As a woman living in a conservative country and raised in a religious family, sometimes I find it really hard to do what I really want. There are always boundaries keeping me from doing a lot of things for religious or cultural reasons. I do not feel the freedom that I’m supposed to have as a woman because of the entrenched ideas of how a woman should behave and what a woman should do in the eye of society.
Say, I want be sexually active, then I would be breaking all the norms and morality because a woman is supposed to keep her virginity for the one who deserves it: her husband. On the contrary, it’s more acceptable for guys to be exploring their sexuality and to be sexually active openly. It is normal for a man to be “bad” and to sleep around, but the second a woman talks about it or decides to be sexually active, then boom she’s a slut who has no self-respect and dignity. There would be concerns over how she is going to find a husband because she’s not a virgin anymore.
What bothered me the most is how hymen can determine a woman’s legitimacy to be a wife to someone, and why people would think twice before marrying a non-virgin. Is that all a marriage about? A piece of tissue instead of love and commitment? Why does it have to be the husband who “breaks the seal” of your vagina? Why can’t you decide yourself? Because I believe it is biological for a woman to be ready to have sex, even if she is not ready to enter into a marriage.
I have been craving liberty. I’m a 21-year-old daughter whose parents deny me my own bodily autonomy. I also live in a place where a woman is easily judged based on how she looks. My family gets to decide on what I wear and what I do. I have to cover myself from hair to toe.
You don’t know how stressful it is to have your mom telling you to wear something more appropriate or to behave the way that she wants. I believe that what we wear is an expression of our ourselves and it has nothing to do with our attitude towards others. I’m really sick of not being able to wear my summer dresses and be open about my sexual desires.
The limitation and the oppressive feeling had led to some mental and internal issues for me. I began to have an identity crisis; I created an alter ego of myself, a person who can be accepted by my family and society though not by myself because it is not who I am. I switch between my alter ego and myself and at times it feels confusing because all I really want was to be who I really am.
One day I decided to rebel and to lose my virginity out of curiosity. The move did not make me feel degraded or less as a woman because I was fully aware of my decision. I’m still just the same person with no less self-respect. But it was liberating to begin to be in control of my body and my mind and to take responsibility for it. It is my body and it is my life and I’m not writing my story in another people’s pages, so it won’t affect them in any way.
I’m not encouraging women to lose their virginity or to have premarital sex, but if that’s what you really want, then I’d say go for it. It is your body and you have the full responsibility to do what you want with it.
Being a virgin or not does not define how much you respect yourself. Being sexually active won’t make you evil and not being sexually active won’t make you a saint either. You’re doing it for yourself and it is nobody’s business really. It has nothing to do with your personality and your attitude towards others. I always have this motto that if it’s harmless for others and for yourself, just do whatever the hell you want. Wear racy clothes if that’s your thing, go braless if you’re not comfortable wearing them, don’t shave if you don’t feel like it, get a tattoo if you want one, and sleep around if you want to (but be safe).
There are so many things that I want to find out and explore and I will not stop being curious just because my parents or society say no.
Permata is a 21-year-old student who secretly wants everyone to know who she really is, but who always keeps everything to herself and it’s just suffocating her. Also, is it bad that her parents and close friends still don’t know about her non- virgin status?