Virgin-Shaming

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Post by BiSian on Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:10 pm

Since DerailDude doesn't seem inclined to do so, I've decided to make a thread about virgin-shaming.

BiSian storytime!
I never got much overt shame for being a virgin. There was the usual high school awkwardness, which as an adult I've learned with the case for many people. Smile But all in all, no one was shitty to me.
When I started dating my very first BF...well there was a conversation or two where he was SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY that I was a virgin. "But why?" kept being thrown around. When I tried to explain that I had never found anyone who I wanted to hae sex wtih, it was like I was speaking Greek. He didn't get it. I remember being miffed, but not feeling that bad about it.

Honestly, I got way more shit after I started having sex. But that's because i spent some time in conservative ChristianLand and also have had nontraditional relationships. (whole 'nother story)

So what about you NerdLovers?
Have you been virgin-shamed? In what context?
Did it hurt you or did you shrug it off?
More things?
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Post by The Wisp on Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:36 pm

I've never been virgin-shamed directly, but there is a lot of ambient virgin-shaming going around, and I feel some shame anyway.

DerailDude made his point in the wrong place and did so in a confrontational manner, but he did have a point when he talked about otherwise sex-positive people virgin-shaming people on "the other side". I acknowledge that most sex-positive people don't do this, but I saw it more than I should have back when I lurked around feminist blogs. I often hear that "well, it's okay because those guys feel that way, I'm not implying anything about virginity". Yeah, I'm gonna call bullshit on that. I feel like it is a rationalization for using problematic insults because you happen to be attacking your opponents. The problem is, you're just reinforcing the cultural narrative around virginity being shameful to innocents who read that article.
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Post by Mel on Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:53 pm

I got a little general "good girl" shaming in junior high and high school--comments implying I/my tastes/my interests were lesser because I presented as fairly clean-cut and reserved. That was pretty much all from other girls, usually the more outgoing partier types. But I don't recall any teasing or talk that was directly related to having (not) had sex. I think it helped that all the people I spent much time will were also a little behind in terms of romantic and sexual relationships and didn't see it as a big deal. Similarly my first bf was also a virgin so it would have been weird for him to make anything of me being one too.

I do totally agree with Wisp that people shouldn't be using "virgin" as an insult. The only context I can imagine it would be relevant in criticizing someone is if the person is making claims about what sex is like or something like that, to point out that they don't have the experience on which to base those claims. It can also be relevant in a descriptive way--e.g., if people are talking about how frustrated they are that they haven't been able to have sex as related another issue, calling them "frustrated virgins" while commenting on that issue could make sense. But I don't think there should be judgement implied in that.
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Post by fakely mctest on Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:05 pm

The Wisp wrote:I acknowledge that most sex-positive people don't do this, but I saw  it more than I should have back when I lurked around feminist blogs. I often hear that "well, it's okay because those guys feel that way, I'm not implying anything about virginity". Yeah, I'm gonna call bullshit on that. I feel like it is a rationalization for using problematic insults because you happen to be attacking your opponents. The problem is, you're just reinforcing the cultural narrative around virginity being shameful to innocents who read that article.

I have to say that it's that aspect of Amanda Marcotte's blog that ultimately made me stop reading her stuff. It was in no means constant, but I found the narrative repeated pretty often where political conservatives were just angry and jealous because liberals were clearly having better (kinkier, non-missionary-er) sex. Which, that's such a weird high school argument from someone who I know can think about things in a more nuanced way to make. Politics is politics and sex is sex and there's (unfortunately) a lot of overlap in that Venn diagram but it's not a circle. And I say this as a big, giant, bleeding heart liberal.

So, I lost my virginity at 20 in the way that society seems to count (I'd had my first penetrative experience at 18) and I distinctly remember being needled about my sexual experience by a now ex-friend who straight-up asked me if I felt like my virginity was becoming a liability. His tone of voice clearly communicated the fact that HE saw it as a liability for me. To be honest though, I didn't much care. I was never romantic about it. My first kiss was with a stranger at a rock concert when I was 16.

My boyfriend at the time was way more concerned about the whole thing than I was. We'd met at a party and I brought him back to my dorm and distinctly told him that if we were about to do what I thought we were he should know that I'd never done it before. At which point he backed way off and it was a couple months or so before we got around to that point again.

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Post by celette482 on Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:13 pm

According to society, I am still a virgin, but for medical reasons, and frankly I don't care all that much. And I never felt much shame for it.

