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September 16, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Like a Virgin

I’ve never had sex. If you’re after a sound bite, being a virgin is like not being a virgin, except if you’re out and ‘Like a Virgin’ plays, the dance floor’s the Colosseum, everyone else is a lion and you’re the Christian. It’s probably fair to say that being a virgin at 21 is kind of old. The other week, I got a stock letter from the doctor’s nurse saying: “Hey, you’re probably old enough for regular Pap smears now, right?” Well, I’m certainly old enough, but go take a long walk off a short pier.

Let me dispel the assumption that I made a historical decision not to sleep with anyone. I’ve made a series of chronological decisions not to sleep with certain people. You know those decisions, right? You’ve actually made them yourself.

I reckon the ~~period of initial interest~~ with someone new is the only practical difference of still being a virgin. You’re thinking, however hard you’re trying not to, about not just whether you want to sleep with them or spend more time with them, but whether you think it’s going to be a thing if you tell them you’re a virgin, or whether you should even tell them at all. The correct response is, “Well, if they’re weird about it, it sounds like they’re not that great of a person,” but, you know, sometimes you don’t get the response that I’m going to go out on a limb and say you deserve.

If you’re open with people about not being sexually experienced (as I have been and as I think it makes sense to be), your words often end up misconstrued as: “Sex is a relatively big deal for me and I want you to commit before you hit dis.”  It’s a strange conclusion, and although virginity perhaps exacerbates it, I don’t think the initial unscrambled message is specific to virgins. It is essentially, “I like you a lot, and I would prefer it if you didn’t just run off afterward.” Seems fair, right?

The flipside of this mistranslation—that “virgins get attached”—is something that hopefully you’ve never had to deal with. It’s balls, because—in an ugly truth—people attach before the fact. The idea that it’d happen instantaneously upon penetration is ridiculous, as is the idea that someone who’s already had sex won’t attach. Similarly, I resent being told that the attachment I’ve felt is less valid because it wasn’t accompanied by sex. Heartbreak is not the same thing as penis nostalgia. Yet another missed thesis opportunity.

I’m told I simply must ‘put myself out there’ and experiment with anyone that takes my fancy. After all, I’m young and awesome, I’ve got the time and the inclination, and judgment is just something I can sass my way out of. Sweet—thanks. What might have been equally reassuring to know at 18, though, is that if I only wanted to sleep with someone I knew well or wanted something more serious with, that’d be fine too. It’s been easier to believe for the last few years that I was hanging on to something outdated or being prudish. No-one’s ever said those things to me, though, so I guess I worked a lot of it up in my head.

People are sometimes surprised if I tell them that I’ve not had sex. (This is for a variety of reasons—because I often talk about sex, because I use the Socratic method to flirt with 70-year-old lecturers, or because I make virgin jokes so often that they’re just surprised I thought they didn’t know.) I suppose I get surprised when I hear that other people haven’t, because I sort of figured it was just me.

Assume nothing about people’s sex lives. Don’t assume that they are a virgin, or that if they were that they’d want to keep it or lose it. Some people are really quiet about it. Others are not. They could both be equally secure or insecure. I’m fucking insecure about it. Why else would I tell you that when I eventually lose it, I will invite everyone I know to a party where the guy in question will be glad-wrapped to a chair on high in the corner under a banner that says: “MAIDENHEAD FOISTEE”? Why else?

I have absolutely no idea what you will (or possibly can) take from this. Just know that when you’re talking about sex in front of me, I’m either listening intently trying to pick up tips or deciding whether to chip in with a comic second-base anecdote. I hope you are all having just as much sex as you want, with people that make you feel good about yourself both in flagrante and the rest of the time. A word to the wise, though: the withdrawal method is only going to work with NZUSA.

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