Feministe Feedback: Why Is It Wrong to Want to Date a Virgin?

We haven’t done Feministe Feedback for a while, but a reader writes in with an interesting question for the peanut gallery. As a reminder, if you have a question that you want the Feministe community’s input on, email feministe@gmail.com with the subject “Feministe Feedback.”

Now, the letter:

I met this guy online a while back and we were internet buddies for good amount of time. He only lived a few towns over, but we never met, even though we exchanged numbers and texted each other pretty regularly. It wasn’t a romantic relationship at all, he was just a person I liked chatting with. When we talked, our sex lives would sometimes come up and once, when talking about a girl he was hoping to date, he asked, “is it bad that I hope she’s a virgin?” to which I responded yes, that’s kind of creepy. He got defensive and asked me to explain why I felt that way, but I found I couldn’t really explain myself other than to say it just felt predatory and wrong.

I don’t feel like it was abnormal of me to have this reaction, but I was surprised at how unable I was to articulate the “why” of it. Why does that idea feel so wrong to me? I don’t really expect an absolute answer to this issue, I would just like to hear other opinions on it from people I’m sure have better knowledge of feminism and women’s studies than me.

Needless to say, I’m no longer friends with this person. Dude had serious issues with women and trust and I did not need anymore negativity and baggage in my life.

I hope this wasn’t too indulgent and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have the time. Thanks!

Send your Feministe Feedback questions to feministe@gmail.com.

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82 comments for “Feministe Feedback: Why Is It Wrong to Want to Date a Virgin?

  1. Katherine
    March 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    It depends on his motivation. Does he hope she is a virgin so that he can have her first and feel like a big ole’ stud? Or does he date with the intention of finding someone to marry and wants to marry a religious virgin – like himself?

  2. leedevious
    March 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I think guys like that are insecure. If a girl is a virgin, it’s like she has no prior opinions, and won’t be able to tell if you suck at it.

    The more disturbing possibility is he wants to sort of claim her as his own. Like being the first country to plant a flag on the moon. Either way, he sounds like a creep.

  3. March 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Like Katherine says. The desire itself isn’t the problem (or at least I don’t think it is) its the motivation behind the desire that might be a problem. Another notch in the belt or looking to meet a religious standard he may have?

  4. Cheryl t-z
    March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    As long as we live in a culture which tries to exert control on women via the adulation of virginity, that’s creepy.

  5. March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I wish I knew what the “serious issues with women and trust” were that he had, because this is probably a clue as to why his desire creeped you out. Your gut reaction is probably correct, there WAS something weird about this particular guy’s interest in virgins–or at least, about his hope that this girl be a virgin–even if the desire in general, apart from other anti-feminist qualities, is not particularly wrong.

  6. Jesse
    March 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    While I agree with Katherine, does he want to date a virgin because he has placed that importance on himself?

    Many women are not virgins. For some women it was a choice. For others, through circumstances not in their control, they are not.

    Plus, virginity is not an indicator of lack of sexual activity. In my high school, anal sex was the way to be sexual active without actually engaging in sex. (i.e. losing one’s virginity). To the sexually educated, we know that’s rubbish–sex is sex. But to the millions of teenagers un-educated or semi-educated about sexual health, there is much confusion about virginity.

  7. Sheelzebub
    March 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Unless he’s a virgin himself, and he holds a high priority on no sexual experience for either sex, it’s creepy because a) it fetishizes female virginity and b) it reinforces the sexual double-standard (I mean, you never hear this sort of thing about men).

    The fact that he asked shows he knew on some level it was creepy.

    And seriously–I don’t want to hear anyone whine about how men have it just as bad because being a virgin male is just awful! awful! It is nowhere near the same.

  8. latinist
    March 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I agree, it depends on the why, and on how “virgin” compares to his own experience. Even outside a religious context, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for a sexually inexperienced person to want to be involved with someone similarly inexperienced, out of a fear of appearing ridiculous, or feeling intimidated, or of the other person using his/her greater experience to try to push you around (though there are also, of course, reasons to want the opposite).
    On the other hand, if he’s a relatively experienced guy, who wants to find an inexperienced girl so he can be the pusher-around himself, that’s not very nice, and it certainly is something that happens a lot. And it sounds like this is what the letter-writer thinks was going on (“it just felt predatory and wrong”).
    And finally, good on the letter-writer for wanting to be able to articulate this better. Because if this is a guy looking for the wrong things in a relationship with a woman, he at least was self-conscious enough to ask “is it bad?”; and, though probably 99 times out of a hundred it does no good, it’s important for people who ask that question to get helpful answers, and it’s great that there are people like this letter-writer trying to give them.

  9. March 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Of course it’s weird to seek out virgins. It implies that you value virginity, which is a stupid and arbitrary concept to begin with. There are lots of reasons why someone might value virginity, all of them bad including personal insecurity, prudery, control issues, and religion (read: superstition).

  10. March 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I think the desire is a problem, honestly. Fetishizing (at worst) or strongly valuing (at best) virginity is historically vested in control over female sexuality. “Hoping” someone is a virgin feeds into the idea that women who have sex are unclean, or less moral, or somehow less appealing. Also? Virginity as a concept is… fluid, to say the least. A lot of feminists argue that virginity doesn’t even exist, and that it’s basically a socially-constructed way to keep women in line (see: Jessica Valenti’s The Purity Myth). So I admittedly have a knee-jerk reaction to people who vest much of anything in virginity as a concept.

    My personal take is, basically, sex is a pretty great thing, and it’s something that should be for shared pleasure (among other purposes). Crossing your fingers for a virgin doesn’t really fall into that ideal; it seems to fall more into the category of seeing another person as a tool for your pleasure, and not an equal player. Not having had sex is not a bad thing; deciding to abstain for whatever reason is not a bad thing. But hoping that someone else has never had sex before you have sex with them? I am having a hard time coming up with a reason why someone would want that, apart from control / issues with female sexuality / reliance on the idea that virginity is actually valuable.

  11. Jikaku
    March 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I had a similar reaction.

    I feel as though analyzing “why” or his specific motivation is somewhat beside the point (especially as we don’t really have access to those outside of hypothesizing).

    From my perspective, this kind of desire is really problematic, regardless of motivation. It seems pretty clear to me that this kind of desire as expressed reinforces many of the patriarchal tropes vis-a-vis women that have proven consistently difficult to combat effectively (esp. considering, as Katherine points out, this one has pretty explicit pseudo-religious reinforcement). It sends some pretty disgusting signals about the nature and effects of sex (viz. women who have had sex are ruined/less valuable), it commodifies women and virginity, and it expresses the value of possessing the more potentially immature.

    I think the ideas it engenders about sex are pretty destructive and bizarre, esp. as they’re almost equivalent to the anti-sex ideology of the abstinence movement. The extreme valuation of virginity leads to really strange politics vis-a-vis sex education, women’s understanding and interest in their own bodies, and etc. [I think it’s important to point out that those who choose to abstain from sex and the promoters of sexual ignorance/virginity are two very different groups. One deserves ridicule and the other respect.]

    These kind of messages are ubiquitous in American culture (Christianity, pornography, the ‘teen movie’, etc.) and abroad. This desire/fetish is almost certainly overdetermined, but I feel as though regardless of the source, this kind of desire/motivation needs to be countered.

  12. Tracey
    March 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I mostly agree with the posters saying it depends on motivation. With that said though, even if it is for religious purposes or just desire to be with a virgin and he holds himself to the same standards, I still think it is problematic if he would make that a deal breaker.
    Even in the religious context, people don’t always live up to their standards (the concept of born-again virgin where someone recommits to abstainance) or they may have made the decision to abstain after losing their virginity. Also, being a non-virgin doesn’t mean they won’t respect any decision to move slowly or abstain.
    And if it is experiance-compatibility, non-virgin doesn’t always equal pushy/has high performance expectations. He did say “hope” so it doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker, but without knowing motivations and if he himself is a virgin,it screams creepy.

  13. March 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I think the “gut reaction” thing gave it away- in conjunction with the “negativity” comment. It sounds like it’s on the wrong side of desire based on the totality of his personality and world-view. A virgin wanting to be with a virgin for the first time is different as a sort of manifestation of insecurity, but beyond that I can’t really think of any good or acceptable reasons.

