Does our society view virgins as dysfunctional & damaged or cute & quaint?
“You don't see people having sex feeling the need to justify why they choose to engage in intimacy” with or without love, for pleasure or by mistake. That is what Miriam Babooram, a self-proclaimed over 33 year old virgin in the UK believes and while it is a quaint view, it is one that harkens back to the early to mid 20th century where virginity is seen as a woman's only truly important asset.
The British Broadcasting Service (BBC), famed for it's politically correct viewpoints, found it an important enough topic to air and promote for Ms. Babooram and her sisters decision to wait until they find that special someone to share intercourse with. While I can see that most people don't come under the microscope for being sexually active, there are plenty of people who have to justify to themselves as well as their families and friends about their actions, which do have consequences. Those people and I know there are plenty, who engage in promiscuity with random abandon, most often regret the decisions that they made, not for “giving-up” their virginity as a thing that can be given, but for the destroyed and undeveloped relationships that they randomly involved themselves in.
human beings are social animals who look for relationships and to be part of groups with similar interests. Having sex and acting-out will include you in certain groups, but the lack of consideration and commitment that goes along with hoping from bed to bed ultimately shocks the basic fiber of most people when they find, years later that they are alone and have received no gift from sex, but an immediate gratification.
Why is virginity considered something we can give away or lose?
The issue of virginity as a thing to be saved or given away is even more ridiculous today than the days of Beaver in the 1950's and early 60's. While I don't see eye-to-eye with some of the views of Holly Combe of the feminist online journal and blog The F-Word, I do agree with her assessment of the 15 minutes of fame Ms. Babooram has been receiving for her desire to keep her virginity until she finds the right partner. That is her right of course, and we can debate her interest in sex, intimacy, romance, passion and any aspect of human sensual bonding. There is no question that her needs are different from those that prefer to partake in what the Bible considered the “forbidden fruit” essentially to control women. Ms. Combe does correctly point-out that virginity is a construct of a male dominated, paternalistic and religiously suppressed construct that runs counter to humanities ability to enjoy and celebrate intimacy. Her suggestion that it is a shackle on women and the idea that only when someone loves someone else, should they “give it to them” is preposterous. Rather it weakens a woman and downplays her overall value. It supports the view that rape and sexual attacks are a primary way to devastate and control women that especially today plays out all across the world in armed conflict where aggressors frequently use rape to strike fear in the heart of whole populations, often-times being more disconcerting that murder, which in itself is a distortion of reality.
While I am happy to give props to people who follow their beliefs and are steadfast in not being swayed, I do take issue with the imposition of their own views on the majority of the population. When Tim Tebow gets on his knee to pray, that is certainly his right, but when he starts to invade my life through a ravenous media looking for any controversial topics, that is when I turn it off. That is my right after-all. Of course, religion is one of those controversial issues and it's view of sex and intercourse is certainly on the conservative side. We need only hear the sermons of born again Christian pastors preaching abstinence and then holding sex parties and cheating on their spouses. Of course, the actions of a few can't relate that to all those who follow these religions, but the hypocrisy is there, in Mr. Tebow as well as in Ms. Babooram who feels the need to get into a discussion about why men are leaving her after dating and finding that she won't engage in sex with them.
Do we really care if someone is or isn't a virgin?
Why the general population should care about one woman's sexual actions is of course, part of our societies problem. The most recent stateside version of Ms. Babooram is the American 29 year old track and field athlete, Lori Lolo Jones, who is promoting her virginity is a similar way to Ms. Babooram. Again, she has her right to do whatever she wants to with her body and relationships and she can talk all she wants about it, but when trying to persuade people that abstinence is the only way to go, well that is when the situation gets into the proselytizing and influence peddling that smacks of religious and conservative groups involvement.
As a major Republican platform position adopted by Mr. Romney as he makes a run to the Presidential vote this year, the lack of sex education and promotion of reality and rationality in favor of religiously influenced fear mongering over sex is something any modern society shouldn't stand for. Ms. Jones involvement in this fray suggests that you can be a world class athlete who focuses on your career and for some reason, the rarity and uniqueness of being a virgin in today’s society gives you the right to preach it's benefits. If it has benefited Ms. Jones and likely millions of others, then that is great. However, to suggest that it is the only way to go, against all the realities of social interaction, love that occurs in many and frequent forms and so many other research based benefits of intimacy, is naive and dangerous. The desire for the media and conservative institutions to equate sex before marriage (and we don't have to talk about the fallacy of that institutions ability to last and solve relationship problems with over 50% ending in divorce) as a kind of salve for our populations relationship issues is part of the problem that reinforces these women's contention that saving your virginity for that one in a billion partner is the best and most respectable way to go. Until, oops! Divorce and the realization that he/she (because there are plenty of male virgins too) didn't pick the right partner sets in.
Why can't people keep their sex-lives in their bedroom?
Ms. Jones and Babooram infuse their proselytizing with views that our society imposes the need to have sex on women before marriage. They receive kudos from listeners for having resisted temptation, being decent and showing how to behave. These comments in and of themselves are disconcerting because it suggests that having sex is exactly the opposite to goodness, decency and knowing right from wrong, when the vast majority of people are indeed all of those things but aren't virgins. So how is that opinion to be taken? That people who have per-marital sex should all be condemned? Yes, it is a position that is as preposterous and loaded with poppycock as most of the views of religious zealots imposing those same shackles on women's bodies and their right to choose what they do with them.
As a father of six girls, my best counsel is to respect themselves, build as much excellent decision making and self-esteem into them and let them free. Will they make bad intimacy decisions and have regrets? Perhaps. However, they will be strong, independent and loving women who aren't constrained by the views of religion or their own peers and hopefully, they will choose wisely. But stunting their ability to experience relationships through false expectations is not the option I would choose for any female or male in our society today.
As for Ms. Jones and Babooram, I can only hope that they find the joy and wonder of intimacy some time in the future, because the lack of it makes for an incomplete character and life-experience. No doubt we can't all have every life experience, good and bad, but this is one thing that shouldn't be confined to the shelf in a virginity box, wrapped in a bow and given to the perceived Mr. or Mrs. right. It is preposterous and to hear these people discuss it as an exceptional virtue flies in the face of everything human and healthy.