ONE of our readers from Vietnam, N, shares how societal pressures and the double-standards between males and females in her home country make the choice to stay celibate an easy one.
I’m a Vietnamese girl who is twenty-something. For me, sex is something that stands among what you think and what you actually do. I think sex before marriage is fine and talking about sex is not embarrassing. That’s what I think. But what I actually do? I don’t have the courage to be a woman. Virginity is very important, not only for me, but for the perceptions of many people in my country.
I don’t have the courage because of the inequality between males and females happening around me. Whenever I have a new boyfriend, that man would definitely ask me “Are you still a virgin?”. They also say, “I don’t care if you are or not. I love you just the way you are”. If you don’t care, then why do you ask? I’m not upset by the notion. I accept it. It’s kind of “life as we know it”.
Then there are the stories of my friends that have driven me to make a commitment to myself that I will never lose my virginity before marriage. GH is my best friend, so she is comfortable talking about sex with me. After six months studying abroad in London, she came back to Vietnam. We met and I asked her about her life out there. She lived with her boyfriend (in my opinion, he’s a fascist boyfriend who tried to control her life, ha!). They had sex. It was her first time and she wasn’t bleeding. Her boyfriend began to doubt her even though she tried to tell him many times that she was still a virgin when she met him. I know GH takes virginity seriously – she feels it can’t be easily given to a stranger. She must have loved him so much that she was willing to have slept with him. It mentally hurts that something you expect to be amazing can turn out to be so upsetting.
Another story: ML is my cousin’s girlfriend. ML, my cousin, and I are the same age so we are close to each other. They study in Seattle. They had sex. Somehow, my cousin’s parents found out. They thought ML was uneducated, nasty and had negatively affected my cousin. They forced my cousin to stop dating ML. Until now, they are still together but ML is still being treated badly by my cousin’s parents. My cousin is caught in between: he doesn’t want to let his parents down because they raised him but he also doesn’t want to give up this relationship.
My story might sound ridiculous in a country like Australia but it happens every day at every corner in Vietnam. I just wanted to share this. I hope the perceptions of people in my country will become more open-minded with these things.
This letter was a submission by one of our readers in response to SEXtember. It has been edited for clarity.
This is one of many different views we hoped to share this SEXtember. Find out more about the campaign and how you can contribute here.