    That said, I’m a little more interested in the people who avoid dating virgins. I admit this thought was inspired by listening to Dan Savage’s latest podcast, where he sort of dispels the “virgin attachment myth”- which I hadn’t actually heard of till then.

  14. March 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I don’t think it matters why he wants her to be a virgin. Let’s just say the reason is that he wants to abstain from sex in a relationship until marriage. You might say, well, he’s seeking a virgin because that reflects his “values.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a relationship where you abstain from sex until marriage. But wanting “a virgin” isn’t about actions, it’s about supporting and enforcing the existence of a construct where women are either virgin/not-virgin aka clean/unclean sullied/unsullied pure/impure. This is a fake and problematic construct. You could have a woman who’s had sex before but wants to have a relationship where there is no sex until marriage. And if that woman had had sex, it might not have been consensual. Under the fake virginity construct, that woman would be no good according to this guy, even with his supposedly non-problematic intentions.

    Wanting someone to share your plan for sexual action is fine. But wanting someone to be in an “pure”/virginal state of being is not ok, regardless of the reason.

  15. March 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I think it depends too. Some people want to have sexual relationships with people with comparable experience to themselves. So if he’s a virgin, then maybe he wants to lose his virginity to a virgin so that he’s not as nervous about it. I don’t see a problem with this whatsoever, since a comfortable sexuality develops with practice and experience. Who would expect anyone to just jump right into their first sexual experience without a ton of thought and planning? If he feels really inadequate about his sexual performance and only wants to sleep with virgins so that she doesn’t compare him to previous partners, then that’s a problem. I mean, it’s a problem to be insecure and he has to get help with that, but I don’t think it necessarily hurts his future sex partners. If he has some sort of obsession with virgins, like he makes a value judgment based on the woman’s sex life, that’s a problem that could definitely hurt his future sex partners. There would be nothing keeping him from just having sex with her once and moving a long to the next virgin. If that’s not something that he arranges with her before hand, that can lead to a lot of sadness.

  16. gomi
    March 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I’d side with the “motivations” people on this, I think. Was he a virgin too? And if so, is this any worse than wishing she was Catholic, or outdoorsy? But outside of his own state, there really isn’t a non-creepy reason for wanting this.

    I think it’s similar to him saying “I hope she’s Japanese.” If he’s Japanese, there’s very possibly a desire for common cultural background and understanding. If he’s not, there’s just as possibly a desire for the “submissive Asian woman” stereotype.

    I think the telling point is the writer’s first gut reaction. We don’t know if he’s a virgin, or what his motivations might be for wanting a potential girlfriend to be one, but there was obviously more to him that the writer knew, or could intuit, that made it more obviously creepy. Not to mention the ultimate result of their relationship that she writes about.

  17. TM
    March 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Since he suggests that he’d merely rather she be a virgin (as opposed to insisting on it), I suspect there’s some form of insecurity there. Not, of course, that that excludes a subscription to the purity myth either.

    Frankly I think it’s less pressure on the dude when the young lady isn’t a virgin (or, maybe more accurately, doesn’t see herself as such). That way, if the two of you aren’t that sexually compatible, so what? It’s just another relationship. When you’re with a virgin, you know that no matter how it works out, she’s going to remember this moment for the rest of her life.

  18. Gembird
    March 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Yep, I’m with the motivation people too. Wanting your sexual partner to be at a similar level of experience to you is fine- my current partner was… not so much happy, but more comfortable with the fact that I was a virgin when we met (as he was) because he was more of a “let’s learn together” person. In all honesty, he was more concerned about his first sexual partner being a big old nerd than their virginity, so probably not the best example. But yeah, wanting to learn about your sexuality with someone while they do the same is an understandable motivation for this kind of thing.

    I agree that it can be mad creepy though. Again with my anecdotes; I knew a guy who pretty much collected virginity. Yeah. He saw sexually inexperienced girls as targets, or prizes that he could try to win. Way to objectify, Mr Collection Man, way to objectify.

    I think the writer’s reaction says a lot. They obviously know this guy really well, so in that situation it’s likely there’s something not quite right about his thing for virginity. If you know someone well enough to discuss your sex lives and you haven’t been squicked out yet, and then they come out with something that unsettles you, it’s probably something to worry about.

  19. latinist
    March 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I think ThickRedGlasses has it right. And even if it’s true that, in either case, he’s probably wrong to specifically want a virgin, there are two very different kinds of wrongness in play. In one case, we’re talking about a guy who’s afraid that a sexually experienced person is more likely to humiliate him, disrespect him, etc. This person is likely mistaken — you’d probably want to tell him something like “that’s not a good predictor, you’ll do better looking for someone kind and decent regardless of sexual experience” — but it’s totally reasonable, in principle, to want to avoid humiliation and disrespect. Getting into a relationship risks hurt feelings, and (as discussed a little while ago on this blog, I think) hurt feelings really suck.
    In another scenario (and again, I’d guess from the letter that this is mostly the relevant one here), we’re talking about someone who wants to meet a virgin because he wants to use her inexperience to control her. This guy may not even be factually mistaken: Jill points out above that virginity is a “way to keep women in line,” and it’s often a very effective one. The mistake, this time, is in the guy’s goals, and it’s a moral mistake: as a guy, you shouldn’t want to “keep women in line,” you should be looking for something else in relationships with women (or with anybody else).
    One more thing, about Jill’s comment above: I think it’s important to note the difference between the statements “virginity is socially constructed” and “virginity doesn’t exist.” When you socially construct something, it then exists, until you socially knock it down or something. There are probably circumstances, or cultures, or states of mind, in which virginity doesn’t exist; but there are others in which it does.

  20. March 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I agree that virginity is socially constructed and often used as a tool against women, and that the intention behind the desire definitely matters.

    But… I’m surprised by the number of commenters who say that wanting someone to be a virgin is a negative thing, no matter what.

    When I first started dating my (soon-to-be) husband, I didn’t know his sexual history in detail but really, really hoped he was a virgin. There were limits I held myself to that I expected of my romantic partners as well. I think someone’s past sexual behavior (note “behavior” not “experience” – something they chose to do) can – and almost unavoidably, does – affect current romantic relationships. So for someone who, like me, believes sex is best saved for marriage/long-term monogamous relationships, dating someone who has already been sexually active beyond a certain level could be an insurmountable hurdle.

  21. phira
    March 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I think everyone has really expressed why I find the whole, “I want to date/have sex with virgin women” thing. I’m big on rejecting the idea of virginity, since it’s historically (and, to a great extent, currently) turned women into commodities (hence “damaged goods”). So when I hear a man say he wants to have sex with female virgins, it automatically makes me think that he’s treating women as commodities, as things to have.

    I’ve also thought a lot about the ways in which sexually experienced and assertive women are often constructed as overly (and unreasonably) demanding and high maintenance, and men are encouraged to avoid such women (women-oriented ones, anyway).

    So there’s fetishizing virginity (and considering women as commodities), there’s the power of “deflowering,” there’s the desire to decrease the “risk” that a woman might actually be assertive about her own desire.

    (Just want to clarify that I don’t want to deny that virginity exists as a construct; I’m just working to reject the construct, much in the same way I reject the constructs of masculinities and femininities, and of sexualities and biological sexes.)

  22. Sailorman
    March 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Once you’re past a certain age, for most people if you’re a virgin it’s pretty much by choice.

    In a 20 year old college student, virginity isn’t just a construct. It’s a flag to a set of social beliefs which some people find attractive: religion; desire to only have sex in the context of certain relationships; belief that sex is ‘important’ instead of ‘just sex’; etc. It’s also a flag to a certain willingness to make your behaviors match your social beliefs, insofar as there are few people who don’t have the opportunity to screw by the time they’re 20; as such, it’s often some evidence of self control irrespective of the reason behind it.

    Those characteristics I list are perfectly valid reasons to choose a partner (or not.) Therefore, virginity can also be a valid reason.

    Think about it this way: If you enjoy relatively hassle free sex, why would you choose to start dating someone whose sexual status signifies that they’re very unlikely to be the same? In my youth I once broke up with someone because she was a virgin, I wanted to enjoy sex with few strings, and I didn’t want to deal with all the I Am The One Who Takes Your Maidenhood Forever shit which radiated from her.

