Written by Mariem ELTagoury
Before I plunge into my perceptions on virginity in Cairo, Egypt; a few rational explanations should be made before I go on:
- Virgin: defined in most dictionaries as a person (aka. female/male) who has no sexual experience or has never undergone sexual intercourse.
- Hymen: defined in most dictionaries as a membranous fold of tissue that partly or completely occludes the external vaginal orifice. In other words, it’s an extra piece of skin in women. It also has no known biological function. In tradition, the intact state of the hymen is a sign of virginity; tearing of the hymen during sexual intercourse, which results in bleeding, is a sign of losing virginity.
Reality is, while it can be related to female virginity, it is not a sign of virginity. Some females can be born without a hymen; some hymens can tear long before sexual intercourse occurs. A male who doesn’t perform sexual intercourse can still be called a virgin even though all males have no hymens.
- In Egyptian culture, influenced by both Muslim & Christian religions, sexual intercourse before marriage is forbidden & considered a grave sin. Both males & females are required to be virgin at marriage. In cultural tradition, males or females who perform intercourse before marriage are considered sinful & impure, almost untouchable.
- It is important to note that this article does not support a certain lifestyle over another; but it supports the concept of fair respect and is definitely anti double standards. In other words, if you as a person are ready to adopt a western culture don’t grant yourself license to that and shun & disrespect the opposite gender for adopting that same culture. If you respect Egyptian/middle eastern culture so much, then exercise it yourself. In other words practice what you preach & don’t hold biased disrespect for others actions according to gender.
Now that we’ve got our general basis of info out on the line lets dive into my whirl of perceptions.
A Teenage Memory
When I was in high school I had a teacher who didn’t mind talking to us about relationships; so one time when we had a striking conversation about relationships and the likes and I was asked about my personal perspective on the matter I simply responded with this: “If I ever get involved with someone I won’t accept him if he’s had previous relationships before me!”
This absurd statement from a 16 year old girl was met with a lot of laughing from the whole class and a smile at my idiocity from the teacher as she responded sarcastically, “Then you’ll never get married or involved with anyone!”
Allow me to introduce you to my high school self, I was a young girl trying to overcome my gene of perfectionism which had plagued me for so long; I was also a very judgmental character, I strongly criticised myself and others, in short I was an ideal product of a very judgmental and critical society (you can thank my mother for all the lovely modifications added to this character). I was selfish; I owned too much self-esteem and strongly admired my smarts. I was strongly against dating in high school –this part I don’t regret since I had an early disbelief in fairy tales and love stories- but I also had an idealistic theory of both partners in a relationship being entirely pure of previous relationships to create the perfect couple!
Yes it was a theory that sounds as retarded as it is read. But I’m not going to talk about my teenage mental issues today; let’s focus on the response I got to my answer back then. You see the response itself was normal, but let’s rewind and imagine if a fellow guy colleague had said it. What would have the reaction been? Some would say “he’s a retrograde”, some would say “he’s conservative”, some might say “he’ll end up with a village girl”, I could think up hundreds of answers but the one answer I don’t imagine a guy getting is the one I, a female, got; the “you’ll never end up with anybody” answer.
There’s a thing in our modern society, a sort of privilege given to males. A man can know as many girls as he likes; and do whatever he likes with them, but when he weds he will have to take a virgin. Women on the other hand have to maintain their virginity and strongly hide any “previous relationships” no matter how innocent they are or were; to maintain the decency of the ideal virgin lady who deserves to be wed by a man –regardless of his decent or indecent past!
The amusing thing is; if we consider that half of the community were men and the other half were women and every man was guaranteed the privilege to have whatever relationship he liked with any woman, then realistically there would be no virgins alive to tell the tale!
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