‘I want to lose my virginity.’

Syndicated columnist Carolyn Hax responded in a recent column to the following letter, which she received from a 19-year-old woman who has never had sex before:

“I am a 19-year-old freshman in college. I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. Is it okay to not tell the guy I’m a virgin? It’s come up before and it seems to bother guys. I also hate the idea of someone knowing they were my first; I (irrationally, I know) feel like it gives them power over me. I sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way.”

These are my thoughts on that:

The letter’s writer’s decision to lose her virginity is rooted in her resistance to divulging her virginity. She doesn’t want to be a virgin so that she won’t have to tell somebody she is. But that turns what she wrote into a catch 22. … How? Click here to read the rest of my thoughts in a post on Quiner’s Diner.

Arleen the virgin gets a book, ‘#JaneTheVirgin’ gets a show.

jane the virginFrom where I stood, the banner blocked the American flag that hung at the center of Citrus Park Mall in Tampa. It showcased ‘Jane the Virgin,’ the latest in an influx of TV shows inspired by sexual inexperience. It would premier, the banner said, on Oct. 13.

First, I asked what any virgin beneath that banner would: “WHERE’S MY BANNER?” Then, I marked my calendar.

The show, about a a virgin who — as a result of a doctor’s distraction — got artificially inseminated when she should have gotten a Pap smear, premiered as promised on Monday, and (spoilers to follow), I watched it. Here’s how I sum it up: Continue reading “Arleen the virgin gets a book, ‘#JaneTheVirgin’ gets a show.”

Stuff I’ve Shouted at the Screen While Watching MTV’s “Virgin Territory”

A couple weeks ago, I curled up on the couch, pumped for the series premier of a show I was sure would strike a chord or a nerve: Virgin Territory. In it, young adults who haven’t had sex discuss what life’s like for a virgin. Some have committed to abstaining from sex outside marriage. Others are looking for somebody with whom to sleep.

The first episode, in which MTV followed Lisa Potts during the days that led up to her wedding,  struck a chord. Potts, a Christian, saved sex for marriage. The second episode, in which cast member Mikaela went on the “honey hunt” in L.A. and cast member Kyle crafted a hot cocoa/horse-and-carriage date with a girl with whom his friends hoped he’d “seal the deal,” struck a nerve.

Both episodes, which introduced viewers to a handful of the 15 cast members who’ll show up throughout the season, inspired me to shout stuff at the screen. Here are four of the statements I shouted, with explanations:

1. TALL, TATTOOS, KHAKIS AND CHUCKS IS NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION! In a video diary-style monologue, Mikaela — a 19-year-old virgin who is interested in meeting a man with whom to have sex — described her perfect guy: He’s taller than she is, has lots of tattoos, and wears khaki pants and Chucks. I don’t know Mikaela. I don’t know if by “perfect” she means “marriageable.”  I don’t know if MTV edited other qualities out of her monologue. But what one person wears is sometimes enough information for another person to decide to date or have sex with him or her, and that is horrifying. Continue reading “Stuff I’ve Shouted at the Screen While Watching MTV’s “Virgin Territory””

Saving Sex: Why My Target Audience Isn’t Teens

The other day on Facebook, a reader learned that for my forthcoming book, called Chastity is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, the target audience is adults, and primarily young ones.* She suggested that in the future, I target teens instead. Another reader, who had asked if the book is fit for teens, suggested in jest that young adulthood is too late.

If the goal is necessarily to meet a reader before he or she has had sex, the latter reader is probably right: According to Advocates for Youth, 62 percent of high school seniors aren’t virgins. Six percent of high school students had sex by their thirteenth birthdays. Fourteen percent have had sex with four or more people.

The stats are shocking (or not, depending on your perspective).They point to how important it is to discuss sex with young teens (and younger). They may disappoint the people who wish I would. And don’t get me wrong — people should. And lots of people do (like Jackie Francois and Jason and Crystalina Evert and, ideally, kids’ parents or guardians).

But how important it is to talk chastity and sex with kids has too long overshadowed this: it’s important to talk about both with grown-ups, too.

It’s important for the sake of virgins, who are few and far between. Ninety-eight percent of women and ninety-seven percent of men ages 25 to 44 have had sex.** I write for adults because when people who are part of the two and three percent who haven’t had sex stumble upon my story, they learn — sometimes for the first time — that they aren’t as alone as they have felt.

It’s important for our own kids, who will turn into teenagers, and — let’s face it — into their parents. It is too late for adults to take back the sex they have had. It is not too late to learn a new way to approach sex. I write for adults because I want to present chastity to them — an alternative way of life, in case the way of life they’ve lived so far isn’t working. If adults don’t know chastity is possible, they won’t practice it. If they don’t practice it, they won’t model it for their kids.

It’s important because young adults who went to church as teens were told to save sex for marriage, and most of them didn’t — and that isn’t a good excuse to stop discussing chastity. I write for adults because adults deserve not to be forgotten; because being left out of the chastity conversation might be why most of us aren’t saving sex.

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*Teens certainly can get something good out of Chastity is for Lovers — especially older ones.

**according to the National Center for Health Statistics

Virginity on TV.

Last night I stumbled upon Kirstie, one of TV Land’s original sitcoms whose almost-all star cast (which includes Kirstie Alley, Rhea Pearlman, and Michael Richards) is promising.

I intended to call it a night but seconds after I settled on the show, what her character Madison said of her son assaulted me:

“Twenty-six years old and still a virgin . . . The elephant man lost it before that.”

Naturally — as a 28-year-old virgin — I kept watching. Below are a few excerpts and beneath each, quick commentary:

1. “I’ve been having this problem with Arlo…”

In her dressing room (she’s a Broadway actress), Madison vents to a co-star. The problem? Her son Arlo’s virginity. I have a problem with that. For viewers, the line reinforces the misconception that not having sex necessarily says there is something wrong with you. Somebody’s virginity isn’t the problem. Somebody else’s fear of it is.

2. “I know you’re generous with your love.”

Also in her dressing room, Madison recruits her understudy — a blonde named Brittany —  to seduce her son so he can lose his virginity. The line — clearly code for “I know you have a lot of sex with a lot of people” — is an egregious misuse of the word love in a culture that doesn’t need more misuses of it. Nothing connects promiscuity to love other than perhaps a misguided quest for it.

3. “My little boy’s a man!”

Upon learning that Arlo did, in fact, have sex with Brittany, Madison beams with pride — the deed, she implied, is evidence of his manhood. But having sex doesn’t make a person a man. If it did, a lot of women would be men, too. #justsayin’. Margaret and Dwight Peterson respond to that notion this way: “Our culture glorifies sexual prowess—many people simply assume that sexual experience and personal maturity go together, and that anyone who is virginal or otherwise inexperienced is for that reason a mere child. … In reality, experience and maturity are not the same thing. It is possible to have a great deal of sexual experience and to be a thoroughly immature person, and possible likewise to have little or no experience of sexual relationship and yet to be secure and well grounded in one’s own masculinity or femininity.” -page 137 of Are You Waiting for the One?

4. “I see clearly that he has a type. . .dirty little whores.”

Predictably, Arlo’s relationship with Brittany ends and Madison worries he’ll be bummed about it for awhile. But when he walks into the kitchen one morning, followed by a lady Madison hasn’t seen before — one who spent the night with her son — Madison opines and in doing so, perpetuates a damaging double standard: Guys can’t be men unless they have sex, but women are whores when they do.

Not cool, Kirstie. Not cool.