    On the other hand, if you’re someone for whom Every Sexual Act Is A Huge Important Deal, then whether or not you’re a virgin, you’re likely to find a decent degree of compatibility with “virgin types.” That holds true whether or not you (or they) are on their first, second, or twentieth sexual encounter; it has nothing to do with whether they are actually a virgin. But if you’re a “virgin type,” and if it’s easier to find out virginity status than it is to find out sexual preference, then dating virgins makes rational sense.

  23. Cleveland Lass
    March 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “Virgin type”? WTF. Just WTF.

    Any “flag to a set of beliefs” is a social construct in itself. No baby is born thinking “gee, look at these neat beliefs I was born with!” We construct our ideals and cultural norms around what our society, peers, parents, and history tell us. So yes, virginity, or rather the fetishized “valuable” state held in reverence by so much of western culture, is a construct. Yes, some person decided that a woman who has not had sex is ‘pure’.

  24. squirreley
    March 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Sailorman, thanks for mansplaining the psychology of virginity, as learned through your own personal experience. It’s always refreshing to hear the truth. /sarcasm.

    Someone *being* a virgin (whatever that means to you – does only PIV sex count?) is totally different than someone who seeks out virginity in others as a virtue. We are talking about a person who seeks out the concept of virginity in others.

    If someone has not had PIV sex by the time they are 20, it could be for many reasons. It doesn’t flag anything other than that the person has not engaged in the specific sexual act that you have described as necessary to “lose” your virginity. To make list of characteristics that “virgin types” have is totally bogus.

    Back to the point: Men who seek out virgins are often creepy and have unhealthy ideas about purity and control. This is not the fault of the virgins. As always, IBTP.

  25. Cleveland Lass
    March 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    And you should know your partner’s “sexual preference” before you do the horizontal tango. Somehow, if all you know is that your partner is a virgin… I don’t think you’ve had the right conversation.

    (BTW not all women find ‘losing their virginity’ to be a OH MY GOD THIS IS IT I LOVE YOU FOREVER THIS IS THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE deal. Thaaaaat’s called a ‘stereotype’)

  26. Adrienne
    March 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Perhaps he had a bad relationship/experience with someone who was more experienced than he was (and made him feel bad about it? Lied about it?) and in his head he can avoid repeating that situation by dating a virgin. I’m not saying this is legitimate, but there is a difference in my mind between “I hope this girl is a virgin” and “I am only interested in girls who are virgins.” The first could be comparable to, say, “I hope this girl’s not a basketball player, because I just got out of a shitty relationship with one,” while the second is pretty predatory.

    Total conjecture, and if i’m right the guy is still in serious need of self-reflection and education, but…I can see how someone could hope for a virgin and not be a total creep. That said, I bet 99% of those who prefer virgins are total creeps.

  27. latinist
    March 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Sailorman: two points. First, I think that’s reasonable, but perhaps better expressed as “I hope she has some characteristics often associated with virginity” rather than “I hope she’s a virgin.” The latter seems like it’s valuing virginity in itself; whereas the attitude you’re describing is one that values it only as a signal.

    Second, what you’re calling a “flag” is, in fact, a type of social construct. A flag is socially constructed: if you just throw some colored paint on a cloth rectangle, you don’t have a flag unless people associate it in a particular way with their country/party/revolution/whatever. That’s why, above, I was insisting on the difference between “socially constructed” and “non-existent”; when they get confused, people start to think that anything important can’t be “just a construct,” which is wrong. Citizenship, stock prices, felony status, PhD.s, and kinship are all socially constructed; that doesn’t mean it’s silly to care about them.

  28. latinist
    March 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Oops. Cleveland Lass beat me to it.

  29. anna
    March 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    In any case, the idea that a virgin won’t know what bad sex is is ridiculous. If anything, she’s likely to have higher expectations since she’s only known about it from the mass media, which tends to exaggerate. And anyone can tell if they’ve had an orgasm or not, not to mention the possibility (though it can be avoided if you take time and use plenty of lube) of pain and bleeding.

  30. Sailorman
    March 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    squirreley 3.17.2010 at 5:14 pm

    Sailorman, thanks for mansplaining the psychology of virginity, as learned through your own personal experience.

    Women on this board express opinions about men. Which is perfectly fine, because you don’t need to be a man to discuss men, understand men, or have an opinion about something involving men. That’s why it’s not called “femsplaining.” Ditto the reverse.

    In fact, if you want to stick us in gender roles then I’m probably more likely to know what that man is thinking, than are most of the women here. Being a man, and all. But that’s a ridiculous position.

  31. March 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    It’s perfectly okay to want to date someone who happens to be a virgin. But to want to date someone *because* she’s a virgin seems creepy to me, because it’s like he wants to control her sexuality.

    And all that religious stuff? Doesn’t make it any better, really.

  32. Sailorman
    March 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    To respond to the others:
    1) I see that “construct” and “flag” are pretty much the same. I expressed myself poorly. What I was trying to say is that there are inoffensive aspects of the virginity construct as well as offensive ones; I don’t see a problem with valuing some of the inoffensive ones.

    2) Cleveland lass: Yes, of course. People are different. This particular person felt like All Sex Was A Huge Deal That Should Only Be Accompanied By True Love. Which is–not incidentally–one of those “inoffensive” virginity things.

    3) What’s so odd about “virgin type personality?” Some people have personalities that make them more likely to be virgins. That says nothing about the personalities of virgins in general. It’s A > B, not B > A.

    For example: All churchgoers aren’t serious about religion, but most serious religious people are more likely to go to church. So if you’re looking for someone who IS serious about religion you are probably smart to look in churches. It will make things more efficient.

    As applied: All virgins aren’t people who believe sex should only happen in the context of marriage, or who believe sex should only happen with True Love. But because both of those things are sexual limiters then if you’re looking for someone who shares those views, you are smart to look at virgins. It will make things more efficient.

  33. clairefuller
    March 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Sailorman, at no point did you clearly define your terms or use them in a remotely coherent or responsible way when talking about something as sensitive and culturally fraught as virginity. And you even managed to work the phantom of a rape apology into your discussion as a platform from which to begin your arguments (although it was handy as a frame of reference) — “Once you’re past a certain age, for most people if you’re a virgin it’s pretty much by choice. In a 20 year old college student, virginity isn’t just a construct.” Is there another way to read that besides, “It’s easy to rape kids, but once your an ‘adult’ if sex happens it is your fault and value added to that is not arbitrary.” I would say that classifies as distinctly incorrect.

    M. LeBlanc I think reflected most of my views. Virginity remains a problematic construct within a person’s religious beliefs or sexual values or whatever the folder it resides in is marked in a person’s mind.

    As a Christian, I am horrified that Christianity as an organized religion still seems more concerned with “abstinence” and hertero-normative sexual practices and not consent, eradicating rape culture and sexual exploitation, or having sex adhere to the primary value Jesus taught, which is love (not to be read as ‘an intense feeling that can manifest itself in anything from nurturing to killing’, but as ‘a commitment to nurturing one’s own and others’ spiritual growth’, which by nature means you cannot violate another person’s autonomy). I think this results in a less visited chapter of the sexual trauma mega-tome that our society is writing, which is that having shamed and violently restricted themselves into “chastity” in order to avoid the retribution of their family, church, or God, many young people in our culture find themselves unable to articulate consent and have embodied, pleasurable sex even when they want to.

    In one short, less responsible statement, I would say:
    Virginity and sexual ethics need a divorce. Their f#@%ing up their children.

  34. March 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    “Virgin type”? WTF. Just WTF.

    Cosign. Sailorman, I’m going to give you a break here and just assume that you are completely unfamiliar with the flipside of “slut-shaming”; to wit: “if you won’t fuck me, you must be some kind of prude.” Gahh.

  35. March 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I appreciate the take-down of Sailorman. I addressed this topic in this post last year. A tiny excerpt:

    exclusivity and novelty are two radically different things. To ask for the first is reasonable; to wish to be the provider of the second for another is a function of ego and insecurity.

  36. Sailorman
    March 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    clairefuller 3.17.2010 at 6:10 pm
    Is there another way to read that besides, “It’s easy to rape kids, but once your an ‘adult’ if sex happens it is your fault and value added to that is not arbitrary.”

