Dec. 11th, 2011 06:40 pm
tomatocages: (Default)
[personal profile] tomatocages
+In a lot of ways, I think virginity gets a bad rap nowadays, mostly because I often hear the word used as an insult. This is probably why I prefer saying that I’m not sexually active—it’s a less “judge-y” term, and it’s accurate, and my gynecologist doesn’t give me as many skeptical glances. Because—newsflash!—I don’t think it’s a signifier of personal purity or goodness, it’s just one of many choices I have made. And, like most people, I don’t enjoy it when uninvolved parties single out my choices as “the stupidest thing.” Not cool!
My first awful encounter with the word occurred when I was nineteen and ended up in the ER a week before school started. I was afflicted with incredible abdominal pain (I have a pretty high tolerance for hurting!), and the doctor on call had a hard time believing me. After a lot of snide comments about how I was “probably fine,” and “overreacting,” he ordered a CT scan.
DOCTOR: So we need to do a pregnancy test, and it’ll take a while.
ME, HELPFULLY: Oh, I’m not pregnant. We can skip that test!
DOCTOR, SIGNIFICANTLY: There’s only one way you couldn’t be pregnant.
ME: …Seriously?
ME: I’m a virgin.
DOCTOR: You came in with your mom—when girls come in with their mothers, they lie.
But they agreed to schedule the CT scan, and wheeled me out of the room after I signed a waiver. Then the charge nurse accosted me in the hallway.
NURSE, LOUDLY: You can’t have that test, we don’t know if you’re pregnant yet!
ME: Oh, I’m not pregnant.
NURSE: Only one way to be sure about that!
ME, WASPISHLY: Fine. I’ve never had sex. Is that good enough?
BYSTANDERS: [The goddamn slow clap, someone yells, “You go girl!”] ß This part was like a scene in a movie and is my fondest, clearest memory of the hospital stay.
I’m sure they were doing their best to, like, prevent malpractice, but it was seriously a trying time for me. I got them back, though! They found a huge mass in my abdomen and I had emergency surgery in the wee hours of the morning. I’m a bad person, because I was laughing inside when the doctor went over the CT results with me. He was…really embarrassed. Sadly, his bedside manner did not improve, but now I have a 5-inch scar down my abdomen as a souvenir of the event. (It’s an epic scar. I missed the first six weeks of the semester.)
Every other visit I have had with a lady doctor seems to begin the same way—am I sexually active? No? WHAT’S WRONG. (Nothing! Just haven’t had a good reason to get busy.)
The most recent ‘virgin moment’ happened last summer when I went out for drinks with a friend. It was probably about 6PM, still light out, and we sat in the garden at the local brewery. Then this guy in a suit came up the street and started yelling—Anne and I did the polite thing, by which I mean we avoided eye contact with him and quietly sipped our beers. But then! Presumably-Drunk-Guy (PDG) walked right up to me, loomed over where I sat and started screaming at me.
“What’s your problem, why you looking like that? You’re probably a virgin!” (But plus profanity.) And then PDG spat on me and walked over to bother someone else. I sat there, stunned, and Anne leaned over and cleaned off my shoulder with her napkin.
“What, so I have it tattooed on my forehead?” I said. “Why does it even matter?”
“There, there,” Anne said. “I wish I had it tattooed on my forehead. I think he might have called me a whore, just by not saying anything.”
PDG got thrown out of the bar—not by the cheerful gay bartender, who was super-nice about the whole incident and comped me a hard cider, but by a big guy out with his pals. It took some yelling and some threats! I WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.
SO. Aside from reading about the Theotokos (Orthodox for ‘Virgin Mary’), I’ve really only heard the word used in negative connotations—and it drives me nuts! But I agree that it is an awkward word to say, and I hate saying it. I think recently it’s become a political term as well, in that some feminists think referring to an abstention of sexual activity as “virginity” is a way for the western patriarchy (particularly Christians) to undervalue women and shame them into subjugation (“slut shaming”). I…don’t think this is true, but I can see how it might be interpreted as such, and I don’t think that it’s right for Christians to use sexual morality as shorthand for purity and/or freedom from sin.
