Saturday, July 5, 2008

Virginity and its Stigma

Through youthography, I found various interesting articles and this one caught my eye.
Virginity By: Rebecca Mercer

Virginity: the ultimate expression of innocence and purity, the state of having “never been touched”. It’s always been a romantic ideal – every man wants to marry a virgin and every girl wants to be the beautiful blushing bride. Of course, these days it’s not much more than a romantic notion, a nearly-unattainable ideal that very rarely exists in our society anymore. Sure, there are lots of virgins out there - it’s just that most of them tend to be under the age of twelve. For teenagers these days, the idea of being a virgin carries with it a certain stigma. For a lot of young people, being a virgin is not something to be proud of. Sex is everywhere, and young people are engaging in sexual activity and giving up their virginity at a younger age. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise, not with popular movies like the American Pie trilogy glorifying sex and hits like this summer’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin chronicling the quest to lose one’s virginity. So now we have to ask ourselves, what does virginity mean in today’s society? Why are young people so anxious to lose it? What are the consequences of having sex at a younger age? And what do today’s youth think of virginity and sex?
So, what does virginity mean in today’s society? It’s a big question; however, the collective opinion tends to be that virginity does not mean much. For many young people, sex doesn’t mean anything beyond physical pleasure anymore. Which brings us to our second question: why are young people so anxious to lose their virginity? A big reason young people are having more sex and losing their virginity sooner is simple – it feels good. The media definitely makes it look good, and anyone who’s had good sex will confirm that fact. So, with peer pressure mounting and the whole world telling you that it feels so good, why are you going to wait? Young people don’t necessarily think about the emotional side of sex, because for them, there is no emotional side. They don’t think that they might wake up the next morning and regret it. They don’t think that maybe the other person doesn’t care about them. They don’t think that it might be awkward and uncomfortable (the sex and the morning after). They just think about the pleasure and the fact that they’ll be part of the “in-crowd”. It’s not really a good reason for having sex, but regardless, they want sex and they don’t want to be virgins.
Needless to say, there are consequences that may come along with having sex at a young age. What are these consequences? Well, perhaps it would be better to ask what the advantages of waiting to have sex are. And contrary to popular belief among young, hormonally-charged people, there are advantages. What are they, you ask? For one, you won’t have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy, something that most young people wouldn’t be able to handle. You also won’t have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases – you can’t contract something unpleasant like Chlamydia or Syphilis, or something incurable like Herpes or HIV/AIDS from your partner if you’re not having sex with them. Then there are the emotional benefits – if you wait until you’re ready to accept all of the responsibility of having sex and you’re in a committed relationship, you won’t have any regrets about your actions. We all know someone who regrets a past sexual relationship because they were too young, or they weren’t really in love or any number of other reasons; but if you wait, then you get to avoid all those regrets.
So, what are young people’s thoughts regarding virginity and sex? There are general misconceptions that tend to revolve around physical unattractiveness and religious zeal, both of which are looked down upon in today’s secular and image-conscious society. Most people assume that people who aren’t classically attractive – tall, thin, well-proportioned, model material – are virgins because they aren’t attractive enough to find a sexual partner. And when an attractive person is a virgin, it’s assumed that it’s because of their religious beliefs. And while there can be some truth to these misconceptions – people viewed as attractive will probably receive more sexual attention than those who don’t fit that mold, and those with strong religious convictions tend to remain virgins by choice because of their beliefs – they are not universally true. A person can be plain and have multiple sexual partners, and a model can be a virgin. A strict Catholic might be a virgin, but a spiritual agnostic can be a virgin too. It’s just that young people tend to assume that if you’re not having sex, there has to be a reason for it – either you can’t get it or you don’t want it. They don’t think that maybe, just maybe, some people want to wait and give their virginity to someone they love and share a bond with. That’s where the pressure comes in – if you want to fit in, have sex. Many young people tend to look down on virgins. Virginity is also often viewed as a curse.
However, not all young people share this view. Many young people out there have great respect for virgins, even if they don’t vocalize it. Being a virgin is not something to be ashamed of. Many young people think that it’s perfectly fine to wait until you’re ready for sex and you’ve found someone that you really care about and who cares about you to share it with. That tends to be a less-than-popular opinion to express out loud, but it does exist, among more people than you might think. Do you think waiting for the right person to share your first time with is a good idea? Take comfort in the fact that even though a lot of people won’t say it out loud, they share your feelings and support you.
Virginity isn’t something to be taken lightly – sex is a huge responsibility that can have some very dire consequences if it isn’t approached with maturity and caution. This is not to say that sex is bad or that wanting to have sex is bad; rather, it is to point out that there are things that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to sex. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on the matter and nobody should be looked down on for their decisions, whether they become sexually active at a young age or they decide to wait. It’s a very personal decision that nobody can make for you. Be informed, know what you want and don’t let anyone else make you feel inferior for it. Virginity is something you only get once, so use it wisely.

They were written since last year's but still applies to today's cultural phenomenom. IMHO, everywhere I see, I feel that sex has lost its significance and value as something that is "peer pressured" by the *popular crowd*. What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha, wow, this is actually my article (which I wasn't terribly happy about because they did over-edited it, my previous Youthography article was better), fun to find it again long after the demise of Youthography, even though this blog post was written 5+ years ago. :)

(beck_90 (@)

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