    Are you out of your fucking mind?

    Here’s how you read that:

    Most 20 year olds who want to have sex, have had sex. That is because if you DO want to have sex, it’s pretty easy to do so at least once by the time you’re 20.

    Most 20 year olds who have not yet had sex, remain virgins out of choice: they haven’t wanted to have sex.

    “Doing what you want” = “choice.”
    “Most” \= “all.”

    Seriously. Where, outside of the “demonize anyone you disagree with” mindset, is the rape apology in that? It is one of the most idiotic conclusions you could come to.

  37. Sailorman
    March 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Hugo, I read your post. I think it’s bollocks, to be honest. It’s based on a poor analysis of relationship dynamics, a fair bit of moralizing about what is “proper” and “not proper” in terms of desire, and a whole lot of self-absorbed navel-gazing. But that’s a sidetrack.

    My real point is this:

    Yes, there’s a bizarre value put on virginity, as has been discussed elsewhere. That is bad. If this discussion were about the value of virginity as some bizarre construct “virginity is good!” then I’d be arguing against it.

    But it’s not.

    THIS conversation is addressing the question “is it wrong to want to date a virgin?”

    And THAT QUESTION, in my mind, starts with the question whether it is acceptable for someone to have a dating preference when it comes to the sexual experience of their partner.

    Do you want to argue it’s not acceptable, generally speaking? Ever? It’s a bitch of an argument; good luck with that.

    If not: Do you want to say virginity is special pleading for every person? That it’s OK to care about everything but that? You can care whether your partner is into daily v. monthly sex; whether they’re het- or bi- or homo-sexual; what turns them on or off; you can care whether they like variety or long term partners; you can care about their hair color and vajazzle status; but you CAN’T care about whether or not they have balanced their interest in sex in such a fashion that they never have chosen to have had sex at all?

    Of course you can care. It would be very bizarre NOT to care, presuming that you were giving a shit about everything else.

    That doesn’t mean everyone cares for the “right” reasons, mostly because people view virginity differently. Some people are bizarre about virginity. THOSE people are less interested in “virginity as a probable indicator of some limits on sexual interest” than in “virginity as a way to live out some de-virginizing fantasy.” For those people, it is a problem to want to date virgins. For the first group, it’s not.

    So you’re looking at it backwards. You make the (incorrect) argument that one should never give a shit. The correct argument is that it’s generally appropriate to care about pretty much every aspect of the person you’re dating, but that there are exceptions for some people and some situations.

  38. Jha
    March 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    One thing I haven’t seen here is – what if it’s the woman in the relationship looking for a virgin?

    What if the reasoning is, whoever it is looking for a virgin has had relationships that didn’t go down too well, and is looking for someone with a clean slate? Does that have much creep factor, or is it reasonable?

    (And let me know if I’m derailing.)

  39. Ens
    March 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I don’t particularly want to defend Sailorman, but I don’t think he was referencing rape at all.

    “Once you’re past a certain age, for most people if you’re a virgin it’s pretty much by choice. In a 20 year old college student, virginity isn’t just a construct.” Is there another way to read that besides, “It’s easy to rape kids, but once your an ‘adult’ if sex happens it is your fault and value added to that is not arbitrary.” I would say that classifies as distinctly incorrect.

    No. He’s saying that he could understand a 12 year old who wanted to not be a virgin, still being a virgin, presumably because nobody agreed to have sex with said 12 year old. But it is nearly incomprehensible that they might not have had sex for any other reason than specifically deciding not to have sex, because presumably you have had ample opportunity. He did not say that you could choose to be a virgin once you’re 20 (whether by “not wearing such a short skirt” or other such apologies), just that you “pretty much” can’t be a virgin 20 year old college student without choosing to be so.

    Which kind of bothers my 25-year-old virgin-because-of-social-ineptitude self, but anyway, it’s certainly not a matter of rape.

  40. March 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Most 20 year olds who have not yet had sex, remain virgins out of choice: they haven’t wanted to have sex.

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that they haven’t wanted to have sex. I didn’t wait until I was 20, but I wanted to have sex years before I actually did. I fantasized about it a lot. I masturbated frequently. Yet, I didn’t have sex…why not?

    Well, let’s go back to one of your previous comments: If you enjoy relatively hassle free sex,…..

    Whoa, hold the phone. What’s “hassle-free” sex? Sex tends to come with an inherent amount of hassle for many (not all) women. Everything from concerns about rape (a “yes” to sex doesn’t mean a tacit “yes” to every form sex can take), concerns about unwanted pregnancy or an STD from a broken condom, the difficulty and expense of procuring abortion, bitching from one’s male partner about the diaphragm or cervical cap or Nuvaring or spermicide, the knowledge that if one was raped, there’d be a zero chance of seeing one’s rapist prosecuted (or even arrested), hyperawareness of one’s body flaws, fear of one’s sexual acts making it on to the internet and impacting one’s career (it’s not rape if one says “no” to photos but one’s partner takes them anyway), hey….even wondering, “gee, am I gonna have an orgasm tonight, or does this person even care?”

    Now imagine you’re a young woman in your teens. Amplify all of the above, throw in a heaping helping of slut-shaming, a major dose of folks’ thinking you’re a slut anyway because the shape of your body says so, a few dashes of, “you’re not going out dressed like that!!” in response to a tame blue jean & t-shirt outfit, older men following you home from school propositioning you for sex in the crudest manner possible, young men in the hallway of your high school playing grab-ass and the teachers doing nothing about it, commentary from EV-ery-damn-body about one’s responsibility as a young woman to do the sexual gatekeeping, your mother rifling through your dresser drawer looking for The Pill but simultaneously giving you daily reminders about how if you get pregnant your whole life is ruined…..

    ….and then come back and tell me about what “virgins” are thinking, hmmm?

  41. Cecile
    March 17, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Two virgins = crappy sex, dude.

  42. Valerie2
    March 17, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    The letter writer got it right. It is predatory and that’s exactly how it comes off too. And since she had to sever her relationship with him, without even meeting him no less, it seems like he has a lot of issues and he’s looking outside of himself to fix them.
    “Ahh, the magical virgin will be so wholesome and trusting and she will look into my eyes like I’m a god and all my self doubt will be gone away, forever!”
    Seems like a lot to put on someone else’s shoulders.
    It reminds me of the “White Knight” syndrome, which in a way is predatory, but less creepy than the “Virgin” syndrome. Thank goodness feminism has been taking the piss out of both of them.
    They need to stay out of the fairy tales forever. They only normalize insecurities instead of lifting us to over come them.


  43. jz
    March 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I am having a hard time coming up with a reason why someone would want that, apart from control / issues with female sexuality / reliance on the idea that virginity is actually valuable.

    Easy. I was blessed to marry a virgin man. The advantagus are huge. 1) I never have to compare myself to other women. My body and sexual responses are unique to him. I know I am special to him in this way. 2). He had no psychological damage, resulting from getting too intimate with a woman and then having it end. He was emotionally fresh and spontaneous. I was the lucky recipient of all his dreams and hopes.

    I wish every woman could bond with a virgin. I will guide my daughters that way. My marriage is on year 27.

  44. Q Grrl
    March 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    “What if the reasoning is, whoever it is looking for a virgin has had relationships that didn’t go down too well, and is looking for someone with a clean slate? Does that have much creep factor, or is it reasonable?”

    No one’s body should be the playground upon which you work our your psychological issues; that’s shades of abuse. Ideally, you are having sex with someone because you desire to have sex with *them* rather than having sex with their sexual inexperience.

  45. Amarantha
    March 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I must admit I have a sexual double standard. I think it’s creepy for men to want to be with “virgins,” because it smacks of a kind of “notch in the belt, control” thing.

    But somehow, when the shoe is on the other foot, I find it less weird that women to want to be with men who have a similar level of experience…It seems in some ways feminist, to insist that men be held to the same sexual standard you hold yourself to (whatever it is).

    I’ve dated men of different levels of experience, and the one who’d saved his first kiss for me made me feel guilty and overburdened, like I was freighted with some significant experience without bargaining for it. I felt icky and knew I valued it less than he did.

