Nicki Blue is a 21 year old aspiring porn actress who chose to "lose her virginity" live on-air on January 15th at the studios of Kink.com. Stepping past any personal opinions you may have about the value and validity of the porn industry, her decision - and the marketing choices of her chosen purveyor, Kink.com - have raised some fascinating conversations within the sex-positive community about the meaning of sexuality and the perceived value of a woman.
It wasn't that long ago that a woman was considered the property of her father until she became the property of her husband - in fact, this mindset is still common in developed countries, not to mention third-world countries. For example, I offer an article from 2007 about two such stories from Pakistan. This is not ancient history, this is a matter of modern reality.
An article by Miss Maggie Mayhem thoroughly examines several myths about female sexuality. Each seems supported and promoted by Kink.com's original press release which stated, for example, "Prior to the event, a trained expert will insert Kink.com's official hymen-cam to validate that Blue's hymen is still in place and that she is a true virgin. Once her hymen is confirmed, the evening will proceed."
Maggie takes issue with the term "True Virgin" and I highly recommend her article for a thoroughly accurate education about the female hymen, including fact-based deconstruction of the myth that an intact hymen is the determining factor of virginity. Further discussion inquires into the focus on penile/vaginal sex as the form of sex through which a woman "loses" her virginity, and the perceived value of virginity itself.
Being a little bit of a language diva, let's look at the very wording here. When a woman "loses her virginity," what exactly is she losing?! Is my value as a woman diminished by such a loss?
According to Wikipedia:
"Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom. (Compare dowry, which is paid to the groom, or used by the bride to help establish the new household, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage.) In the anthropological literature, bride price has often been explained in market terms, as payment made in exchange for the bride's family's loss of her labor and fertility within her kin group. The agreed bride price is generally intended to reflect the perceived value of the girl or young woman."
In such a society, the loss of a woman's virginity, if unmarried, is actually the loss of her father's or future husband's financial gain. Is that who we are today? I think not.
Furthermore, the language of virginal loss seems a disservice to young men and young women alike - implying an innocence that rarely exists in our hyper-sexualized culture; creating a focus on the Thing of virginity instead of on making healthy sexual and emotional choices; and propagating a sexist view where men are perceived to gain value for varied sexual experience, and women to lose value for the same.
Pursuant to Maggie's article, Peter Acworth, CEO of Kink.com, published an extraordinary apology. "Instead of showing our gratitude to Nicki for choosing Kink to fulfill her sexual fantasy - to break her hymen during her first vaginal sex experience in front of thousands of fans - we marketed it in a way that relied on sexist tropes and myths about the female body that we should not have perpetuated," he wrote. "And that fact was rightfully brought to our attention by bloggers who hold us to a much higher standard than that. We truly thank them for it and are gratified to see issues surrounding female sexuality, virginity and sexism being discussed in public forums - even if it was as a result of our screw up."
No matter your views of pornography, this debacle serves as a reminder that women's sexuality remains only moderately liberated, and that our choice of language in all matters sexual makes a difference. We can speak a world of freedom, or a world of limitation and judgment. You choose.
M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com