Purity Culture: Your Virginity isn’t the Only Thing of Worth about You.
Updated: Jul 14, 2022
I grew up in a religious home raised by a single mother whom as most African mothers do, practically lived her life based on the church and its ideas. I remember being thought at “Sunday school” that I will go to hell if I engage in any sexual activities before marriage. As a child, that was a scary concept for me. I didn’t mind occasionally taking meat from the pot, sneaking to lick milk powder, and lying when I was caught but the thought of going to hell because I lost my virginity to someone who isn’t my husband was terrifying for me.
I always saw the pride on parents’ faces when their post-teenage daughters are virgins. There were even instances where Youth service teachers will ask; Who is a virgin here? Everybody rushes to raise their hand to prove that they’re living according to the church’s word. For the longest time, I was extremely proud of being a virgin, it felt like an achievement and I was scared of “losing” it because well, I’ll go to hell if itwas not for my husband.
Imagine my shock when I grew up to learn that the concept of virginity is a social construct. It is just a term that stems from purity culture; the notion that a woman’s worth is measured by her sexual purity and a lack of sexual life. Women who grow up around a purity culture are sternly thought to abstain from sex before marriage, avoid having sexual thoughts andtalking about sex, dissuaded from exploring their bodies, and are thought that their bodies and how they dress will tempt men so to avoid scandals, they need to dress modestly.