    But the super NSA types also made me feel icky, because they just didn’t seem to invest sex with as much significance as I did. I usually date people like me, sexually speaking. Is it bad? Perhaps. Is it rooted in insecurity? Perhaps. But it also tends to lead to the happiest outcomes for me and my partners.

    Also, many of the “waiting for marriage” types are people who eroticize the delaying of release and literally get more sexual pleasure from anticipating sex in some distant future. So people who have constructed their sexuality this way should probably be together–it will be more satisfying than being with someone who wants gratification as soon as they recognize their desire, and think “withholding” isn’t erotic but just frustrating.

  46. Acacia
    March 18, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Okay, I’m going to respond to this ridiculous comment point by point (or should I say fallacy by fallacy?)

    1) I am constantly worrying about the fact that if my partner had sex with anyone other than me, my partner would compare me to those past lovers, even though there are reasons why my partner is with me and not with them. The best way to address my massive insecurities is to date a virgin. My body and sexual responses are seemingly unique to him; seemingly, because if he ever had sex with another woman, it would be EXACTLY THE SAME as having sex with me, because women aren’t unique individuals with their own bodies and personal sexual responses. Of course, this makes me wonder why I am jealous of my partner’s hypothetical previous sexual partners, because they must have all been exactly like me, anyway. I know I am special to him, because I am his first; once they have sex for the first time, people are unable to make meaningful, emotional connections with subsequent sexual partners or to value them as individuals. No one is ever as special as their first sexual partner.

    2) People who have been in relationships that ended are damaged goods, psychologically scarred, worth less than virginal people who are “emotionally fresh”. Experienced people are never spontaneous; they’re too busy moping around, writing emo poems, and lamenting the death of their hopes and dreams. Of course, they could have been spared all the turmoil if they had abstained from getting too intimate with their partner. If one represses one’s sexual desires in a relationship, then one is magically immune from any negative emotional aspects of the relationship. If you don’t have sex, then you can’t be heartbroken when the relationship ends; it’s that simple! You remain untarnished as a virgin.

    That’s why I encourage my children to pursue pristine, top-of-the-line, limited quantity virgins. I teach them to devalue sexual compatibility in a relationship, so that if they marry a virgin and subsequently find out that they enjoy different types of sex than their partner, it’s no big deal! They might get lucky and find out that their spouse happens to be a great lover with the same sexual wants and drive as they have. Look at me! 27 years with a wonderful husband who happened to be a virgin!

    And FYI: I am currently in a long term relationship with a wonderful man who happened to be a virgin when we started dating. His sexual experience (or lack thereof) played no factor in my desire or decision to be with him. Also, I do not insult other couples by telling them that their relationship is less special because one or both of them previously rubbed their genitals against someone else’s. I respect other couples more than that. I respect other people more than that by not equating their worth as a human being with their personal bodily decisions.

    Also, did it ever occur to you that people can gain personal insight through past experiences, such as past relationships, even (and especially) those that ended badly? That a person might gain experience in compromising, listening, and loving through being in a relationship even though it may end? That hopes and dreams can change, mature, and become more refined as a result of life experiences?

    …did you even contemplate the subject at hand before writing this post?

  47. Bagelsan
    March 18, 2010 at 2:28 am

    I kinda get what Sailorman is saying, in the first comment. Someone who is voluntarily remaining a virgin is likely* to be displaying a certain set of values in this way (religious, etc.) and it’s not unreasonable for these values to be desirable to some partners (with virginity = desirable as shorthand for all these values.) Just like someone who goes to church every Sunday is showing a certain value set, or like someone who refuses to get their driver’s license or buy a car is.

    *not necessarily, of course. You should double-check that the super-conservative virgin you’re interested in isn’t just a very shy pervert. :p

  48. karak
    March 18, 2010 at 3:56 am

    If he hopes she’s a virgin because he’s also a virgin and/or sexually inexperienced, it’s fine. If he wants her to be a virgin so he can have the power of knowledge, that’s kind of fucked-up. “I hope this person has a background that I can exploit, control, and overpower her on!!” Scary and ew.

  49. Dr. Confused
    March 18, 2010 at 4:37 am

    The issue here is that virginity as a social construct is harmful to women, which many people have mentioned above.

    Very few people have focused on the consequences for rape victims, though. What if you are the supposed “virgin type”, choose to be abstinent, and then are raped? Does that make you worthless to the types of potential partners you might be interested in (others who choose to be abstinent until serious or married)? One of the many problems with virginity is that, in many cases, yes, it does.

  50. March 18, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Unless he is himself both young and virgin, I think there’s absolutely no part of his “I hope she’s a virgin” that isn’t creepy, regardless of what his motivations are.

    Teenagers are stupid about sex. One of the stupidities teenagers have about sex is that it’s better to be two virgins mutually exploring.

    It’s not.

    It’s not worse, either. But it’s not morally, ethically, or sexually better than – all else being equal – a more-experienced person having sex with a less-experienced person.

    If he is a teenage boy who is a virgin and wants a virgin, then that’s … even-handed, and a bit stupid, but teenagers are stupid about sex.

    If he is a sexually inexperienced adult who “wants a virgin”, that’s kind of creepy because he’s old enough to know it’s stupid, and if he doesn’t, it’s creepy because he’s an adult locked into the attitudes of a teenage boy.

    If he is sexually experienced but wants sexual partners who aren’t, regardless of his motivation, that’s just creepy.

    Also, the cultural concept of “virginity” is itself kind of creepy. Even having an intact hymen is not an on-off state – and “having sex” includes such a wide range of possibilities and levels of experience that really, at what point can you say someone is no longer a virgin?

  51. March 18, 2010 at 5:52 am

    ‘Teenagers are stupid about sex.’

    This teenage moderator would like to issue a gentle reminder that this kind of statement is not acceptable on this blog. Particularly not multiple times in the same comment. If you would like to talk about inadequate sex ed or what have you as other commenters have done, go right ahead. But calling us stupid? And talking as though we are not even here? Not on.

  52. seriousfluffy
    March 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I do find it creepy to want to be with a virgin, whether it is a man or woman. I was reading 42 and wondering if everyone else was going to find it as troubling as I do. The idea that sexually active people are “damaged” it literally cited as a reason her virgin husband is superior. Use of words like “damage”, “fresh”, “recipient of ..hopes and dreams” is very problematic. These are actually the very same words used to devalue women and girls who have any sexual experience. You say you are going to advise your daughter’s to do the same, but how would you feel if potential suitors talked about them that way? Will you still value your daughters if the are “damaged” by high school dating or something worse? Hopefully, of course you would, because you value who they are, not just their social history. People have good relationships because of what they do together, not because of their ignorance with others.

  53. haloHawk
    March 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

    This is mostly a personal response. I am not attempting to speak for anyone else in my gender category.

    I am a male virgin. I would like to say age is unimportant, but, sadly, it is not, as the stigma grows larger by the year and it gets harder and harder to jump off the carousel of self. Suffice to say, I sit on the wrong side of 30.

    Some years back, I was immensely attracted to someone. Let’s call her ‘Alva’ for the purpose of this anecdote. The feeling was mutual as it turns out. However, both of us acted foolish and defensive and the connection never got off the launchpad. I freely confess to having led the charge of idiocy and it took quite awhile to even get to a comfort level where we could formulate a friendship. As time has passed, as ashamed of my actions and frustrated by hers as I am, I have grown to appreciate the friendship on its own terms. A relationship would have had dire consequences for the both of us and I remain unconvinced that either of us would have gained anything constructive from such a situation.

    A year or so back, a mutual friend who knows ‘Alva’ very well informed me that, had ‘Alva’ known about my lack of sexual experience, ‘Alva’ would have been far more interested in pursuing an intimate relationship. To this day, I still feel gobsmacked by this revelation. I continue to feel as if my situation was fetishized by ‘Alva’, further strengthening my conviction that not informing her was the right move to make in this specific scenario. I believe it would have defined me too strictly for ‘Alva’ to see past.

    Extrapolating broadly, though, the dynamic described in the original post is probably all too common because, in the present culture, the worst thing a man can be defined as is a virgin and the worst thing a woman can be defined as is a whore. I doubt this is news to anyone here. That’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

  54. Acacia
    March 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hey guys, sorry for my HTML fail, but my comment (#46) was supposed to be quoting jz’s post (#43). I hope that clears things up.

