Within South Asian culture worldwide, the concept of being a virgin carries profound significance, serving as a symbolic marker of purity, virtue, and moral integrity.
However, as South Asian communities grapple with modernisation, the discourse surrounding virginity transforms.
This is seen in the UK, where the sexual lifestyle of British Asians is challenging traditional norms.
Whilst the idea of being a virgin was solely placed upon women, has there been a shift where women now desire a husband who is a virgin?
More British Asian women are sexually active, whether society reflects this or not.
Whilst British Asian men have had their fair share of sexual encounters, research by Data Psychology showed that there were more male virgins (generally) from ages 18-20 in 2021 than there were in 2018.
This provides a glimpse into how sexually active men are and the differences in their lifestyles compared to the past.
Therefore, is this more laid back approach to sex hindering their chances of finding a partner?
Through a blend of cultural insights, personal narratives, and societal analysis, we shed light on the complexities around sex before marriage.
How Important is Virginity?
In a DESIblitz poll, we asked the question: “Do you agree with sex before marriage?”.
Interestingly, the vote was split with 50% voting ‘yes’ and 50% opting for ‘no’.
However, we tweaked this question and put forward: “Would you or have you had sex before marriage?”.
Again, the vote was incredibly close. 51% said they had sex before marriage and 49% claimed they had not.
Virginity is highly valued in South Asian culture and is frequently regarded as a sign of honour and purity.
However, the assumption of female virginity by society is a deeply rooted custom that might sustain taboos and gender inequality.
Not being a virgin is frowned upon due to social conventions that determine a woman’s value solely based on her sexual purity.
Not living up to this expectation can lead to violence, rejection from society, and social shame.
Men might not be subjected to the same scrutiny or condemnation as women, who are expected to maintain their virginity until marriage.
Though exact figures on virginity in South Asia could differ, cultural expectations and standards around female virginity are still common.
Research has indicated that women’s mental health and general well-being may be negatively impacted by social pressure to remain virgins.
Though women are more often the focus of attention when it comes to virginity, guys are beginning to value their virginity as well.
But, cultural standards frequently give male virginity less of a priority, creating a double standard in expectations and views.
There is a rising recognition of the need to question these gendered expectations and confront the taboos surrounding virginity more inclusively and fairly.
In the UK, more British Asian families are inclined to give their children freedom.
In most cases, British Asians experience their first sexual encounters at university when they have more freedom.
Whilst this can be exciting for them, it can also be daunting.
A lot of individual hold onto their family views of sex before marriage which can repel them from having sex.
Likewise, nerves also play a part. Men especially are taught to ‘take the lead’ during sex.
For first-timers, this can be a lot of responsibility and they may prefer not having sex at all.
However, does this importance on virginity impact the way women view their future husbands and their sexual experience?
The Expectations of British Asian Women
Whilst many British Asians are well aware of the stigma attached to having sex and dating before marriage, has it hindered their opinion of virgin partners?
Do they desire a virgin husband or someone with experience in that field?
Is it a deal-breaker if they have had multiple sexual encounters or would they prefer a person who has waited their lifetime for the ‘perfect one’?
28 year old, Asha Khan explained:
“I never really thought about whether I’d prefer my husband to be a virgin or not.
“What matters more to me is mutual respect and understanding.
If he’s had experiences before me, as long as he respects my choices and values our relationship, that’s what truly counts.”
30-year-old Priya Patel from Birmingham added:
“Honestly, it’s not a big deal for me. What matters most is the connection we share.
“I’m not a virgin so why would I expect him to be?
“Whether he’s a virgin or not doesn’t define our relationship and shouldn’t be a major factor in marriage.”
25 year old Maya Sharma* spoke to us and said:
“I come from a traditional family, so there’s some pressure to marry someone with similar values.
“The idea of my husband being a virgin is appealing since I am too.
“I feel like it would be safer for me to be with someone as sexually experienced, or inexperienced, as me.
“The thought of having a husband who has been with multiple girls is not a turn-on.”
