Sometimes we see a new wrinkle. My favorite freaky new flip-out is: women in their late 20s and early 30's who are still virgins. Are they fucked for life, or what?
In Bed with Susie Bright 263: 30-Year-Old Virgins
The hyperbole misses the facts about why some women (and more to the point, men) are waiting to have sex.
None of the stories I've seen—NOT ONE— mention abstinence education, AIDS-phobia fears, sex-negative religious training, or the popularity of drug therapies that depress libidos. Nor do they connect the dots to what sexuality and class have to do with GROWING UP.
I guess it's not titillating to talk about a middle class 17-year-old boy who's too afraid to masturbate, let alone touch a woman, because he is certain that he will go to hell— or worse, their parents will get really, really mad. But I meet college students like that all the time. That's the real story here, not co-eds who have their legs crossed by bad luck or unfortunate timing.
The recent coverage assumes it's a girl thing. That's ridiculous. I'm more struck by the sexual inexperience of the young men I meet on my campus tours, than I am by the women's stories. I'm saddened by their fears that sex will "ruin" their chances of a decent life or "career." I'm amazed by their notion that you have to find someone who is the perfect computer-career-parental-approved-match before you can take your underwear off.
Then there's their dread of nudity, their fear of doing something they haven't been trained and tested for, their proximity to mommy-daddy control at all times. Whatever happened to... leaving the nest? You feel like you're listening to a 13 year old with a big vocabulary instead of a post-graduate.
The age of "first intercourse" in the US is, indeed, older than it was twenty years ago, particularly among those who believe they have something to lose. That's why you see it so pronounced in college: the ultimate breeding ground for future investments.
The magazine editors find plenty of these 20-somethings who say, "This is my individual CHOICE." It's newly-hatched Ayn Rand, stripped of eroticism.
Yes, you, you vestal 29-year-old, are an utterly unique specimen, the first in the human race, who has been able to make a calm reasoned decision about your "choice" without any connection to culture, history, or community. Your will is all.
Why is there a lack of curiousity about such "trends" in the first place?
The individualism that leads people to imagine that they are in charge of their every impulse, disconnected from all around them, strikes me as delusional. That's the trend I'd like to read about, not this faux-hysteria over masses of virgins roaming the earth.
When I've written stories about the "new virginity" before, I always get letters from people who are indignant that I don't appreciate their sexual history. They tell me the age that they made this or that choice, and how happy they are to have made that decision. They want me to apologize and give them credit and props for their clearly righteous personal path.
I would like to avoid that hash again. I am not a sex-nazi who wants everyone to drop trou at the freshman prom and be put through paces.
I don't care if any individual has "sex," at any age, with anyone. I am not a "better" person because of my sex history, nor would I make that judgement about anyone else! This perspective, once again, strikes me as juvenalia, a quarrel children would have.
While sympathetic to each person's autobiography, that's not my interest here... I keep screaming, "BIG PICTURE!" — yet when Virgin X replies, "No, there is no big picture, there's only my personal justification," THAT, to me, is the problem. Not anyone's intact hymen.
Until my mother's generation, most of my female relatives died in childbirth after multiple births. My mother was the first in her family to go to college, marry a non-Catholic, get a divorce. And she did it in a time where millions in her generation were right there with her. I never heard her refer to her behavoir as a brilliant calculation and "choice" that only she could have come up with. She saw herself as one piece of a big puzzle, a turn in history.
Nowadays, in middle class circles, at least, there is this sense of doing everything on your own, in ignorance and hubris, with a cherry on top. Sex is considered the ultimate privacy where you get to make your own bed, immune from critical mass or analysis, left to your own divination.
"You just haven't met the right guy yet..." Doesn't that conjecture, as a social motto, strike anyone else as preposterous?
Also, on this podcast, I express my guarded elation that Plan B has been approved and presumeable closer to OTC purchase. I've got some tips for you about how to use emergency contraception once you get your hands on it. And, in the Try This at Home mailbag, I have a letter from a listener who wonders why she stayed in a hopeless relationship so long. (Episode 163, September 22, 2006).