    Personally, I think virginity is a flawed social construct and valuing it in men or women is misguided at best, predatory at worst. As long as someone has an awesome, compatible personality and similar values as you, what does it matter if they made different choices in the past?

  55. a lawyer
    March 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I am a male virgin. I would like to say age is unimportant, but, sadly, it is not, as the stigma grows larger by the year and it gets harder and harder to jump off the carousel of self. Suffice to say, I sit on the wrong side of 30.

    Speaking as a (gay) male who had no genital sexual contact until 28, I absolutely agree about the social stigma associated with male virginity. I still have had no anal sexual activity and therefore am still a “virgin” by many common definitions, so much of the stigma still attaches, especially since I’ve had little sex of any kind. You’re also right that it gets worse with age. Virginity/sexual inexperience is not something I’ve ever felt remotely comfortable being “out” about regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the people I’m dealing with.

    In terms of stigma, it’s much worse than being out about any other invisible disadvantaged identity category. (The ones that describe me, I mean.) I’d feel more comfortable having sex with someone else sexually inexperienced; I’d be a lot less concerned about “performing,” for example.

    Of course, my experience probably has nothing to do with this guy.

  56. March 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Chally, I apologize for being offensive.

    Let me try to rephrase.

    I think anyone who “wants a virgin” is creepy. I don’t think there’s any good motivation for fetishizing “virginity”, and I find it especially problematic in a straight man ranking his prospective sexual partners by whether or not they’re virgins.

    But: I think that anyone who has only recently discovered their sexual feelings for others – that is to say, any teenager, by definition – and who may well have no direct experience of any sexual relationship with a peer, will probably say and may well do some awesomely stupid things while they’re figuring out the truth of their feelings.

    I know I did.

    So, speaking as a 43-year-old who remembers being awesomely stupid about sex and sexual relationships as a teenager, I think that I don’t want to assume a teenage boy is a creep because he says he wants a virgin girlfriend: he may be a creep, but he may also be talking crap because he’s terribly inexperienced and confused and has no idea of the reality of what he’s saying, and as someone who remembers being a terribly inexperienced and confused teenager who talked a lot of crap, I don’t want to be judgemental.

    If he’s old enough to know better, he’s a creep. If he’s young enough that inexperience means he may not know better, he’s… possibly not going to be a creep.

  57. Sheelzebub
    March 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Years ago–when I was in my twenties–I got together with a guy I dated when I was a teenager. I thought it was just to catch up, no big deal (though it turns out he wanted to get back together). He told me that I was the cream of the crop because I hadn’t been with a lot of people. He then said his was up around 87, slagged off the women he’d slept with, and couldn’t understand why I was disgusted with his double-standard. It’s different, he said. Women’s lady parts are like sweatpants, and they stretch, you see. (No, really, he SAID that.) Besides, a woman who had a lot of partners had no self-respect!

    But the menz–well, it’s totes okay if they fuck anything with a pulse. The womenfolk must keep themselves pure for a guy who can’t be bothered to do the same, though.

    I ran so fast from him the asphalt bubbled from the heat.

  58. Sheelzebub
    March 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    What if the reasoning is, whoever it is looking for a virgin has had relationships that didn’t go down too well, and is looking for someone with a clean slate? Does that have much creep factor, or is it reasonable?

    It’s unrealistic. You don’t have to be sexually involved to have a relationship that didn’t go down too well. And if you’re looking for someone with a “clean slate” in that regard, you’d better be willing to never date again. And again–I’ll point out the obvious here–but if you want to date someone with a clean slate, and your own slate is less than pristine, um, you have serious entitlement issues.

  59. JohnDoe
    March 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Hey halohawk, another male 30+ virgin here. Interesting observation – I’ve never had the feeling that “virginity” could be something a woman may be particularly interested in sexually. To be honest, I wouldn’t find it as repellent as the other way around. The equivalent to *wanting* to date a female virgin (for someone who isn’t motivated by religious beliefs that require pre-marital abstinence) would be, in my opinion, to merely reject to date a man *because* he is a virgin. Of course, involuntary celibacy, from a certain age on, virginity *may* be indicative of psychological issues, but there are tons of other reasons. If a woman were to stop being interested in seeing a guy upon the revelation of his virginhood even if she was very much interested before, then I’d suppose that her behaviour would be seen as equally wrong by the commenters, while possibly not “creepy”, as the behaviour of the guy described in the OP.

  60. DAS
    March 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I have a cousin (straight, cis-gendered female) who is somewhat into virgins, and the motivation for her is “I want to be the one who introduces him to something new and wonderful — it’s like taking someone out to eat at a restaurant he’s always wanted to try … but better”.

    Do y’all find this reasoning squicky? I can kinda see it myself (I have never been with a virgin, FWIW): it’s always nice to introduce someone to something new. Wouldn’t introducing someone to something as good as sex be especially nice?

  61. March 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Sheelzebub and others who have expressed similar disbelief about the existence of people who are “clean slates” either sexually or in terms of having romantic relationships… in my community there are lots of these kinds of people. My fiancé is the only person I’ve ever seriously dated. Many (most?) of my friends and acquaintances are either “clean slates” or are married to one of the first people they dated.

    This may seem unrealistic to many of you, but for a lot of people it’s very realistic.

  62. Sheelzebub
    March 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Rita, I am saying that assuming someone who is a virgin automatically has not had a bad relationship or baggage is naive. That’s great that you don’t have that–but you can still have a very bad relationship or history of bad relationships and be a virgin. And if a person is dating, and wants to “date” a virgin, the virgin “dates” as well and could still have baggage (like the fact they run into entitled douchebags with virginity fetishes).

    And not for nothing, but it’s really insulting to assume that someone who’s not a virgin has baggage or a bad relationship past. Come on! How about we take people as they are and not impose ridiculous assumptions or standards on them? Talk about baggage.

    Also: as I said before, if someone doesn’t have a “clean slate” (does sex make you dirty, BTW? What is this “clean” rhetoric anyway?), it’s really entitled and selfish of them to expect their partner to have one.

    Do y’all find this reasoning squicky? I can kinda see it myself (I have never been with a virgin, FWIW): it’s always nice to introduce someone to something new. Wouldn’t introducing someone to something as good as sex be especially nice?

    Um. First, you can introduce them to something wonderful without the creepy freaking virginity fetish. I mean–good sex is good sex and it’s always wonderful to be “introduced” to the unique chemistry between two people. It’s not like the seal is broken and it’s no longer good and a non-virgin has seen and done it all once they have sex. You can even have the same type of sex you’ve always had and it can be especially good with a particular partner or a particular time.

    I like sex, I have it as often as I can but let’s face it: it’s not the only thing you can be introduced to or the only thing that makes a partner or relationship special or memorable. My first doesn’t hold a special place in my heart–but there are past partners who do because they were sensual and open and respectful.

    I think it’s a little. . .off. . . and oddly needy to be more concerned about being memorable (and possibly adding notches to your ego belt) than to be concerned about having a good time with someone and relating to them as a full, complex person. But I’m weird like that.

  63. Sheelzebub
    March 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Oh, and Rita, not to belabor the point, but this is what I was responding to in my post about clean slates:

    What if the reasoning is, whoever it is looking for a virgin has had relationships that didn’t go down too well, and is looking for someone with a clean slate? Does that have much creep factor, or is it reasonable? [Emphasis mine]

    If someone has had relationships that didn’t go down too well and they are looking for a virgin with a clean slate, they are being naive (not all virigins have clean emotional slates or a trauma-free relationship history, not all people who’ve had sex have bad relationship histories), entitled (they don’t have a clean slate, after all) and rather unrealistic (their relationship with a virgin could end badly). It’s also steeped in denial–if you have a bad relationship history, the common denominator is you.