But I'm *female* and women are supposed to be virgins, doncha know. /sarcasm
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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:49 pm

Only thing that sticks out is a very feminist very body-positive sex-positive very smart college friend remarking to the rest of our friend group that a passing stranger just out of earshot is probably never going to get laid. And making similar remarks about fictional men (or their actors) whose appearance or attitude she didn't like while she watched her TV shows.

And it's like she could sense when I was about to forgive her, because she kept renewing her lease, so to speak.

Oh, and I guess another friend independently commenting on his spectacular break-up saying at least he had his one big amazing love thing.

As a more general/environmental thing almost everyone I know has, at at least one point or another, been unable to prevent themselves from explaining at me what it is like being in a relationship. Usually this comes after they ask me about something relationship-y and I have to give a standard disclaimer that I do not have any firsthand experience to support the thoughts or advice I have on the matter. It may shock you to learn that I do not make a habit of inviting the pity-party.
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Post by Werel on Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:09 pm

While my personal feelings on male virginity are kind of unorthodox*, I also see a lot of ambient virgin-shaming in mainstream media and, yes, sometimes in sex-positive circles as well ( Disapproving ). I think/hope we all already agree that such messages are deeply lame and hurtful, but beyond that, I'm curious about two things:

1) Whether you guys perceive female "virgin-shaming" as such, or whether you'd call it something different than the canonical "loser can't get laid" variety leveled at men because the underlying gendered values are so different;

2) and, particularly from the virgins 'round here, how do you wish people would speak up when they hear/see virgin-shaming comments? What would your perfect hypothetical ally say to the girl in nearly_takuan's anecdote, or a commenter on a news article that throws around "virgin" like a combo joke/slur?



*i.e. lust
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Post by Jayce on Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:45 pm

Well no one has ever shamed me for not having sex before. I never advertise it, I never speak to my friends about it and it also helps that I don't really seem like the stereotypical nerdy virgin. If someone were to ever insult me about it I would just not respond.

Takuan, if your friends ever try to pity party you, explaining to you about what a relationship is like, and it is making you uncomfortable you can always respond with a nice, "Hey, I don't feel like talking about that right now". If they are friends and not assholes then they'll respect your wishes and change subjects.

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Post by Guest on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:14 pm

Werel wrote:While my personal feelings on male virginity are kind of unorthodox*, I also see a lot of ambient virgin-shaming in mainstream media and, yes, sometimes in sex-positive circles as well ( Disapproving ).

I love your feelings on male virginity. Gives fellows like me some sort of hope. :3 I can see the male virgin/shy-guy-shaming for sure in mainstream media, but I don't think I've experienced it personally. The reason for that is because I tend to keep that under wraps, if nobody asks, I won't tell anyone. One time when I was buzzed I implied I was a virgin to female friend of mine and she asked "Are you a virgin?" in a very nonchalant manner. I can't lie, drunk or sober, I simply can't lie (or at least I don't lie often) so I innocently nodded my head. Laughing

And she said to me, "I think that's a very noble thing, still being a virgin." Which I think is the nicest thing I've heard anyone say about virgins tbh.

Werel wrote:
I think/hope we all already agree that such messages are deeply lame and hurtful, but beyond that, I'm curious about two things:

1) Whether you guys perceive female "virgin-shaming" as such, or whether you'd call it something different than the canonical "loser can't get laid" variety leveled at men because the underlying gendered values are so different;

2) and, particularly from the virgins 'round here, how do you wish people would speak up when they hear/see virgin-shaming comments? What would your perfect hypothetical ally say to the girl in nearly_takuan's anecdote, or a commenter on a news article that throws around "virgin" like a combo joke/slur?

*i.e. lust

1) I never fully understood the reasoning, or thought pattern behind 'virgin-shaming', so shaming a man or woman for still being a virgin seems like a waste of breath/mental-bandwidth/energy. The only type of 'virgin-shaming' that I can think of as really being hurtful is laughing at someone for being a virgin, why? Well, the person laughing doesn't know why they're still a virgin in the first place, what if they're doing it for religious purposes? I have a friend who's very much catholic and very much wears a purity ring despite being 24. Some of us who are virgins may not be religious and are 'saving' it for someone special, or maybe they have their own train of thought, or maybe they just haven't met the right person, or maybe they're like me and can't for the life of them get a date at all. Razz So, the most innocuous of things, a laugh, hurts more than being called a 'virgin-loser', at least that's my thinking if it makes any sense.

