Saturday, 28 June 2008

Virgins and Stereotypes

The blogosphere is full of blogs written by single people. Among these sites, there is a small percentage that was set up by male and female virgins.

A few months ago, I stumbled across one of these blogs. It was entitled Almost 40-Year-Old Virgin. The author describes his site as "The blog of a man from New York City who's closing in on 40 yet still remains a virgin. And not by choice." The last post goes back to 16/03/2008. Visibly tormented by his "virgin status", several readers left their comments. I was intrigued by some of the contributions. One person wrote the following:

"I think that I understand where you're coming from. I'm a 30-year old male virgin. I tried and I tried to get a girlfriend (or just a willing sexual partner) all throughout my 20's and it never worked; I'm not outgoing or confident, I'm not physically attractive, and I make below-average income despite my education. Somehow, when I turned 30, it was like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders...a voice told me: "OK, you've missed your sexual peak, you've missed having sex in your 20's (and not out of choice) something's probably wrong with you, you're too old to start now (who wants to fuck a 30 year old virgin?), you've failed, you can just give up". It feels better, you know...kind of peaceful. Maybe we're better off without women in our lives; I don't have to worry about infidelity, betrayal, or getting STI's. Anyways, if it all gets too much to bear someday I can just "bow out gracefully" (this will probably involve a shotgun). Oh well, on that note, I'll end it (no pun intended)."

A female reader wrote:

"Well, I'm a 35 y/o female virgin (African-American) at that (you hear that we are oversexualized -- not all of us). I was thinking about trying to have sex with someone just to gain more experience (I've done up to the deed), but never followed through. When it is right, it will happen. I just don't want to randomly have sex with someone. I won't romanticize virginity. It is what it is. NO SEX."

Another male reader said the following:

"I just stumbled across this blog from the other end of the world. (Bangalore, India). Oh well..glad to know that I am not the only one out there and there are other men who have the same problem all over the world. I am am a 28 year old male and I unfortunately don't have any excuse - apart from being a nerd - on why I never got around to it. I only came close once. I like and admire most women - just that I am unable to get past talking :) Though, I am mildly surprised that one can be a virgin in NYC of all places. One tends to feel a freak sometimes. Lol, I *so* wish there was something special in being a virgin - one wouldn't mind the state then. :). Where I come from (India), one generally gets the opportunity to do the deed only *after* one gets married, not before. And most marriages are arranged - which is something I *dont* want. :( Thats also the one of the reasons why nearly everyone marries by their mid 20s here - they all get sex-starved. At 28, you have already missed the boat and if you hit 30, there aren't many women left. Unfortunately, with my kind of lifestyle (and attitude) there is little chance that I will be getting into any relationship with any sort of woman any time soon. :) I do hope things work out for you and you find a great woman in your life. Don't give up hope! Hope is what gets you on with life!"

Yet another reader wrote:

"I've had this blog in my bookmarks for probably a year now, checking back to see if you would ever post again. I'm happy to see you've returned, if only for one more post. I'm a 27-yo virgin who's never had any sort of female contact beyond casual conversation. While your stories didn't help me, they were certainly very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing."

The above comments and experiences say a lot about the expectations that are drilled into the minds of many people. Given the number of gender and age stereotypes that exist in several societies around the world, it is not so easy for an involuntary virgin to talk about their sexual status. I can still clearly remember my adolescent years and I surely cannot forget the importance attached to losing one's virginity before reaching the age of 20. I also remember how the notion of being sexually experienced was often said to enhance a man's ability to attract girls. Upon reaching a certain age, several people expect one to have reached specific goals in life. Nowadays, in most parts of the planet, if a 25-year-old male asserts that he is still a virgin and that his status is not voluntary, many people would probably suspect that there is something "wrong" with such a person.

The bulk majority of movies and TV programmes do not make life much easier for involuntary virgins. Nowadays, almost every movie includes some degree of sexual intimacy. Quite astonishingly, most of the couples portrayed on TV never seem to experience any sexual problems; their sexual activities are normally featured as relatively problem-free. Once again, this creates various expectations among the millions of viewers glued to their screens. It is quite amazing that the various health professionals who deal with myriad sexual problems on an almost-daily basis do not seem to be doing much to replace various myths with facts.

Some movies could also be blamed for apparently propagating the notion that if a person reaches a certain age and is still a virgin, he/she could be considered as a "loser". Such movies tend to portray virgins in a terribly negative light. This tendency is frequently exacerbated by linking a number of physical and psychological characteristics to the imagined typical virgin.

I think that some beliefs can be particularly harmful to involuntary virgins. When it comes to men, the notion that unless a guy has certain physical characteristics (such as a particular height) or has a specific job, he can forget about ever finding a partner with whom he could have sex is extremely likely to have very harmful effects on one's self-esteem. It is true that some things are more desirable than others in various societies, but the attempt to demotivate or to degrade those people who - for one reason or another - do not have a number of attributes is utterly unacceptable.

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