There’s lots of stigma surrounding virginity, tons of myths, and a lot of pressure that falls on those who make a conscious choice not to engage in sex until marriage. When you look at the virgin landscape, it’s not hard to see the dominant figures in the race against fleshly desires. Overwhelmingly, it’s women who proclaim decisions to remain virgins until they walk down the aisle which always makes me wonder, just who are they saving themselves for?
Interestingly, I stumbled across this article on PEOPLE about Olympian Lori “Lolo” Jones today which recounts an interview she had on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that doesn’t talk about her triumphs as a track and field athlete, but about her defeats in the dating game because she’s a 29-year-old virgin. Lolo talks about being reduced to trying to find a man on Twitter, which has been more successful than online dating services, although not much more—which made me think, there has to be a dating website for virgins out there somewhere. But when Lolo was asked why she’s had such a hard time finding a partner she said it’s because she’s been so open about being a virgin and when she was asked why she’s putting herself through such turmoil, she replied that her virginity:
“It’s something, a gift I want to give my husband.”
That sentiment is hardly new, but as Lolo talked about how difficult remaining a virgin was, saying, “This journey has been hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than studying for college has been staying a virgin before marriage,” something kept plaguing me. I was curious what motivates her to remain a virgin knowing that the man she settles down with likely will not be untouched like she is. That may sound cynical, but it’s a genuine question I’ve had for some time.
For a lot of virgins, religion is the motivator. Fornication is a sin, your bodies are supposed to be a temple, and your husband is the only person who should know you in that way, and so staying rooted in your spiritual conviction about not having sex is equal to not lying or getting drunk, or murdering someone. It’s a commandment that’s being kept. It’s a personal decision between you and God. But there’s something different to me about the sentiment of presenting your virginity as a gift to your husband. The choice isn’t just about you, but honoring your future husband in some way with your purity, but it makes me wonder, what are you getting in return, or is that even a concern? It’s certainly possible that a man could be a virgin until marriage too but the realities of the way men are nurtured suggest that likelihood is low.
Admittedly, pre-panty dropping, I was already a somewhat jaded virgin. I grew up in the church, I knew the commandments regarding your body, but eventually I began to think, what’s the point of waiting for marriage to give myself to someone who will have already sown enough wild oats to harvest a small colony. It certainly wasn’t a christian outlook on the matter but more of a logical one, perhaps even borderline womanist, thinking if he’s going to do him until we meet, why shouldn’t I do the same? Would I really want him to be the only one I slept with when he wouldn’t say the same? It was short-sighted thinking contrasted with the long-term goal women who remain virgins focus on. And even as virgins become more of a commodity in our oversexed society, the idea of saving oneself as a gift prevails and I wonder just how much the past of the men these women get involved with matters when it comes down to it. From what I’ve observed, it seems not much.
An older friend of mine who’s been married for about 10 years now told me for her she wishes she’d remained a virgin until marriage not necessarily to be pure in body but more so pure in mind. She’s expressed feeling like her bed is crowded because despite loving her husband and being with him only for more than the last decade, there are memories of how someone else did something or what someone else felt like or subconscious comparisons that you simply can’t block out once you’ve shared a bed with more than one person. Her husband expressed the same and in that sense, remaining a virgin seems like more than just a gift to your partner but also a gift to yourself. That’s a sentiment that I think is missed in Lolo’s rundown of her experience. She almost seems as though she’s racing to get across the finish line to finally have sex without any regard for the fact that the men who have tried to woo her by saying, if she has sex it will help her run faster, are not men she should want to marry or sleep with anyway.
No one knows exactly who they’ll marry as they develop as a person but it seems to be that the hope that the universe or God will bring a man whom is worthy of their pure bodies is the motivation that keeps women like Lolo on the path to have a gift to give her husband one day. When you think of it that way, it’s not hard to see how a man’s sexual past isn’t much of a hindrance if the man he is standing before you as today is worthy of receiving that gift.
Do you think concerns or cynicism over a future spouse’s sexual past ever effect choices regarding virginity?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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