A good long while ago, I read author Peggy Orenstein’s wonderful book Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape all about the weird hangups and pathologies surrounding female sexuality from which we suffer signally in this country. An important moment in the book for me came when the author was discussing the concept of virginity and the uniquely flexible ways in which it has been, and is still being, defined and redefined among different female subcultures.
For instance, certain fundamentalist Christian circles have developed a concept of so-called “secondary virginity,” whereby girls who have in fact had sexual intercourse will become born again and will choose to rededicate themselves and their sexuality to Jesus, pledging never again to have intercourse until safely ensconced within the confines of Christian marriage. The discourse about virginity and its loss within the fundamentalist and Evangelical Christian communities centers heavily on notions of preciousness, scarcity, fear of damage, and concern for ownership and possession. Girls’ “maidenhead” is seen as a gift, something they come naturally endowed with at birth (by their creator!) and can choose to bestow on, or can lose to, another; something that must be protected and jealously guarded, and which can be marred through carelessness or irrevocably lost outright.
The most interesting part of this discussion for me came when Orenstein segued to discussing her conversations with a group of open, loud-and-proud, out-of-the-closet teenage lesbians who felt no need to cling to historically and patriarchally determined notions of virginity, but were instead concerned to craft a meaning for the concept that fit themselves and their own unique experiences. When asked what the term virginity and the concept of losing one’s virginity might mean to her, one member of this cohort responded that she reckoned it must have to do with the first time she orgasmed with a partner during sex.
I remember being struck by the amazing power of this redefinition of the concept of virginity and loss of virginity within this group of lesbians. They had managed to craft a notion that actually effaced the idea of loss altogether. Rather, for this group of girls, there was no particular diminishment. “Losing virginity” was less about artificial scarcity and more about realization of greater abundance: of experience, knowledge, and just plain fun. These girls weren’t undergoing any kind of forfeiture in their sexual experiences and climaxes; they were gaining a new, fuller level of experience and acquaintance with the world, their partners, and their own bodies.
One of the key ingredients in the immediate-return worldview that comprises the backbone of modern atheistic Satanism is realization that the world is a place of great abundance. Our more delayed-return, state-level, (post-)industrialized way of living tends to inculcate in us all a view of life and the planet as places and sources of scarcity, a constant struggle to locate precious resources, mobilize them for our benefit, and jealously guard them against loss or theft by others who also view the world as a source of scarcity rather than abundance. This scarcity-based view quickly renders the world and our activities within it one massive zero-sum game, where everybody’s out to get for themselves and their communities, and any one person’s or community’s gain means a loss to someone else.
When Satanists talk about “vital existence,” “indulgence instead of abstinence,” and “living deliciously,” they’re expressing a fundamentally opposing viewpoint of life and experience as abundance. Moreover, in affirming the ability and power of the individual to effectively accept and manage responsibility for partaking in, utilizing, and enjoying this abundance, modern Satanists signal their commitment to the inherent abundance of human knowledge and ability as well. We aren’t fallen, lost, or tainted souls who must be wary and afraid of our every impulse and bodily function or appetite lest we fall into sin and become the Devil’s plaything. For Satanists, not only is the world around us abundant, but we are abundant as well in our abilities to act and operate within this ample and manifold existence.
The only real source of true and thoroughgoing scarcity comes from the attempts of scarcity-minded thinkers who would seek to exercise their will over our own, who would use their bodies to violate ours, thereby limiting our ability to appreciate and enjoy the natural abundance that is all of our birthright as denizens of this planet. Satanists live abundantly, and to those who do not, such a life choice looks a lot like not only anarchy, but even a threat to the continued (if false) stability of a worldview founded on scarcity and control.
Not only do I feel an abundance of antipathy toward such folks, but I also wish them an abundance of free fuck-offery as well. Just because you find the world puckered and bitter, that doesn’t obligate me to cease and desist from delicious living. My taste buds work just fine. And, in the immortal words of the candy man from the 1971 film production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “the world tastes good.”