  64. Kristen
    March 19, 2010 at 12:25 am

    I have a feeling #46 is a fairly religious person from her post. Just as I do not want someone telling me how/what to believe, I wont tell her. However, as a mother I feel it is my responsibility to educate my children about sex, birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as educate my daughters/sons about relationships because our religious based society (as well as all the “princess” books) tell our children over and over how they should grow up, be a virgin (if their a girl) who waits for the prince to come take her to some far away place where everything will be provided, and if their wants/needs do not fit that scenario there is something wrong with them. I have told my children they don’t HAVE to get married, they don’t HAVE to have kids, they don’t HAVE to do what society tells them they HAVE to do. They do have to respect themselves and others. Ones sexual experience or lack there of does not make the person, rather the respect one has for oneself and others does. For someone to be worried that someone they are interested in is a “virgin” leads me to think the person is very immature and has not learned self respect, let alone respect of others.

  65. March 19, 2010 at 12:42 am

    As a bi woman who hasn’t had sex yet, I would like my first sexual encounter – regardless of whether the person is a man or woman – to be with another virgin. ‘Cause I kind of like the idea of sharing the “first time” experience with somebody else. It’s not a requirement per se, more of a preference.

    As others have said, I think whether or not the person in question has had sex makes a difference. A virgin preferring to have their first time be with a fellow virgin is one thing. A person who’s had sex preferring to do it with someone who hasn’t sounds creepy and paternalistic. And that’s the case regardless of the sex of the partners in questions (one of the creepiest people I’ve met who “seeks out” sexually-inexperienced partners was a gay man).

  66. JohnDoe
    March 19, 2010 at 2:22 am


    I’ve come to the conclusion for myself that I would prefer an experienced partner for my first time. I suppose that’s facilitated by the fact that most people in my age are already experienced. But I’d want her to know, and I’d need to know that she can handle whatever my emotional reaction will be – I would not want to burden a female virgin with that and I would not want to burden myself with the feeling of having to concentrate on her while I am very likely in my own mental space. I need a partner who’s ok with the first time being mostly about my first time. And that’s probably not a woman who is in the same mental situation I am in.

    To twist the question around a bit: What if a female virgin were looking for an experienced man to be introduced to sex? I don’t think that’s creepy at all, I think it’s perfectly understandable. But it takes two to tango – so – given that there was a common understanding that “wanting to sleep” with a virgin is repellent, under which circumstances would it be ok for a man to take on this responsibility?

  67. haloHawk
    March 19, 2010 at 9:00 am


    While I concur that a virgin wanting to have sex with a virgin is not “creepy”, I think it still carries the potential of being wrongheaded and unfair. I am not saying this is the case with you. I can’t claim to understand your thought process. However, I believe anytime experience or lack thereof is a prerequisite in a partner, it verges dangerously on fetishization. It seems to me every bit as disturbing to be selected, or even idealized, on the basis of a single aspect of oneself as to be negated, refused, and/or othered.


    In telling my story, I realize it could be viewed as a man attempting to derail the original thread and make it about himself. If that has been the perception, believe me, it was not my intention. The upshot of my post, if you read it, is that this was an isolated situation. It has only trace resemblances to yours or any other. I can relate, possibly, to the feelings of alarm it created in you, but, that is all. The context and the specifics are wholly different. I find it crass and arrogant for anyone to suggest they have the answers to any situation any individual. be it, you, I, or someone else, has experienced, as everyone’s predicaments in life are highly individualized, no matter how standardized they may seem on the surface. I know you were looking for an answer to your query, but, to reiterate, I fear no one has that answer to give to you, except possibly yourself, someday. I was not shooting for explanation or claims of authority, nor even empathy. I am merely acknowledging that I have, likewise, felt isolated and unmoored by a similar, but not the same, occurence, albeit from the opposite side of the coin.
    Sometimes sharing our respective tales are the only comforts we have to give each other in this life.

    I would like to thank everyone on this board for their patience, forbearance, and tolerance. Kudos also to those who thoughtfully
    considered and responded to my original post. A second opinion is always helpful in illuminating one’s personal experiences.

  68. Bagelsan
    March 19, 2010 at 9:45 am

    given that there was a common understanding that “wanting to sleep” with a virgin is repellent, under which circumstances would it be ok for a man to take on this responsibility?

    Under the circumstance that he doesn’t want to sleep with a virgin but instead wants to sleep with a person who happens to be a virgin, I guess?

  69. Saurs
    March 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    In fact, if you want to stick us in gender roles then I’m probably more likely to know what that man is thinking, than are most of the women here. Being a man, and all.

    Erm, no. Not at all. By virtue of living in a patriarchy, by virtue of being raised in a culture which honors all kinds of male experiences and subjects those experiences to endless amounts of positive and public scrutiny, a culture which rewards male eccentricities and treats men as unique individuals who always have a “story” which “must” be told and heard and reiterated and enshrined, a culture in which male voices are listened to and given respectful silence, every woman has a PhD in men’s studies by the time she reaches adulthood. Women always know more about men than men will ever know about women. And since most men are unaware or uninterested in unraveling their privilege, men don’t know nearly as much about themselves as women do, either. Arguing that a board full of women needs to be quiet and listen to your dudely experiences because you’re a dude and you “know” these things is, yes, a very clear example of mansplaining. End of.

  70. annalouise
    March 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I’ve had a hard time finding a comment here about how creepy this dude is that *doesn’t* in some way suggest that there’s something wrong with being/wanting to be a virgin.
    I’m less creeped out by what this dude said than by what even the non-offensive commentators are saying.

  71. j-bird
    March 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Sailorman, what you inaptly call a “virgin type”, or, as you put it, “someone for whom Every Sexual Act Is A Huge Important Deal”, has very little to do with the original post, which was talking about the actual state of “virginity”, or lack of sexual experience. There exist virgins who worry about whether the first time will be significant and meaningful, and virgins who just want to get some action. There exist experienced people who choose their partners carefully and approach sex solemnly and reverentially, as well as those who don’t want to imbue it with much emotional or spiritual meaning. I think you are right that it is a good thing to seek partners who are compatible along the lines of these attitudes.

    However. This has *nothing* to do with the guy in the OP who wants to date a virgin. He is pretty clearly looking for someone with no prior sexual experience. Previous commenters have discussed several bad reasons for specifically wanting your partner to have no prior experience, and I can’t think of many good ones. Someone mentioned wanting to show him or her a new thing. Sure, it can be nice to be someone’s first time, but if you’re looking specifically for that, what are you really after? Gratitude? Loyalty? To be crass, are you looking for the feeling of training a puppy and having it follow after you everywhere because that’s all it knows?

    The only possibly good reason I could think of is if the man in question is also a virgin and wants his first time to be with someone in the same boat. But though this may be a less sexist motivation, it doesn’t strike me as a particularly wise one. Just because someone hasn’t had sex before doesn’t mean they’re not going to be demanding, violent, or hurtful.

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m knocking the idea of choosing someone emotionally and psychologically compatible. This is a Good Thing. But specifically seeking out inexperienced partners sounds to me like looking for people who you can exercise power over.

    Q Grrl said it well: “No one’s body should be the playground upon which you work our your psychological issues; that’s shades of abuse. Ideally, you are having sex with someone because you desire to have sex with *them* rather than having sex with their sexual inexperience.”

  72. March 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Jz, it’s great that you have a happy marriage, but it’s a little strange to worry that he’s not comparing you to any other woman because he’s never had anybody else. Why would you feel less secure if he’d had other partners and still chosen you?

    If you’ve got a loving and secure marriage, it’s because you two built it together. You could have done the same thing with a non-virgin. A non-virgin is just as capable of love and trust and emotional bonding as a virgin. The vast majority of people don’t end up marrying the first person they ever sleep with. And according to the bogus concept of virginity, you only get to be a virgin once. So, even if you value monogamy, the purity myth says you’re “ruined” forever if your first monogamous sexual relationship doesn’t work out. That’s such bullshit.

    I like sex in the context of monogamy, but I would NOT have wanted to marry the first person I had sex with. Nor would he have been wise to marry me, given that this was the first serious relationship I’d ever had, and I knew so little about relationships or myself or any of the important things you have to know to make an LTR work.

    That added sense of security you have is just an illusion.
    Just because he’s never had other partners doesn’t mean that he doesn’t desire other people or compare the real you to his fantasies about others. The toughest competition is always a fantasy, because unlike any flesh-and-blood partner, the fantasy can always be perfect. If he chooses to be with you, it’s because he desires you–not because he’s less tempted because he doesn’t know any different. Curiosity is at least as powerful as lust for most people. So, if anything, I’d expect that your average virgin at marriage would have a greater challenge being faithful for the rest of his or her life than someone who got their experimentation out of the way first and then settled down knowing who they were and what they wanted.

