Virgins And Vixens: What Does Celibacy Look Like?

August 9, 2012  |  


A lot of my friends thought I was kidding — or crazy –when they heard that my fiancé and I were not having sex until we got married.

It was a decision we had made separately before we even started dating. The response I got from people who knew of our decision confirmed my suspicion that sex is no longer widely viewed as an option in dating relationships, but a requirement and is actually considered by most as a prerequisite to marriage. This is why celebrity couples like Meagan Good and Devon Franklin made headlines when they announced they were engaged and celibate. We already knew that Meagan had committed to abstain until marriage, but for some odd reason that commitment was expected to be disregarded when in a serious relationship. We believe that celibate women can’t possibly get engaged and when they are, it’s shocking.

In fact, for some odd reason, many believe that celibate women — especially the Christian ones — are sitting in convents, wrapped in nun outfits, proudly announcing they’re married to Jesus.

I first noticed this in my own life when people would ask me if my fiance and I kiss. They figured if we weren’t fornicating then we weren’t kissing either. Granted, there are some people who do wait until their wedding day to have their first kiss and five million people watch them eat each other’s faces. These couples fit squarely into the fallacious stereotype that people who wait until marriage to have sex are young, naive, and childlike.

We’re comfortable with those stereotypes because we’ve been brainwashed to believe that having indiscriminate sex is normal and adults who are celibate are not normal.

Personally, I was faced with my own erroneous beliefs when I learned that my then-boyfriend (now husband) was a virgin. Though I met him at church, I was still thoroughly shocked. I was celibate, but I didn’t think I knew any men who were real-life virgins. “But…you’re handsome, you have a great personality, you’re educated, you have a solid career, you have your own house, you’re over 30…” my list of reasons why he couldn’t possibly be a virgin went on and on. Unbeknownst to me, I had internalized the propaganda that no man hits 25 without dropping trou unless he looks and acts like Steve Carell in “40-Year-Old Virgin”.

Sadly, many people in the nation share this flawed thinking. We are taught that abstaining from sex means abstaining from living. Celibate people — especially virgins — are expected to be prude, unattractive, homely, recluses who are probably asexual. When celebrities like Tim Tebow and Lolo Jones come along with their “I’m a virgin” confession thus publicly catapulting all negative stereotypes into oblivion, the press doesn’t know how to react.

Do you remember when Tim Tebow was chosen by Jockey for an endorsement contract and he was dubbed “the unlikeliest underwear model ever”? Though, many athletes endorse undergarments, apparently, the fact that this athlete wasn’t tossing off his briefs in the presence of groupies made him an odd choice.

In a borderline bitter and excessively harsh piece on Lolo in the New York Times published recently, author Jere Longman said:

Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.

In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian.

In that last line, you can practically see the sarcasm dripping off the page as though virginity means anything other than “never had sex”. As far as her Christianity, that’s for another article, but I will say that most of the beef with Lolo on the “virgin and Christian” front isn’t coming from Christians or virgins. The loudest criticism is from those who wish to portray Christians and virgins in a particular fashion and are outright pissed that Lolo Jones isn’t the embarrassing caricature often portrayed on television and instead is actually a normal athlete who happens to refrain from sex. Furthermore, just because she is a virgin doesn’t mean she isn’t a vixen. The term simply means “sexually attractive” and, like we try to explain to rapists, finding a woman Hot doesn’t mean she owes you sex.

It’s not just Lolo Jones either who is criticized for not fitting some arbitrary definition. When Meagan Good announced she was celibate, the tongue-wagging reached epic proportion. One publication asked:

“How exactly do you balance that with being a self-proclaimed party animal and being slizzed on the club scene in [skimpy] outfits all the time?”

Balance what? Not having sex with still having typical Hollywood rich-chicks fun? What activity automatically means sex…except sex? Partying doesn’t. Modeling for an underwear company doesn’t. Even posing nude in ESPN’s famous “Body Issue” doesn’t. Just because someone does these things yet refrains from sex doesn’t make him or her a fraud. It just make the naysayers look like imbeciles.

In my opinion, the instances when someone’s sex life or chastity makes news simply serves to expose the ridiculous and sad ideas that prevail in this nation. When Jada Pinkett and Will Smith talk about enjoying sex with each other, that makes headlines (and draws ire) because we believe that marriage is the end of sex. And when someone who isn’t married isn’t having sex, that makes news (and also draws criticism) because apparently we’re all animals running around foaming at the mouth for our next hump. It’s so backward and bizarre.

Celibacy is not a way of dress or a way of speaking or a description reserved for a man or woman that nobody wants to sleep with. Being celibate simply means abstaining from sex — and there’s absolutely nothing abnormal about that.

