Thursday 29 October 2015


Black Girl Sleeping with a Gift
Image: RawPixel
Few days ago, the story of a woman who presented a certificate of her purity to her father on her wedding day went viral and drew both positive and negative reactions from people; though it was more negative than positive.

If you hadn't seen the story on the internet, here is a summary.

Brelyn Bowman is a black Christian boutique owner and a preacher of purity. She got married to her heartthrob - Tim Bowman – who is a gospel artist. They never had sex throughout the time they were dating and she presented a proof of her virginity to her father on her wedding day. How sweet, right? She even went further to urge women to keep themselves pure for their husbands too.

Now looking at it wholly, it is very admirable that she did that, especially when there is so much pressure to have sex in today’s world. It takes real self-control for a couple to restrain themselves and what they did is laudable.

Having said that, there is a need to clarify why I have a bone to pick with the proponents of virginity.

In our African tradition, there is great emphasis placed on a woman's virginity. Some men say it is ‘the most important gift a woman can give husband’. This has been passed down for generations and generations until it has become the norm. Our mothers have taught us to remain virgins until we are properly married. If your mother was a virgin when she got married, then you got that talk that was always laced with 'How your father met me as a virgin and I have known no other man'. You know that talk right?

Anyway, back to the issue. While Brelyn was urging women to use her life as their launching pads, she forgot that not every woman has the choice to keep themselves 'pure for their husbands'.

Though Brelyn described her husband Tim as a gentleman, 35 percent of women in domestic relationships are dating, courting, are engaged to, or married to beasts that perpetuate violence against them. This violence includes, but is not limited to, rape, physical and sexual abuse and murder for refusing unwanted advances. Of course these women may or may not be virgins at the time of their abuse but who cares about all that when virginity crowns a woman with purity…right?

Another statistic shows that 1 in 10 girls worldwide under the age of 18 was forced to have sex, according to a recent UN report. 1in 10 girls has her virginity forcefully taken from her, effectively cancelling her desire to present herself ‘pure to her husbands’.

To make matters worse, children – toddlers, adolescents, teenagers – are sexually abused by relatives (fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts), teachers, religious leaders, baby sitters, neighbors or even strangers. Globally, a whopping 19.7 percent of females go through child sexual abuse. These are not my statistics; they are facts reported by the United Nations in collaboration with the World Health Organization. These numbers are women who are forced to lose their 'most important gift to their husbands', thus becoming 'impure' according to the general belief.

And why is virginity only expected of a woman? Why must women be virgins until they are married but men must not? And if men are not virgins and have active sex lives, who are they doing it with? The answer to that question should be interesting. Another question that begs to be answered is why something that is lost in one simple thrust would be defined as the 'most important thing a woman can give to her husband'?

We also seem to forget that an intact hymen does not necessarily mean lack of sexual knowledge. There are tons of women who are 'virgins' but yet give – and accept – blow jobs (Fellatio and Cunninglingus) on the regular. There are women who give hand jobs. There are also women who permit their thighs and breasts to be, for lack of a better word, fucked. Did I forget women who masturbate with or without sex toys? Then there are lesbians. And also women who have anal sex. If all these women have their hymen intact, can they still be classified as 'virgins' and thus, ‘pure’?

My bone of contention is not with Brelyn keeping herself. My angst is how she conferred 'purity' on a woman who keeps her virginity. I know women who are virgins but are burning with lust, keeping strife, cheating people, lying for Africa, gossiping, sowing seeds of discord, tearing families apart, stealing from friends, colleagues and their work organizations. I also know that there are virgins with nudes on their phones and their boyfriends' phones. Is the hymen then the determinant of purity? And is purity one-dimensional or all-encompassing?

My mum, like most mums, told me that if my husband marries me as a virgin, my husband would respect me. I love my mum but I do not agree with her on that point. I have seen men who beat the crap out of their 'virgin' wives for the most trivial of reasons. I have seen men who were the first boyfriends of their wives, the first and only to sleep with their wives, but also the first to cheat with any woman who is willing to welcome them in. I know of a woman who kept telling me that virginity was the best gift a woman could give. One day I saw her crying. She told me her husband had infected her because of his randy ways and the infections had affected her ovaries. She was constantly in immense pains until the infections got better. But she has had to face the same destruction to her body almost quarterly. Her husband went to her office one day and saw her in a meeting with her colleague; a man. They were sitting close together and bent over papers discussing. The husband stood for a while and then coughed. She looked up, packed her things and waved her colleague goodnight. When they got home, her husband beat her black and blue for sitting close to her colleague. Even though she was bent over papers and working, the husband said she was so engrossed in her colleague that she didn’t notice him. That was one of the nails that finally sealed their divorce coffin.

This then is my view; men are so fiercely territorial that they cannot imagine another man putting his penis in their woman. So they cooked up a theory about a woman's virginity being her best gift. They used it to confer purity, innocence, truth, beauty and wholeness. They fed this theory down from generation to generations until people malign women who are not virgins on their wedding night. This idea is also because I believe that men cannot fathom the fact that women are sexual creatures as men are and that sex is required to be both enjoyable and satisfactory to BOTH partners. Most men cannot imagine a ‘pure’ woman actually enjoying sex, so they mark ladies who have lost their virginity as whores, cheap, impure, guilty, shameful, and a disgrace.

This has led many women to go for vaginal rejuvenation surgery in order to present themselves as virgins to their intending spouses. And men, if you didn’t know that women do that, I am unapologetic about exposing the ‘secret’. There are also creams that tighten the vagina, thus giving the illusion of virginity. Even the woman in the village uses potash washes to deceive their husbands and families. The desire to be perceived as pure by many women, especially before family members and intending husbands, is so great that women would willingly put their health at risk. And God blesses a woman that openly embraces her sexuality! She would be maligned, insulted, labeled, critiqued and sometimes physically abused for daring to do that.

Maintaining virginity should be taught to girls as well as boys; or not at all. Even as we do that, we should remember that there are many women who have lost their virginity not by choice. This means that there are many women who cannot be classified 'pure' by society today. Putting that kind of pressure on women creates a fertile ground for pretenses and false illusions of individual and societal purity.

And can we quit with the ‘virginity is a woman’s best gift’ nonsense already?! Our virginity is not the best thing we can give a man. The best thing we can give a man, be they our husbands, brothers, friends, colleagues, and bosses is the quality of our minds and thoughts. A woman’s virginity is lost in a few seconds, but the quality of her mind is what the man has to deal with as long as they stay married. It is the quality of her mind that will help mold the children that may result from that marriage. The effectiveness of her mind will determine whether their family creatively impacts society or destroys what is left our national fabric and international family.

A woman who has lost her virginity before marriage is just that – a woman without a hymen. She is not evil, unclean, impure, shameless, dirty or bad.

If your virginity was forcefully taken from you, know this; there is nothing impure about you! If you were drugged, you are still not impure. And if you willingly lost your virginity, you are also not impure. If you feel bad about it, live differently, make a change, and stay celibate. And if you could care less, that is your business.

Virginity is definitely not a woman's best gift! The greater loss is if you let your minds go to waste. Work on your minds...and share your greatest gift with the world! 

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