Even though there is an honorable tradition of Christians not having sex—SEE: the Theotokos, some martyrs and saints, monastics—it’s not necessarily the be-all, end-all. The Eastern Orthodox Church is a big fan of sex between married people (and not even just for procreation—see footnote, wow am I on a roll*).
If Christians (I am using this term not just wrt to my particular Christian affiliation, but to believers in the New Testament) are focused on sexual sin, they’d do well to remember: Christ forgave the woman caught in adultery and chastised her accusers. Basically, because we are all sinners, we must withhold judgment from our fellow human beings; we are responsible for their sins only in that we must love them without giving a thought to their (real or imagined) flaws, as we would have Christ do for us. One of my favorite saints (Mary of Egypt) had a long history of sexual sin, and she eventually became incredibly holy. It’s not as much of a roadblock as we’re making it out to be.
Sin (regardless of the way in which it is committed) is just that: sin. It is a turning away from God. It’s unfortunate that sin occurs, and it is harmful, but we can all be forgiven by asking forgiveness. We’re called, as a people, to go and sin no more; that doesn’t mean that we don’t commit the same sins over and over again (my best sins are the ones I can’t seem to stop committing), but that we look at our mistakes and use both the knowledge of the sin and the knowledge of redemption as a way to move forward.
*Note on sex within the confines of marriage: I don’t have any first-hand experience with this, but the church teachings have informed me that sex is not just for procreation. One reason for this is: some married couples cannot have children. That does not make their marriage vows or their intimacy less valid.
Also, I’ve said before that I believe in the sacrament of marriage (which is to say, I am not a fan of cohabitation/premarital ~relations~); that doesn’t mean I think less of people who practice these things. Sometimes I worry about moral relativism, but most of the time I think I’m trying to be a human being who loves other human beings, albeit badly.
I! am a nail-biter. It’s gross, I know, and I can’t seem to stop. The only thing that seems to help is getting frequent manicures, which I cannot afford (sadly). So I spend a lot of time painting my nails, in hope that it’ll help. Unfortunately, I always forget to take my multivitamin, so I have really weak nails, and I always break them. Any tips? Right now I’m using $4 silver nail polish from Target and it is SO SHINY, which is a good thing, because I love, L-O-V-E, glitter.
I am currently accepting any and all suggestions for colors and brands of nail color—for the record I am pale, freckled, and have ruddy hands. ADVISE ME. (Dark colors that rub off on paper are a bad idea though, because I work in the antiquarian map department and would have to kill myself if I defaced anything, even by accident.) 
+ So, [livejournal.com profile] torigates posted about her (beautiful!) Christmas tree, which leads to my next question: WHAT IS IT LIKE, TO HAVE A TREE? My family is weird about Christmas, i.e., they don’t celebrate it, and this is only my third year observing Advent, so I am confused. Please tell me about your traditions/Traditions; they are fascinating (that is not sarcasm).
+Lastly, here is my best holiday work story from when I was an employee at a bookshop (this is in honor of [livejournal.com profile] dudski, who wins all of the contests about workplace stories, forever): For some reason I was the only person ever on phones. One Christmas Eve, we had a particularly memorable caller.
CUSTOMER: Hi, do you have A Clockwork Orange?
ME: No, I’m sorry; would you like me to order that for you?
CUSTOMER, ANGRILY: What do you mean, you don’t have it? I hope you’re happy. You’ve ruined Christmas. [Hangs up.]
And to all a good night.