Do you think people have preconceived notions about what celibacy looks like?

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  • kit

    Who has the right to claim whether or not an outfit is provocative, it is not the 19th century we should dress as we please. There is a very big difference between fashion clothing and uniforms!

    • Is It 5:00 Yet?

      It’s obvious when an outfit is provocative.

  • Z

    Honestly, the media is so dangerous. It’s what we’re fed and many many people eat it up and let it affect their minds … sometimes they don’t even know it’s affecting their minds. You really do have to be able to remain steadfast in your own beliefs to not let anything deter you in this society. Our culture loves following what everyone else does and gaining acceptance from the majority and not being seen as an outsider brings a sense of worth. But that worth is flimsy because it’s built on something that’s not realistic usually perpetuated by the media.

    I’m getting a little deep here but — as far as flaunting your sexuality and lack of a sex life, I think SOME of those people that criticize those who are virgins/celibate are offended by it because they feel insecure about their own lives in which sex controls their actions. Just being real here. Maybe it’s more of a personal issue they have with themselves.

    It’s funny because I always say pretty much the virgin/celibate woman and the freak/heaux woman are in the same boat. They’re darned if they do and darned if they don’t. One will get judged for having a history of multiple sexual partners and the other will actually be judged for not having any or few sexual partners. Once they’re identity is “confirmed” they have these title placed on them and a stigma placed on them that they can’t wash off. People will pin their opinions on both types of women without getting to know the person truly as anything more than the title that’s placed on them and the associated ideas that come along with that title. Which is why I do sometimes feel bad for Kim K and also even Megan Good who essentially wanted a different lifestyle but was judged by many because of her past.

  • calixteliss

    Dang! Madame Noire has done it once again! This article expresses my thoughts on this subject so eloquently that im simply going to print a copy, keep it in my purse and bring it out the next time i find myself in one of those celibacy debates! Furthermore, i find it very interesting that most people are suddenly annoyed and tired of hearing about celebrities’ sex lives when celebs like Tebow, Lolo, and Meagan Good express the lack of sex in their lives. No one was coming out with these complaints when Kim K., Paris and company were making sex tapes upon which their whole careers have been founded. Very interesting indeed.

  • Negress

    Sometimes you just want to fall in love instead of falling into someone’s bed. Like a long walk on a clear day, sometimes you want to take your time, eliminate the pressure, relax, and enjoy.

  • realadulttalk

    Everyone’s definition of virginity and celibacy is not the same–that has to be taken into account when someone makes one of those claims. I knew “virgins” who had slobbed more knobs than the average street-walker–to me that is not a virgin. I also know people who are “celibate” only in the sense that there is no penetration–which to me does not make you celibate.

    • MLS2698

      Very true. Our former President Clinton ushered in that thought process. All that ” slobbing” is just a tease, and I would rather a person have sex than to look foolish, or ignorant to the facts of celibacy, or being a virgin. I have been celibate six years ( the REAL definition), but I don’t bring it up unless people are speaking about sex, or, the lack of it. Also, even I know, being celibate, that if there was a p*nis staring right at me, I’d jump on it; so I don’t put myself in a position to be tempted. TRUTH

  • Crystal

    Thank you for this article. So many times those of us who choose to abstain are looked at as freaks of nature like weird circus animals. I’m normal and just happen to be celibate. There are too many preconceived notions about how a celibate person or virgin is suppose to appear or carry themselves. It’s totally unfair to group everyone into a box.

  • NiceNasty

    What i don’t understand is why people give so much ish because they are virgins or celibate, and what to wear something showing so skin or even talk about it. FYI, we were all virgins before we make to choice to start having sex. And I’m pretty sure that you wore your short-shorts, halter tops, mini skirts, tube tops, etc. while you was still a virign. So if you think about it you was pushing your sexuality into people’s face or “advertising” too. So what the hell is really going on? Honestly there are more women who get upset then man do when this topic is being discussed. leading me to believe that they are either wishing that they was still virgins, have the courage to become celibate, or jus a hater.

  • It looks like attention-seeking from people who are trying to be different because they are just like all the other attention-seekers.

  • It looks like attention-seeking from people who are trying to be different because they are just like all the other attention-seekers.

  • Daisy

    Very good article. I was celibate for over 10yrs and now it has been over 2yrs. I love Megan and Devon’s story and it gave me up that I can have the same thing!

  • Pivyque

    I agree with you! My friends didn’t believe me when they found out my husband and I were celibate until we were married. They assumed that we were having sex because we’d been together for a few years. I never made a big deal to showcase that we weren’t. It was our business. At any rate, I think that these celebrities just want to show people that they don’t have to have sex to live life. Yes, it is natural, but some people feel pressured to do it because it is being advertised all over the place. It’s refreshing to see someone stand up and be different. It’s sad that sex is expected in relationships…even when they are not that serious. Sex is an option, no one should feel like it is mandatory.

