It’s 1am on a Wednesday night. I’m wearing my typical Shooters outfit and my hair is a sweaty mess. I’m eating cookout, laughing with my friends as we all pretend we don’t have midterms tomorrow. Eventually one after the other leaves and heads to sleep, and eventually it’s just my best guy friend and me. He’s a little tipsy, and he starts asking me about my love life. I tell him about various flings, my long-term boyfriend in high school, and about being friend-zoned the week before. He tells me about how he’s afraid of commitment, how he wished he had asked this girl out in his math class last semester, and how I should never let a boy friendzone me because I’m “too good for that.” The conversation just kept rolling, this back and forth about what love is and what it isn’t, and eventually we are participating in some good old fashioned flirting. One thing leads to another and all of a sudden I blurt out, “I’m a virgin.”
I had told some of my guy friends before. But I had never told a guy without being asked. I had never just…. Said it.
I get a variety of responses from my friends when they hear “the news”. Some make side comments that it “makes sense” since I’m “so innocent.” Some of them treat me like a child when sex comes up in conversation. Some give me this look of pity, like, “aw, what a bummer that you’re just not desirable.” So usually, I just don’t say anything unless I’m directly asked.
But it’s 1am and this time was different. Because this time my best guy friend shimmied himself closer to me, put his lips to my ears and whispered, “You know, that’s kinda sexy…”
I froze. For a minute, I felt flattered. No guy had ever actually commended me on my virginity, and I felt proud, desired.
But then feelings of fear, disappointment, and offense crept in, pushing away my pride and confidence.
I’m sorry, what? It’s sexy that I’ve never had sex? Did he even understand the irony there? In my most vulnerable moment, you’re going to try to say something, to imply that you want to do something, that I clearly have reservations about?
I stood up, told him I was tired, and left the room.
You know, I do want a guy to appreciate my virginity. I want a guy to realize that I choose, actively choose, not to have sex. I value my body, and I only want someone really special to see it. I take sex seriously, and I think it’s a huge step. Physical intimacy is really scary, and when I get intimate and then things take a turn for the worst, the heartbreak is even more detrimental. So I’m avoiding sex, until the right guy comes along and it’s the right time.
We talk a lot about women empowerment, about never judging a woman for wanting sex or for using her body however she wants.
But what about never judging a woman for not wanting sex? And isn’t not having sex also using my body however I want?
I can’t count the number of situations I’ve been in where it’s just assumed I’m sexually active. I remember last year when my doctor practically forced me to go on birth control, not believing that there was really no chance I could get pregnant.
Last week when I was at dinner with three of my friends they made this lengthy “first time” joke. I didn’t really understand.
It’s not their fault. It’s not like I’ve told them.
If they asked, I’d tell them the truth. Because I don’t mind being asked.
But what I do mind is the follow-up question of WHY I’m a virgin.
Why do I have to justify why I haven’t had sex when you never have to justify that you have?
But I’d still justify. I’d say, “well, you know, with my anxiety disorder and all… I just get anxious in intimate settings….” Or, “My faith is important to me, and that plays into my decisions on sex.” Or, “I just haven’t dated someone seriously enough where I’d be into that yet.” Those are all partly true.
But, really, my reasoning can all be summed up in one sentence: I’m just not ready.
There’s this push—no pun intended—for all college students just to “be ready” because it’s college and that means it’s time to be sexually active. But so many of my friends feel horrible after their first time, over and over again saying they just weren’t ready. They all thought everyone else was having sex, so they should, too.
I think we can all agree that sex is complicated. But it becomes far more complicated when you’re engaging in it solely because you think you should be, because you feel social pressure to, because you think you just need to “grow up” or “embrace college.”
And that’s why I wanted to set the record straight. It’s fine if you’re having sex. I don’t think differently of you. I most definitely don’t judge you. But have a bit more critical awareness that just like you chose, and just like you realized you were ready, I chose, and I realized I wasn’t. Have a bit more respect, because as we increase this college virgin stigma, we increase the number of students who have sex because they feel like that’s just what everyone else is doing.
I want to have sex eventually, but I want it to be when I’m ready. I don’t want to wake up and know that I just did something I wasn’t ready to do. That’s why I’m taking it slow. I don’t expect everyone else to take it slow, too. I just want everyone else to understand, and respect me when I say, that “college” doesn’t always equal “ready”, and that that’s perfectly okay.
So dear fellow virgins: Just because you’re a virgin doesn’t mean you’re an outcast. You’re not less desirable. You’re not less attractive, or less popular. You’re not lesser than in any regard. Please know these truths, and carry yourself confidently. Because confidence can kill this college virgin stigma. Confidence could allow me to one day write an article about virginity that isn’t anonymous.