Furthermore, 29-year-old Ananya Singh revealed:
“To be honest, it wasn’t something I initially thought about.
“But, after university and dating, it’s become apparent that more guys are having sex and I feel it irks me.
“I want to hear a guy say he’s a virgin. That would be refreshing in this day and age.”
Furthermore, 25-year-old Neha Kapoor claimed:
“Yes, it would bother me.
“I couldn’t be bothered with being the one to do all the work if the guy didn’t have the social skills to make things progress.
“I would assume there was something wrong with him if he hadn’t had sexual experience.”
“There could be a whole range of reasons why someone could be a virgin.
“If there had been some form of trauma or something, then I can understand why things may be delayed in that respect.
“But if it were just because you can’t talk to women, it would put me off.”
Farah Ali* also talked with us and gave her view:
“I’m a Muslim and it’s no secret how we look at sex before marriage, and in general as well.
“But, I feel faith and culture are different and you can blend the two. This is what I am trying to do.
“If I want good sex, I look for an experienced guy who knows what he’s doing.
“But we’re all born inexperienced, we’re all born virgins.
“Everyone should get the chance to build up some experience, to become good at it.
“That’s why I sometimes take on the role of ‘teacher’. Not for my pleasure, but for theirs.
“I think if I were to marry a virgin, it wouldn’t put me off. It might even turn me on knowing that I would be their first and forever.”
Farah’s friend, Zara* added:
“I’m not as open as Farah (she laughs).
“It’s not a secret that more Asian girls are having sex. It’s liberating and empowering to have that option now.
“So, we can’t have double standards and expect our husbands to be virgins and for us to have a high body count.
“I think when I get married, I’d like someone who’s as sexually experienced as me.
“Not more, not less, the same.”
We also chatted with 31-year-old teacher, Leena Patel*, who stated:
“I come from a modern family, so there isn’t as much pressure regarding my husband’s virginity.
“It shouldn’t matter that much and I’d expect him not to think I was a virgin too.”
33-year-old Rhea Gupta told us:
“There’s some expectation for my husband to share similar values regarding sex.
“I would like for him not to be a virgin because I’m not.”
“Whilst your first time should be special, I’m not sure if it adds more pressure to someone when they are in that type of situation.
“I’d rather him have his experiences elsewhere – not sleeping around, but just to know what he’s doing.”
38-year-old Pooja Sharma agreed:
“Imagine I’m in bed and he doesn’t know what to do.
“I think it would take the sting out of the relationship if he was unaware of how to please me.
“Also, a lot of guys lie about being a virgin, which needs to stop.
“There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s all preference.
“But, Asian guys especially, you don’t need to lie about your experience or be ashamed.
“To be fair, part of that shame has to do with how the media portrays sex and glorifies it to be something that determines your status in society.”
Does it Matter?
The exploration of virginity in South Asian culture challenges us to question established norms and respect tradition while embracing evolving notions of empowerment and identity.
Attitudes toward virginity vary among individuals, influenced by cultural backgrounds, personal experiences, and shifting societal dynamics.
The testimonies gathered reflect a spectrum of perspectives, from those who prioritise mutual respect and connection over virginity status to others who value sexual experience as a component of compatibility.
Additionally, there’s a growing recognition of the need to dismantle double standards and foster inclusive dialogues that acknowledge diverse experiences and preferences.
Ultimately, men should allow themselves to explore sexual partners, if that is what they desire.
However, if they prefer to remain celibate, then they shouldn’t be shamed for that by friends, social media, or media portrayals.
Whilst some women may prefer a more ‘experienced’ husband, others would still value their husband if he was a virgin.
Likewise, there shouldn’t be any added pressure for a man to lose his virginity, depending on the interests of women. or what he thinks a woman would like.
Additionally, we agree with Pooja that there should be transparency within relationships and one should not lie about their experiences, or lack of.
Evidently, it is all preference when it comes to British Asian women and their potential husbands.