    • Z

      Lovely comment.

  • Miss D

    Virgin or not, your sex life is a private matter. What is the point of telling someone that you do or don’t have sex? Realistically, I highly doubt that a celebrity can change someone’s ideas about sex. There are plenty of great role models who choose not to publicize . Being sexually active doesn’t make you void of morals, and being a virgin or celibate doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

    • Daisy

      While I agree most people only have a problem with celibacy or virginity is discussed. If I have to hear about such and such sex life then I think its a breath of fresh air to hear about the flip side because people want stories/situations they can relate to.

      • Yay

        I disagree. There are plenty of men and woman who are known/believed to be promiscuous and receive incredible backlash for it. Look at some of our fav reality stars; Kim K., Stebbie J. to name a few. I agree with Miss D. The only thing I find strange about virgins or the celibate is the often unsolicited declaration of their lifestyle. In instances where I’m told by a friend or a family member that they are still virgins or celibate, my response is almost always “oh” (end quote, move on). What does someone who I’m not in a romantic relationship with sexuality have to do with me? I am not curious to see you in a bathing, just as I’m not curious to see most active people in a compromising position. I think the real issue is around validation. Celibate people or virgins want to be seen as “normal” or feel value from others for their decision – In Megan G’s case relevancy. I say stop seeking fans. Have enough confidence in you to find value in the decision to be celibate and let that be all.

        • Daisy

          Thanks for making my point. We don’t ask to hear abt other peoples sex lives but when they share it nobody has a problem with it for the most part. Megan is relevant already so her sharing her story was a bonus. Kim K whom I like is still one of the biggest brands so her sex life if u will has not hurt her. When people adv they are a freak its fine when you say you are a virigin/celibate then you should keep quiet, why are u broadcasting such, keep your biz to yourself etc. We all know sex sells. Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

    • negrakitty

      It’s not a case of trying to be better than anyone else. Its a personal choice your right but the reason why people choose to “speak out” as you put it is because 1. They wish to show that there is an alternate way to have a love life and that being a virgin and waiting don’t mean you are a freak. Right now the mainstream view is that pre-marital sex is mandatory. Those who abstain are portrayed as weirdos which can make you feel like a frikkin weirdo! 2. To break preconceived stereotypes about what a virgin looks like. Many think that if you live in the 21st century and have a 21st century life that abstaining cannot be a part of it – when it can. Having those in the spotlight talk about it breaks down this notion. 3. Finally its about being honest. If someone asks me or it comes up in conversation then I will say it because there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to sleep with only one person. Having said that there are people I’ve known for years who don’t know – cos it aint come up and I aint broadcasting my biznais for the sake of it.

  • Kenedy

    Was Megan Good a virgin? Or was she choosing to be celibant just with her fiance?

    • Pivyque

      I think after her last relationship, she decided to be celibate until she was married.

  • I think the problem lies with, not her being a virgin but being a virgin AND a christian. It’s hard to say you’re a virgin for religious reasons when you have no problem posing in the nude. It’s like you won’t get naked in the bedroom but on a mag cover is completely fine…lol

  • MLS2698

    That red ribbon dress is a HOT MESS! And Lolo looks like a pubescent boy when they sometimes get breast ( can think of the medical condition) wearing it. I’m less inclined to believe a person is a virgin, or celibate if they are visually selling sex.

    • lalatarea

      THANK YOU! idk what men find lolo attractive she has a nice face but her body is very boyish, maybe its just white men… shrugs

  • L-Boogie


  • Guest1234

    If these folks are not planning on having sex, why push their sexuality in everyone’s face? It’s not that virgins are supposed to be homely, it’s that these folks are advertising their sexuality, as if that’s any less morally corrupt than having sex. In fact, it’s moreso. Sex is natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Shoving your sex organs in others’ faces, however…..

    So don’t tell us you’re “pure” when you’re the one putting your sex organs in magazines, and throwing them around the club. It’s the hypocrasy that’s problematic. And annoying.

    • Truth

      I think it’s Americans Puritanical relationship to all things that might relate to nudity that makes their minds automatically go to sex when someone shows some skin. People are allowed to be as comfortable showing or not showing as much as they choose, it’s their behavior that dictates their chastity, not their clothing or lack there of. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’ve known MANY women who on appearance look virginal, but who’s habits were any and every thing, but that. In short, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

      • Toni Monae Diggs

        Exactly I love this because I am abstaining from sex and I love showing skin. But iy’s not about how I dress but WHAT I DO