When The Learning Channel began airing episodes for its new show Virgin Diaries, I — like many others — sat agape. Who knew that people like “Skip,” the overweight close-to-middle-aged virgin who lived in his mother’s basement and collected his belly button lint — seriously, he has jars of the stuff — still existed?
Perhaps it’s the fact that we go to one of the largest and rowdiest party schools on the planet or the fact that the younger generations seem to get sluttier and sluttier with each year, but the idea of a virgin is something that some students have trouble grasping.
Years ago, sex was saved for marriage. Nowadays, it seems like sex is saved for the first person you run into at a house party on Menlo.
Think about it: When you hear that someone is a virgin, you might think to yourself, “Really?” as if it was a rare condition that only the ugliest and weirdest of humans retain. “If no one wants to sleep with you, there must be something wrong.”
Now I must admit that the above statement is certainly a generalization. There are plenty of ’SC students who are not sex-crazed animals and completely understand the reasons for one deciding to remain a virgin. Yet it’s impossible to ignore the strange backlash that many virgins receive.
But that would only be an issue if today’s virgin didn’t go through such a dramatic transformation. Say goodbye to the diminutive, austere virgin of yesteryear — the 21st century virgin is a force to be reckoned with. Though some still fit the stereotype of a Bible-wielding puritan, there has been a rise of young girls and guys who are in no rush to get between the sheets, yet also have no problem having the time of their lives.
As one student, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “I drink on Thursday nights, dance at frats, flirt with guys, have an extremely close group of girl friends, and study when I need to. I’m not the stereotypical virgin; I’m just me.”
And she’s not alone. The number of virgins (and proud ones at that) is unexpectedly high. In some places, virginity is a closely guarded secret, almost like it was a medical condition. At my high school, students could not wait to finally be rid of the burden of being labeled a virgin, and I’ve found that in college, there might be a large amount of virgins still strolling around our campus, but the only difference is: They don’t care.
This sort of confidence is what blurs the line between the cardboard stereotype that virgins are often relegated to, and the image of the new “Sexy Virgin.” You might think that the girl you’re hitting on at the 9-0 or the guy you spot on campus is down for a hook up, but in today’s day and age, you can’t tell a virgin by simply looking at them. Chances are they’re the hot girls in your sorority, or the cute guy from your GE class.
One student, who’s even a member of a sorority, is a severe clash of the virgin stereotype, “I think people view the typical virgin as someone who’s never been on a date and whose big event each week is church on Sunday. I have had three boyfriends and sleep at my boyfriend’s place almost once a week. You’d never know all we do is sleep.”
But why are these students still virgins? And notice how I said “still.” Why is virginity a plague that we want gone? An inauspicious burden on our backs?
These students’ reasons range from body-image issues (“I am not very comfortable with my body”) to religious beliefs (“I am Catholic so I feel I am definitely more conservative”) to health reasons (“Having OCD and having sex just don’t really go well together”) to wanting to start relationships off on the right note (“I just don’t want to start a relationship purely off of the physical aspect”). But there are also those who don’t feel pressured by their families or communities to remain virginal. They simply chose to do so.
“I still have my virginity simply because I have not found the right person or time,” one student claimed. “I’m not waiting for fireworks or my Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet; however, I am waiting to feel something real with someone. I simply have not found that person yet, and I am in no hurry to find him.”
This sort of thinking is one that copious students lack around campus. How many times have you passed by a girl crying about some guy she thought was “the one”? Sorry, but if he took you back to his place and then kicked you out in the morning, chances are he isn’t going to call.
What virgins are able to do is protect themselves from the petty sexual drama that happens regularly. As sex is such a personal, intimate act, instead of focusing on cultivating real relationships, sex starts to dictate feelings.
“A lot of people take sex lightly and consider it something that is very normal for people to do in college.” One student said. “I have seen many people get hurt because they had sex with someone and became emotionally attached even though it meant nothing but a drunken hook-up.”
And as much as the other half of the population hates to admit it, that student is right. Sex is taken extremely lightly at this school. But that’s OK. What people need to realize is that judging others for their personal decisions is not the route to take. One needs to be respectful of whatever another person’s choices are, even if we do not agree with them.
Virgins sometimes lose friends, romantic interests, and more when their little secret is found out. But a lot of the time, they also gain respect.
Virgins are not all like Skip, our Virgin Diaries hero. No: They’re straight, gay, female, male, young, old, rich, poor and everything in between. So look around you and see if you can spot one.
But even if you can, they couldn’t care less.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. Her column “Lovegame” runs Thursdays.