When I was an active sexual abuse counselor one of the concerns that female victims often relayed to me was that they were worried that they were now 'used' because someone had violated them sexually. This is a common fear for female victims and a terrible burden to many.
It poses the question of whether or not a woman can ever be 'used' 'damaged goods,' or any other derogatory statement to describe a woman in regard to her sexuality and character in general. It also poses the question of what type of woman could be considered 'used'.... could it apply to a woman who has been sexually abused or even of a women who has had sex outside of marriage? Some even go as far as saying that if a woman takes an interest in sexual pleasure inside her marriage she is in a sub category of being used... a type of 'married whore.'
The answer is NO... a woman is never 'damaged goods,' 'used up,' 'slutty,' or in any way less of a beautiful woman worthy of respect if she has been sexually active no matter the circumstances.
Especially not in a case of rape, sexual abuse or assault. A woman is NOT used, she is a victim of a crime. You would not say that someone who was a victim of a mugging was used, so why use it for a crime of violence toward a woman whom has been sexually assaulted?
The Seed of the Sexual Abuse Lie is Planted
In the case of the abused female child, it is the perpetuator who has really committed shameful behavior and in many cases is the person that plants the seed in their victim's mind. This is done to aid the perpetrator in keeping their dark secret, i.e.: "Don't tell anyone or they will think you are a whore."
Another way the seed is planted is through someone trying to deny that the abuse has really happened or rationalize how it could occur. For example, in a case where a father molests his daughter, the mother upon learning of the abuse may enable her husband to do it and keep the secret while telling the daughter that she is a 'whore' for having sex with her father.
Would a Mother Do This?
What makes this confusing to any child who is sexually abused, is that during the abuse the genitals are often being stimulated which have a physical reaction of pleasure that greatly conflicts with the psychological mind that is confused about what is happening or is screaming that this is horrible and wants it to stop.
The physical reaction makes the victim have a hard time accepting that they did not want it because they question why their body would feel pleasure. That is simple, the rich nerve endings in the erogenous zones of the body (genitals, anus, nipples, etc.) will often provide pleasure when stimulated regardless of how we emotionally feel about it. The physical pleasure will often become associated with emotional pain and fear. It is further complicated by the fact that most abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, thus, sometimes making it difficult to be angry at the perpetrator.
What most victims also struggle with when they experience that sensation again in a healthy, consensual adult relationship is that they often have such a strong association with the abuse that they begin to question if perhaps they really did do something 'dirty' because they may now be enjoying these sensations with their lover.
It is just one of many reasons why sexual abuse, assault and rape are so horribly damaging. They take one of the strongest pleasures a person can have through the rich nerve endings in their body and warps it into a hellish, psychological nightmare.
Slut, Whore and More
In a world that still struggles with sexist attitudes, many people continue to throw around name calling like 'Whore,' 'Slut,' 'Tramp' and other such derogatory words to describe a woman who is sexually active or has been sexual outside of a marital relationship.
I often wonder how it is possible to see any human being as 'used' or 'damaged goods.' I think that we simply have to numb ourselves, our hearts, our compassion, and our love that we possess for all people in order to ever consider another person 'trash.' We are all imperfect. Yet, I believe that being sexual as a woman is far from what makes us imperfect. In fact, I think embracing it is one of the most beautiful ways we can know who we are and how we can be strongly empowered.
A Woman's Anatomy
Some people think that once the hymen is broken (popping her cherry) that a woman is no longer pure or is a virgin. As far as being 'pure,' let me say that I have met virgins whose character and behavior in other aspects of their life were far from 'pure.' In regard to the Hymen... ridiculous... the hymen is NOT an indicator of virginity.
To be blunt... let's just end this double standard right here and now. Men who think that women are 'used' because their penis does not change from having sex but a woman's vagina does is not thinking about the fact that a woman's vagina is very flexible and is not as changed by a penis as you may think. We are designed to push 7-10 pound babies out of us, what makes a man think that his penis could really make a terribly noticeable difference?
Even if that is the point you are clinging to, could we not say that a baby is no longer pure because it ate solid food that passed through it's throat for the first time? No? Why not? The throat has been penetrated by food... is it not 'pure' now? Oh, it must be because food is not considered "dirty." Well, isn't that saying men's penises are dirty? What does that say of men? I mean if you want to buy into this ridiculous idea then why not look at what is really being said?
Apparently, you have to believe that the real problem here is men and because I have a high opinion of men and do not think that they are dirty, have foul genitals or can lesson the value and worth of a vagina of a woman, I strongly disagree.
The Psychological Anatomy of a Woman
Why has a woman's virginity been and is so important to so many people? It generally stems from a biological root and a sociological root.
I know you've heard this before... the old scientific concept that women have traditionally been the ones to ground a family by taking on responsibilities for the children, while men have a biological need to spread their seed.
I find these often used as excuses to pigeon hole our emotional, mental and spiritual growth. How can we evolve if we keep believing that this sums up our roles? "Oh, he had to cheat on me... he's just spreading his seed," or "She is a used tissue now that she's had sex with that guy." What kind of person claims to be an evolved human being, but compares themselves and uses the mentality of an ape to justify their beliefs? That is what this scientific stance takes on when we justify our beliefs on it doesn't it?
I am not saying that it is not important to understand some of our basic biological roots scientifically, but to say that is a justification for behaving badly through infidelity, name calling, controlling someone through fear tactics and shame based guilt... well, I truly do not believe that is what our evolution is all about.
The sociological aspect of calling a woman 'damaged goods' for having sex is simple. It's to control women. Women are often shamed into saving themselves for marriage and encouraged to be prude during sex so that they can be more easily controlled and dominated not just by controlling men, but insecure women.
Women often fear that they will be a social outcast for enjoying their sexuality and thus deny it. Women are so fearful of the social stigmas out there about sexuality, they forget about their own feelings on the matter and thus ignore what the right choice is for them and focus more on what they think the right choice is based on what others think.
Why Do People Say & Think This?
People are inherently good, but we all suffer from weakness of the ego from time to time. We all at some time or another struggle with the need to soothe our insecurities by putting others down in someway. This kind of insult is based on the following-
Perhaps in better understanding why we cling to these unhealthy belief systems we will be better prepared to break our need to live them. Women, just as men, are deserving of respect no matter what their sexual status.