September 12th, 2005 09:31 EST
Nothing Wrong With Me
Our society has a habit of normalizing everyone, or trying to, with the inevitable and unfortunate side effect of segregating and ostracizing people who don’t fit the common conception of “normal”. Our society also obsesses over sex. The interaction of these two social traits is a dangerous combination, because our identities and value become excessively and inappropriately connected to sex.
We too often allow ourselves to be defined and confined by gender, sex and sexuality. Many of us are virtually slaves to sexual symbolism, our sexual urges and orientations. The measure of men and women— as men and women, distinctly-- are socially equated with the prominence of their sexually associated body parts. A man’s power and magnitude are defined by his genitals; a woman’s, by her breasts.
The pursuit, conquest or hunting of sexual relations has become a widespread hobby and preoccupation, in many cases to the point (or almost) of neurosis, addiction or debauched promiscuity. Most of us still make a big deal about displaying or hiding our homo and heterosexuality. The prevalence of pornography is epidemic. Our movies, television shows and advertisements are inundated with sexual activity, references and innuendo.
Promiscuous and prolific sex is promoted and portrayed as “cool”, normal and desirable. Not only do we get the overwhelming impression that we should have sex to be normal and to be accepted, sex is presented as just something to do, simply something that “everyone” does and is supposed to do— like watching TV.
Sex is used and expected to justify our existence. In our culture, sex represents social status. There is an absurdly illusory prestige associated with sex in general.
Once you have reached adolescence, if you have engaged in sexual activity, then you are typically considered mature, significant and substantial. At least more so than anyone who has not had sex; or misguided wanna be adults who believe sex will make them “somebody”. The more abundant and diverse the sex, the more “grown up” you must be.
Most of it seems to be indiscriminate, without purpose or meaning; merely sex for the sake of sex… as routine as checking your e-mail. Because, apparently, that’s what people “do”.
And if you don’t have or haven’t had sex, if you are celibate or a sexual virgin, then there is generally thought to be something wrong with you— particularly among those do have, or at least have had, sex. The losing of one’s virginity is asininely interpreted as some right of passage into adulthood. But, in truth, it makes you no more an adult than suddenly become 18 years old.
It is ironic that sex, violence and profanity are labeled as “mature” content, since one has exactly nothing to do with the other; and, indeed, can be quite the opposite.
Virginity, especially among people of adult age, is often admitted to, if at all, hesitantly, reluctantly, and with some degree of embarrassment and insecurity. In self defense, virgins often hide their virginity in shame, fear or misplaced guilt, and pretend they've had sex, letting others think they have had or do have sex.
Virgins and celibates are commonly regarded as perverse, pathetic, deficient, defective, and somehow less than a real person. There are many different reasons why people may be virgins. Whether by choice, by circumstance or both, being a virgin is usually branded with a sense of shame, often eliciting pity, embarrassment and ridicule. Especially after the age of 20. In the eyes of the majority, the longer you’ve been a virgin, for whatever reason, the more pathetic you are, and the more you are to be pitied and mocked and harassed. Celibacy, before and after sex, is frequently looked upon as an odd, confusing and inappropriate life style— even by some virgins, thinking it is wrong to be a virgin. As if having sex has anything at all to do with our worth or relevance as a person, beyond procreation. Alas, virgins are not “normal”, true enough, which means abnormal, which tends to translate in the minds of many as freak and misfit. Virgins are seen by most people in our culture as socially, sexually or emotionally maladjusted, stunted or inadequate. A guy who doesn’t fixate on and pursue women— like he is “supposed to”-- is generally considered gay, immature or impaired.
Sex with a partner— preferably, but not necessarily, of the opposite gender-- is largely and publicly considered normal and acceptable, but self sexual gratification is not, and somehow doesn’t count as sex.
Our culture’s elevation and worship of sex as the ultimate validation and life experience is, it seems to me, not only incorrect and detrimental, but a juvenile attitude reducing and trapping us in the insecure and delusional mentality of hormonal adolescents hoping to “score”, or earn “street cred”. Our priorities are sadly misplaced, assigning way too much emphasis to sex and making it seem more important than it really is. Proliferating the idiotic notion that virginity is a kind of disease or defect does not make it true. Movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin do nothing to help overcome this crude, maligning social stigma and stereotype against celibacy and virginity; actually, it only serves to re-enforce it. The title character is perceived as broken and needs to be fixed. This continual prejudice against non-sexuals is just as wrong and foolish as bias against race, gender and sexual orientation, and has been allowed to continue undisputed for far too long.
Granted, there are some involuntary virgins who regret and bemoan their virginity for their own reasons. And there are some who think it might be nice to try sex-- much as it might be nice to visit Paris-- just to see what it was like, what all the fuss is about, but are not particularly tormented or aggravated or inconvenienced by their lack of sex.
Some could take it or leave it… if they have sex, fine; if not, fine.
However, there are an increasing number of individuals of all ages planet wide who are not so obsessed with sex, are contented with being celibate, realize that they don’t need sex to be “cool” or happy, and are choosing abstinence, gladly accepting— even if not freely admitting-- their virgin or celibate status. Gradually, more people— virgin or not-- are accepting and advocating abstinence as a valid and acceptable way to live. They are virgins or celibate not only because of religion or personal morality, not only until marriage, not only because they have to, and not only because they are afraid of sex, but indefinitely or permanently because they want to and are ok with not having sex.
For them, not having sex is the equivalent of not eating pizza--- really not that big of a deal. Virgins are the new homosexuals, the outcast minority. There are more of us than you know. And there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, unless you assume there is.