Life without Virgin/Whore

After reading this post

I was thinking about how our personalities are shaped more by how we relate to others and their perceived expectations than what we really like or not.

My mom told me that some study proved that girls liked pink and that was why pink was a universal girl colour.  Since I’ve spent time in rural India where men wore pink and women wore red, I knew that was a ridiculous statement.

I have also observed my own daughter who preferred orange up to age 2.  Then she switched over to pink, purple, Barbies and princesses.  Just at the time when pop culture began to infiltrate her consciousness.  Nothing wrong with liking pink, but don’t try and say it is biologically inherent and exclusive to a double X chromosome (so one can justify telling you that you need to buy your little girl a new bike and not let her use her brother’s old one).

Instead of finding out that more females like pink, what that study found is that the majority of females will try to meet expectations.  People conform.  We are social animals and it builds group cohesion.  One major expectation that most women try to meet or react to is which type of femininity they will pursue: the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’.

Veronica brilliantly discusses this divide in types of femininity that our society allows.  We have the a-sexual virgin infantilized “nice” lady and the sex hungry bitchy “bad” woman.  Interestingly, we have told ourselves that nice ladies make the best mothers, not the sirens.  Penelope wasn’t sexually satisfied when Odysseus was away and that was supposed to make her a better mom. B.S.

When I’m not sexually active, I am cranky.  Cranky women are not the best mothers. I haven’t seen any studies, but I think this may be the case for more people than myself.

If our society changed our script of femininities, how would that change what most women look like?  If I had grown up in a society that assumed sexually confident women were the best wives, mothers, and citizens – would more women (and men) be encouraging sex instead of treating it like the great evil?

Perhaps a friend who cannot even say the word “stimulate” (no joke, I was talking about about external stimuli and she turned red and admitted that she couldn’t say that word) would be able to talk about sex.

Perhaps the best mother’s day gift wouldn’t be a new vacuum but a new vibrator.

Perhaps all those people who really are asexual or have low libidos wouldn’t be sought after as idealized marriage material.  Maybe they could be more free to not have sex on a regular basis.

Could it be that if the one who could give and receive good sex was the moral one, that slut-shaming would disappear?  That a new morality based on ethics and principles instead of fear based regulation would be mainstream?

In religious circles, all those women who are shamed at their sexual desires could be proud of them.  And the men wouldn’t have mixed messages about what it is to love a woman either!  Our boys were told that if they loved a girl they would not be sexually active or think about wanting to and anything more was lust and bad.  No wonder some early Christian men castrated themselves.

Could there be classes in high school about exploring your sexuality- sexual ethics?  Not graded of course, but a home study module where the kids could learn so many things.   On their own.  Can anyone really learn the art of a good blow job from standard porn?

How would this effect rape culture if sexually active women weren’t punished or told they ‘asked for it’ but were instead viewed as valued citizens?

Would prostitutes be seen as priestesses again?  Or be seen as fully human?

16 thoughts on “Life without Virgin/Whore

  1. Ahab says:

    “How would this effect rape culture if sexually active women weren’t punished or told they ‘asked for it’ but were instead viewed as valued citizens?”

    The YES MEANS YES! anthology might provide some answers to this question.

  2. Macha says:

    Interesting questions. The only way to answer them is to make it happen, and stop being such “good little girls” ourselves.

    • prairienymph says:

      It is hard to stop looking like a good little girl even when you don’t want to. I told a mom-friend in the park that I wanted to go to a workshop on Talking Dirty. (Apparently it is loads of fun and led by a physiotherapist so educational in many ways). The other mom laughed at me and said that she couldn’t picture me going there. The stereotype coupling of ‘good girl’ and ‘good mom’ with asexual is really strong.

  3. A woman I know cannot say the words naked or nude. Funny, isn’t it. Or would be if it weren’t so sad.

  4. If all women in the world read your post and “got” it, the cultures of the world would not merely change. There would be major political shake-ups, profound power shifts, and religions would have to adapt or die. Personally, I believe there would be less crime, less mental illness, and this world would be a better place.

    As one of the leaders of my former religion accurately noted, one of the biggest threats to the church’s power are feminists. Of course, “feminist” in his patriarchal ideology has a worse than negative connotation.

    • prairienymph says:

      I agree and it is interesting to watch how the jasmine revolutions deal with women’s rights. A Libyan exile I heard on CBC today was talking about how cultural oppression (patriarchy was his example) is what allows geopolitical oppression to exist. It was a subtle critique of those claiming that women’s rights are not important until after regimes are replaced.

