I grew up in a society in which girls who uphold their virginity are considered pure and moral.
"Jaga kehormatan kamu," my mom would tell me to “safeguard my honor,” implying not to dishonour myself by engaging in premarital sex. I now believe this is wrong. One's virginity is nobody's business. The crotch should not be the measure of one's morality.
But the patriarchal system that we live in maintains a double standard for men and women. Men are praised on the number of women they have slept with, while women are scorned for being sexually active – or just for expressing their sexuality.
Making matters worse, since young, girls are instructed to keep their body pure, reserving their virginity for their future husband after marriage. This denies a woman’s autonomy of her own body.
Virgins are applauded. Virgins are praised. On the other hand, non-virgins are discredited and criticized for their "immoral" choice. We blame girls who are raped, saying it's their fault for seducing men with the clothes they wear.
It is important to have a paradigm shift by stopping the indoctrination of kids about the notion that being a virgin equals being morally upright. Losing virginity is one's right to decide. Rather, we should teach the future generation to practice safe sex. Teach them about contraceptives; teach them the consequences of sex. Make them think.
Blocking porn sites, conducting virginity tests, blurring cleavages on TV, and denying kids of sex education are not the solutions. Educating them and creating a conversation are parts of the solutions.
Lastly, I urge you girls, even if you decide to stay a virgin, do not do it for your future husband or for your parents. Do it because it is your own informed choice.
Hasianti Deamita is a graduate of Universitas Indonesia who is still trying to find the meaning of a purposeful life. She is a Libra at heart, indecisive yet always seeking for balance in life. Say hi to her on Instagram @hasiantideamita.