“Unsealed Bottles & Packets”: Virginity in 1900... Oops... 2019!
Virginity in the year 2019.
Virginity in the year 2019.(Photo: iStock) 

“Unsealed Bottles & Packets”: Virginity in 1900... Oops... 2019!

Recently, a Jadavpur University professor received massive backlash for a Facebook post comparing the virginity of a woman to the seal of a “cold drink bottle or a packet of biscuits.” In light of the above, here’s revisiting one of our pieces that delves into the concept of ‘virginity’, as perceived by some.

“Nice to see, good to hold,

Once broken, consider sold...”

If you’re thinking about sparkly porcelain vases – placed on top shelves at stores – that refuse to gather dust, even as you curse the expensive glint that violates your eyes, DON’T. This is not their moment. Nor is this about spurious governmental promises or fierce trust issues post a ‘woke-bro’ invasion. You’re betting on the wrong horses. I am talking of That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Lost, some 100 years after women first achieved suffrage:

Tough luck, my brave, strong ghosts of women’s past. It is 2019 and non-virgins – according to some – are like ‘juice ka dabbas’, among other colorful things like second-hand cars and rotten apples.

What’s the Big Deal with the V-Card?

Virginity – The biggest misnomer a woman’s virtue is STILL based on. You see, if you’re a woman, your sexuality is still an amorphous mass – an abstruse terror that causes frenzied ripples of distress as THE syllable rolls off your tongue – Sex.

Try saying ‘woman’ and ‘masturbation’ in the same sentence in a room with three or more people. You’ll see shock and discomfort bundling up in scrounged up faces to an extent that one would think organs are being harvested sans anesthesia.

Remember the mayhem Swara Bhaskar’s ‘masturbation scene’ in Veere Di Wedding caused? One would think Rome had fallen again.

(PS: Just as an aside, this is what a Rajasthan HC judge said a while back, while acquitting a man charged with rape: “Her hymen was ruptured and vagina admitted two fingers easily. The medical opinion is that the prosecutrix may be accustomed to sexual intercourse.”)



The state of never having had sexual intercourse never having had the power to enjoy your own body.

Kya Aapke Desires Sexual Hain?

The ‘pure virgin’s’ sexuality is shadowed by what is allowed and what is not – her sexual desires only serving the purpose of reproduction, tied to one man all her life. Traditionally, she scavenges for scraps that serve as remnants of a man’s sexual desire. Frankly, he can have his fill, whet his sexual desires, but hers are a forbidden domain.

The South Asian woman’s body is a conflicted terrain with mapped boundaries that allow you to shove a microphone in the nation’s face, play a second fiddle to neo-liberalism’s explicit fantasies, and ask things like, “Kya aap ke toothpaste mein namak hai?” but does not allow you to use the same microphone, with the same alacrity, to ask women on national TV, “Kya aapke desires sexual hain?”

What Object Are You Today?

So, what about the non-virgin – the to-be mother or the mother, for that matter?

The impossible virgin mother was everyman’s longed-for resolution of Oedipal conflicts: pure maternity, never distracted from her devotion by sexual desires.
Barbara G. Walker, in The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

It’s funny how the ‘juice ka dabba’ guys thump their chests and brandish swords at each other over what goes down South, privately, in a woman’s body, and yet none of them are willing to give you a logical explanation of WHAT exactly is the big deal about a woman who is not a virgin.

(PS: Female genital mutilation is still a thing in many communities across the world where the clitoris is partially or completely removed in order to keep the woman from experiencing sexual pleasure.)

Leave alone the fact that heteronormative slackers associate only a certain act of penetration with the loss of one’s ‘virginity’, what is truly unique about a woman’s ‘virginity’ is the fact that all ideas of chastity and purity emerge from this one ‘virtue’ – abstinence from sexual acts.

If you’re familiar with the kitschy ring of ill-informed laughter that resounds down living rooms and pubs when time-stunted minds are riddled with the below, you know what I am talking about:

What is it, that once lost, can never be found?

A woman’s virtue. And what is this virtue based on? Her virginity, of course.

You are not laughing, right?

So who is a ‘virgin’?
- The juice ka dabba that is good only as long as the seal hasn’t been broken.

(PS: The colour ‘white’, adorned by brides across the world, symbolises ‘purity’ and ‘virginity’ that can be traced back to a Victorian trajectory of morality!)

The seal down there? Once opened, you’re toast.

I mean, come on, would you have juice from an unsealed box? Of course, there is that entire debate about a woman’s body not being the same thing as a mute, still, non-living juice box, churned out by cogs in the capitalist machinery? But that is just boring talk.

Easily drawn analogies with dispensable objects from everyday life that reduce a woman to her sexuality, expressed or not, is SO much more fun. 

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