Saturday, March 26, 2011

Virginity: No Excuses

This post is for the Virgin!Roar feminist blog carnival.

If I said I was a 26-year-old virgin, what responses might I tend to get? Pathetic, lonely, unattractive, repressed, super-religious, weird, or just hopelessly uncool. Maybe my fate is terrifying, unfathomable, or even worse than death. After high school, no one really asks "are you a virgin?" anymore. But if it stopped mattering, there wouldn't be all these negative stereotypes. Luckily, I have a handy excuse: I'm asexual! No sexual attraction to anyone! So it's totally okay for me to still be a virgin! Right, folks? Right, folks?

In my rush to neatly explain my virginity though, maybe I'm doing a disservice to all the other adult virgins out there. We shouldn't feel pressured to provide reasons in a quest to convince others that our choices are valid. It can be hard to own a status that some people may consider embarrassing, but then again, it will always be embarrassing unless people own up. Whether we were "too busy" or "career focused" or "waiting for the one", we just did not feel like having sex.

I wanted to answer the question "is virginity my choice?" but gave up in frustration. The usual reasons why people have sex--romantic love or sexual attraction--don't apply to me. There is no personally relevant reason for me to have sex, although this might relate to my chosen priorities as much as my asexuality. I want to avoid sexual pressure, I don't want to be the subject of someone's desire, and I don't want to engage in sex as a means to power or an expression of gender roles. You know those feminists that people tend to be scared of, who bandy around stuff like "heterosexual sex is oppressive?" Well, I think that any form of sex can be oppressive, or not, depending on the people and situation. Sex of any kind would feel oppressive to me personally, outside of a very narrow range of hypotheticals that I am unlikely to encounter. This doesn't mean I'm repressed. To me, the most "traditional" sex is also the most unappealing. Nor am I against anyone else having sex. As they say, do you.

If being a virgin was so awful, I could find a sexual partner. But virginity is not so bad, and despite what this post might convey, it's pretty much irrelevant to my personal identity. Having sex for the first time is not a major rite of passage in my life, which would be the factor giving virginity much of its meaning. I would guess that by our late 20's, most people who really wanted sex have found some way to have it. So virgins, as we get older and fewer in number, might get more content with their status rather than more frustrated. That's been my own experience, and it's the complete opposite of what the media portrays. At 2o, I was confused and distressed by my lack of sexual experience, but at 26, I know that for me, this is normal.


Jessica said...


I lost my virginity at age 28. And I kind of wish I hadn't. I was very proud of myself once I hit 25 and still hadn't had sex out of fear or pressure or any other capitulating reasons. Sort of like you, my virginity hung over me like a cloud until finally I hit 25. Then all of a sudden it was awesome. I was looking forward to being a virgin for, well, forever, and thinking how awesome it would be to be 30 and still a virgin, 40 and still a virgin, 50 and still a virgin, 60 and still a virgin...

I met someone, though, and eventually decided to give sex a try. It did nothing, just nothing, for me. So now I'm not a virgin and I don't have that awesome status anymore.

But both of those things, the awesome status and the awful hanging cloud status, are still statuses based on being a virgin or not. Which really is not the goal.

Anyway, nice post. I didn't have sex because I didn't want it. I had it because I wanted to try it.

Blah, I'm rambling.

Rem Anon said...

Two thumbs way up for the last paragraph. You said it perfectly. :)

*BURN MY CANDLE* said...

Im still a virgin at 22 and Im a gay male and people are always shocked to find it out....then the same stereotypes youve mentioned are asked to me a million times. People just can not get over anyone being different than the bandwagon really. Or what they perceive as normal.

Ily said...

@Jessica: Hi! And thanks. Rambling is welcome here ;)
Even though being a virgin isn't that big a deal to me now, I do wonder if I did have sex in the future, would having been a virgin for so long make me feel worse if it was not a good experience? Not like I'm going to go try to "get it over with", though, nor do I feel like I'm "waiting". But I feel like if you have sex for the first time in your teens, its expected to be weird and awkward, but having sex for the first time in your 20's or later, there's not so much of a social script going on, you know?

