the ch!cktionary

I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.

For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.

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irregular features
Ask Lena: Reader Questions Answered
Anatomy of an Outfit
Bad Feminist Confessions
Freelance Friday: Career Advice for Young Writers
Hate Mail
Gratuitous Photos Of My Bulldog
Notes & Snapshots from Abroad
Recent Tweets @lenachen
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Lena I have a kind of backwards question for a feminist. I'm 19-years-old now and am constantly teased by friends because I am a virgin. And while I think that the state of my hymen is no ones business but my own I also wonder if I'm making too much out of it. I've never boughten into the whole "purity" thing this culture is obsessed with. And I dont want to wait until I'm married. Am I making too big a deal out of "saving" it?
lenachen lenachen Said:

Good question!

Answer: Your friends are assholes.

Let’s turn the tables, shall we? If I were you and your friends were virgins, and they were teasing me all the time because I have sex, then that would look an awful lot like slut-shaming, wouldn’t it? And that would be douche-y. It’s just as douche-y that they don’t respect your desire to not have vaginal intercourse (which is what I assume you are talking about when you say you’re “saving it”).

First off, you’re not alone. You’re in the same position as the majority of my girlfriends. (Of my friends, over half the women have never engaged in vaginal intercourse.) Second, since I just wrote a thesis and did an entire conference deconstructing the subject, virginity means very different things to me than it does to most people. I have thankfully realized that virginity is a social construct. Ponder the following: what exactly constitutes a virgin? If you’ve never, ever been vaginally penetrated but you’ve given 80 blowjobs, are you “purer” than someone who’s done the former? What if you’ve had anal? If you orgasm from mutual masturbation, is that more or less chaste than having non-orgasmic penis-in-vadge sex? And if you’re not straight, then what constitutes virginity loss? Are lesbians virgins for life?

There are no answers to these questions. Why? Because there is no virginity police out there making virginity laws about what does or does not count as virginity loss. Americans can’t even agree on basic definitions of what constitutes sex. (I have a representative survey in my thesis about this, but will have to dig for the citation.)

Let’s not kid ourselves: no one — not even medical professionals — has a definition of virginity. (The hymen, too, is a poor indicator of whether one has had sexual intercourse.) So what you’re “saving” is not really …. anything at all. Just as what your friends have “lost” isn’t anything.

Tell your friends that. And if they still don’t get it, have them read some of these post-conference recaps on how virgin-shaming is just as problematic as slut-shaming and how the line between virgin and whore is completely arbitrary anyway:

Jezebel: Who Is A Slut? Depends.

Feministe: Defining Sluttiness

Feministing: "Slut Panel" Postmortem: Shame, Shame, Go Away

More burning questions? Ask them here.

  1. lenachen posted this