2) "Dude, you were a virgin too..." That simple, we aren't born NOT virgins.

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Post by The Wisp on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:20 pm

Werel wrote:While my personal feelings on male virginity are kind of unorthodox*,
*i.e. lust

I keep forgetting you were the one on the old forums whose first post was about how you followed a awkward nerdy guy around a store Razz

I do think female virgin-shaming exists, but it's different. For guys, it's pretty much "why can't you get laid, bro? You're such a loser". You're weak, pathetic, clueless. For women, my perception is it tends to either be prude-shaming, looks-shaming, or condescending pity (oh, you poor thing, can't get anybody to love you?). Just as bad, but different.
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Post by Jolly on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:34 pm

The Wisp wrote:For women, my perception is it tends to either be prude-shaming, looks-shaming, or condescending pity (oh, you poor thing, can't get anybody to love you?). Just as bad, but different.

From my experiences it was more about "maturity" (this was also mainly in high/middle school). Virgins were viewed as immature while girls who were dating and not virgins were grown ups and you were just a little kid. I was pretty much able to see through that bullshit logic. Still sucks when girls younger than me with less self-discipline in school, no job, and pretty much no responsibilities gets the "mature" while my high GPA, working 25-29 hours a week, while taking college classes to get a head start and save money is not.

Even though that view was kind of painful to my virgin self in high school, in the long run it was probably more damaging to the people who were the "mature" non-virgins. Seems like a lot them gave it up just so they could feel grown up or something and not because they wanted to and it seems the older the guy they lost it to the more grown up they felt. I frankly don't care about virgin or non-virgin either why but that motivation seems questionable and hurtful to girls.

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Post by Werel on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:02 am

The Wisp wrote:
Werel wrote:While my personal feelings on male virginity are kind of unorthodox*,
*i.e. lust

I keep forgetting you were the one on the old forums whose first post was about how you followed a awkward nerdy guy around a store Razz

WELLL I didn't follow him around the store... just kept seeing him in different aisles, you know, like when one party is shopping counterclockwise and the other is shopping clockwise... I'm not a weird stalker, I promise. Embarassed

(Glad that's not still the primary data point about me in your brain, though. Razz)
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:03 am

I like Werel's questions.

1) I'm reluctant to gender it because I suspect there are individual women who have experienced "virgin-shaming" as much as I have or worse (though I'm also fairly certain I've had it easy compared to a lot of guys). There's probably a notable difference in the average case, but focusing too much on the average case will mean "outliers" (no matter how many there are) get erased. I don't imagine backhanded compliments are that much better than straight-up insults.

I do see sex-positivity, or rather, the limited understanding certain people have of it, as generally making it worse for both genders, though. I'm totally supportive of women talking openly about wanting and having sex; the problem I have is that they've also adopted the fratboy dudebros' habit of rubbing it in people's faces. Add that there's been no real change lately in the way society at large views sex, intimacy, romantic love, and platonic love in relation to each other, and almost everyone ends up carrying a tangled mess of implicit assumptions and prejudices without necessarily recognizing that that is what is happening.

As for 2), I don't know. A personal plea wouldn't help her understand; a dispassionate explanation wouldn't make her want to. It's hard to conceive of hypocrisy that blatant not also being willful.

@Jayce: Because I had attended high school, I also tried to actively avoid volunteering such information in college. It just seems like most of the people in my age-group (which now includes some who are approaching their thirties) never run out of excuses to talk about their respective sex lives.

Well, the "good" side has been that offline people seem to feel comfortable coming to me with their problems generally; I'm glad to play "armchair psych" when people want to talk through job problems, career dilemmas, conflicts with family or friends, religious issues, science news and how freaking cool everything is.... there's a pretty diverse set of subjects that stimulate my intellectual curiosity and I can generally figure out when someone I know just wants somebody to listen to them.

And it really is minor background noise compared to the more overtly malicious flavor of comment, but I'll admit it's a minor annoyance that this invariably leads to them asking my opinion about whether it's "okay" to be mad at S.O. for whatever thing; I want to help, so I state my opinion (or belief or gut feeling), but I don't want to mislead, so I clarify.... It's kind of too late now, damage done, not gonna rotate to a fresh set of friends unless I have to move for work, but what I've decided is if there is a next time, next time the best move is to override both impulses and just claim I'm staying out of it (or in some other way avoid the question in the first place).