Date: 2011-12-14 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] r-kimono.livejournal.com
Fair warning: long comment is long!

RE: virginity discussion - I wish I had something more intellectual to add, but all I can really say is, "yes, this." I've always thought of "virgin shaming" as just the flipside to "slut shaming", both of which are really just derogatory descriptions of choices people should be fully allowed to make themselves about their own lives. And, ftr, I'm your age (I think?) and "not sexually active" either, for essentially the same reasons.

Nail polish! I don't paint my fingernails (I don't bite them, but I tend to pick at them when nervous or thoughtful), but I do my toenails fairly regularly. I really like the OPI brand - they tend to last fairly long and the colors are pretty. Sparkles are also a good way to ensure longevity, but you might want to look into adding a layer of sealant or just clear nail polish over the color as a protection. :)

We get a real Christmas tree (Leyland cypress) for the downstairs and a tiny fake one we put in an upstairs window. It's a bit of a pain to get the real one up and decorated (the day almost always ends in swearing and group irritation), but that's almost as much a part of tradition as the tree. It's very pretty and it's hard for me to picture Christmas without the dog thinking he has a new flavored water bowl or the random pine needles on the carpet.

Date: 2011-12-14 05:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittu9.livejournal.com
Statistics being what they are, we're likely close in age (I am twenty-four and that is about as close as one gets to Jack Bauer, but I have never seen 24 so this joke is terrible). And re: the sexual activity/identity issue going on in the world and this post, I dig! I'm glad what I said resonated with you, it's something I think about a lot and I appreciate knowing it makes sense.

I have one of those Sally Hansen Hard As Nails basecoats, but it chips an awful lot--maybe I should quit doing the dishes.

Your tree sounds lovely. Is there a rhyme or reason to the type of tree you pick? I never thought about the tree shedding needles; that sounds like it could be prickly. Do you put the tree up/take it down at specific times?

Long comments = best!

Date: 2011-12-15 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] r-kimono.livejournal.com
I am twenty-five, so yes, pretty close! And the whole virgin/slut binary which has somehow turned into a bitter rivalry is an issue for which I have strong feelings, so I am, in turn, glad my mini-rant came off sounding semi-thoughtful and considered and less of, well, a rant.

Do you wear gloves when you wash dishes? Hot water + soap/detergent would definitely contribute to chipping.

We get Leyland cypress because that's the kind my mom prefers. *g* There are other kinds of trees at the farm where we get ours - including, I think, some that don't shed - but we've only ever had the one kind, so others look strange to me. Shedding's not really too bad - you just have to vacuum after you bring it into the house/decorate and then after taking it out again. You get a few needles in between one and the other, especially if you're lax about watering the tree, but not too many. Our Christmas tree schedule for several years now has been dictated by when we ("the kids") are home from college - get and put up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, then take it down the weekend before everyone leaves again in January. (I think you're *supposed* to take everything down before Epiphany, but this is a tradition that's not always followed.)

Date: 2011-12-14 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] torigates.livejournal.com
GREAT POST. Very enjoyable read! I think... people should stop caring so much about what other people do and worry about themselves a little more. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen, but yeah. I mean I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT GUY SPIT ON YOU. I physically recoiled from my computer when I read that. WHAT A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE THING TO DO TO ANOTHER PERSON. Wrt sex and virginity... I liked what you were saying about how the word virgin has been appropriated both by feminists and the male patriarchy. I think there are definite hangups associated with the word because of multiple reasons that you have gone into and others. It's just... CAN'T WE LET PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT AND NOT WORRY ABOUT IT??? I guess not.

Christmas trees! They are fun! And important to me! My family always had two trees that I could remember, one upstairs (real) and one downstairs (artificial). The upstairs tree is like the "fancy" tree where my mom puts all her expensive and pretty ornaments on display and usually my immediate family we have our Christmas morning upstairs with all our presents from Santa and each other under that tree. The downstairs tree has all the ornaments my siblings and I have made over the years, haha. so it is a bit eccentric looking, and when my dad's family comes over Christmas day all the presents from them/for them go under there.


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