How are you? Are you feeling sad? Lonely? Unfulfilled? Apparently, that’s what the world assumes you must be feeling. Because obviously any college student who has not yet lost their v-card must either be (a) waiting for marriage, (b) a nun, or (c) a failure at adulthood.
A friend at Boston University recently sent me a picture of this poster:
I admit, when I first got the picture, I thought it was pretty funny. Turns out, it’s a poster for a movie (although I don’t know which one—I’m a bad blogger, I know). But before I discovered that it was an advertisement for a movie, I started thinking about what the poster was really saying, particularly as it is posted on a college campus. It’s saying that being a virgin is bad. And, not only is it bad, but that if you are still a virgin by the time you get to college, there must be something wrong with you. And you must need help by calling toll free to 888-743-4335.
I’m not arguing for or against virginity. I have nothing whatsoever against people who choose to wait for marriage or choose to not. I think it’s a personal choice when and with whom you choose to have sex. However, my question is when did it become a bad thing to be a virgin? When did it go from a private personal choice to a public joke? Not too long ago it was a bad thing if you weren’t a virgin, and there are still plenty of examples in the media (and real life) in which girls are ridiculed, ostracized, and called sluts and whores because they choose to have sex.
But don’t overlook the fact that many of these constructions are specific to girls. I’m not exactly sure what guys’ take on virginity is, but I’d be willing to bet that being a virgin as a college guy is not nearly as accepted as being a virgin as a college girl—and it’s not all that accepted for girls to begin with… This raises all kinds of questions about why it’s worse for guys to be virgins, which I assume has something to do with masculinity. When we talk about virginity itself, we generally tend to talk about who we lost our virginity to, rather than just that we lost it. Taking a girl’s virginity is a big deal. And obviously we can’t bypass the language here. A man takes virginity. He takes it from her. It’s language of power and dominance. When girls talk about taking a guy’s virginity, we tend to say things that are more along the lines of, “it was his first time,” or we just don’t talk about it at all (because we would never want to emasculate you, guys).
This poster seems pretty gender-neutral to me, though, so it could be intended to be talking to either gender. Which means, as I said before, that college society labels virginity bad no matter who you are. But again, there are all kinds of contradictions. On this campus (and I’m guessing most other campuses), if you’re a virgin you’re a prude, but if you sleep around, you’re a slut. So which is it? Is it bad to keep your pants on, or take them off?