The word slut has been taken back, challenged and changed meaning to many people within the sex positive movement. What I find really interesting about this is that the majority of people who want to take back slut want to drop the word virgin. I find it really frustrating when people want to banish a word based solely on the negative realities of its social construction. While part of this is because I identify with it, I use the word virginity in the same way that I use the word fat. It is political to me; it is bred from the idea that this, like the word fat, is something that I was taught to be ashamed of. I was told that I shouldn’t use this word because it makes other people uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel like I should be using it more.
Most of the rejection of the word comes from the idea that virginity as a whole is considered to be socially constructed, but what people don’t do is challenge themselves to see that just by saying it is socially constructed doesn’t actually break apart what that means and what value judgments we place on virginity or virgins in general.
For most of us, the idea that virginity is a social construction comes down to the idea surrounding what virginity is. A virgin is a person who not only hasn’t had sex with another person, is normally female since their purity matters more then the purity of men, and has an intact hymen. If we throw everything to the side as bullshit except the reality that this is a person who hasn’t had sex with another person, we are still left with quite a few unspoken beliefs about virgins.
Some of the most widely speculated beliefs are that we don’t know anything about sex, we are sexually repressed, conservative, religious, or will slut shame the hell out of anyone we come across. Now I can say that I don’t identify with any of those beliefs and I challenge the assertion that this is something that is solely contained to people who identify as virgins. I would highly doubt anyone that tries to tell me that they don’t know at least 1 person in their life who engages in sex with another person and doesn’t identify with one of the items I listed above.
The idea that virginity is a social construction should not just be contained to the reasons why our society places value purity and abstaining from sex with another person. It should also challenge the reality that virgins can be just as sexually active or knowledgeable about sex as the rest of us.
On Tuesday Michelle Obama is going to appear on the Biggest Loser as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. This comes after she has spent the last 2 years as the First Lady of the United States continuing to add to the ever growing amount of fat stigma in our society. Bringing up the problematic portions of her campaign normally ends with most people saying that she still has good intentions. Most people, even when they are causing harm, have good intentions but acknowledging the portions of the campaign that cause more harm then good is not ignoring the positive aspects. The problem with the Let’s Move! campaign has far more do with the way that it is framed and the reality of where it came from.
The announcement of the Let’s Move! campaign coincided with a report from retired military leaders titled “Too Fat to Fight,” which called on schools to remove junk food from their cafeterias because once children were becoming old enough to enlist in the military 40% of them did not fit into the BMI standard set by the military. FLOTUS’s relationship with the military has been extensive during her time with the campaign. She has spoken about how fat bodies are a national security risk continuing the link between body size and lower acceptance into the military. This has continued to happen without even acknowledging that the very BMI standards that the military uses increases the risk of service members of having or developing eating disorders Some say they are three times as likely as the general population to develop an eating disorder. She has also visited Fort Jackson military base in South Carolina to promote the campaign.
While her campaign continues to work towards creating access to fresh foods and getting children moving in their bodies, she is also speaking out nationally about how she plans to stop childhood ‘obesity’ in a generation, that fat people are more likely to be bad employees or need extra sick time, and has continued this with her support of the program the Biggest Loser. The reality is that this isn’t a show that is trying to make people healthy; their primary goal is to make people thin by using some prettyhorrifictactics.
She might have good intentions in creating a better society to live in but in reality her efforts will always fall short if she continues to frame it around the idea that fat bodies are inherently unhealthy while also not acknowledging that we don’t know how to make people lose weight long term. Looking past all of these issues by believing that her intentions are good doesn’t mean that the harm she causes is invalid or that they don’t matter. Harm is still harm it still changes lives.
Further Reading (Aside from all of the links above),