A friend of mine once told me of a woman he knew who was divorced the day she was married because she confessed to her husband that she had been molested as a child. The man left her immediately to save his own reputation. Not with God, of course. With people.
With God, her track record was clean. Islam is against pre-marital sex. Islam is not against pre-marital non-virgins. And for good reason.
She is still a “pure” woman. The only impurity is that of the rapist. She has not been “tainted” or “contaminated.” This sick mentality, where women are described as if they are merchandise, is part of the reason that women who have been sexually assaulted are discarded and ignored as damaged and impure. The virginity myth hits women harder than it does men, and in this rape culture we’re living in, in this culture in which rape charges are always viewed under unnatural scrutiny with the inclusion of irrelevant factors, in which men are encouraged to use rapist language to portray dominance over one another, in which men are expected to bond over the uses of women, in which women are told not to wear this and not to go there when men should be told not to rape, in which women are held responsible for their own attacks, in which the unbelievable and unacceptable romanticizing of a man driven by uncontrolled impulse ripping off an unwilling woman’s blouse and forcing her against a wall is shoved into our senses as something beautiful take it as a compliment! instead of the perversion it truly is, in this rape culture–where sex and violence are such easy associates we don’t think twice about it–the concept of virginity, that a woman has a duty to be pure until she is “contaminated” only adds to harm.
It has not only the potential to destroy her life, but her self-worth as well.
And that’s just outside of Islam. Imagine all that harm, and additional harm, exerted on a woman who believes she has an afterlife–and is brainwashed by a repulsive society with the misuse of religion into believing that she’s ruined her own chances with God, that the actions of the rapist were her fault, and because of this she might as well let everything else go. I’ve lost my virginity. Everything is gone.
In reality, she did not have pre-marital sex. She was raped. She is devoid of sin. Losing “virginity” is not sinning. Pre-marital sex is sinning. And being raped does not mean you “had sex.” Being raped means you did not have sex.
As for Muslim women and men who really did have pre-marital sex–willing, consensual sex–all is not lost for you either. The virginity myth also creates a deluded mentality that sinning the first time for some reason is the only “real” time you can sin as far as pre-marital sex goes by implying that sex is something to be taken from the woman and given to the man. This is also a contributor to rape culture. Consent is not a one-time thing. It is an all-time thing. Just because someone let you have sex with them once does not mean he or she has given you permission to have sex with him or her whenever you want, and it does not mean you can do whatever you want with his or her body.
You cannot, for example, have sex with her when she’s asleep just because she gave you permission to penetrate her once before–unless she specifically told you prior to the act that she wouldn’t mind being woken up this way. Julian Assange, I’m looking at you. Yes, she allowed you to continue when she woke up–but if that is really what happened, initially, you raped her. And yes, this case is only getting all the attention it is for political reasons–that does not mean the allegations cannot be real and should not be taken seriously. They are serious allegations.
It’s really pathetic that in our culture male sexual activity is viewed from an angle of accomplishment rather than pleasure. (Men, I’m not blaming you for this. It hurts you too. Less, but still hurts.) Sex is not a thing to be given or taken. And that goes all ways, in ways of consent and in ways of practice. Muslim men and women, pre-marital sex is the same weight of sin every time you do it. You should not just spiral into a life of pre-marital sex because you willingly lost your “virginity.” It still counts, and that’s not an excuse for Islamically unlawful sexual activity. Doing it the first time does not weigh any more or less than doing it the second.
If you’re Muslim that is. Women who choose different religions and lifestyles should be able to freely engage in responsible, consensual sex without hypocritical slut-shaming. The harm caused by the virginity myth, and the importance in implementing the feminist model of consent, applies to and affects everyone.