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On Virginity: What Egyptian Women Think Of Men Who've Had Premarital Sex

Last week, Mariam Raymone spoke to Egyptian men about women who engaged in premarital sex. This time around, she looks at the situation from the reverse perspective - interviewing women with different backgrounds to understand what they think of men who lose their virginity before marriage.

Last week I interviewed Egyptian men to understand what they think of women who’ve had pre marital sex. However, this week, I’ve decided to flip the script and venture to the other side. The unfortunate culturally built-in double standard between men and women in this country is substantial. It is a social stigma if a girl loses her virginity before marriage, but what about men? For them, having premarital sex in our society is somewhat more acceptable. But shouldn’t society also stigmatise them for doing so? From recent findings, I’ve discerned that men associate virginity to purity and delineate purity to something that is untouched - quite literally. The question is, do women perceive a man’s virginity the way men perceive ours? Here’s what they said…

Nadine, 21, Product Designer

Yes, any person’s virginity belongs to him or herself. There is no guidebook in life that says what’s okay and what’s not. Sure, religion is a major guideline for certain people, but regardless, it still remains your choice whether to follow it or not. So it’s up to that person to decide if it’s okay; not me. Not anyone. 

Hypothetically speaking, if my partner did this and people knew, it would definitely be a struggle with certain judgmental people around me. But if I love this person and if I personally believe that his virginity will not affect our relationship, then I shouldn’t let anyone’s (unasked for) opinion to interfere. Instead, I should be concerned with how much this person loves me and cares about me rather than whether their virginity is intact or not; a man’s virginity will not stand in the way of marriage. If he is a good person inside out and he loves me and I feel happy with him, then I see no reason to leave him just because he is not a virgin.

In a hypothetical sense, if my children told me they had premarital sex, my reaction would be the same for either my son or my daughter. But I wouldn’t wait until they actually do it, I would talk to them as early as possible about how a person’s virginity in its actual definition means “untouched, unused, new and innocent” and how it should be kept this way until it can be used and touched by the right person.

Sara, 23, Sales Executive 

Yes, I believe a man’s virginity is up to him, however, man or woman, both are wrong. Looking from a religious standpoint, as long as it’s not 7aram, then do what you want; however, sex is at the same level of 7aram as stealing.

If my partner had pre marital sex, I don’t mind as long as he regrets what he did, and repents. In addition if he changed and shows me he won’t do something like this again in the future, then it’s fine - people make mistakes. However, a leopard doesn’t change his spots, so if this is something he frequently does, then he won’t change.

If my child lost their virginity before marriage, I’d feel like I’m not their friend and failed at being a parent. We’ll probably have a huge fight and not speak for a while, as any parent would react. Son or daughter doesn’t make a difference, but I would be more upset with my daughter. I wouldn’t permanently marry them if they don’t love each other, however, I would temporarily marry them, just for proof that the girl was married and got divorced. People talk. If my daughter did this, I’m sure there’s a reason; maybe she’s crazy, young, or psychologically unstable. 

Samira, 21, Writer.

Generally speaking, everyone’s virginity is up to them. It’s just a question of self-control, and why one decides to practice this control; the reasons vary, with religious and societal pressures playing the most dominant roles, especially in our society. Premarital sex is in fact forbidden in most religions. However, people forget that God is forgiving, and that God is kind - although, they shouldn’t walk around having sex with each other and just assume that God will forgive them because he is merciful and kind, it doesn't work that way either. There's more to the person than his/her virginity, even in the eyes of God I presume.

I believe love is undoubtedly the most important factor. If you want my personal, honest opinion about virginity when it comes to my future husband though, I would rather marry a man who is more “experienced” than a man who knows nothing about what he’s doing. His virginity is his personal choice, so is mine. I did not fall in love with my boyfriend based on his virginity. I fell in love with him based on the numerous other qualities that actually mean something to me. Whether my boyfriend had lost his virginity out of love or lust makes no difference to me; both forces are powerful in their own way. I wouldn’t leave a man I love because he lost his virginity, period.

Son or daughter makes no difference to me. I would raise my children from the beginning (if ever I had any) to view sex as a sacred act - not just from a religious standpoint, but also from an emotional and highly spiritual one too, putting more emphasis on the latter. In regards to my reaction itself, there won’t be much I can do. Whether I like it or not the act already happened, that’s not to say that it will be easy to get through, but I guess having them grow up with a certain view on sex eliminates the risk if only by a little bit.  

Lara, 21, Student at GUC

A man's virginity in the Middle East is up to him and, according to "society", unlike women, howwa ragel so he can do whatever he wants; this is what society was raised upon. 