If this isn't the right place for it, I'll just shut up about it after this, but people also have different definitions of "virgin". celette482 says she is not ashamed of being a virgin, and I do not dispute her right to describe herself that way; however, if there was somebody in my life who loved me and I loved them, I would not call myself a virgin. So like, when this comes up:
The Wisp wrote:I do think female virgin-shaming exists, but it's different. For guys, it's pretty much "why can't you get laid, bro? You're such a loser". You're weak, pathetic, clueless. For women, my perception is it tends to either be prude-shaming, looks-shaming, or condescending pity (oh, you poor thing, can't get anybody to love you?). Just as bad, but different.
I don't personally see much difference between the two bolded parts or experience them as separate gender things.




The Mikey wrote:The only type of 'virgin-shaming' that I can think of as really being hurtful is laughing at someone for being a virgin, why? Well, the person laughing doesn't know why they're still a virgin in the first place, what if they're doing it for religious purposes?

Huh, to my mind, that's the case that's easiest to dismiss. "Fuck off, man, it's a religious choice, it's not like I'm one of those pathetic dweebs who couldn't even if he wanted to."
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Post by The Wisp on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:19 am

Nearly, I guess the difference is I see the difference as tonal: one of dominance vs one of pity.

But yeah, I don't want to disappear the experiences of women who don't fall into my generalization.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:37 am

Likewise, I don't mean to step on the way you're perceiving it, mark it as less valid, or call you out for "generalizing". I'm pretty sure everyone here is speaking mostly about their own opinions and/or general view of The General Culture anyway. (So I probably could have worded that better. Sorry for that.)

I guess what I mean is we're all going to have different ways of internalizing the term, if we do. And that may or may not be related to the ways it's used around us. Does that make sense?
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Post by The Wisp on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:53 am

nearly_takuan wrote:Likewise, I don't mean to step on the way you're perceiving it, mark it as less valid, or call you out for "generalizing". I'm pretty sure everyone here is speaking mostly about their own opinions and/or general view of The General Culture anyway. (So I probably could have worded that better. Sorry for that.)

I guess what I mean is we're all going to have different ways of internalizing the term, if we do. And that may or may not be related to the ways it's used around us. Does that make sense?

Yep, makes perfect sense!
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Post by reboot on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:57 am

The virgin shaming in my life was that only ugly women that men would not touch were still virgins. OUCH! So from 15 until 20 I propositioned anyone. Maybe 1000 or so approaches? Finally it happened with another student who was as wasted as I was and I honestly woke up the next morning only knowing I had sex by the stains on the sheets.
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Post by nonA on Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:27 am

The really big annoyance about the overlap between people who call themselves sex-pos and the people who virgin shame is the way that they use the former to say "My choice! Can't judge!" only to turn around and judge the hell out of other people. It's the ever popular hypocrisy hiding behind social justice.

Don't have that many personal stories. There was a certain vibe in a lot of my circles before I lost mine, but that had more to do with being around a bunch of wacky high school/college kids. Did have a few instances of being virgin fetishized - ironically happening after I stopped counting - but that again has more to do with the circles I ran in then general society at large.

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Post by reboot on Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:31 am

nonA wrote:The really big annoyance about the overlap between people who call themselves sex-pos and the people who virgin shame is the way that they use the former to say "My choice!  Can't judge!" only to turn around and judge the hell out of other people.  It's the ever popular hypocrisy hiding behind social justice.
....

This is particularly prevalent towards women, because if you are still a virgin you are a frigid prude who hates sex
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Post by Mel on Sat Oct 25, 2014 8:24 am

nonA wrote:The really big annoyance about the overlap between people who call themselves sex-pos and the people who virgin shame is the way that they use the former to say "My choice!  Can't judge!" only to turn around and judge the hell out of other people.  It's the ever popular hypocrisy hiding behind social justice.

Can we not talk as if hypocrisy is something particularly "popular" in social justice circles? I'm pretty sure you find just as much hypocrisy in any group of people focused on a particular attitude, because hypocrisy is popular among human beings, not specifically social justice folks. And frankly, attitudes about sex are pretty hypocritical in society at large.
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Post by celette482 on Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:03 am

nearly_takaun wrote: people also have different definitions of "virgin". celette482 says she is not ashamed of being a virgin, and I do not dispute her right to describe herself that way; however, if there was somebody in my life who loved me and I loved them, I would not call myself a virgin. So like, when this comes up:

I am by the official, serious definition "a virgin." It actually has some real medical meaning and some real world consequences (or lack thereof, really).