@Rem Anon: Thanks very much! :)

@*Burn My Candle*: Were you 'Della Reese' before? Good to see you back here :) Way too many stereotypes about different kinds of people and how much sex we're "supposed" to have.

Anonymous said...

Im a 27 year old virgin, and I finally explained to my best friend after she once again gave me the "don't worry, you'll find someone you want to have sex with when you're ready" speech that I had no interest in having sex, and I don't care that I'm a virgin. :D

Anonymous said...

Like Jessica, I lost my virginity late (I was 26). I don't regret it because before I did, whenever people told me that the reason I didn't want to have sex was because I didn't know what I was missing, there was always a little voice in my mind saying maybe they were right.

I can now stand up to those people and say with utter conviction: I know what I'm missing and I don't want it.

But I admire people like you, Ily, who don't need that assurance of experience. You already know who you are.


Lanafactrix said...

Sing it, sister! And don't worry about it; while first sex can be positive and enjoyable, it's ALWAYS awkward with a new partner (no matter how many people you've had sex with before). So if you do decide to have sex someday, it'll be just as awkward at 50 as it would have been at 20. In my experience, anyway.

*BURN MY CANDLE* said...

Aww, it is me Della. You remembered! :)

Well I am happy just doing my own thing. I have never rushed my life to line up with the expectations of Others. If I have sex, fine. If I dont, then fine too. How can i miss what Ive never had? My right hand will just as it has always. lol

Anonymous said...

I hope you dont mind me asking but would it be possible for you to help me with a problem? For a few years now I have been wandering what is my sexual orientation. I am a 20 year old male, never been on a date and never had sex. And frankly I simply dont want to date girls or guys. Though I have never had a romantic crush on anyone I use to masturbate a lot.(Recently tying to stop to clear my head) But to be honest I started doing it because well I thought it was something I was suppose to do. Just the same I would watch erotic videos and pictures all featuring girls. But a few years back those same things simply didn't arouse me any more. I do remember as a 5 year old child I had some wired fantasies/thoughts about transgenders.
Any advice or help would be gladly appreciated.
Please dont consider me crazy or some troll, I am felling very lost and confuse at the moment but do to the county I live in it is hard to find help directly. Thank you in advance.

Layla said...

Refreshing and non-judgemental.

A few years ago it seemed like everyone assumed I wanted a boyfriend, and I was thinking "no that's ok I'm happy with things the way they are."

But i'd definitely recommend if you meet the man (or woman) of your dreams... keep an open mind ;) I'm sure you will keep an open mind because you seem like the kind of person who doesn't label themselves.

Ily said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! I really appreciate all the interest in this post.

To answer the question from Anonymous (and no, I don't mind you--or anyone--asking)...

First point: Asexuals can masturbate and have libidos; our libidos are just not directed at other people. I've also heard of asexuals viewing porn and even writing erotica. The bottom line is that we don't experience sexual attraction, although I know it can be hard to figure that out if you've never experienced it in the first place.

Although it's not a good idea to label other people, nothing about your comment has me going, "No way, he's definitely not asexual". So yeah, you could be. There's always the "well, am I just a late-bloomer?" thing, but the truth is, most people who are not asexual start to experience sexual attraction by their early teens.

I hope this helped, and if anyone else has advice, feel free to chime in!

@Layla, I would guess that my ideal man/woman/whomever would also be disinterested in sex. :) I've heard before, "Well, if you fall in love, maybe you'll feel differently", but there's no evidence that I experience romantic love, so...

Eli said...

26-year-old virgins rock! I want to be an 86-year-old virgin someday. But I'm not totally against the idea. I'm OK with sex in theory, but certain elements worry me--I can't stand being "the subject of someone's desire" and I'd rather die than see someone's O face. I'm sexpositive for other people but I think the situation required for me to happily participate in it is ..nigh impossible.But if said situation occurred and I'm in a good place emotionally (I'm pretty sure losing my V card while depressed or otherwise negatively vulnerable would be capital b BAD) ....maybe? I actually do have a V card. i made it myself. It makes me giggle.

