“How do we define virginity and how do we define sex?”
These were the opening questions Aida Manduley asked in her lecture, “Concepts of Virginity”, given as a part of the University of Tennessee’s Sex Week on April 8 in the University Center Hermitage room.
Finding concrete answers to these questions was not so simple.
In her discussion, Manduley talked about the different perceptions of virginity during several eras of history including classical Greece, ancient Rome and the Middle Ages.
"I really appreciated how she talked about the scale of virginity. It's not this black and white thing." Sarah Gossett, junior in French and Religious StudiesShe also focused on how America’s view of virginity developed from the Colonial period to the present day.
In addition to her lecture, Manduley encouraged students to speak about their own experiences which provided different views on how virginity and sex are perceived on UT’s campus.
Sarah Gossett, a junior in French and Religious Studies, enjoyed this part of Manduley’s talk.
“I really appreciated how she talked about the scale of virginity," Gossett said. "It’s not this black and white thing. Growing up in Tennessee, it was like your virginity is one thing, and you lose it, and it’s gone, and there’s no grey area. So, I think it’s important to talk about the grey areas.”
Manduley is the Programming and Development Coordinator for The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and is the Sexual Health Advocate for a domestic violence agency.
She said that the idea for this lecture developed when she and the UT sex week coordinators decided they wanted to reach out to the specific views UT students may have on virginity and sex.
“When we were talking about the culture of UT, the culture of Tennessee, the culture of this community, it was clear that it was necessary to not just talk about fringe elements and to talk about things that would be broadly appealing or a little bit more aligned with the values at UT,” Manduley said.
Find more information about UT’s sex week activities on TNJN’s timeline.