Firstly, I must apologize – I said I would only post on topics submitted by readers this month and I haven’t done a good job at all of that. I got a bunch of great topics though, so just keep your eyes peeled for them (I try to keep close to my word). But recent conversations got me thinking about the nature of virginity in current society and the stigmas and such. Because it’s 3am, expect me to ramble a bit. But I’ll try to keep it concise.
First, some brief remarks and an anecdote. 1) I’m not a virgin – so this isn’t purely theoretical without knowledge of the removal of the “virgin condition” (I’ll explain why I call it a condition later). 2) Ludacris has a new song out called “First Time” that got me thinking about mine and (the more pertinent issue here) why it was an important event in my life. 3) I’m working on a small essay called, “Blowjobs and Basslines” for a sex magazine in St. Louis, so perhaps this will spur me on to…well, finish the job (pun intended). Now for the anecdote…
As a young man of roughly 11 or 12, I was a pretty smart kid. I was fairly culturally aware that I was a boy, and soon I’ll be really dealing with girls and doing the whole dating thing. This is all before I came to find out that my dating customs are way too old fashioned for this generation, but that’s another discussion for another time. Nevertheless, I knew that girls were fast approaching on the horizon and I (like a young thinker would) needed a plan of attack for my general dealings with girls who I might be interested in. Having watched stuff like The Real World and whatever else was on TV in the late 90’s (which included Saved By The Bell, Family Matters, Simpsons, etc.), I could tell there was a lot of importance on this whole “sex” thing. More importantly, that the older you are, the more sex one should be having. And that these are events that mark a person’s life – the first time you drive, the first time you drink, the first time you go to a party, your first kiss, and your first time having sex. Apparently, these are the events that mark a young person’s life. Knowing all of this, I decided to lay down some ground rules for myself –
1) Don’t say “I love you” to a girl just to mess around with her (something always felt wrong about that – I was a Kantian long before I’d even heard of him!).
2) Only get intimate (at that time, it meant kiss and show interest on a stronger level) with a girl I had some type of legit feelings for. Controlling one’s urges was important then to me also.
3) Make sure she’s always comfortable because I can get in trouble if she’s not (I’m really referring to buyer’s remorse cases – I knew back then that you don’t take it because something is also wrong about that).
4) I want to be wanted. Felt like a fair request at the time too – I don’t wanna be a default guy, I want her to like me too.
So those were my basic ground rules. Turns out, that’s NOT what I’m “supposed” to be doing. I also had feelings of only really dealing with one girl at a time but I never made that a no-no to deal with multiple girls at one time. But it always felt a little off to, for some reason. With those rules in place, I felt like I was in a good position to mix and mingle and all. Enter puberty, teenage awkwardness, a lack of a true predator instinct in social situations amongst other things and while my rules were all well and good, I had no chance at really getting in there and mixing it up, so to speak. A few other things came up also – I didn’t really like any of the girls I’d met or kicked it with; they were attractive but I wasn’t trying to get intimate unless it was with someone who mattered – as an example. Some might call it a copout, but I held tightly to these principles because I felt like they were the right way to go about things. For the record, I still more or less adhere to these principles (the new caveat is that if I’m drunk, all bets are off and I can live with that). Either way, with that framework in place I just wasn’t getting after it like I’d imagined.
Bombarding my teenage years are, of course, the curse of being a virgin. So (nearly 800 words in), I’ll try to break it down a little bit. In my estimation, being a virgin is nothing more than a social affliction for guys. This is for a boatload of reasons, including the idea that women are things to be conquered and it’s a ritual for one’s manhood to be affirmed by conquering a female at the appropriate age, but nevertheless it’s a social affliction. It’s embarrassing to be the virgin for a few reasons also, including the fact that between the ages of 15-19, the bulk of conversation tends to revolve around sex. So, if you’re like me (and I imagine you’re pretty damn rare), and you felt like getting physical needs to be with someone you like (let me reiterate – I never wanted to wait to do anything until marriage. I just wanted to have feelings of some sort for the girl.), and your friends, hell your culture looks at you like you’re crazy? It can become overwhelming at times. It becomes an ideology; a myth that gets perpetrated through time and affirmed through its own perpetration. The myth is that guys need to be having sex, particularly before you go off to college. Gotta get the training wheels off at some point, right?
