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The Virginity Complex: Where do I fit in?

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August 13, 2012

Las month was the first time I had seen a movie in about a year. Why would I pay upwards of $15 to see a movie when I could wait six months for Netflix? The movie that I chose to use my precious paycheck on was Magic Mike. If you haven’t heard about the movie, you obviously aren’t one that views Channing Tatum’s abs as a more precious work of art than the Mona Lisa. The movie had little plot line and subpar acting, but it did have one thing that I was craving: sex.

The gyrating bodies of the A-list actors dripping in sweat were pleasing to all of my senses. When I left the theatre, I couldn’t help but think of that stupid question, “If I ever got the opportunity, would I actually have sex with _____?” I always respond yes, and than think about the real life scenario. When would I tell Mr. Tatum and his deliciousness that I am in fact a virgin? What would he say? It’s not only my celebrity fantasies answers that I worry about, I think about the responses from men in real life.

My relationships with men started when I was in middle school. My first boyfriend was this kid from France and he didn’t offer much besides the famous accent. In high school I had relationships, but nothing that resulted in sex. Before you imagine me as an abstinent purity ring wearing teenager, let me clear the air. My sex life, or lack there of, is not motivated by my love of G-d or a commitment to wait until marriage. Sex simply hasn’t happened for that exact reason-it simply hasn’t happened.

When I tell people my reasoning for not having sex, I get many surprised faces and varied responses. The first one usually is, “So, do you do other stuff then?” or “You’re the first virgin I have met, everyone is having sex.” The second opinion is the one that has helped me realize a certain predicament in our culture. Teenagers are either characterized as purity pledging good people or sex crazed maniacs. Sexuality isn’t black or white, and it is extremely problematic to make the categories virgin or not virgin.

The term virginity, as seen in The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti, has no medical definition. It’s a concept that has been around since women were property and daughters that engaged in premarital sex were damaged goods. Hence, still to this day brides that are virgins or not still wear flowing white dresses to represent their purity-whether they have had sex or not.

Even though brides still wear white, a lot has changed since the days of women were legally second class citizens. Teens across this country have different views about sex and what virginity means. Were my friends virgins that didn’t have penis into vagina intercourse, or who had engaged in oral sex but not full on intercourse? These are examples of why the categories virgin or not virgin are problematic to use. There’s a shit ton of gray in between the black and white, and I can assure you it’s more than 50 Shades.

Watching Magic Mike, doing some research, and talking to my friends gave me a new perspective about virginity. When our society has created a complex that categorizes individuals as celibate or promiscuous, where do I fit in? Does our culture’s historic notion of virginity exist anymore in present times? For now, I am still not engaging in intercourse. Perhaps I am waiting for Channing Tatum to leave his wife and bring his magical hips my way.

Ari, Summer 2012 Communications Intern, Choice USA

Twitter: @progressivefood

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