Lemme introduce you to a very certain type of virgin-shaming that you, as a man?, have never and will never experience: pregnancy shaming.

Me:*go to doctor with complaint*
Doctor: Have you taken a pregnancy test?
Me: ....Er, no.
Doctor: Let's do that
Me: Er.... I haven't had a visit from the Archangel Gabriel, so I'm expecting it'll be negative
Doctor: ...Oh. *entire life falls apart*

People cannot, will not accept that a young woman, in or outside a relationship, is *not* pregnant.
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Post by fakely mctest on Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:00 am

celette482 wrote:Me:*go to doctor with complaint*
Doctor: Have you taken a pregnancy test?
Me: ....Er, no.
Doctor: Let's do that
Me: Er.... I haven't had a visit from the Archangel Gabriel, so I'm expecting it'll be negative
Doctor: ...Oh. *entire life falls apart*

People cannot, will not accept that a young woman, in or outside a relationship, is *not* pregnant.

OMG, why is that the first question you get asked every.single.time? I was on vacation at the beach one year and ended up with swimmer's ear. So I go to a local doctor with this vicious, horrible earache and the first thing he asks me is: are you sexually active? are you pregnant?

And I sort of looked at him and was like, "I'm not sexually active in my EAR."

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Post by reboot on Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:26 am

Mel wrote:
nonA wrote:The really big annoyance about the overlap between people who call themselves sex-pos and the people who virgin shame is the way that they use the former to say "My choice!  Can't judge!" only to turn around and judge the hell out of other people.  It's the ever popular hypocrisy hiding behind social justice.

Can we not talk as if hypocrisy is something particularly "popular" in social justice circles?  I'm pretty sure you find just as much hypocrisy in any group of people focused on a particular attitude, because hypocrisy is popular among human beings, not specifically social justice folks. And frankly, attitudes about sex are pretty hypocritical in society at large.

Hell, sex negative circles are just as hypocritical. And nobody is particularly fair when it comes to asexuals and recognizing that it is their sexuality, not a choice.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:28 am

celette482 wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote:people also have different definitions of "virgin". celette482 says she is not ashamed of being a virgin, and I do not dispute her right to describe herself that way; however, if there was somebody in my life who loved me and I loved them, I would not call myself a virgin. So like, when this comes up:

I am by the official, serious definition "a virgin." It actually has some real medical meaning and some real world consequences (or lack thereof, really).

Lemme introduce you to a very certain type of virgin-shaming that you, as a man?, have never and will never experience: pregnancy shaming.

Me:*go to doctor with complaint*
Doctor: Have you taken a pregnancy test?
Me: ....Er, no.
Doctor: Let's do that
Me: Er.... I haven't had a visit from the Archangel Gabriel, so I'm expecting it'll be negative
Doctor: ...Oh. *entire life falls apart*

People cannot, will not accept that a young woman, in or outside a relationship, is *not* pregnant.

Me: *go to company nurse for help with minor foot-related issue*
Nurse: Are you sexually active?
Me: No.
Nurse: Are you sure?
Me: ....Yes.
Nurse: I'm only asking because it's usually a good idea to test men in your age group for STIs.
Me: Oh, well, I figure I'll just ask my parents later.
Nurse: Why would you ask your parents?
Me: I'm pretty sure they were tested.
Nurse: *looks at me skeptically*

So, you know. Way to assume.

I mean, yeah, it's company policy to offer STI testing to people in certain demographics. I don't think it's company policy to question them about it, though.

As someone who doesn't necessarily want to do sex with anyone, the medical/physical definition of "virgin" isn't describing anything about me that I particularly care about, nor is that the thing that people "shame" me with. So, if you want to reserve "virgin" as a medical term no matter who is using it, then what word do you suggest I use?
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Virgin-Shaming Empty Re: Virgin-Shaming

Post by celette482 on Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:30 am

You can use whatever word you want to to say "I don't *do* sex with other people" but keep in mind that there is a medical, physical aspect to it and, for women, a medical, physical aspect to virginity. STDs can happen to people who have never had PIV sex. Oral, kissing even. Meanwhile, pregnancy is sorta a PIV thing.
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Virgin-Shaming Empty Re: Virgin-Shaming

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