Competition Among Women

J passed along this article on NYT a few days ago: A Cold War Fought By Women

It is an interesting article about competition among women, and a great example of self-policing among women to enforce purity and virginity standards.

I think it makes some great points, but when I reached these quotes from Dr. Vaillancourt, one of the study researchers, I felt a little anxious:

“The research also shows that suppression of female sexuality is by women, not necessarily by men…Sex is coveted by men… Accordingly, women limit access as a way of maintaining advantage in the negotiation of this resource. Women who make sex too readily available compromise the power-holding position of the group, which is why many women are particularly intolerant of women who are, or seem to be, promiscuous.”

While the researchers and others quoted in the article assert that this self-policing seems to be an evolutionary characteristic and reflects attitudes within society, and not something that has been impacted or influenced by media images of the ideal women, I don’t totally buy it.

The system of patriarchy has been present among so many human cultures for so long, that it seems extraordinarily difficult to know for sure if it is patriarchy or evolution that has helped form this competition among women and preference among women for women who present as non-threatening and non-promiscuous.


Virginity Definition Update

As J and I were talking today on our way to the gym, he helped me with my definition of virginity. He ascribes to Dan Savage’s point of view on virginity: that you can be a vaginal sex virgin, an oral sex virgin, an anal sex virgin, an S/M virgin, a D/S virgin, a “kink” virgin, etc. According to J, if someone told him that s/he was a “virgin” he would automatically ask some more questions to get at what exactly that means. What have you done/tried? What haven’t you done/tried? How do you feel like a virgin?

Part of my discussion from my post yesterday was concerned with demystifying virginity, making it part of normal human growth and transition. Practically, though, I like J’s understanding of virginity better. In fact, it makes the idea of sex more exciting in a way: I have done X, Y, and Z, and I haven’t tried A, B, and C. It also allows for a nuanced understanding of what virginity is, and that it can take many more forms than just penetration that breaks the mystical hymen.