It happened one Friday night at the store I currently work for. I was off the clock, but hanging around waiting for our after-hours Eclipse Phase game (a cool sci-fi/transhumanist RPG), and I overheard a conversation between 2 young twenty-something year old customers, one of whom I didn’t know. I’ve changed the names of those involved, but the discussion is as close to word for word as I can recall.
Rick: Holy crap, man…I just can’t believe it! That’s sooo lame! *laughs*
New Guy: Will you just shut up about it? God, I’m sorry I even told you. It’s difficult, ok?
Rick: *still laughing* No, it’s really not, unless you’re a total pansy-ass. I mean, there’s tons of women on your campus…how the hell have you not gotten with one yet? Or in high school? Fuck, I knew people in middle school that weren’t virgins! *snorts*
New Guy: Listen, I just haven’t met the right woman yet. That’s all. I’m not gay, I’m not a prude, I’m just waiting.
Rick: Yeah, to be a 40 year old virgin! Too afraid of pussy to…
Me: Rick, don’t you have anything better to do? For Gods’ sake man, leave off. Being a virgin isn’t a bad thing. Go away if you’re gonna be moronic. *He shrugs and leaves to find his friends*
New Guy: Hey, umm, thanks for that. You’re, ah…you’re the first person I’ve met my age who doesn’t think it’s a huge deal.
Me: How old are you?
New Guy: Just turned 20.
Me: *grins* Well, I’m a bit older than you, but you’re right, being a virgin isn’t a big deal. To tell you a secret, I was still a virgin until 2 weeks before my 22nd birthday. You have plenty of time, and shouldn’t mind people who say you don’t.
New Guy: *grins back, relieved* Yes, you get it. Thank you for understanding! *laughs*
At that point, the new round for their tournament started so our conversation ended. But it got me thinking; Why are so many men and women shamed for being virgins? We don’t shame people for never riding a bike, or not learning to swim, or not taking motorcycle lessons…Why shame them for not having the experience of sex?
I believe that it stems from our odd Western culture, and especially American culture. We have such a weird relationship with sex…it’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Our country tries to hold on to it’s prudish Puritan values while many music videos and popular songs feature huge amounts of male groin grabbing and female t&a. We pass laws and get up in arms about showing pixelated breasts in videogames, but think nothing of buying our children ones where they use drugs, alcohol, and massive amounts of weaponry to eliminate competing gang members. Communities try to ban topples beaches, even as the typical fashions of the day accentuate cleavage to unbelievable proportions. And of course, male sexuality is made out to be something to be feared or caged…but female sexuality is generally accepted by mainstream media.
For these reasons and more, I feel that people engage in virgin shaming because they’re just so used to seeing sex as the normal course of growing up. There are those who say “you’re not a real man til you’ve done it” or “real women are sexually liberated”. Movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin tackle this issue from a humorous standpoint, but it rings true in everyday life: Peers believe there’s something wrong with the woman or man who is still a virgin after age 25, and sometimes even younger.
Obviously this is incorrect, as many reasons exist for remaining sexually inexperienced:
1. You want to wait for marriage
The majority of the American populace is Christian, with Jews and Muslims coming in 2nd and 3rd. Sex before marriage is still condemned as a sin in various houses of worship in the US, and even moreso in private homes. Thus, men and women who are very religious will often stay virgins til their wedding night.
2. You want it to be special
With how cheaply our culture sells the idea of sex, there are some who revolt against this image of it. Much like the New Guy of my story above, some want to wait for the right person to share themselves with. In my opinion, wanting one’s first experience to be worth remembering is a valid reason to not have sex just because everyone else is.
3. You are homosexual
Even in this day and age, parts of society are against citizens who love and are attracted to the opposite sex. Thus, some choose to stay celibate rather than have relations with a sex they find unattractive. Not living a lie is more important to them than gaining peer acceptance in the sexuality department.
4. You are asexual
If you just don’t seem to have any libido whatsoever, you’re probably asexual. While there’s more women who would admit to just “not feeling it”, there is a substantial number of male asexuals as well. As this is not talked about very much, even in health class or sexuality courses, it can be difficult for non-asexual people to understand. However, it is still a very good reason to stay a virgin.
5. You have an anxiety disorder
If one is already very panicked or anxious just from talking to others, being in crowds, having direct conversations, or similar encounters…then it’s pretty safe to say that having sex is off the table. Although I think that people who live with such severe anxiety should strive to get help for normal day-to-day life, no one should feel pressured into such a difficult process just so they can say they’ve had sex.
