I was randomly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw a post where a young woman was posing with her new husband and the caption read: “This lovely bride presented a Certificate of Virginity to her father on her wedding day. A doctor certified that her hymen was intact and that she’s a virgin! It’s a new trend in Christian weddings.” I took the liberty of attempting to correct the grammar in the original post since Every Word Began With A Capital Letter. A famous gospel singer reposted this, saying she didn’t understand the negative backlash and that she sang at the wedding featured in the post and applauded the young lady.
Virginity is a social construct created to control the sexual agency of individuals, primarily women. The hymen is not some impenetrable barrier that is only broken during intercourse, but a thin layer of tissue that can “break” during different types of athletic activities. Some girls are born without them, although rare. But if we know all of this (and Google is free), why do we still place so much emphasis on the idea of virginity?
A few more questions: exactly what are we applauding? And was the young man’s chastity equally scrutinized? And then, as a sex therapist, all I could think was that they may be hiring a sex therapist in their near future. I’m completely conjecturing, but if she was raised to believe that sex outside of marriage was bad, was she empowered to learn her own body so she could guide her new husband in pleasing her? Or was she taught, as so many women are within the Church, that sex is for the man and it’s just your wifely duty to provide it on demand or someone else will?
Okay, I have more than a few questions, but that post really bothered me. I believe we spend too much time legislating women’s sexuality, particularly black women’s sexuality, not really focusing on pleasure. And yes, pleasure can be taught within a Christian context (just read Song of Solomon). But I think we have so much more work to do. So many more conversations are needed and so much more education is appropriate. If we continue to hold onto antiquated ideas regarding sexuality, we’ll only do more harm to ourselves when we are really standing in the need of healing.
De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker and sex therapist in private practice at Sankofa Sex Therapy, LLC. She’s on the Executive Board of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network and has been featured as a sexpert on Ebony.com and Shape.com. Check out her YouTube show, Ask A Sex Therapist, where she answers your questions related to sex and sexuality and visit her website, SankofaSexTherapy.com.