Via my anonymous askbox:
Y do peopel say that christians aren’t marginalized in any way???? you can go to anyone and say that you believe in marriage before having sex and everyone will look at you like you’re crazy!! can you guys stop saying that we aren’t marginalized? yes in the past we had more power but not anymre
I’ll admit that my first instinct was to call the whole thing a [sic] and move on, but thanks to having recently seen the wonderful How to Lose Your Virginity, I found myself relating to the question-asker. The movie had brought to mind, for the first time in years, just how awful it was to be a never-been-kissed virgin in college.
One of the young women in the documentary was quoted on the marked contrast in terms of attitudes towards sex in high school versus in college. When she was in high school, the kids who had sex were considered anomalous and, accordingly, were the subjects of speculation, gossip, and rumors. One summer later, when she entered college, she found that attitudes had shifted entirely: the virgins were the gossiped-about anomalies and everyone assumed that everyone else was having lots of sex. As she pointed out, a single seasonal break between academic years was hardly enough time to go from mostly-virgins to mostly-sexperts.
What she said resonated deeply with me. When I first started my post-secondary academic career, I was still a practicing, scarf-wearing Muslim. This meant that I hadn’t hugged or shaken hands with my own first cousins in 7 years, let alone held hands with or kissed a boy. My sexual inexperience didn’t prove to be a problem until I started working at a campus job where the majority of our time was spent waiting. As we were not permitted to surf the Internet or read during all that downtime, our office chatter often veered into rather personal inquiries.
Take a wild guess as to what we, a group of 17-to-21-years olds, ended up talking about.
To my chagrin, my virginity became my defining trait to my coworkers. If I was passionate about some matter or other, it was because I was a virgin; my older coworkers asserted to me that I would stop being so “intense” after I “worked it out” via sexual activity.* If I laughed at or made a sexual joke, it would be met with a mocking “ohhhhhh yeah, Heina knows, right?” My insight on human relationships that had nothing to do with sex was considered worthless because I hadn’t done the horizontal tango.
It got to the point where I considered lying to them about it, but I knew that I’d start sounding like the 40-Year-Old Virgin if I were pressed for details. For a spell, I tried to make Virgin Pride a thing.
Someone who feels that by not giving into their lusts, they are doing something good for themselves and for society. People who feel this emotion aren’t social outcasts, losers, or romantically inept. In today’s society, losing one’s virginity is quite an easy task, with hookers, booty calls, and fuck buddies so easily available — it’s resisting temptation that’s hard.
By protecting themselves from STDs, unwanted pregnancies, emotional damage, and needless regrets, many people who hold off on sex until marriage feel some measure of virgin pride.
Yes, really. I wrote that.** Of course, “Virgin Pride” went the way of “fetch“.
Not too long after I wrote that entry, unrelated to the entry, I lost my faith. A bit later, highly related to my apostasy, I gained my first sexual experience. Eager to leave Islam way the heck behind me, I stopped thinking or caring about the way in which my old coworkers had treated me. It was awful to be shamed for my sexual choices, even when that choice is to not have sex at all. I don’t agree with those who do so in the slightest.
However, shaming virgins does not represent a form of oppression that is directed at Christians. Not only are Christians hardly the only people who don’t have sex before marriage, plenty of Christians have premarital sex. The majority of Christians do, in fact, have sex before marriage — according to a 2009 survey, a whopping 80% of them. That’s only 8% lower than the overall population’s percentage of young people who have premarital sex. Given that many Christian abstinence-promoting movements seem to inadvertently encourage sexual activity that isn’t penis-in-vagina sex, it’s safe to say that even the 20% of young Christians who say they didn’t have premarital “sex” probably engaged in some kind of sexual activity before marriage.
And, if I recall correctly, the coworker who told me sex would calm me down proudly told me all about how she went to church every Sunday. Christians are just as capable of shaming virgins as non-Christians.
So, to the question asker, I say this: Though your reasons for not having sex might be religious, the reason you’re being teased about it is because people are awful to those who make unconventional sexual choices. You’re being marginalized because you are part of a sexual minority, not for being a Christian. If you really think that Christians don’t have power, you might want to check out Dispatches From the Culture War for some insight and examples into the ways in which your coreligionists exercise alarmingly great power in the United States.
* 9 years and plenty of sex later, I’m still as passionate, intense, and involved as I was at 17 — maybe even more so. Take that, old coworkers!
** A year later, I wrote an entry on the creepiness of Purity Balls. Less than a year after that, I wrote an entry on a sex position my first boyfriend and I invented.