Sex. The topic that dictates the plotline of every TV show, be the driving force behind all movies and be the hidden meaning behind every song lyric innuendo. What used to be a topic that was only acceptable to whisper about in the privacy of your own home is now part of our everyday interactions. Ever catch an episode of Sex and the City? Ever listen to a rap song or secretly play Boyz II Men every night? Ever put on an action flick because you know the hero is going to have a steamy make-out sesh just as the villain starts raining bullets down on his ass? Now let me pose a different sort of question: if we are so aware of everything even remotely involved with sex, what does it mean to be a virgin anymore?
Yes, I said it. VIRGIN. It used to be “shocking” to discover anyone was having sex at all, and now it’s “shocking” to discover anyone isn’t having sex. How many twenty-somethings do you know who are virgins? None? One? That crazy kid who never leaves his dorm room long enough to have a social interaction that could lead to, well, any real human contact? Well let me squash that stereotype for you [I’m sure he left his dorm room once to buy more Ramen and a backup power cord for his backup laptop]. We’re out there. And we’re not all ultra-Christian, ultra-Mormon, really ultra-religious anything. We’re not ultra-conservative, have ultra-overbearing parents, ultra-sheltered anythings. In fact, if you met some of us on the street or [gasp!] at a party, you’d be hard-pressed to suspect a thing. You see, we don’t actually have flashing neon signs that say VIRGIN ALERT over our heads.
We’re not even all prudes. Some of us have friends of the opposite sex. Some of us have been kissed a few times. Some of us get wasted and dance on tables and make-out with the dashing British boy from Intro to Psych. Some of us haven’t spent the night in our own beds after a party. Some of us have been in long-term relationships. Some of us have done things a lady doesn’t mention in mixed company.
So what exactly is stopping us from sealing the deal? Now, before you start calling me super traditional, wait-until-I’m-married-before-I-even-think-about-wearing-anything-but-white, born and bred virgin, let me begin by saying that is far from the truth. I personally don’t see the point in waiting until your wedding night to be left with what can only be a very awkward encounter with the person you just pledged the rest of your life to. Yikes. There is a good chance that I might never get married. And not in an “I’m going to die an old maid” type of not married, but I don’t feel it is a critical part of my life necessary for happiness with the poor guy I choose to spend my dying days with.
What is it then? Is there something overly righteous about us that we haven’t succumbed to the peer pressure of society? If you’re going for shock-value, try walking into a room full of your peers and shouting SUCK IT WORLD, I’M A VIRGIN as loud as humanly possible. I haven’t tried it, but I can only imagine what would follow [in the very least some brave soul should eek out a that’s what she said joke]. I guarantee you’d be treated differently afterwards. There would be the pitiers [when you’re a virgin you get a free-pass on making up words]: “Oh you poor precious thing! Don’t you worry child, someone will deflower you someday.” And the freaked out: “Yeah, so when I asked you on that date the other day, I forgot I had to see my aunt’s best friend’s nephew’s brother-in-law’s cousin’s kid in her second grade play debut….” And don’t forget those who will find words to be too advanced for their level of understanding: “I mean, it’s no big deal…. Um… Yeah… I mean, I guess it’s kind of weird… but no, it’s cool….” Um, okay. What you’re really all thinking [besides those actually ultra-conservative and/or religious folk who are probably patting you vigorously on the back right now and inviting you to make a presentation on the art of celibacy to their ultra-conservative and/or religious club next Thursday]: “What’s wrong with her? That girl is such a prude.”
Now what I don’t understand is why I’m supposed to feel ashamed or embarrassed about the fact that I’m a virgin. If it’s not such a big deal to lose your virginity, then why is it such a big deal to still be a virgin? So what if I haven’t had a guy’s charms keep me enthralled long enough to pop my cherry? So what if I don’t have to worry about renewing my birth control just in case the boy I’m flirting with on Saturday night doesn’t bring a condom? I don’t think I should be looked at any differently because I haven’t indulged in the pleasures of a one-night stand with the hot guy from the bar or had a romantic stay at a B&B with a cute little four-posted bed covered in rose petals.
We are so inundated with the idea of sex that we pretty much just assume everyone is constantly locked in the thralls of ecstasy. Even doctors are skeptical of our virgin-ness. Like I’m lying to her when she asks my favourite question: “Are you sexually active?” When I respond with a dignified, “No,” she immediately replies with a skeptical, “Have you ever been?” Two minutes later I still find myself peeing in a cup so she can tell me that I am, in fact, not pregnant. Thank goodness, I was really worried that my sprained ankle was the result of a divine pregnancy.
When did it happen that being a virgin was no longer something considered to be, if not something you particularly care about yourself, something commendable? Is there an age that being a virgin goes from something we are respected for to something we should hide? So if we adhere to society’s absurd rules, we end up awkwardly clinging to our virginity under the veil of being sexually active. This, in my experience, usually only saddles you with the label “tease,” which only seems to be slightly more encouraging than the derogative undertones the word “virgin” seems to have developed. Announcing your virginity leads people to think you will be like that clingy crazy girl Vince Vaughn shags in Wedding Crashers or your greatest goal is to immortalize Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
So why do virgins get such a bad rap? Is it that despite this open dialogue we think we have about sex, we’re all still a little embarrassed about it and therefore blame the “pure” for making us feel just a little bit of shame for exercising our carnal desires? Is everyone really as comfortable talking about it as they claim to be? Well, hate to break the news, but us virgins are not perfect. And we’re not any better than you simply because we somehow managed to build up a stronghold of will power against our sexual impulses [fun fact: even virgins have sex drives]. But you’re also not any better than us simply because you have experienced life’s greatest pleasure outside of childbirth [the jury is still out on that one being a remotely enjoyable experience, but rumor has it it’s not quite as trauma-inducing as the Miracle of Life video I passed out during in ninth grade].
For the record, it’s not like I planned to still be a virgin at this point in my life. In fact, I too would like to experience life’s second greatest pleasure [not to totally ditch the Virgins United club]. But I think that part of being a strong, independent woman in this evolving world is that not settling for less than I think I deserve. I think I deserve my first time to be with someone who loves me. Someone who respects me. Someone who gets where I’ve been and where I’m going. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I don’t think I should be ashamed that I haven’t felt strongly enough about someone to hand over the keys of my chastity belt yet. I don’t think I should have my virginity be labeled as “baggage.” I don’t think I should feel awkward about the fact that when I do lose my virginity, it’ll probably be a colossal hot mess of inexperienced fail. And I’m okay with that. Incidentally, dropping the fact that your V-card has had exactly zero transactions is a great way to weed out all the guys who were only signing up for that one-time big purchase. And to the guys [and gals!] that aren’t tripping over themselves running for the door, I tip my hat to you.
So while I applaud my friends that have followed Samantha’s weaving path through endless bedrooms in The City, I will wait. And there is no shame in waiting.
By Holly V. Furman and Kayla Jackson.