If my partner told me he had premarital sex, I would marry him despite that, because it’s only normal for a man to experience and experiment as long it’s in the past and he loves me now. Also, as long as he tells me what happened, just so that I’m aware, it’s okay because I don’t like being lied to. However, honestly speaking, if it was out of lust, it would make a difference. In addition, if he did it out of lust at a younger age it’s acceptable, but if he’s older, I think he’s supposed to be more mature.

Theoretically speaking, if my daughter did this, I would understand because as little girls, our minds were drilled with the idea that each girl has her own enchanting prince charming - however, she might be naïve, and think that the man she lost her virginity to will end up marring her, and the way our society functions, it won’t happen. She would be considered used. If my son did this, I would try to make things right by talking to girl's parents, and understanding what they want. If they want a temporary marriage, I wouldn’t mind as long as they’re of age. However if he did it out of lust, then I wouldn’t be okay with it. Karma’s a bitch, and that might happen to his daughter or son.

Ingy, 20, Student in London.

Yes, it is up to him to lose his virginity because it won’t socially affect or harm him.. For a woman, it would be up to her as well, but it won’t be ‘okay’ as she will suffer socially (especially in Egypt), while gaining a bad reputation (which could later affect her life).

People should definitely have the freedom to do what they want, but at the same time, they can’t expect society not to talk negatively about them. If my partner told me he had sex before me, I wouldn’t leave him; people knowing wouldn’t affect whether or not I’d stay with him either. If he did it out of lust or love, either way it doesn’t make a difference to me.

Hypothetically, if my son told me, I’d tell him it’s wrong and 'haram' and that he shouldn’t do it again. But if my daughter were to do it, my reaction would be a lot firmer and stricter and I wouldn’t forgive her easily. Society thinks the woman is less ‘pure’ or they think of her as ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’. Men would never want to be with a woman like that. For me personally, I wouldn’t judge her, as I believe it’s completely her choice.

Hana, 24, Accountant

Most men have already had a lot of experience; if I love him I would accept it, however I would always be worried and a part of me would not fully trust him. Furthermore, it would be engraved in my memory. I would prefer that he would have religious morals; therefore he wouldn’t think to do this before marriage. People make mistakes, so if he regrets it and I see that he has changed, it's acceptable.

I can’t imagine my children telling me this - hopefully they won't because I would’ve raised them with a religious background. However each generation is more obscene, so I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Amira, 25, Social Media Executive.

A man’s virginity is up to him. Its not a matter of whether he’s a virgin or not, it’s a matter of how his past looked like, how his past relationships shaped him, and what he made out of them. He could be a virgin, but a he’s disrespectful and vulgar person. It's not a matter of sex, it’s a matter of intimacy; virginity is not a matter of etiquette.

Personally, I would not want someone who is a virgin; I don’t want to come across someone who doesn’t have any sexual experience. What if we’re not sexually compatible? If he’s a virgin, he’ll be expecting something out of this world, but reality…might not be what he expected.

It depends on the situation; son daughter doesn’t matter, but was anyone taken advantage of? That prompts a conversation about the value of sexual intimacy; hopefully we would’ve had that conversation before that actually happens.

Malak, 27, PR Executive

Most guys have already had sex. It’s easy to judge and say it’s wrong, but unfortunately it is wrong. However there are a few factors involved. For example, if they deeply love each other, I can’t judge. However, if they do this just for fun, di karsa.

I wouldn’t end up with a person if he’s had sex before. If I know from the start that he did this I will not be with him, however if I found out later, it would be difficult to decide. Sometimes when you’re attached to someone and love them, you let things slide. Therefore, if I love him I wouldn’t leave him.

Farida, 25, Architect

Of course a man's virginity is up to him - just like a woman's should be, though we all know that isn't the case in Egypt due to the absurd double standards present in our society and culture.

Yes I would marry a guy who is not a virgin - in fact, I'd be a little surprised if he was a virgin. That would prompt a pretty interesting conversation as to why he chose not to have premarital sex - was it due to religious beliefs or was it more to do with wanting to wait for marriage on a more emotional level? Or did the opportunity just not arise?

Whether he lost his virginity out of love or lust wouldn't particularly make a difference to me. Sex is a part of life, and sure it's lovely if the person you lost your virginity to is someone you loved but I can't fault someone for having sex stemming from a place of lust - it's a part of the way humans are biologically built. 

If my kids told me they had premarital sex, I suppose - unless I become significantly more religious by the time I have children - I wouldn't mind on a personal level. I would want to make sure they were comfortable with their decision. I'd also want them to be aware of the cultural ramifications of having sex before marriage in Egypt. They still need to be aware of their society - and society is not very forgiving towards girls so I'd try and have a candid conversation with this hypothetical daughter about being careful due to the cultural stigma attached to losing your virginity.