The 24-year-old virgin

I’m a virgin.

If the topic ever comes up, it’s always received with an incredulous, “Whaa?”

The former mainstay, “Are you a virgin?” has now become, “Are you STILL a virgin?” almost exclusively.

Why would anyone want to retain their v-card? (Cue the “Jesus is my boyfriend” jokes dripping with condescension, please.)

As glamorous, exciting hook-up culture became mainstream behavior, abstinence became a word associated with delusion and naiveté.

The only time virginity is seen in today’s media and entertainment is when the individual fits into one of these profiles:

1. Wildly, insanely religious (and therefore obviously a deluded bigot)

2.  Socially stunted/perverted (see 40-Year-Old Virgin)

3. Under 16-years-old (that’s a generously high age)

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but as a 24-year-old virgin I often find watching television or reading magazines extremely depressing. How can I relate to a community so obsessed with sex and yet so unwilling to acknowledge its significance?

A few months ago a big profile piece ran in a major news publication about a normal young woman who just happened to still be a virgin at 24. I was immediately gratified to see such a lifestyle being portrayed, seemingly without judgment. The first half detailed exactly how I felt through my teen and college years. The speaker recounted how awkward and strange she felt sometimes in comparison to her friends and their stories of sex and guys. She had no serious hang-ups about men, and she did date, but sex just never appeared in the equation. For her, she said the timing never felt right.

The only major difference between her account and mine was that I abstained because of my religious beliefs.

Then the narrative took a turn.

The woman began to refer to her virginity as some kind of burden (most of her reasons stemmed from the social stigmas and others’ expectations). After college she was looking to unload it, and quick. The “happy ending” for her was finally losing her virginity, and though the first time was not enjoyable, several partners later she established a sexually satisfying relationship with a guy she had been dating for a couple months.

Phew! Thank goodness she was able to cure herself from that awful condition. God forbid she hit the quarter-century age without having at least one awkward sexual encounter.

An even more unflattering example of the bias against virginity comes from a TLC reality television show about couples waiting until marriage. Instead of informing about abstinence, these people are portrayed as sad little freaks. Is being in a celibate relationship only comprehensible if done by the socially outcast?

A scene of one pair kissing awkwardly went viral; two toddlers could kiss better. The show obviously went out of its way to find the weirdest subjects — which is expected considering the medium — but the fact that virgin couples are even enough of a plot to sustain a whole series is saying something. Being an adult virgin and dating is equivalent to the oddness of “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo,” or “My Strange Addiction.”

So I get it. I’m not living within the confines of what’s expected of a “normal” 24-year-old. But my choice to wait isn’t meant as some kind of accusation to the sexually active.

By no means do I see myself as superior in any way: “slut-shaming” is disgusting, and there is still a looming double-standard between promiscuous men and promiscuous women.

But my choice isn’t inferior, either. Don’t get me wrong, I can take the virgin jokes. But my choice to remain abstinent is a rational, pro-female choice. And it should be treated as such.

 Flickr photo (cc) by  Khánh Hmoong