6. You are afraid of sex
This can take many forms, one of which I am personally familiar with. If you are like me, and suffered sexual abuse at some time in your life, you may have a fear of sex. Part of the reason I waited til 22 to have intercourse was the many nightmares, flashbacks, and fear of touch that I had (and still deal with today, though they are far fewer). Despite the constant mocking of my peers in high school and college, I couldn’t bring myself to “just do it” until I found someone I felt safe with and let me learn about sex at my own pace. Staying a virgin til you have a trustworthy partner is very important to some people!
7. You are consciously celibate
There is a growing segment of the Men’s Rights Movement who are choosing to remain virgins (or going celibate) because of the fear of accidental pregnancy, being falsely accused of rape, or paternity fraud. These men are not gay, but are also not willing to have “a few moments of pleasure for a lifetime of pain”. While I believe that this is taking caution to an extreme, I do understand and sympathize with their position, and do not fault them for taking this path if it makes their lives easier.
Of course, there are also those who are virgins because they are nuns or monks, who are against using birth control, who are demisexual, or who are just very unsure of what to do during sex. Whatever the reason, men and women who are sexually inexperienced are NOT to be shamed. They will have sex when they feel the time is right, or maybe not at all. If someone first shares their body with another at age 17, they are in no way better than someone who does so at age 45. If you, dear reader, are a virgin due to any reason, I hope you have sex when you are ready and not before. If you are a non-virgin, just remember that not everyone has had sex and let’s try to speak out against virgin shaming in society.
*Please note that this post deals primarily with the idea of voluntary virgins being shamed. I recognize the fact that there are many people who are incel/involuntarily celibate, some of whom deal with the issues listed above or have different problems. While no virgins should ever be made to feel poorly, there is a definite separation between those who want to be celibate and those who don’t, and even though I do not truly address it here, I believe incel sufferers deserve our support and respect just as much if not more.*
27 thoughts on “Virgin Shaming = Not Cool, Bro”
I’ve always enjoyed turning their shaming back on them.
“so you went to the bar on the weekend? How much did you spend” “ooh, only X hundred dollars, how many drinks did you have that’s a lot” “oohh, you only had 3 drinks but spent the rest on drinks for random women? Did you get laid?” “oohhh, you didn’t? So you spent X hundred dollars for nothing and I’m the loser? Keep telling yourself that.”
Hi there, Reyeko. Glad to hear from you.
I hope people don’t actually call you a loser, but know better. People can be very hurtful to those who make different life choices. For what it’s worth, I also think that spending so much money on random people you’ll never see again or get any sort of companionship from is ridiculous.
In this day and age there should be no shame in avoiding a STD-infected holes or a dick that glows in the dark bacause of all the STDs picked up from previous one night stands. Good blog post. Virgin shaming is sooo 1980s 😉
Hi Marty. Thanks for stopping by.
That’s a good point, and one that I missed. (You phrase it a bit more colorfully than I would have, lol.) The desire to remain abstinent to avoid any risk of STDs is valid, though I suppose it could also be circumvented by having a monogamous relationship with a partner who is/was also a virgin.
I keep my conscience free and unsoiled. And I could do without drama in my life. So I remain a virgin for now. Meanwhile I enjoy life.
Glad to hear it. Being a virgin is simply the lack of sexual experience with another person. Nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly not always necessary for an enjoyable life. I’m happy that you are pleased with your life as-is. 🙂
Enjoy the song? That’s my theme for now.
It’s cool. My own theme song would probably be this, lol:
I think it’s rather simple. In an over sexualized culture, where sex is the cornerstone of how to sell product, where it’s implied that everyone else is doing it, where you see those who are having it as constantly being rewarded as ‘awesome’ (even if you’re called a slut, it’s still taken at face value that you are enjoying the act of having sex and being desired).
There is an impression that everyone is doing it and that it’s easy to do. And sadly.. for many women it is all too easy, thus leading to the problems of hypergamy and price discrimination (majority of women granting majority of sex to minority of high status men) leaving many men with slim to no pickings. And no guy wants to be vocal about their failure in the mating market, the shame falls into being an abject failure of biology – being unable to find a mate who would voluntarily run the risk of bearing your offspring.
Caveman speak. Not being able to procure sex means your line ends.
In civilized society, with birth control available, we can have sex without the responsibility of having children. But our reptilian brains recognize that if we aren’t having sex, we are evolutionary failures and that women are voting quite literally with their vagina’s that you are unworthy of species propagation.
I’m not an evolutionary scientist.. i only play one on tv. But i hazard that’s my guess why men will always feel that deep seated unacknowledged shame about being a virgin/incel. Unless it’s voluntary by religious decree or something, and even then it could just be a rationalization.. as in, you couldn’t attract women, so you retcon it into a religious faith thing.
That’s my 2 cents.
