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Being a Virgin Doesn’t Make Me Pro-Life

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July 10, 2013

“So you have casual sex then, right?”

I cannot count how many times I have been asked this as a follow up question when I tell people I am a feminist.  While I don’t think there is anything wrong with casual sex, pre-marital sex, marital sex, group sex, kinky sex, or really any sex as long as it’s consensual; I find it interesting that this seems to be a common question to jump to.  My favorite part comes after that question though.

The asker is at a loss for words, eyes widening, as I reveal to them the truth.  I am, in fact, a virgin.

Being 24, a lot of people find it surprising when I tell them I haven’t had sex.  I’ve long since gotten over being surprised at their surprise.  I am almost always asked why, though I still don’t see why I need a reason.  I am also asked quite often if it is for religious reasons.  I consider myself to be a progressive Christian, but religion never played a part in this decision for me.

I decided on my own when I was younger that I didn’t want to sleep with someone for the first time unless I was ready and in a committed relationship with someone I knew and trusted…or if Ryan Gosling showed up.  I also knew that mentality wasn’t for everyone and that’s perfectly fine (except for the RyGos part obviously).  I completely support individuals expressing their sexual freedoms.  This is something some people have a hard time wrapping their head around.

The thing is, I am exercising my sexual freedom. I am exercising my right to not have sex because I don’t want to yet.  And it is a choice I am perfectly happy with.  I’m not ashamed or embarrassed or sad about it.  Somehow, feminism keeps being linked to the idea of women having carefree sex in the streets.  And I fully support those women.  But that’s far from what the reproductive justice movement is about.  It’s about making decisions about your body, your health, and your sexuality.

So yes, I am in full support of comprehensive sexual education.  I am pro-choice, I take birth control, and I think people should be having whichever kind of sex they want to be having (within the realm of legality of course. Please, don’t touch the sheep.)  Virginity is just as much a fight in reproductive justice as abortion rights or education that covers more than abstinence.  The RJ movement is all about bodily autonomy and agency.  Women should know that in our sex-obsessed culture where girls are pressured to sexualize themselves and have sex when their partner wants to, that they have every right to say no.

Having ‘The Sex’ or not having it isn’t the main part of the argument, it’s about fighting for the right to make whatever damn decision I, or any other woman, please.  My virginity needs to stop being treated as a commodity by men who tell me it “turns them on” and it needs to stop having the response of “I really respect you for that.”  My virginity isn’t about your sexual fantasies or your respect.  (And women who have sex shouldn’t be denied your respect.)  It’s about me making my own decision about my reproductive rights, knowing should I choose to have sex I can do it safely through proper and factual information, and not having to worry about judgment should I make that choice before I am married.  In the meantime, please stop inviting me to “Purity Balls.” They freak me out.

blog photoKatherine Sheldon is the Communications Intern at Choice USA.  She is a recent graduate of CSU Sacramento and has a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies.  She was formerly a member of the FMLA at Sierra College, Vice-President for her Choice USA chapter, and helped revamped Sac State’s Women’s Studies Student Association.  Aside from doing RJ work, she enjoys line dancing, watching Doctor Who, and telling people on the streets of DC how cute their dogs are.

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3 Responses to “Being a Virgin Doesn’t Make Me Pro-Life”

  1. Darjeeling

    Love this article. It's so true: the RJ movement is about making your own decisions! Some day, that won't be so novel a concept.

  2. Danielle

    Thank you so, so much for this article Katherine! I am so on board with you on this! I am a 25-year-old virgin and getting a Ph.D. in English with a focus in feminist theory. This piece is beautifully written and comes from the heart, and I agree with you WORD FOR WORD! (Except I would change Ryan Gosling to Leonardo DiCaprio.) Thank you for your willingness to "out" yourself as a virgin publicly and help others (better) understand what feminism is really about.