“Yeah, you look like a virgin.”
I can’t even count the number of times somebody said this to me in high school when I told them that I was a virgin. What the hell does that even mean?
My two best friends at the time were not virgins. By the timewe were Juniors, they had already experienced lots of sex. I had not. In high school I didn’t have many boyfriends, or even guys who were interested in me. Some of the ones who were interested, were only interested because they wanted sex. I guess I looked “like a virgin” or sweet and innocent or something, and they thought it would be easier to get in my pants. This was not so. Each time they asked or bugged me about it, I declined, feeling shitty about myself. Writing this, I am reflecting back and wondering why I was made to feel bad about myself because I was making a choice about my body. Last time I checked, no one can make decisions about my body except for me. If I declined to have sex with some scumbag highschool dude, then that’s my choice! Why did I feel bad about that? Each time one of my friends told me about a new sexual experience they had encountered (I was always the friend they trusted to tell this stuff too), I felt like there was a “non-virgin club” or something that I was not a part of. Every time somebody told me I looked like a virgin, I hurt a little more inside. Was it branded on my face? Was there some kind of invisible sign marking me as not in the “club”? I spent my high school years trying to figure that out. I saw the way my friends were treated because they were not virgins. Everyone called them sluts. Since I was (and am) still a virgin, I was considered “stuck-up” or I was told I needed to “have fun for once in my life”. I chose not to listen to what people said. I saw the way those same people treated my friends and I didn’t like it.
I began thinking about the concept of virginity again this semester because of this GWST class. It reminded me that it is MY BODY and MY CHOICE to still be a virgin. If having sex is not on my to-do list right now and I consider other things like achieving good grades in school to be more important, then so be it! I should never have been been “othered” and singled out because I was making a choice about my body. Why is it that the concept of virginity can be so isolating? It’s not like having sex changes you in some way, like turning your hair a different color so people can tell that you’re not a virgin anymore or something.
The last thing I want to do is make it seem like I think not being a virgin is a bad thing. Again, the same thought applies: It is YOUR body and YOU and only YOU can make choices about your body. I just didn’t want to be treated a certain way about the choice that I made (and still make) about my body.
I do realize in writing this, that I must consider the age we all were in high school when people were treating me this way. I realize that we were all young and immature, and that now we have all (hopefully) grown up a bit. Now, I have a group of friends who have never told me that I looked like a virgin, and have never acted like I had a sign taped on my forehead marking me as one. I realize now that this is purely a difference in age. Maybe my school was filled with extra immature high school kids. I have to wonder if my sister is going through the same thing that I did. She just entered hich school this year, and it seems to be going well for her so far. Well, as far as I can tell anyway. She has been dating the same boy for about a year, and so I fear that there might be some social expectation for her to lose her virginity at some point. The thought makes my stomach turn. I can just hope that she knows that NOBODY can make a decision about her body other than her, and NOBODY can tell her what is the right/wrong thing to do with her body at any time.
When I do lose my “virginity”, it will be because I want to and because I am ready. It will not be to fit into some “club” that I didn’t fit into in high school. It is my body, after all and no one else’s choices about their bodies should ever influence the choices I make about mine.