When we were virgins…

I have neglected the blog for a while and I apologize for so abrupt a departure without even the courtesy of an explanation. And my return to my cyber-home should be announced by a thought-provoking, scintillating and intellectually titillating piece (I think) but I will do no such thing. Instead, I just want to take a step back from the intensity of thought and poke some fun at life, my self and the naivety of youth. I am one of those people who suffer from the affliction of learning best by viewing life through the lens of hindsight…

When we were virgins, we were curious about sex; particularly confounded by how such a small ‘hole’ could possibly fit that big swollen thing?

And it never made sense how such an ugly looking ‘thing’ (seen from the awkward squint of a strategically angled mirror) could have such a mesmerizing effect on men in the first place?

When we were virgins, we were curious about sex; about what it felt like to do ‘it’ and how there could possibly be anything comfortable about having someone lie on top of you for any length of time?

When we were virgins, we hastily washed our private parts making sure that our fingers did not unnecessarily linger to explore those inconspicuous folds of skin.

We did wonder why they were stashed so surreptitiously between our legs that they could not be clearly viewed – cementing the feeling of shame that was associated with owning that sort of genitalia.

...who controls who?

When we were virgins we did not know that men could summon tears at a whim, cry out in exaggerated agony over an erection while insisting the pain of arousal was so excruciating that we had to ‘relieve’ them because we had been the cause of their discomfiture.

When we were virgins, we knew a lot about sex… gladly brandishing our hand-me-down; second-hand information like treasure troves only to find that the reality distorted these embroidered tales of sexual narratives.

When we were virgins, we envied those who’d gone ‘all the way’ – who bragged about mysterious aches and pains; about the intoxicating feeling of power they derived from refusing with ‘it’ only to surrender ‘it’.

When we were virgins we marveled at the tales of those who were ‘experienced’; who spoke of watching the egos of men ostensibly breakdown begging for ‘just a taste’ of their hidden treasures – never knowing it was all just a ploy to turn their hymens into spoils of sexual conquest.

When we were virgins we thought we’d wait until marriage; give to our husbands what we’d give to no other but the noble resolves often succumbed to the unparalleled powers of male persuasion employed by those who seemed to inevitably know the ‘right’ thing to say – the promise of a ring being to us the guarantee of it.

When we were virgins, we sometimes felt burdened by the status but we were raised to regard it as an incomparable privilege; even though it was like having a constant mark on our backs making us seem like targets for every testosterone-filled male that sensed ‘prey’ and moved in for the kill.

When we lost our virginity – for the wrong reasons or for the right ones – we crossed the Rubicon; becoming women without knowing what we were getting ourselves into and trading the innocence of girlhood for the turbulence of adulthood.

We were virgins once… and free (or did we just have the illusion of liberty?)

Writer’s Note: I don’t really know what triggered this post – perhaps the self-deprecatory humor I entertain whenever I see my youthful naivety reflected in the untainted countenances of my young sisters or perhaps it’s provoked by the sadness of knowing we can never spare our little sisters the pain of being deceived, lied to, used and eventually discovering the disillusionment we call womanhood (or has cynicism gotten the better of me?)

Who’s scared….of a few taboos?

Zimbabweans are generally a conservative lot and although we belong to different tribal groupings – there is a lot of commonality in our customs and beliefs especially in the area of sex education.

There was a time, I dare say, when people took pride in the sexual ignorance of young people; equating such naivety on sexual matters with chastity and sexual purity.

"..its taboo for a girl to have sex before marriage because it will break her mother's back" - Venda culture

The less a young person knew about sex and where babies come the more commendable they were for demonstrating that they were not inclined towards “naughtiness”.

In fact where ignorance about sex could not be imposed; our elders in their wisdom crafted clever lies to strike the fear of sex into the tender hearts and nubile bodies of the youth.

These clever lies are some of our Zimbabwean taboos drawn from various tribes and cultures and this post is written to remind us of them and to ask (tongue in cheek) – Who’s scared of a few taboos?

Who remembers the time when young girls were taught (and they believed these teachings) that:

Do not let a boy play with your breasts; because they will grow as big as pumpkins.
Do not have sex with boys; because you will develop pseudo-pregnancies
Do not look at the private parts of somebody; or else you will grow a boil on the eyelid.
Do not engage in sexual intercourse otherwise your sexual organs will turn into a frog or a chameleon.
Do not indulge in sex or else your sexual organs will move to your forehead.
Do not play with boys because you will fall pregnant.
A girl should not indulge in premarital sex because her parents will suffer from backache.

As a rule of thumb, human private parts were not to be exposed or looked at and the manner in which girl children sat was strictly monitored to ensure that their sitting posture did not expose their private parts.

Girls were always reminded to ‘sit properly’.

And of course the elders went to all the trouble of concocting these lies just to preserve the virginity of girls that “priceless” commodity tucked neatly between our legs. (Do I sound a bit irreverent?)

...no chastity belt required if your family can just 'lock' you with medicines and concoctions...aah - you gotta love the potency of African magic!

This brings me to the irksome topic of virginity testing since the virginity of girls was closely guarded as a matter of family honor and pride.

In some tribes, virginity tests were conducted randomly and usually the venue for these inspections was the river.

Some tribes relied on shaming the deflowered girls. If you failed the virginity test and it was discovered that you had been deflowered; you were made to carry a half-full clay water pot to your home as a sign to your mother that you’d been deflowered *cringe*.

Other tribes employed scare tactics to force a confession from a deflowered girl and this would involve asking the ‘suspect’ to suckle someone else’s baby. A virgin would not refuse but a deflowered girl would immediately confess and refuse because taboo had it that if a deflowered girl suckled a baby – the baby would fall sick and die.

Then there were the more hectic tribes that employed some really mysterious tactics to ensure that the girls’ prized virginity was not tampered with.

The families would simply “doctor” their daughters and the girls would have no idea that they were “fenced” such that when a young man had sex with them that young man’s stomach and genitals would swell (I kid you not!).

To avoid dying, the culprit would have to confess to the girl’s father ask for forgiveness, be cured by the girl’s further before being forced to marry that girl and be banned from having sex with any other woman and if he refused, he’d die.

Yeah…so that’s a bit on our Zimbabwean taboos and I know some of them will be considered outmoded because no young person these days will buy into these taboos but it’s always nice to reflect on the wisdom of old and acknowledge – they had a good thing going before modernity in the form of the internet, Google, TV and porn magazines ruined it!