Ily said...

@Eli, ditto to most of that. Once in "Details" magazine, I saw a feature that had various pictures of people, asking the question, "O-face or food network host face?" It was reallly hard to tell the difference. I don't watch the food network, though. Ha.

Eli said...

oh, ugh @ the o face story. I saw that too. It was indefinably disturbing. Add to that noises and I did make out while I was dating whatsisname :) but it was more for what it meant, not how it felt. People say "making my partner feel good is hot,too" and I have to disagree. Unless "hot" actually means "slightly perplexing and awkward."

Anonymous said...

Thanks that actually did help. I think I understand what you mean, I sometimes find certain aspects of a person attractive or alluring but never enough to ask them to be involved in a relationship with me. Who knows I might be asexual, to be frank I just want to know what is my orientation not knowing is just so depressing. Thanks for your help once again.

Anonymous said...

Cool. Well I don't feel so alone now. I'm 29 and still a virgin. It used to really bother me and occasionally still does. My reason for not having sex is pretty simple. I've never met anyone who I wanted to have sex with. And I didn't want to be one of those girls who just 'did it' for the sake of it with someone they didn't even know well or like and then regretted it for the rest of their life like half my friends.

In the last couple of years I've been thinking that maybe I'm asexual because I've never had any kind of sexual attraction to anyone. I've tried dating but it never really went anywhere because guys aren't interested in getting to know you or taking things slowly. If they don't get sex within a few weeks then you never hear from them again.

I think what bothers me most though is the whole if you don't want sex or have never had sex then there must be something wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with me :)

Ily said...

@Anon: Well, not-feeling-so-alone is what I like to hear! I basically have the same reason as you, although I know it's highly unlikely that I'd ever meet such a person. If you've never experienced sexual attraction at 29 (considering it's happening for most people in their early teens), I don't think it's very controversial to say that you may be one of us :)

Southpaw said...

Excellent post!! I don't plan on ever having sex so hopefully I'll stay a virgin forever!! I've never really come across negative reactions to it...surprise, yes, but not really anything particularly negative. And I've got to say...I do sort of find pride in still being a virgin (if only at 23). It's like- being a "virgin" is another part of my identity.

TheJester said...

Southpaw pretty much said what I was going to say.

So I'll just type the other thing I was going to mention, I wrote this on one of the episodes to the Alife podcast but noone has said it here...

What I don't get about the whole Virgin thing is why its important. Noone cares if you a "virgin" of anything else but a virgin of sex and there's something wrong with you.

Okay even if sex is meant to be a natural thing and they see not doing it as unnatural, I still don't understand it.

Like sex is a rite of passage for some people or a life experience but so are alot of other things.

Noone is going to pay you out because you've never been skydiving or your never traveled overseas. Those can both be life changing experiences just like sex.
so why is sex more important?

Ily said...

@theJester: You're right, although there are other sexual/romantic rites of passage that are also important, depending on your social circle: The "first kiss" for instance, or your "first date". There are other things that might be more specific to certain groups of people--like in some places, it might be seen as really weird to be an adult without a driver's license, or an adult who doesn't own a house. But the sexual ones do seem to have a special hold...I'm not really sure why, but it does seem like sexuality is an area that people seem especially insecure and confused about, and so we have this unspoken social agreement that we're going to pressure each other into some kind of sexual conformity, as if this will make us feel better. Not like people are consciously thinking that, but it's one idea. (And I do have a tendency to answer rhetorical questions :)

Th said...

Thats a good point Ily, I hadn't thought about that. I don't drink nor drive either LOL. If life was a big game and experiences earned you points, looks like my has just gone down a few haha. That being said though, we have movies like the 40-year-old virgin , I don't know of any ones that have the main point about a 50- year- old teetotaler or about 40 year olds learning to drive.

