Down in Irvine lives a woman named Becky who spends her time as a civil defense attorney. Slaying the law like a boss is what she does, but it’s what she doesn’t do that brings her here today. While some her age would avoid this topic like an old classmate in Walmart on a trip back to their hometown at Thanksgiving, Becky isn’t shy at all about sharing her choice to be a virgin. She points out the stigmas, pressure and more…
Kendra: Was the decision to keep your virginity something you made when you were younger or did you decide later in life?
Becky: Both. I’ve made the decision several times at different points in my life and for different reasons. When I was a teen, I didn’t understand why my peers were so into sex. I made the choice to stay a virgin because I was comfortable like that and because I wanted to focus on school. As I got older, I realized that I identify as asexual (I’m not attracted physically to either sex). Once I understood my sexual preference, I stayed a virgin because I realized I shouldn’t have to have sex to make other people happy. If I didn’t want it, why have it? I make the choice each time I begin a relationship or meet a person I’m interested in. It’s an active decision, not just a one time thing. I choose every day.
Kendra: Are you waiting for marriage by chance?
Backy: Not exactly. If I find a permanent partner/get married, then I would be willing to have sex if they sometimes wanted that. I would not expect to stay a virgin if I was married because I would want my partner to be satisfied as well. But I’ll happily remain a virgin unless that happens.
Becky: Yes. With the prevalence of STDs, limiting sexual partners is just practical. You protect yourself and your partners. Just staying a virgin longer? For women, I highly recommend it – especially if you are open about it. The ones who press even though you say not to expect sex in the immediate future, dump them asap. Anyone willing to stick around, you know they want to know you as a person.
Kendra: Do you feel women get more pressure from their partners, society or friends when they’re older virgins?
Becky: Maybe…I don’t know any openly virgin men my age. For my part, I definitely experience the pointed comments towards “spinsters” or get comments about my uterus “drying up.” I’ve experienced a lot of pressure from all avenues. Well-meaning friends who constantly remark that I just need to try it, or that I’m happy only because I don’t know any better. They belittle my choice and act as if I’m ignorant or my knowledge of the sexual world is the same as a 13-year-old.
There is also a lot of societal pressure targeted at women into making yourself sexy and desirable. The media spins first sexual experiences as romantic and a necessary rite of passage; “becoming a woman.” I didn’t know I needed sex to be a woman – maybe someone should tell my credit card company? Funnily, even though I’m open to having children one day, when I say I’m a virgin and I make it clear that I’m purposely abstaining, I get a lot of backlash. Women ask me what’s wrong with me and demand to know why I don’t want to be mother. My mother, who is otherwise extremely supportive, talks constantly about how I need to have children and openly worries that I’m waiting too long. As a woman, I’ve experienced a lot of backlash for my decision.
Kendra: Why do you think there’s a stigma hanging around being a virgin as you get older?
Becky: Several reasons. First, the idea that people should “settle down and have kids” is still a major expectation. People react negatively/scornfully when people subvert societal norms. This is the thing that people tend to refer to first – babies. Second, we link sexuality with self worth (being “a man,” being wanted, etc). For someone who puts value on being sexually proficient or sexually active, those who abstain must be wrong/broken. A virgin man is a loser, is weak. A virgin woman is either a prize or she is a spinster and not worth your time. People assume that virgins are unwanted or awkward. The juggernaut of society wants you to fall in line.
Becky: Yes, exactly. “Take” is so medieval. It makes it seem like a competition. However, virginity is a very personal decision so the idea that someone can take it all is very minimizing. As if my personal decision is something that can be collected or traded on. It can’t. I make the decision to have sex, it’s my virginity. The only time it’s taken would be rape.
Kendra: When I was a virgin I was really uncomfortable around my friends who weren’t when they talked about sex. Do you ever get that?
Becky: I did when I was younger. As a teen, hearing anything about my friends having sex was extremely uncomfortable. In college (19/20 years old), I was exposed to sex/nudity more and I engaged in more media that treated sex as a regular thing. During this time, I was also beginning to understand asexuality and was starting to identify that way. Understanding my position was very liberating. When I expressed interest in the process (but not the act), I had great friends who talked about all their experiences, emotional and physical. Some friends watched pornography with me and answered questions. I’m more knowledgeable now, with that comes a lot of comfort. My close friends have said they like talking sex with me because they know I won’t judge! I just like to hear the drama/gossip.
Kendra: Lastly, what are the highs and lows of keeping your virginity intact all these years?
Becky: The lows have been the negative reactions – losing potential relationships, being judged, having to constantly explain myself. But the high comes from the low. I had to learn to articulate my position, to be more confident in myself and my choices. I had to think about what I wanted in life and in my relationships. I know myself well now, I’m strong and confident and proud. I recognized that I alone control my body and my future.