The Double Standard: Why Are Gambian Girls Forced To Remain “Virgins” As A Measure of Their Worth, Whilst Boys Are Free To Indulge in Meaningless Sex

[By Olimata Kah]

Religion tells us that there is purity in virginity. But over time, patriarchy stepped in, and decided that the rule only applied to women and not men. So, if that’s the case, then who are these so-called men having sex with? Exactly! No one says this out loud but buried deep in our cultivated subconscious is the notion that women who have sex before marriage are worthless. On the other hand, if a man doesn’t have multiple partners, he is considered to have forfeited his title being a “man”.

As a young woman born, raised and living in the Gambia, I hear many men say, “I want to marry a virgin”. Meanwhile, they have been impregnating people’s daughters and using women for their bodies under the guise of love. What about those women? Aren’t they worthy of love as well? But here is the funny bit: in the minds of a lot Gambian men, those women with whom they experienced transcendent pleasures are not “wife-able”.

This has prevented many Gambian women from experiencing sexual pleasures for fear of being seen as “loose”, “worthless”, “whores”, etc. All this is based on the idea that the longer a woman makes a man to wait for sex, the more he will value her.

This is a very toxic and dangerous mind-set that is teaching young Gambian girls today that their worth lies between their legs. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to encourage reckless sex that’ll result in unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

As Gambians, we should be focused on teaching ALL our children safe sex and the consequences that come with engaging in consensual sex. This will help end the pandemic of teen pregnancies.

Whether I am sitting in a taxi cab or I am in a restaurant, misogynist conversations happening between young men always filter into my ears—be it Gambians or otherwise. And all I hear about is their body count, sexual prowess and so-called game.

I NEVER hear a woman’s body be discussed with respect. And it is only when they realize that they are within an earshot of a woman do they begin to censor their conversations!

Did you know that there are some people who say a man cannot be a virgin? Do you know why that is? It is because there is no way to tell if a man is sexually active because nothing on his person changes nor is there a medical examination that can confirm it. However, for the female body, the hymen (if still intact in the first place), gets broken, her hips move differently and also, a doctor could examine her to tell if she is still a virgin or not.  That in itself is dehumanizing the female body.


And this brings me to my final point. The only reason why men place so much importance on a woman’s hymen is because they think that if she is a virgin when getting married, then only her husband will be able to satisfy her since he is the only man she has ever known.

That logic is dumb and has disappointed a lot of Gambian men.

Sex is an art and perfection comes with education and practice. So to the men out there thinking like this, unlearn this nonsense you have been taught that a woman’s virginity makes her more worthy whilst your lackluster sexual prowess makes you a man.

And to young girls and women reading this; you are not your virginity or lack thereof! Educate yourself about sexual health and how to remain safe. And before you decide to let a man into your body, be emotionally mature and ready for it and be sure you know the consequences that may come with it.

Remember: “….what lies between your thighs is a man’s Genesis so how dare he spit upon scripture?”(This Woman, Alysia Harris)