Actually now I've said that I just saw the movie Happy-go-lucky last night, and in the movie Poppy is 30 and starts driving lessons for the first time.( She had been using a bike all that time, until it got stolen). But not once did her roommate or sisters tease her or make a big thing about the fact she is only learning to drive now when most people start in their teens. It came across normal in the movie. Just something that was happening in her life.

I don't know if you've seen the movie Mean Girls 2 but I saw it a few weeks ago and have been meaning to write back to you about it. In the movie the main girl, confesses to the guy she likes that shes never had a boyfriend or been kissed. Anyways the whole school finds out and then's this little scene where everyone is like OMG and the "mean girls" are teasing her about it. The characters are meant to be 17.

Anyways was reading on imdb afterwords on the comment boards and read this post here:" since when is being a virgin embarrassing? I'm twenty years old and I'm a virgin and I'm not ashamed of it. i will most likely die one because sex is not anything that I'm just dying to try. in truth i think it's pretty funny how things go down. anyway, would anyone else be embarrassed about everyone finding out you're a virgin?" .

Don't know if that user is asexual but It wouldn't surprise me after reading that. Anyways if your interested you can read what people commented back here:

Also I was reading an article in the paper the other day,it was talking about Tina Fey's new book Bossy pants. They had a few quotes from Tina and I totally agree:

"Girls get alot of mixed messages. They are told, 'girl power!" and what does that mean? It means you wear a tshirt that says "Girl Power" but you call each other make fun of a girl for being a virgin and you make fun of a girl for having sex. Theres no right place to be"

Which is so true, if your having sex people will say your a slut and if your not well they say your a prude/loser etc..... you cant win.

This isn't about Virgins but might aswell post it here too:

I've been thinking about MySoCalledLife again, and It bought up another question to me.

I think its in episodes 1 when Angela is first starting to like Jordon and they see him at that club and Reyanne gets super excited for her.

why is that? How come when you have a crush on someone your friends would get excited like that? How come they want to help you get with your crush so much? Why do people always ask "who do you like" etc, why should our friends care at all who we like? You seen it all the time in movies and shows its all about gossiping about whos with who, who likes who, whos hot etc. I'm guilty of doing all this myself and yet I cant think of one good reason why LOL. Humans have such weird behaviors sometimes.

Also if your interested you should check this chick out,

Really cool vbloger I found the other day. check out "It's a phase." and "How can you be sure that you're gay?'.

I don't know if she's aware of asexuality but I would love to hear what she has to say about it one day, She seems to have a really strong head on her shoulders and good opinions.....if only I had a youtube account to send her a message...haha

Thats all! take care :)

Ily said...

@Th, if you don't mind me seizing on just one part of your comment, this:

why is that? How come when you have a crush on someone your friends would get excited like that? How come they want to help you get with your crush so much?

is a really true point, I think. One time when I told a friend that I had a crush on this guy we knew, she started talking about how she was going to help us get together, without me even asking. If I'd needed help with, say, homework, I don't know if anyone would have enthusiastically rushed to my aid like that. I think with crushes, "helpers" relish the chance to be part of a romantic story, which seems more exciting than the rest of people's lives. (Which the media is reinforcing 24/7.) By hardly ever having crushes, I think I definitely missed out on some chances to bond with other people, which just seems so silly...but it's real.

Princess Volupine said...

This blog post is just flat out amazing. I feel like you were able to aptly say the things I for some reason could not. Im a 19 year old asexual, and I still have my V-card. You wouldn't believe the sort of hedonistic crap my friends tell me (most of which starts with "It's college...."). Anyways, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate this post, and from one asexual to another, you fckin rule :]

Ily said...

@Princess: Thank you so much! "It's college" is such a funny way to convince someone to do something! I remember hearing it, too. However, we do have the rest of our lives available for poorly thought-out, alcohol-fueled decisions. ;)