A couple of students of mine, who are very attractive, have both told me that they are virgins because they haven’t found the right person. One was a guy (he mentioned it on my blog) and the other was a girl. Over time it looks like young people are waiting until they’re older to have sex. And a lot of them are waiting because of they haven’t found the right one. They want sex to be special. And I think that’s wonderful. Why have sex just to have it when you can experience it in a wonderful way with someone you actually love and care about. It’s even more responsible if there’s an “Accident.”
Very great article! I find it interesting of the different dynamic between the two genders. For instance, a female who is a virgin is both frowned upon and glorified, while a male who is a virgin is just viewed as “pathetic.”
Thank you. It’s so true…being a male virgin is always seen as “bad”, but it could go either way if the virgin in question is a woman. What we as a society need to work on is eliminating ALL shaming of those who’ve not had sex yet.
That really *is* a wonderful thing! Perhaps it shows that more of the upcoming generation is going to think of sexuality in better ways than we currently do. 🙂
It seems “we” are obsessed with people’s sex lives.
Very interesting point of view. What do you think of the men out there who are subconsciously told that their self-worth is determined by their number of sexual partners? Any ideas on how society could help them realize this is not so?
Too true. People continuously worry about it…”Am I having too much sex”, “Am I having too little sex”, “What if I’m happy being a virgin”, etc.
I say that people need to stop comparing themselves so much, and just try to do what feels good to them and/or their partners. Safely, of course!
Excellent and thought-provoking post. In terms of shaming, are you familiar with the concept of the narcissistic defence mechanism of “projection”?
Hello, Navigator. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Yes, indeed…I’m quite familiar with the psychological concept of “projection”. In fact, throughout my grade school career I was relentlessly bullied and shamed by various peers. (See my post here: https://tarnishedsophia.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/experiences-with-bullies/ ) Due to the strangeness of their mockery, I’ve reached the conclusion that these girls and boys were not so much bullying me as using me as a way to project their own insecurities onto a tangible target.
I will be proposing that bullying is a narcissistic phenomenon that is predicated upon projection and mirroring. I have developed a unified construct of gender narcissism that appears to explain this, including the typical differences between female and male bullies.
I think you have a remarkable insight into the nature of what you were subjected to.
Well said. If you need any true examples of the aforementioned differences in bullying “techniques”, I can certainly help there.
Ah, don’t praise me too highly…my insight only came after years of observation and “people watching” in various school settings. As it is, I still don’t understand some parts of human social interaction.
It would be nice if people could just stop being so cruel to each other, for whatever reason.
Hi Ken Cheng. Thanks for commenting.
Yes, it certainly would be, but let’s face it…some people suck. What we can do as a whole is to be kind towards each other and call out those who act cruelly.
I think everyone needs to back off the virginity idea in general. We spend way too much time in our society worrying about other people’s sex lives. Ridiculous. We tend to judge people based on the number of sexual partners, as if that determines what kind of person they area. I’m so glad you let that kid know that it’s no big deal and I hope he takes it to heart.
I’d also like to see people stop putting a premium on virgins (purity balls are nauseating). I think running around shaming people who like casual sex is just as bad. Let people do what makes them happy and without judgement.
Something witty, eh? What an interesting username. 🙂
I agree with your statements here. We treat virginity as something more profound than simply never having sex…like it’s a prize to be fought over or a treasure to be coveted. That’s just as ridiculous as the idea that you’re “pure” as a virgin and “worldly” immediately afterwards.
I’d prefer that we discuss more about the act itself so that virgins know what to truly expect when/if they decide to share themselves with another. Oh, and get rid of the superstitions that surround first-time sex. *Those* help absolutely nobody.
Virgin-shaming coming from an older man to a younger woman can also be a nasty form of sexual harassment. Seen it happen.
Also, I don’t like the term “demisexual.” People we call “demisexual” today probably just would have been called “normal” sixty years ago. I’m sick of it! No more labels!
Last but not least–on male virginity, has everyone forgotten that famous tete-a-tete between Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in “The Breakfast Club”? She’s the most popular girl in school, and he’s a geek, and she’s telling him that she thinks it’s okay for a guy to be a virgin. Men, listen up–there are probably many more women than you think who would agree with Molly on this. Ignore the brotards.
I haven’t heard of older men virgin-shaming younger women, but I guess it could be a form of sexual harassment depending on how it’s done. Of course, an older woman doing the same to a younger man would also be sexual harassment then.
Lol, I get tired of labels sometimes too. However, various communities online and in real life do still use them. You have to admit, they can be helpful or harmful…it’s up to the user to be responsible and not misconstrue any terms or meanings.
While I would really like to believe that more women don’t care about male virginity, in my personal experience (judging by what was said in the locker rooms in high school/college, and by the women in my Human Sexuality course) this is not the case. Some of us don’t care, but it seems more do. But yeah, men and boys are guilty of it too.