I’ll never forget a conversation I had with one of my friends right before I got married:
“Seriously, you guys haven’t had sex yet?” she asked.
“No, we’re waiting until we’re married,” I told her.
“But like, how far have you gotten?”
“We just kiss.”
“No, but like, what base have you gotten to?”
Growing up on the East Coast, most of my friends weren’t members of the Church — so when I told them I was going to wait until marriage to have sex, they were shocked. This particular friend’s questions weren’t ill-intentioned and, since she and I had always been so close, she was just curious — and truthfully, it made me laugh.
It was so hard for her to understand that my fiancé and I wanted to wait until marriage to have sex, let alone any kind of sexual relationship outside of kissing. While this friend was supportive and loving regarding my decision, most people weren’t so understanding.
I vividly remember being called a prude, being labeled as uptight, and hearing that I needed to live with a guy before I even considered marrying him.
On television and in movies, people who want to wait until marriage to have sex are often mocked and portrayed as weird, awkward, socially-inept freaks of nature, while those who choose to have premarital sex are desirable and fun.
I’ve heard over and over again that we shouldn’t shame people for their sexual activity: how often they have sex, whom they have it with, etc. “Don’t sex-shame!” people shout loudly. And we shouldn’t. It’s not cool to make fun of people or condescendingly judge them, period.
But virgin-shaming? That’s apparently fair game.
Portrayals of Virgins in Media
Hollywood has made one thing abundantly clear: if you make it out of high school or even your teens as a virgin, there’s something wrong with you, you big nerd.
Just take a look at a few (of many) examples.
At one point, Joey jokes that because he’s not a nerd, he actually had sex in high school. When he doesn’t understand why Chandler and Ross’s college friend is nicknamed Gandalf, this exchange goes down:
Chandler: Didn’t you read The Lord of the Rings in high school?
Joey: No, I had sex in high school.
The implication is that because Chandler was reading The Lord of the Rings — something Joey obviously thinks is nerdy even though c’mon, LOTR is awesome — he must have been an awkward geek who couldn’t lose his virginity. Obviously, Friends insinuates, only total losers make it out of high school with their virginity intact.
Honestly, the entire theme of Grease is pretty questionable — I mean, what exactly is the moral of that movie? That you should change to be with someone you like? But it DOES have catchy music, I’ll give it that — and one of its songs, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” paints Sandy as a prudish snob for not having sex.
Here’s a sampling of the lyrics:
Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity
Won’t go to bed till I’m legally wed, I can’t, I’m Sandra Dee.
Watch it, hey, I’m Doris Day, I was not brought up that way
Won’t come across . . .
Because Sandy wants to wait to have sex, making fun of her is apparently totally justifiable.
In Glee, one of the main characters is named Finn, who, at the beginning of the series, is a virgin. But because that’s so nerdy and unmanly, he decides that he needs to have sex. At one point, another character tells him, “Everything about you screams ‘Virgin!’ You’re as sexy as a Cabbage Patch Doll. It’s exhausting to look at you.”
Because Finn hasn’t had sex yet, he’s evidently totally undesirable and no fun to be around or even look at. Ouch.
Hocus Pocus, oddly a Disney movie, makes it seem shameful to still be a virgin. Even though Max, the main character, is only 15, his virginity is scoffed at.
Refinery29 wrote an article on this and said:
“Max’s virginity is a regular topic of conversation — and ridicule — in the movie. For an 8-year-old, Dani [Max’s sister] is surprisingly vocal about proclaiming the status of her brother’s sex life to strangers. When the trio encounters a police officer (who, unbeknownst to them, is just a civilian in a cop Halloween costume), Dani announces that her brother, the virgin, has unleashed a curse on the town. The man amusedly asks Max whether the virgin allegations are true. Exasperated by having to confirm the activity (or lack thereof) of his sex life on multiple occasions by this point in the evening, Max responds, ‘Look, I’ll get it tattooed on my forehead, okay?’
Max’s virginity is transformed from a normal aspect of his young adult life into a punchline. Based on how it’s positioned in the movie, we’re supposed to think it’s downright hilarious that this strapping teenage boy turned out to be a virgin. After all, the other characters whom Max encounters think it’s a total riot. Given the amount of ridicule Max receives, the clear — but unstated — takeaway from Hocus Pocus is that a guy like Max should not be a virgin by this point. He’s too handsome and charming to be a virgin. This status is ‘below’ him.
Hocus Pocus subtly insinuates that a person’s virginity — specifically, a boy’s virginity — should be a source of shame. . . Max’s virginity . . . is seen as something he was too sexually incompetent to offload.”
These are just a few out of about a billion examples, but they make one thing glaringly obvious: virgins are losers.
The Double Standard
I’m not going to try to debate why we should remain abstinent until marriage, because that’s not really what this article is about — it’s about how messed up it is that because someone chooses to wait until marriage to have sex, they’re painted as a goodie-two-shoed nerd, a prude, or a socially awkward basket case.
Our society professes the need for inclusion, yet it’s evidently okay to pick who is made fun of. It says we should be nice and inoffensive to everyone except for people that apparently don’t deserve it because they believe something different than others, especially if for a religious reason.
To put it lightly, it’s a completely unfair double standard.
I’ve heard it said that it’s no one’s business who you sleep with. On the flip side though, somehow it’s everyone’s business who you aren’t sleeping with — because if you’re not doing it with anyone, there must be something wrong with you.
But guess what? Being a virgin is OKAY. My husband and I waited until we were married to have sex, and I’m so glad we did. I love that we never compare each other to other people and that we saved that special part of ourselves just for each other. If other people don’t want to do that, that’s their choice and I’m not going to make them feel bad about it, but I want to make one thing clear: choosing to wait doesn’t make you a loser, a nerd, or socially awkward.
Virgin-shaming needs to stop. It’s not cool, it’s not funny, it’s not nice.
It basically comes down to this: I won’t shame you for having premarital sex, so don’t shame me for waiting.