By previous writer Bianca Richards
The month of February is all about love—love for your significant other, family, best friends, pets, and even your favorite celebrities—and we can thank St. Valentine for the love in the air.
However, some overlook the importance of celebrating self-love, which is unique for everyone, but at the core, it is the essential practice of finding an endless source of happiness and developing the courage to appreciate every inch of our souls. Happiness signifies freedom, but sometimes freedom can come with sacrifice.
This brings me to one of the main areas I yearn to talk about in the context of self-love: my choice to hold onto my virginity. This decision meant coming to terms with my past and encouraging more self-love as I continued on this path towards happiness.
I fully embrace the qualities and experiences that contribute to the woman I am today. The discussion of virginity is very complex and goes beyond the realms religious beliefs or personal impressions. There are many other reasons why women preserve their virginity, and none of them merit judgment or scrutiny.
Personally, I struggled with being a virgin because I wanted to explore areas of sexual intimacy, but I realized that there were mental roadblocks that kept me from probing that area of my life. I was always fearful of the consequences of sex, I was insecure about my body image, and I just felt uncomfortable being naked in front of someone else. Ultimately, I decided there is nothing for me to be ashamed of in deciding to abstain because this was part of my journey towards becoming a better woman for myself.
But, prior to this realization, I was embarrassed to date guys that I knew were already active because I didn’t want to be judged and kicked to the curb. Especially when I was in high school and everyone was already talking about sex, doing it, and telling the world how happy they were that they swiped their “v-card.”
I lied to people about being sexually active to avoid the conversation, and I would even have conversations with my high-school love convincing myself that having sex would be okay, but it genuinely wasn’t.
In my heart, I knew something was up, so I turned to my mother for advice during my junior year of college. After many tearful conversations, I realized that fear was instilled in me at a young age, and it carried over into my adult life.
The fear I had of sexual intimacy roots in cultural tradition and stern parental guidance from my father. Growing up, he would always tell me if I had a crush I would be punished, or if he found out I was dating someone he would be disappointed in me. This was constantly reinforced throughout my life, and when it was time for the birds-and-the-bees talk, my father would talk about sex and intimacy as if they were the worst thing in the world.
Obviously dating at a young age is something to be cautious about because you would never want your child putting themselves at harm, and, as a child, you would never want to disappoint your parents with the decisions you make. In my father’s eyes, even puppy love was totally off limits, and the way he portrayed it to me was more than just a simple “no”—he made it clear it was extremely forbidden.
Asian culture can be rough around the edges, so I was always hard on myself to be a perfect daughter and I carried this fear with me every day without knowing the impact it would have later on in my life. I grew up understanding that sex was explicit and horrible instead of beautiful or empowering. I grew up in fear of love and showing affection towards others, and a big part of that is expressing physical love to my partner. It’s not the ideal situation for any woman to face, rather, it has been a challenge for me to overcome.
It is inspiring to see women in the spotlight speak up and own their decisions to remain virgins. They are brave considering the amount of scrutiny that comes with being open about this subject in particular.
One of my favorite actresses, Yvonne Orji (Molly in “Insecure”), revealed to People Magazine that she is preserving her virginity until marriage because she feels that it is what God wants her to do as a Christian, and she’s very open about that.
“People ask about it because they’re curious, or they may not understand,” she said. “How will they ever get understand if I don’t talk about it? I can inform your curiosity, as opposed to everyone being in the dark and just sort of creating their own narrative about it.”
Her candor sparked mixed emotions from readers.
One Twitter user responded: “Being a virgin at 33 not because you’re asexual, or have an issue attracting partners, but because of religion is sad. Not sorry.”
It’s startling to see that people still force their opinions upon others because their decisions don’t align, but it’s also very admirable to see women remain strong in their beliefs. It proves that self-love overrides the opinions of others when you really pour into yourself, and it demonstrates a strength that’s unique from the rest.
There are many women, including Orji, whose experience with preserving virginity is different from mine. But, I find that Orji and I both rooted our decisions in practicing self-love.
For me, I took the steps I needed to take to conquer that fear of sexual intimacy by talking to a loved one and accepting this challenge as my very own. Slowly accepting my journey allowed me to appreciate myself, as I write this for women who need that extra motivation.
I just hope that people who read this understand that women who decide to abstain from sexual intimacy should not be held up on a pedestal or even harshly criticized for doing so because no one should bestow his/her own expectations upon people, period.
I want to advocate for women who are often looked down upon because they aren’t considered sexually liberated or are judged because they are “pure and innocent.” These labels and judgments contribute to ongoing stereotypes that need to be completely eliminated from our society. Personally, I am tired of listening to people who aren’t open-minded about a personal decision—emphasis on personal decision.
Virginity is not something to be ashamed about, nor is being sexually active. At the end of the day, it’s your body, your decision to make, and your happiness, so that’s all that matters.
Are you saving yourself for marriage? Do you relate to Bianca’s journey? Let us know in the comments below.