The problem with 'viral virgin' stories and publicising a woman's virginity


An advert which was placed in the Christian Magazine, Christianity Today, has attracted a lot of attention after it was posted online. The ad, which was placed by a father and headlined Son-in-Law, described the man's daughter as a 'godly, gorgeous, athletic, educated, careered, humorous [sic], travelled, bilingual, 26-year-old virgin'.

If you haven't guessed already, the reason the ad has received so much response is because of the father's decision to include his daughter's sexual status in a post which essentially advertised her to potential suitors.

According to reports, Rachel Steward, the subject of the ad, had no idea that her father, Steven, was placing it in the magazine. But she defended his actions against critics who claimed that it came across as though he was 'trying to sell cattle' by posting, "This has nothing to do with money and everything to do with encouraging singles to seek first the kingdom of God.' Christianity Today have since apologised to their readers for publishing the advertisement and editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, described it as 'demeaning and in poor taste."

The father's inclusion of his daughter's sexual status in the ad implies that her virginity is one the characteristics which makes her worthy of interest from the opposite sex.

In Christianity. it's unquestionable that there is value placed upon sexual intimacy but what I find worrying about this trend of 'viral virgins' or the publicising of a woman's virgin status is that is has the negative consequence of placing value on the virgin and devaluing women with a sexual history.

Brelyn Bowman, the Christian bride who went viral when a photo of her presenting her father with a gynaecologist certificate that proved she was a virgin was published on social media, faced a backlash from Christians and non-Christians in response.

It's a widely known fact that many Christians, men and women, who have a sexual history can struggle with sexual shame, and these viral virgin stories can help to perpetuate that. Bowman has now said, "Maybe the certificate wasn't right" and has released a book which gives an insight into her personal abstinence journey and aims to encourage single Christians.

Of course, the experience of abstinence struggles can inspire and motivate others but this can be done without stigmatising those who haven't had the same journey. As Christians, we want to practice inclusivity, and this fascination with 'viral virgin' stories can encourage the association between a person's sexual past and their worth.