Not so long ago, women in China had to be virgins before being married off and her body remained the sole property of her husband for the rest of her life. A woman who did the unimaginable – sleeping with another man before marriage – was considered “tarnished” and disgraced. Although attitudes have changed considerably since the opening reforms, many men still carry the attitude that women should at least act and appear pure, and their partners’ previous sexual history is not talked about or even acknowledged. This attitude is often referred to as “the virgin complex”, and while it mainly refers to men’s attitudes towards women’s sexuality, it can also be used the other way round. The excerpt below is written by the same anonymous blogger who recently wrote about the different standards of beauty in the East and West on tianya.cn. Drawing on her experiences with her foreign boyfriend, this is what she has to say about “the virgin complex.”
First off, I don’t have any male virgin complex. I’ve spent a long time thinking about whether I can bear the thought of him having previously been with another woman, touching her intimately, skin on skin. The answer is: yes I can bear it. I also asked myself whether I would get angry thinking about their steamy love scene together. The answer: it’s all in the past – no I wouldn’t get angry. Am I too easy going?
As a result I started pondering about my boyfriend. Do foreigners really not care at all about virginity?
Me: “Darling, do you have a virgin complex?”
Boyfriend: “What’s a virgin complex?”
Me: “It’s when you like virgins.”
Boyfriend: “Why do you have to like virgins?”
Me: “Virgins are great; a sheet of white paper, totally pure.”
Boyfriend: “Oh, yeah. But non-virgins are also very pure. There’s nothing wrong with them.”
Me: “Think about it: if your future wife slept with other men before, wouldn’t you feel unhappy about it?”
Boyfriend: “That wouldn’t be fair. I’ve also slept with other women before.”
Me: “Fine, let’s put it this way: you like two women; one is a virgin, the other isn’t. Which one would you marry?”
Boyfriend: “The one who isn’t a virgin I suppose.”
Me: “???!!! Why?”
Boyfriend: “I’d be afraid she’d think we’re not on equal terms. Later on she’d start feeling unhappy.”
I was thoroughly bowled over. How could I tell him that he’d completely missed the point? What had gotten into his brain? All I could do was tell him that many Chinese men like virgins and that traditionally in China, women who were sexually active before marriage were considered unchaste.
As soon as I started talking about Chinese traditions, his interest grew and he immediately started discussing the topic with me. He asked me whether Chinese men simply don’t even bring up the topic of sex or mention what their requirements are when they date women.
Trying to overcome my speechlessness, I managed to say, “It’s not like that…”
Very confused, my boyfriend asked, “So, ff they were to ask their girlfriends about their previous sexual history, would that mean they’d be tarnishing them? So basically, if women have been with other men they’re not pure, but the same doesn’t count for men? What kind of double standard is that?
(I was already regretting bringing up the topic with him). “The reality is that when a non-virgin girl goes out with a guy, the guy is going to think she’s worthless and deficient. (I used really ugly, sinful words, but it was just to describe the reality of things. It doesn’t represent my viewpoint).
At last, my boyfriend understood the deeper meaning of what I was trying to say. He suddenly got all serious and said something that left a deep impression on me.
Boyfriend: “Baby, why don’t you like disposable chopsticks?”
Me: “Because it’s a total waste of resources. After using them once, they’re just thrown away.”
Boyfriend: “Well then, how can you see women as disposable chopsticks? After they’re used by someone they become worthless and become nothing more than rubbish, is that it?
A good girl should be a diamond, pure and flawless when retrieved from the mine. After polishing over and over, the diamond sparkles and gleams and becomes ravishing to the eye.” (this phrase came from a netizen on tianya.cn)
After he said those words, I almost started bawling. Girls definitely have to have self respect and be strong. We’re not disposable chopsticks – we’re diamonds!
Continuing on the issue of virginity, he quietly asked me if we all bleed during our first time. I actually heard that a lot of people don’t. Well, at least not as extreme as the way it’s described in novels – a sea of red on the bed.
I started telling my boyfriend another traditional Chinese story … I told him that in ancient China, on the wedding night of newly married couples, a white handkerchief was placed on the bed. If she bled on it, then it showed that she was pure.
My boyfriend listened with great interest. I pushed him to tell me what his opinion on the subject is.
He said he has no opinion.
I told him that his lack of opinion is kind of symbol in itself and whether he knows it.
Boyfriend: “If I know myself that it’s her first time then that’s enough. If I see blood, then I’ll feel like I’ve committed a sin.” (What does that have to do with Christianity? He’s Christian.)
Me: “Seeing blood will make you know for sure.”
Boyfriend: There’s no need. Girls don’t have to bleed to pass the test. Men will have feelings.
Me: What feelings?
(The boyfriend laughs hysterically.)
Is he making fun of me … depressing. Fellow men, please explain!
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Keywords: Chinese blogger virgin complex attitude towards virginity China Chinese virgin comlex The virgin complex China
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