      And it is frustrating that feminists are so maligned in religious (and redneck) culture. I would have read feminist and sex-positive stuff decades earlier if I wasn’t so scared of those labels. Which means that I would have left my old church that much earlier too. The church leaders were right about that.

  5. Ahab says:

    (@#$%! I posted a comment last night, but it didn’t take.)

    “How would this effect rape culture if sexually active women weren’t punished or told they ‘asked for it’ but were instead viewed as valued citizens?”

    A feminist anthology called YES MEANS YES! explores this question in remarkable depth.

    • prairienymph says:

      The reason it didn’t show up was b/c this comment went to my approve box so I had to sign in first. I’m not sure why it did, perhaps it was from a different computer than usual?
      I must look up that anthology, thanks for the tip.

  6. St.ain't says:

    Woman have the power to restructure culture, but seem to be unwilling to take the reins.
    It has to start one mother to one child at a time. We have a few thousand years of patriachal mind- warping to overcome.

  7. I don’t know if I ever heavily bought into the virgin/whore dichotomy. My ideal woman, for as long as I can recall, has been a free spirited partner. Which doesn’t mean that I’ve always imagine her having much of a sexuality. Her sexuality has at times paralleled my limited understanding of female sexuality in general. Now days, I tend to prefer wild though. The wilder, the better.

    It’s a strange world. Independently of each other, a couple young, female friends asked me to take them to see erotic dancers. In this town, most erotic dance is hardly worth watching. But there’s a handful of good dancers, and they mostly work for the same club. So I took my friends there — on different nights. Without my prompting either young woman, they both came away describing their experience as liberating. “Hugely liberating”.

    It seems to me that when a woman watches another woman dance her sexuality — that is, openly express her honest sexuality — she is likely to find it liberating. To find it supports what she deep down knows about herself. And she is apt to discover that it is possible to express her sexuality fearlessly. Those are powerful messages.

    I think people who see the world through a virgin/whore dichotomy will never understand erotic dance. They will always think it’s about right and wrong, about the exploiter and the exploited, about morality and immorality. And that’s sad. But in a way, it is predictable: Our culture is never going to admit women can really, honestly get away with being sexy.

    Also, it is a pity that 85 out of 100 erotic dancers are hardly worth watching. But it is a miracle that 15 out of 100 are rather special, more authentic than the herd, more themselves than not.

    You can sit around and discuss it all day. It leaves no impression. But witness a woman dance her sexuality without fear and perhaps even aggressively, and you suddenly feel yourself empowered. It’s a strange world.

    • prairienymph says:

      I’m not surprised that you escaped the virgin/whore dichotomy. You seem a free spirit yourself who is not content with a false version of a person when you could know the real one.
      I completely understand those young women’s reactions to seeing beautiful exotic dance. Liberating is the perfect word. It would validate the part of ourselves some of us are told either doesn’t exist or we should be ashamed of. Interesting to hear men find it empowering too. Do you find the same for male exotic dancers?

      • I’ve never seen a male erotic dancer, so I’m not sure how I would feel about it. But I once came close to watching some men dance. I was working in a gay night club as a cocktail waiter, and the floor show one night was to be a series of male and female erotic dancers. I was looking forward to it, yet, when the night came, I was so busy running drink orders that I didn’t have time to more than once or twice glance towards the show.

      • I forgot: Thank you for your kind words about me! Those were very nice things to say.

  8. It sometimes makes me laugh when I realize that many Fundy Christians see me as immoral because I’ve had sex without any kind of commitment. I’ve been in openly non-monogamous relationships. I’ve had meaningful, loving one-night stands. I’ve had friends with whom I’ve had sex. I’ve had long-term monogamous relationships. I’ve lived with several of my partners. I’ve even (GASP) had relationships with women. I’ve never been married (although I’m open to it) and I don’t plan to have kids.

    And so, to them: I have no morals.

    Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I have strong morals: No one should be coerced into any kind of sex. People are human beings with feelings, and that should always be taken into account. Honesty is important. Using contraception is mandatory. Condoms are as well (in addition to other forms of birth control), until we’ve had a long discussion and possibly some medical tests. Everyone, regardless of gender or age or disability or whatever, has the right to pursue a healthy sex life, whatever that means. Children have the right to have their questions answered truthfully and be given some privacy. We all have the right to information and health care, and to me, that includes birth control and abortion. Prostitution should be legal. Slut-shaming is wrong.

    I agree that satisfied women probably make better mothers!

    • prairienymph says:

      It was quite a shock to me that people who I was raised to think of as ‘immoral’ were often highly ethical people. I had to have a whole brain rewiring to realize that ethics are about respect and integrity, not about hierarchy and unthinking obedience.

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