I had just come on break when our translator asked me,
"Are their any virgin girls in America?"
At the time I was serving as a gate guard on FOB Diamondback in Mosul Iraq and was about halfway through my deployment. The question took me aback. What, did he think that American girls are somehow not born virgins? Or that doctors de-virgify them when they're born, kinda like the way boys get circumcised? Keeping in mind that something had probably been lost in translation I tried to explain as best I could.
Yes, we have virgin girls in America. Under a certain age, say 12, the vast majority is going to be virgins. Same as anywhere ('cept those places that allow child marriage maybe). After that the percentage is going to keep going down so that it would be hard to find one after say, 30.
That aside, I launched into the rant I'd been holding back since I understood his question. It touched on a personal gripe of mine. Why would sex be considered the defining act between purity and non-purity, between innocence and adulthood, between saintliness and wretched corruption? For that matter why does the before-sex catagory get a name and the group that experienced it not get a name? It seemed backwards. You don't give special names to those who haven't skydived, gone to college, or killed a man (more on that last one in a bit). I felt that you gained from sexual experience, not lost, and you should a special name for you newfound status.
I felt, as I told the translator, that murder was the defining loss of innocence. That there was nothing inherently bad about sex. But there certainly was a loss of innocence when you take another's life, whatever the circumstances. I know that by my definition the vast majority go their whole lives as unstained as the day they were born. Which is as it should be. It also felt a little weird coming from a soldier, in a warzone, in full battle-rattle and with a bullet in the chamber. It just seemed wrong that those on deathrow wouldn't automatically be considered impure but a newlywed couple would. To my mind there is a world of difference between a hooker and those little shits who go into their school and shoot random people (I don't think it's a very great assumption to believe the shooters are all virgins).
That was about as far into my rant as I got before I had to go back out onto position. My break was only an hour long. I'm not really sure how much I convinced the translator or whether he was just humoring an angry soldier by sitting quietly and nodding his head.
In case anyone was wondering, I never had to shoot anyone in Iraq. Though some in the coalition forces tried my patience.