[Editor's note: This article discusses sexual violence.]
A TikTok video posted a week ago by Cayce LaCorte (aka book_mama on the video platform) is taking the internet by storm. In response to a video asking parents to share something about the way they raise their kids that people think is weird—but is actually healthy for them—has gone viral, both on the platform and off of it. Here's why.
In her response, LaCorte starts by saying that she's raising her five daughters to believe that there is no such thing as virginity.
And she then very eloquently explains why this is the case. "It is a patriarchal concept used to control women and serves no purpose—other than making women feel bad about ourselves... [it] does not change your worth, it does not change who you are, it doesn't do anything other than it happened. Sex is important. It's a big deal. It should always be a big deal. It has nothing to do with your first time...it's just ridiculous. The whole concept is ridiculous," she says in the video that has over two million views at the time this was written.
LaCorte immediately addresses the judgment she gets from other parents by so openly talking about virginity as a social construct, and when asked if she thinks this will make her daughters promiscuous this mom fires back with facts. "I am raising them to be good people and have solid foundations and make their own choices and make smart, intelligent choices."
Her video has over 21,000 comments, which show different ways of why this conversation is important. For example, a user spoke from the perspective of someone who had suffered assault in the past "I love this.. I was raped. This made me cry. By your standards, I'm not soiled. I'm still worth it." LaCorte told BuzzFeed how her point of view is especially important for these survivors. "For an entire society to tell you that your worth is tied to your virginity or purity, then have someone take that from you?! It's heartbreaking and infuriating and makes me want to smash things," she said.
Diana Spalding, MSN CNM is a midwife and told us that from a medical perspective the notion of "virginity" is complicated and flawed. "Historically, 'virginity' has meant the absence of sexual activity in one's life thus far," she said. "But we know that 'sexual activity' is a really broad term that encompasses so much more than penetrative heterosexual sex. There are many people who have very active sex lives (and would not consider themselves 'virgins') but have never had penetrative sex." She also asked that we consider the word penetrative as it pertains to 'virginity.' "Penetrated by what? Who gets to decide what 'counts?' (Spoiler alert: The person with the vagina.)"
What about hymens though? There is a ton of misunderstanding there, too, says Spalding. The hymen is a thin piece of tissue present in some—yes, some, not all—vaginal openings. Some people have more tissue there than others. The notion that the hymen is 'broken' during the first act of vaginal penetration is not true. "It's a thin piece of tissue," Spalding said. "It's not like it seals off the vagina. It just kind of moves out of the way. Yes, sometimes it does tear and there can be some bleeding, but that is not always the case." And if it does tear, things other than penetrative sex may be the cause. "The state of one's hymen is not a marker of one's sexual history," said Spalding.
And for those who disagree with her, LaCorte says she's not here to change anyone's mind. She is here for those who want to hear a different perspective, regardless of what gender they, or their children, are. "For those who are intrigued by this, just keep an open mind. Ask questions. Think before you speak or judge, and be the person your kids come to and lean on when they need help or guidance," she told BuzzFeed. "Please remember to talk at their age level and keep it light—funny even. My girls have grown up hearing me rant (with humor, of course, nothing too scary) about the patriarchy and how women are portrayed on TV and in movies. This isn't a one-and-done kind of thing. It's an overall approach to how we discuss things with our kids in general."
As a mom to a boy and two girls, I want to take LaCorte's example and talk to my children (when it's appropriate) about sex and gender, and how their worth goes far beyond that. I also want to raise good humans, just like this very outspoken and controversial mom, is doing.