Emily Maguire’s cover story (‘Like a Virgin’, April) is insightful and provocative, and reveals just how screwed up our culture’s ideas about sex still are.
What I’d like to add to her analysis is that the treasuring of virginity by men, when and where it occurs, also symbolically represents a desire for ownership of women’s sexuality, indeed ownership of this from birth onward. Historically, this can be seen as an aspect of viewing women as property, a feature of society – not surprisingly, grounded in religion – that in legal terms only ended relatively recently in the West and still persists in various parts of the world.
Not only this, but placing a premium on virginity also expresses a male egocentric desire to be a woman’s full raison d’être.
Michael Allen Fox