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who lost their virginity before college. I was lucky enough to date a girl towards the end of high school who was the first girl I genuinely cared about, and we were comfortable to fool around with one another but neither of us were ready at that time to do anything more than what we did (which wasn’t much, for the record – and that’s a good thing in hindsight). And to be honest, I felt pretty well ashamed. As it were, only the losers and social misfits couldn’t get laid before they go to college. And only bigger losers couldn’t get laid while in college. I was torn – the principles I believed in (and came up with independent of parents or siblings influencing me) just weren’t right for the social paradigm that I had to engage in, combined with growing carnal urges (which included a Friday where I refused to socialize because I was going to lust after every woman I saw and I didn’t want to be that guy) made it harder to maintain. Not to mention the peer pressure to just go and have that fun was there. It really did seem like a rite of passage that, at least your freshman year, you bring a girl back to the room and have sex. I failed in that ritual, which only piled onto the embarrassment. If I couldn’t pull this off in the cesspool of the AUC (where you come for the legacy and leave with some booty), when in the hell was this going to happen?
This chronicles me up to my freshman year – feeling socially retarded for the decisions I made (and to be fair, I was and still am socially awkward. I didn’t give myself much of a chance.) and really feeling behind the social curve. Take a panel of random, sexually active women and ask them if they’d like to have sex with a virgin. By and large, the answer is “no,” because virgins don’t know what they’re doing and are prone to quick nuts, leaving the woman without any pleasure of her own. Which are both fair complaints. So as I got older, I felt the pressure from both sides – from my male peers because it’s a cultural rite of passage, and from my female peers because one needs to have had experience in these matters in order to do well – practice makes perfect, so to speak. Such is the life of a young man who is afflicted with the pre-existing condition of virginity.
Conditions are those things that can be diagnosed (and things that can be diagnosed usually aren’t good). Take a RPG (Role-playing game), for example. Condition spells are those that do something to the opponent (usually) that wears down the opponent or weakens him. Spells like Poison, Slow, Confuse are conditions you put on the opponent to mess them up and make your fight easier. Why do I mention this? Because I haven’t played a RPG in a long time and miss them (I used to use RPGMaker2k3 and design my own little games as a creative outlet, which no doubt didn’t help with my social awkwardness), and because one’s virginity often feels like a spell that’s been cast upon you. Spells can’t be blocked – you can’t help your virginity (at least, at first). After a couple of turns, you should be able to cast a spell of your own or use a healing item to cure the spell, right? Many of us do this because we don’t like the rest of the party (to continue in the RPG metaphor) to be able to battle while we’re dragging the party down. But sometimes you just don’t have any more potions left in the bag. Sometimes it’s better for you to suffer through those turns because, quite frankly, you’ve got no other choice other than to wait it out and hope the spell wasn’t an extremely strong one.
So if you’ve followed the metaphor thus far, then you can see why I call virginity a condition. Socially, at least. But one’s social paradigm does get ingested and maintained – I see no way around that. But, the simplest response to all of this is, “Well, Mr. Philosopher, you chose those principles. You could’ve been fucking a long time ago.” Right you are, hedonist #1, but just because I can does not mean I should. That aside, I held an importance on intimacy that dissolved long ago more than likely. But this doesn’t take away from my larger point – that it is viewed as something to get rid of, for whatever reason, like a growing child sheds baby teeth.
A brief aside before I continue; the act itself wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I still don’t see sex as something grandiose, which is the other end of the spectrum. The heightened anticipation for losing one’s virginity is always amplified by the talk, the buzz, the fascination with sex that teens have. The first description for my question of, “What’s it like?” that I remember was from a very good friend of mine: “It feels like your dick is swimming in a warm pool.” While intrigued by that description, I had no idea what it meant. And intrigue into the inevitable unknown made it that much more of an imperative to find out what this sex thing is.
Over the years, I’ve stuck to my guns (against my better judgment sometimes) and held pretty tightly to those principles. Others have just gotten luckier (pun intended) with similar principles and meeting a good person and etc. I have no regrets about the circumstances in which I lost my virginity, the same woman who I lost it to had said she was proud of me for being a virgin for as long as I was. And that backwards compliment felt like a slap to the face, ironically enough. That’s how much of a condition virginity was. It was like congratulating a special ed kid for staying in the special ed course.
The pressure to perform is barreling from a billion different angles when it comes to virginity (and yes, I’m aware of the pressures on women but this one was more about virginity in general and if in specifics, for males. Though in retrospect the pressures are fairly similar with an ironic similarity being that no man really wants a virgin for the same reason no woman does – the experience, or lack thereof, factor). Did it feel good to have that social stigma removed? Yes. Did I feel like more of a man afterwards? Nope. Take that for whatever it’s worth, but I’ll close with (for all you virgins out there) the advice given to me when I was on my way to lose my virginity:
“…Barry Bonds that ass!”