    I think your emotional investment in being the only partner your husband has ever had bespeaks insecurity on your part. This is exactly the kind of attitude that I find creepy in people who actively seek out virgins. You want someone you can control. Knowledge is power. You feel safer with them because they have less knowledge. This kind of attitude goes hand-in-hand with anti-sex attitudes that carnal knowledge is particularly dangerous or corrupting.

  73. March 20, 2010 at 12:12 am

    “I am saying that assuming someone who is a virgin automatically has not had a bad relationship or baggage is naive.”

    Sheelzebub, I’m sorry I misinterpreted you the first time. I agree completely with the above statement; I also agree that “virgin” does not (or should not necessarily) equal “clean slate.” That’s why I differentiated between sexual inexperience and romantic/relational inexperience. Both of those things might or might not correlate with “baggage.”

  74. preying mantis
    March 20, 2010 at 12:30 am

    “I was blessed to marry a virgin man. The advantagus are huge. 1) I never have to compare myself to other women. My body and sexual responses are unique to him. I know I am special to him in this way. 2). He had no psychological damage, resulting from getting too intimate with a woman and then having it end. He was emotionally fresh and spontaneous. I was the lucky recipient of all his dreams and hopes.

    I wish every woman could bond with a virgin.”

    …wow. I’m the only woman my husband has ever slept with. Unfortunately, that fact has somehow failed to retroactively undo his dating history, so all those times he (somehow) managed to get emotionally intimate with a woman without getting PIV intimate are still there, soiling up all those hopes and dreams.

  75. Jennifer S.
    March 20, 2010 at 1:43 am

    A lot of these comments are equating virginity with concepts like sexual experience or relationship history. While those can be salient considerations in a relationship, I don’t think the equivalency quite works. A person could be a sexually experienced virgin or a non-virgin with very little sexual experience. A virgin could have a tangled relationship history with lots of baggage, and a non-virgin could have had no emotionally significant prior relationships. Really, this is the kind of stuff you need to talk about, it’s not a yes/no question.

    I think it’s the very meaninglessness of our cultural construction of virginity that makes the prizing of it creepy. The only significance it would seem to have is in the context of objectification as some sort of arbitrary value-added prize or in the context of a weird cleanliness/pollution view of sexuality. Yeah… creepy.

  76. Athenia
    March 20, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    “Most 20 year olds who want to have sex, have had sex. That is because if you DO want to have sex, it’s pretty easy to do so at least once by the time you’re 20.”

    HAHAHAHAHHAA. Yeah, but when you hit 20 and decide you want to throw your previous values away and sleep with someone–there will be people who think OMG SHE WILL LOVE ME FOREVER IF I’M HER FIRST (which I can imagine can happen at any age) and thus not want to sleep with you which makes getting laid NOT EASY. Not to mention that, OMG, just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean the guy that I want to sleep with wants to sleep with me (no matter whether he’s a “virgin type” or “hassal free type.”)

    Also, not to burst your bubble, but I think it’s unfair to say that your former girlfriend was going to think sex with you was going to be the be-all and end-all. My ex thought that way when he “took my virginity” and boy, was he wrong.

  77. March 22, 2010 at 9:47 am

    A little late to the party, but…

    I’m shocked by the idea that a virgin is a ‘clean slate’. Unless a kid has been raised by wild turtles, they’ve been drenched in messages about relationships, sex and intimacy since birth. From Disney-movie narratives about ‘one true loves’ and white weddings to the grotesqueries* of mainstream porn, society creates all kinds of weird expectations about love. I mentioned in the hair thread that my first experience with romance turned out to be a nightmare of assumptions and stereotypes, and this is what I blame. A person who is new to this type of interaction may not realize the distance between those images and real life, and that could be the thing that shatters their illusions — er, hopes and dreams or whatever. I fail to see the problem with that kind of disillusionment. Just as long as I don’t have to help them whine through that shit.

    * I’m using grotesqueries in the sense of images exaggerated beyond any semblance to 99% of real life, not in the sense of ‘eww, cooties!’

  78. S.L
    March 22, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I’m late to this discussion too…

    I’ve had a hard time finding a comment here about how creepy this dude is that *doesn’t* in some way suggest that there’s something wrong with being/wanting to be a virgin.
    I’m less creeped out by what this dude said than by what even the non-offensive commentators are saying.

    Could. Not. Agree. More

    When did virgin become the worst thing ever? It’s okay to be a virgin. Yes, sex can be fun. But there are many people out there who choose not to have sex, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun people or have fun doing other things.

    I feel like anyone who doesn’t associate empowerment with sexuality gets flamed on these boards. Are we only pro choice when it comes to abortion??? Can we not be pro choice about virginity? Some women and men choose to wait. Others have had sex and choose to be abstinent. Why is this an unacceptable choice? Why is choosing to have sex more feminist than choosing to wait until you are ready and comfortable? All men and women are different.

    In answer to the article: I think motivation matters. I’m not saying that its not creepy and I’m not saying that it is. I don’t know his agenda or his motivation or him.

    I think its the attitude towards virgins or those who are abstinent in the comments section that bothers me more than anything.
    Sexual = empowered is silly to me. Yes, exploring sexuality can be liberating, but so can lots of other things. And if a person is not at a place in their life where that is a decision that they feel comfortable with, it’s probably not going to be liberating for them.

    Sorry if this derailed from the topic. I just think it’s important.

  79. S.L
    March 23, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Oh and one more thing. Perhaps someone could explain it to me.

    It’s not okay to be racist
    It’s not okay to be ablelist
    It’s not okay to victim blame
    It’s not okay to fat shame
    Etc Etc

    (I agree with the above BTW)

    So why do I keep seeing little disses to religion, particularly Christianity? So no one here feels validated by dismissing race, ethnicity, class or size, but it’s open season on religion……..?

    Comment number 9 equates Christianity with superstition. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anyone call her on it. These are people’s beliefs we are talking about. Is someone really less accepted because of religion here? Isn’t that discrimination? Aren’t we fighting that?

    Okay I’m done derailing. :) And I’m sincerely asking, because I can’t figure out how Christianity = supersition is acceptable. I’m not Jewish, but I certainly don’t go around making snide comments about Judaism.

    Personally I try to keep my snide comments to the few minutes that I watch Fox News a month, so that I can call someone and share the snide comments I came up with and feel creative :)

  80. Sheelzebub
    March 23, 2010 at 8:15 am

    When did virgin become the worst thing ever? It’s okay to be a virgin. Yes, sex can be fun. But there are many people out there who choose not to have sex, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun people or have fun doing other things.

    No one here said anything of the kind. No one here is bashing virgins–in fact, most folks on this thread have pointed out that a virginity fetish is creepy because it dehumanizes people (often women, since we’re the ones expected to be pure). I pointed out that it’s naive to think that a virgin has no baggage because hello–virgins can still date and have experiences with other people (including getting hurt).

    No, really–kindly point out to me where anyone here said that virgins are boring or the worst thing ever. Kindly show me where people were saying you had to have sex to be empowered.

    I have read comments comparing virgins to “clean slates” (because anyone who had sex is dirty) or the grand opportunity for someone to show them the wonderful world of sex (because being a virgin means you don’t do anything sexual, ever, apparently). People reacted to that dehumanizing rhetoric, pointing out that that puts an unfair burden on virgins and devalues people who have had sex.

    That is NOT insulting to virgins. FFS.

  81. March 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Seriously. Where did anyone say or even imply that it’s problematic to abstain from sex? I personally said that the social construct of virginity is problematic, but that doesn’t mean that people who do not have sex are problematic.

  82. tom forte
    April 2, 2010 at 4:04 am

    my girl had a prior boyfreind for 4 years and had sexual intercourse about 50 times. she said she never came and never had a orgasim. even tho at some points it was ok she said it never seemed like anything. she never was exited and always had to fake it. she said she doesent count that as her loosing her virginity to him. i remember the first time i had sex with her she had a orgasim and couldent believe it was possible. she said therefore she doesent really ever count what she had with her ex has sex and that she feels like i took her virginity. does this make sense to you guys?

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