By Ebukun Gbemisola Ogunyemi
There are so many things we teach the girl child to aspire to while we make a conscious effort to exempt the boy child in such regards. According to ChimamandaNgoziAdichie, . . . because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. . . but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? In as much as the words of this prolific Writer encapsulated every other thing not mentioned that we teach the girl child to aspire to leave the boys out, I think Virginity is one of those aspirations of a girl child that deserves a space of its own in the words of Chimamanda. Asking the question why we raise a girl child to aspire to virginity and we don’t teach the boy child the same is a mental stress because if we exist in a society that raises a girl child to aspire to so many ridiculous things that should never hold a space in a gender conversation, we need not be surprised about discoveries like raising the girl child to aspire to virginity either.
I cringe each time I read stories about certain men divorcing their wives or sending them packing a day after the wedding because they weren’t virgins and in such instances, I remember one of the things my friends say a lot, how many people are involved in the process of losing virginity? Does it not involve both the girl and a boy? At that point, I’d mutter something, not English (I ‘two-der’ o) but recently I read a story; a story of a woman who challenged her husband after he had been angered about the woman not being a virgin and she reacted by telling him he wasn’t a virgin too! Oops! My kind of woman.
Why do we place so much emphasis on Virginity? I personally was raised in a tribe that believes that the pride of a woman lies in her virginity and I believe the concept still remains same in our Nigerian society. The society says it’s a thing of pride for the man to meet his woman at home and by so doing, the value of the woman increases in the sight of the man and if there be any challenge in the marriage that revolves around sexuality and child birth, she would scale through the accusations that could hinge on whatever she might have done in her exploring days after all he didn’t marry her a virgin. We teach our girls to keep their virginities for boys who didn’t keep theirs. We say it doesn’t matter if they don’t, after all, there’s no oil spillage to determine a man’s virginity, unlike the girl child who has a lot of blood to show for hers. We say it’s okay for boys to explore their sexuality but it’s not okay for girls to do the same lest they bring reproach to themselves and their family. We raise boys to have effrontery where their guts are not needed. We teach them to identify a good and responsible girl through the hymen. We empower the boy child wrongly; we teach him to question the virginity of his significant other even though he has uncountable vjayjay to show for not being one. The most painful part is that we teach girls to shrink their sexual desires – we say if the man is satisfied, you are satisfied too and when they are not, we call them names like dogs and all. The saddest is that we teach girls to entrust their virginity in the hands of boys who have successfully toured vaginas than their age calculated – the most pathetic ways some put it; they say, all the experience you’ll need, he already gathered; he’ll teach you to own your body and wield her magic.
I believe in sexual purity as an unmarried young woman; not because the society demands that I be but because my belief teaches me to aspire to sexual purity and I willfully oblige. The society coerces girls into sexual responsibilities – we teach her to be responsible for every sexual failure of the man. Why do you think it’s easy for us to blame the girl for getting raped? We say it’s not about what you like but it’s about what your man likes. We say if your man is cheating, you probably ain’t giving it to him steady. We say if you’re dealing with infertility issues, check yourself first, before you check the man. The society says the man is hardly sexually wrong.
Virginity should never be a gender conversation but sadly it has become so. It’s a theatre of the ridiculous to watch girls, women being put on the blast for losing their own virginity by men who don’t even have theirs. Men who can’t even remember the name of the girl they shared their first time with. We keep making girls feel cursed for being born with the vjayjay and we teach the boys to think they have an edge or are better off than the girl child for supporting the biological breakdowns of X and X Chromosomes having been born with the penis. We always forget to ask, how many women have kept their homes by being virgins? How many girls willfully gave away their virginity? Ever wondered
I am personally tired of reading stories that sours the heart; stories that creep their ways into the gender conversation; stories everyone should be bored of; stories that keep driving a wedge between the sexes.
You know what I think, if we must continue to teach the girl child to aspire to virginity, we should teach the boy child to aspire to same.