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the 22 year old virgin

I’m a 22 year old virgin. Shocking, I know. How inconceivable it is to think that in this day and age, with our over-sexualised culture and flippant approach to the values of yore, someone as ancient as I could still be on their V-plates.

Apparently, I’m a dying breed. At least, that’s what my peers would have me think. But a study by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health and Statistics says otherwise. According to them, in a paper released last year, of approximately 7000 15-24 year old surveyed, 27% of the men and 29% of the women had not had sex.

If you believe the hype on currents affairs programs or read the stories in certain women’s glossy magazines aimed at the surveyed age group, you’re probably surprised at these figures. Even if you ignore them, you’re probably still surprised. I know I was.

Over the years I have received a fair amount of grilling about my virginity, beginning towards the end of high school and reaching its peak in my first couple of years at university. For the most part, my friends had started losing their virginity in Year 12, and even then, if the rumours that floated around the school were to be believed, they were behind the eight ball.

By the end of my first year at university, out of the fairly insular peer group I moved in at the time, there was only me and one other girl who were still virgins. That’s when the perceived nature of my virginity shifted from ‘impending loss’ to ‘taboo’. I started being asked when it would happen, who I would like it to happen with, how I would like it happen. I was told the ins and outs of ‘the first time’, given tips and advice on how to make it great.

At this time, did I want to have sex? Not really. Did I feel like I was missing out on something? Absolutely. Although I know it was never their intention, I felt marginalised. Most of them were in a relationship. I wasn’t. It was almost as if they had formed a little club that I couldn’t be a part of.

As I moved through university and my peer group expanded I became friends with a few people who were also virgins. When conversation turned to sex I felt as if I had allies. But slowly they all started having sex, and now, in my fifth year out of school, it’s back to just me and that same girl I mentioned earlier.

For most people now, it’s a non-issue, but there are some who still look upon me like there’s something wrong with me, some who like to occasionally remind me of my virgin status, and some who make me feel like my lack of experience means I can’t have a valid opinion on the subject of sex. What I don’t understand is why these people care so much.

There has been a propensity in the media over the last few years to look at sex as something we all should be having. From what I have observed, the latest fad is all about keeping sex lives healthy and active, examining sex after baby, sex over 60, working sex into a busy lifestyle – the list goes on. If their staggering generalisations are to be believed, then everyone is doing it, and if you’re not, they have some tips to get you back on track.

The perpetuation of the virginity taboo is only exacerbated by its representation on screen. I can name a dozen teen movies off the top of my head where a major plot point culminates in the lead characters having sex at the end of the film, or the entire plot is about the loss of virginity. The one I can’t go past without mentioning though is The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Granted, it’s not a teen targeted movie, but the entire premise of the film is that a 40 year old man needs to lose his virginity because, apparently, he’ll be a better person for it. He is first looked down upon by his workmates, and then egged on by them. They set him up with women, change his appearance and try to change his personality, all in a bid to get him laid.

I don’t want to dump all over the film because it is funny in parts and is not meant to be taken too seriously, but I do dislike the way the concept of losing one’s virginity is presented. What I dislike is the way the protagonist was treated because he was a virgin and the fact that he was quite content with his virginity, with it only becoming an issue when those around him made it one. He and I are alike.

So why am I virgin? Because I am yet to find anyone I am attracted to enough to want to give myself to them in that way. It’s as simple as that, and until I find someone I care enough for and trust it’s going to stay that way. It’s not an issue for me, so it needn’t be an issue for anyone else.

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3 thoughts on “the 22 year old virgin

  1. What a great piece, Melissah. Such an open and honest account.
    I think some people fail to realise that it’s really none of their business if someone they know has yet to lose their virginity. It doesn’t make you less of a person. You have other priorities in your life.
    I’m not a virgin, but I relate to you in the sense that sex is not something I take lightly. A solid connection, trust and respect play a role in my decisions.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Well said! Several of my friends, who are 22-23yrs, both male and female, are yet to have sex. It’s not something that my group of friends even thinks about- it’s taken for granted that it’s their right to make this choice as they please, and they are not judged for it any more than those who are not virgins.
    It’s just a non-issue, which is the way I think it should be. How boring would it be if we were all the same, anyway?

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