AN OPEN LETTER TO SOCIETY
Have you ever wondered what life would have been like if one could make choices or decisions that only affected them or their relationships as individuals, and not their family, nor friends, nor colleagues or society as a collective? Have you ever wondered why we live our lives based on how our society is built, shaped, behaves and values? We as individuals have grown to accept what people think about us and what they perceive as appropriate in all spheres of life according to them and their own interests, rather than dwelling on what we think of ourselves and what we regard as appropriate or important for our lives. We always work hard in order to achieve perfection so that we can be the envy of our immediate society; family, friends, schoolmates, and colleagues, and the broader society, the world.
According to sociology, communities have certain behaviours, norms and beliefs which make up a society and this behaviour in sociological terms is called value consensus. Value consensus refers to the set of values that a community believes in and agrees upon as behaviours which are appropriate and acceptable for the different types of institutions which we find in that particular society, such as the institution of family, education, law and healthcare. We as individuals have learnt to conform to these different values that have been valued since our great, great forefathers and a few have dared to change or challenge them.
Now the pressing case I came for is the title virginity versus purity. What are the societal views of virginity and purity? Do these terms reflect on one and the other? Should they be regarded as individual entities? These are some of the questions I have come to ask myself and I am quite sure that I am not the only one. I believe we have become too comfortable with the values we have been taught by society that some people are losing who they are because of the same values. I am not trying to turn my back on societal values but to speak the truth. At times these values are the walls that separate a society rather that being the bridge that is needed to bring society together.
What does society teach about virginity and purity? What are their beliefs regarding these two subjects? Why are we all subjected to these beliefs? Do we as individuals not have a say?
Society regards virginity as a sacred part of being a woman. Women are expected to remain virgins/celibate until they get married. If a woman does this, they are then automatically termed as pure. There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance, predominantly towards unmarried females associated with notions of honour and worth. Many of us have grown to accept the notion of sexual abstinence, either by choice or due to the values that are forced onto us.
Society has the notion that those who remain virgins until marriage have morals and those who decide to experiment before that are morally ambiguous as they engage in sexual pleasure knowing full well that it is bad and against tradition. So, my question is, what about those who lose their virginity due to unforeseen circumstances, are they also regarded as impure or are there exceptions made for them? Does losing one’s virginity mean that they are morally dirty, impure and cannot be regarded as noble women or young adults?
Society and religion have a stronghold on our behaviour, beliefs, and the decisions we decide to take regarding our own individual lives. As good as it may be to follow these traditions, people are losing themselves and who they are because they want to be regarded as saints and obedient followers. Virginity does not make a person good, there are a lot of characteristics to consider such as character. A woman can decide to remain celibate but without the right character then they are also morally ambiguous.
I am not trying to disregard the importance of religion and tradition, I’m simply trying to find out why women are treated differently based on their sexual activities. Why do girls have to be judged for their individuality? No one can lead a perfect life, we have also seen in the bible that God’s servants also made mistakes along the way, before they realised what was right for them. I am also not trying to disregard societal values; all I am simply trying to understand is why many conform to such values and lead lives they regard as being in a form of imprisonment in one way or another.
In this regard then, what is purity? Are virginity and purity one and the same thing. Does being celibate automatically make one become pure? Well if a person would say that being celibate is being pure, I would totally disagree with them. To a certain extent retaining your virginity is being pure but that does not mean you’re the best above the rest. Character plays a vital role in an individual’s purity.
With that I close this letter to say there is more to an individual than their virginity. Let us not look past all the goodness only to highlight what does not suit our standards of life. We are all equal, we are all human, we all have emotions and feelings and most importantly we all need to feel love and be loved. Life is too short to set standards that only suit your individual preferences.
Tell us: Do you agree with the writer on the issue of purity versus virginity?