Imagine parents of a six year old weeping because their son “lost his illiteracy.” His mother confesses that “Now, all the librarians know his name and his face. It’s like he’s not even our own child anymore. He can just…read any book he wants.”
Or parents of a 4 year old, distraught to learn their daughter has already “lost her pedestrianism.” They’re on camera, miserable and leaning against each other. “We asked her grandparents not to buy her a bicycle. But they insisted.” The child’s father shifts angrily in his seat, glances at his wife, and adds, “So we asked them to at least not teach her how to use it but…” The child’s mother drops her eyes. “My father insisted. Now there’s no regaining her feet’s innocent relationship with the ground. We can’t keep her off her bike.”
You GET your learner’s permit to drive. Toddlers START walking. We GRADUATE high school, BEGIN college and we _take_classes_ to learn to do things we’ve never done before.
So. Why do we still say we “lost our virginity”? It’s a step forward, it’s a learning experience, a shared experience, it’s a stage of adulthood.
I know history, I know that our laws considered my grandmother to be her husband’s physical property. My great-grandmother couldn’t testify in court, open a bank account, or vote, much less turn her husband down for anything he demanded of her.
I realize that women’s legal status as fully functioning human beings is recent. But it’s been four generations since we got the right to vote and two generations since women gained rights over their own bodies. It’s time to change our language regarding the initiate to adult relations.
I want good language for this change in life. I have a child who will experience this one day and I want to speak well of this life-changing event.