a torn hymen is inconclusive since the tearing may have been caused by something other than a penis e.g. just the ordinary activities a woman goes through, or by a dildo or even a cucumber (already peeled is usually recommended!).
This leaves only the subjective "test” and thus restricts knowledge of the actual facts in nearly all cases to the only two people involved – those who own the penis and vagina in question. This then opens up the possibility that only one person, or even no one, really knows what, if anything, actually happened since memories can be confused or obliterated e.g. by alcohol or drugs.
If the facts simply cannot be established given the absence of objective or subjective evidence, what can be done? Based on messages and emails we have received, this depends on why virginity is even an issue in the first place. If it is a matter of religious conviction, then no doubt the conundrum can be the centerpiece of a fascinating theological debate, perhaps even with a priest, pastor, rabbi or equivalent. This fortunately falls outside the remit of this column.
If however virginity is an issue for non-religious reasons, say, because of family or societal pressures, then the conundrum can provide the opportunity to question the whole issue since it seems inescapable that virginity is prized mainly for two (major) reasons: avoidance of pregnancy and purity (that is, not wanting to be “used goods” for any future partner).
The definition of virginity refers solely to the only sexual act that can result in pregnancy, hence the term 'technical virgin' often applied to those who engage in every other sexual act known to humans and yet can truthfully say they are virgins.
If maintaining one's virginity still gives this broad license to act in a sexual manner, clearly the real reason for prizing it must be the avoidance of impregnation. Historically this may have made sense but in the modern era of birth control it has little, if any, validity. The obsession with virginity seems even irrelevant if you consider that a woman can get pregnant through IVF yet still be a virgin!
What about the purity argument? In the interests of encouraging debate, it seems there are three main categories at play here: those who view women as possessions (sometimes called dinosaurs or less wholesome names) and value purity above experience, 'educators' who want a tabula rasa so that they can teach their partner 'everything' (sometimes called narcissists or egotists) and thus value ignorance above knowledge and finally 'explorers' who want to embark on a journey together to places neither has ever been before (sometimes called romantics). Readers may wish to add further categories. As for Dr Holmes, please continue reading!
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. Although I agree with most of Mr Baer’s insights, there is one issue he brought up today that I do not (agree with): His statements that: “If maintaining one's virginity still gives this broad license to act in a sexual manner (hence the proliferation of the “technical virgin” – parenthetical phrase mine – MG Holmes), clearly the real reason for prizing it must be the avoidance of impregnation.”
I disagree because I do not believe that the above proves that virginity is prized mainly because it guarantees NO pregnancy.
Technical virgins exist for many reasons (including not getting pregnant), but in my clinical experience the most common reason is to be able to reassure one’s intended/current partner that, “Yes, I am still a virgin" (at least, technically speaking, she is, right?).
In a way, I pity the poor sod to whom this technical virgin lies. HE thinks she is a virgin in that no man has known her as intimately as he thinks he will, because she has “saved herself for her one true love” (which he has quickly misinterpreted as himself) .
BUT in another sense, I feel, “caveat emptor (the buyer is responsible for vetting the quality of the purchase)” and since he sees her really as a commodity with him as the “emptor" or buyer, then it is up to him to recognize whether the speaker follows the letter or the spirit of a definition.
Someone who’s had oral sex with a group could be a technical/literal virgin whereas a child who suffers rape is not, so how can anybody in his right mind seriously believe virginity to be THE arbiter of who is pure and who isn’t?
There is so much more to write about – for example, whether you truly are still a virgin or not, the role alcohol may have played in your decision or non decision, the possibility of sexual assault, et cetera. I hope, dearest Eve, you do not mind if I continue doing so in my column, Clinical Notes, which I promise to complete within 2 weeks, if not sooner.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.