"I don’t judge women for the tightness of their vaginas."
Once upon a time, a virtuous woman was an asset to all ‘respectable’ men worldwide.
An era in which shunning an ‘impure’ woman was not only the norm, but also strongly encouraged.
While some cultures continue to latch onto misogynistic values of female sexual purity, fortunately, Western society as a whole has now progressed from this patriarchal mind set.
But has British Asian society transformed its cultural beliefs and traditions completely? Sadly no, it is still a relatively slow evolution.
Traditionally, disrespect to family honour coupled with the pressure on youths to marry young, meant that sex before marriage was a rarity for older South Asian generations.
Having little opportunity to meet and mingle with the opposite gender made the notion of becoming sexually intimate with anyone before marriage an unfathomable one.
In spite of the shift in generational values, some Asian parents still fail to abandon these values they have been brought up with.
Nowadays, in 21st century Britain, it is encouraged for Asians attend school, college and university, typically in a Westernised environment. Marriage is still an expectation, but the prospective age has risen significantly over the years.
With dating and relationships popular in the West, young Asians are given countless opportunities to live and experiment how they please, often with parents not suspecting a thing:
“I would marry a girl who wasn’t a virgin. It depends on the person. I think if she had sex before marriage doesn’t make her a bad person. It just means that she was ready before being married,” says Jay.
Jasmine adds: “Aside from the tearing of a very thin membrane, sex does not change you. I was the same person before and after I had sex, so why people make such a huge deal about it is beyond me.”
Despite growing up with the mantra ‘honesty is the best policy’, it appears in some situations the truth only incites dire consequences.
Some Asian brides have even gone to the extent of faking their virginity by carrying out surgery to repair the hymen.
The surgery is even offered by the NHS if there is valid proof that the issue of virginity is causing ‘distress,’ or otherwise can be carried out privately for between £1,500 and £2,000.
The glorification of sex has become even more prominent in the media, which in turn some would describe as a ‘destruction’ of core values of modesty and purity, instilled very strongly in Asian culture.
Several attacks on Bollywood becoming too ‘Westernised’ are often spoken of when sexual morals are questioned.
But for some, such allegations are merely a defence for the inevitable change in mentality over time. As Ahmad says:
“People like to push boundaries on what’s acceptable in society. Things which weren’t accepted before become the norm, and naturally people want to experiment with sexuality more.”
As a concluding statement, he adds: “I don’t judge women for the tightness of their vaginas.”
Alas, these more liberal minded individuals are not a majority. Some Asian men are known to enjoy casual sex, yet display signs of reluctance when admitting to having done so.
Their traditionalist values are finally exposed when the time for marriage arrives and they very shamelessly declare: “I would only marry a virgin.”
“We are different and we don’t necessarily have emotions when we do the deed, unlike women,” says Hari, who very proudly admits to having premarital sex on numerous occasions. Hari also refers to women who have had premarital sex as ‘sluts’, and stresses that he would never marry one.
Such a concept is not so easily acknowledged in modern society, even in India. The ‘Godless Indian Feminists’, who have gathered over 5,000 likes on Facebook, mock such ideals: “The whole idea of a woman’s body being ‘pure/impure’ is ridiculous. You’re confusing women with Desi ghee.”
If virginity is so important to men when looking at potential marriage partners, do women have a right to feel the same?
Harpreet says: “I think with most guys, you can’t find virgins anymore.
“[Guys] think that girls should be a lot more modest. Guys have urges and feelings they can’t control, and it happens. Whereas a girl can control themselves. I think Asian guys – they have that stereotype all the time.”
“I think it’s disgusting really, and it shouldn’t be that way. If you’re a guy and you’re going to do that and you expect to have an angel, no. That’s not fair. And I think that needs to start changing, and Asian guys need to realise girls are living in the same society as them.”
Watch our exclusive Desi Chats on what British Asians think about being a virgin:
But as much as men and women alike stand for the freedom to have sex prior to marriage, some stand just as strongly for the choice to stay a virgin until their wedding night.
It would strike many as strange, abnormal almost, to not want to pursue their needs in a Westernised environment where it would be seen as common practice.
20-year-old Saima says: “They like to speak of sex as being natural. But we’ve evolved in the past few centuries, we’ve learnt to repress our desires, we’re not animals. Staying a virgin is a sign of progression, not regression.”
In the past few decades, views on virginity have changed drastically. Whether men or women are comfortable with premarital sex or not is irrelevant.
Instead, it is the tolerance and acceptance regarding the choices individuals make which are of significance, and ultimately, it is this which needs to change.