The virgin/whore dichotomy is the source of slut-shaming, whorephobia and rape culture. The dichotomy is simple enough, if absurd; it is the belief that some girls want sex and others don’t. Secondly, the dichotomy confuses ethics and repression by naming women who want it as ‘bad’ and the repressed ones as ‘good’. Finally, men want to sleep with ‘bad’ girls and marry ‘good’ girls.
No grey areas. Women can choose to be a good girl or a slut; they are limited to these two unreal, impossible extremes which allow no scope for natural, real sexuality.
In popular culture, ‘good’ women were preferred, as they got their man (through marriage) wheras ‘bad’ women only had the man for a short time. Even 50 Shades of Grey carries the message that virginity is prized by men, is an attractive state, and is rewarded by ****SPOILER ALERT!!!*** marriage at the end of the trilogy.Christian marries the virginal Ana instead of his many previous girlfriends and one night stands.
The dichotomy leads to both genders seeing sex and marriage as entirely separate and not on a continuum of lust/attraction/friendship/love. In this way, the virgin/whore dichotomy is a cause of and closely connected to the madonna-whore complex (a psychological problem that makes a man unable to sleep with his wife, because he cannot connect love and marriage. He will instead seek out sex workers and have extra-marital affairs.)
The dichotomy also leads to slut-shaming (including stigmatisation of female single parents, young female parents, sex workers, and most commonly, bitching about other girls in high school and calling them ‘sluts’ while desperately asserting that you are definetly not a slut,…)
The worst outcome of the dichotomy is an aspect of rape culture – that victims are often blamed for ‘inviting rape’ by drinking, being out at night, wearing a certain outfit/showing skin, ‘leading the man [the rapist] on’, being in a bad area of town, walking alone down a street…
On a less disturbing, but nevertheless quite important, note, the dichotomy is indirectly responsible – along with religion which reinforces it – for the abstince cult (Daddy-daughter purity balls, abstinence education, virginity pledges, abstinence rings etc).
Why the dichotomy is totally stupid
I see no reason to use less colloquial/PC language but it is stupid!!! To the utmost level. Because nobody – man or woman – is either a virgin or a whore; human beings are complex, multi-layered, context-specific, culturally-influenced beings. A virgin may have a very ‘dirty’ mind, and a female Casanova a relatively ‘pure’ one. And how on earth can you compare two people? Our childhood development, background, experiences, friends, jobs, religion, availibility and expectations of sexual partners all heavily influence our sex life. If your partner talks you into sleeping with them, how can you be compared to a virgin with an abstinent or more respectful partner, when she has not faced the pressures that you did? Who can say who would have caved in the quicker, had the playing field been equal.
Furthermore, the dichotomy assumes that only women can be whores or virgins – men are all created equal no matter how slutty* they are. This of course leads right to the double standard.
The dichotomy is not equal – it doesn’t apply to men. Women do not want to marry male virgins and fuck whores.So, men’s promiscuity doesn’t harm their chances of marriage; they have a golden ticket to indulge their most slutty desires.
The implication is that women were/are given the goal of remaining a virgin until marriage, or she might lose her chance to marry.This represses and constricts their sex life.
This put men and women at odds with each other – women had to preserve virginity while men wanted them to sleep with them. Women who did lose virginity to keep their boyfriend would actually lose the chance of keeping him. Thiscreates tension in dating and relationships and is not conducive to a harmonious community.
Women who were literally ‘easy’ to talk into bed were not valued by the men.
It creates an ethos of mens’ goal being sex and the woman’s being the opposite which is unfair; men wanted virgin brides when they themselves were not virgins.
It means there can never be any concept of men being virgins or whores – or easy to get into bed/devalued versus hard to persuade and marriage material. It also precludes concepts of women actually taking the initiative or even wanting to sleep with a man without persuasion or coercion.
It leads to men telling lies or using coercion to get what they want; the sexes are literally battling each other.
Mens’ ethics are not called into question; if they are whores they are not ‘bad boys’, or, even if they are, they are called such in a much more flippant, non-stigmatised way. They cannot be shamed for losing virginity. Usually, the more slutty a man is, the greater his bragging rights.
Its premise is utterly delusional, as nobody is either extreme.
The dichotomy oppresses women, as it means we have less control over our sex lives and much less rights to an autonomous, fulfilled sex life than men. So, women are always unequal and inferior.
The dichotomy in the real world:
-Can often be seen in literature, non-contemporary art and religious scriptures
-Is less relevant in the west nowadays, however in certain regions of America it can still be seen. It also lurks, unseen, behind the double standard, rape culture, slut-shaming and stigma attached to lone mothers.
-Apparently some men still believe in it – even the whole ‘good girls and bad girls’ rhetoric. Never met one.
-Is not expressed in such strict terms; a relatively inadventurous woman nowadays may be the ‘virgin’ and a more adventurous woman the whore in popular consciousness, media reports and contemporary literature. Respective examples I just thought of are: the wife versus the lone mother; tabloid portrayals of “foxy”, promiscuous femme fatale Amanda Knox versus quiet studious Meredith Kercher. This was a complete fiction, as we do not know enough about their personalities, fantasies and experiences to even hazard a guess at who was ‘foxy’ and who wasn’t.- (As if labels like ‘foxy’ and ‘studious’ could somehow encompass and sum up the multi-faceted, complex characters of two people). In contemporary literature and also film, the femme fatale is usually also sexually adventurous, just like how the tabloids painted Knox. Ana and Kate are contrasted in terms of the dichotomy in 50 Shades, and the heroines or protagonists in literature and film tend to not to be overly adventurous, especially in recent phenomena (Hermione, Ginny, Bella, Babydoll, Ana) but also generally.
Through the dichotomy, women can choose one of two fictional extremes. This blog represents a challenge to that. As a virgin woman, I am selling my virginity – the ultimate whore act (prostitution of the prized innocence). So, which am I, virgin or whore? This journey proves that even if you believe in the dichotomy, you have to accept that the transition from virgin to whore is gradual. There is a huge grey area in between. If I am a virgin, do I become a whore the moment Roland and I have sex? Or the moment we finish? Somewhere in between? And if I am a whore, did I become a whore when I decided to go to the photoshoot to trial him? Or when I agreed to meet him at the Tower? Or when we finalised the deal? Or perhaps it is entirely physical; you may take your pick from my first spanking to oral sex or whatever act you think would change someone from virgin to whore.
Whichever way you look at it, this blog captures a transition from virgin to whore. It expressses a virginwhore, an entity who is neither and who is both. As we all – women, men, trans – are.
*’Slutty’ is used in a non-sincere manner in this blog. I don’t believe sluts exist. It’s just a tool to repress women.