Once upon a time a beautiful woman met a handsome man and they fell in love and decided to get married. But first she had to fulfill a promise she had made earlier, letting her father know that on the day she wed she was pure.
What may sound like a fairytale to some was the real life of Brelyn Bowman. On the eve of her wedding, she presented her father, Maryland pastor Mike Freeman, with a medical document confirming that she was a virgin.
And then Bowman did something else: she posted a photo on Instagram dancing with her dad at the reception and captioned it, "I was able to present a certificate of purity to him signed by my doctor that my hymen was still intact. Also the covenant he gave me when I was 13. When you honor God, your life will automatically honor others! I love you."
This is when things got decidedly less fairytale and more like a nightmare. As the Internet is known to do, it went crazy at what it saw as icky, strange, retro and anti-feminist that a woman would need to announce and medically verify her virginity. People were also unhappy that she linked it to honoring God, as if the single and sexually active were sinning. The Tweeters went to town. And one woman's private moment went viral.
Nothing is surprising about Twitter sticking its nose in other people's business. But maybe social media wants to reflect for a minute on the double standards it indulges in. If a woman Facebooks sexy declarations, she is applauded and her status is liked. Women post a** shots and become Instagram stars. Women tweet about their love of the d and are heralded as sexually liberated.
But sexual liberation — and feminism, too — mean being able to embrace either side of the spectrum of sexually activity and not face condemnation. If slut shaming is a no, so is virginity shaming. If women are going to have a shot at ever getting closer to the fairytale, the happily ever after needs to encompass — and celebrate — all of our choices.
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