At the end of last year, I watched a documentary here in the UK about an event in the US called the Purity Ball. It was about dads who took their daughters to a ball and who all pledge to remain pure and keep their virginity intact until they marry a man their father is happy with and approves of.
The notion of virginity seems to be having a Victoria Era revival right now… Virginity has taken on a rather unusual role across the globe in recent times, hasn’t it? Virginity seems to have a hypnotic effect on people and that is what I am blogging about today…
The Jonas Brothers… Or should I say Jo Bro? I am so street and down with the kids these days… Jo Bro all wear purity rings… They are completely and totally proud to be virgins. Yes indeed, the cynical amongst us may believe that this is a marvellous marketing ploy by Disney… They get to behave all sexily on stage and get marketed to children, but because they wear purity rings and love their virgin status (à la that wonderful South Park episode!).
I just don’t seem to get it… When I was young, it was a rite of passage into manhood to be able to tell your friends your virginity had been lost. Is this thought process just one born out of young boys socialising and educating each other at a young age?
Even though now we have abstinence advocates flying the flag for virgins, I still think virginity is increasingly seen in the Western world as a troublesome burden, an embarrassment, to be shed at our earliest opportunity…. There are thousands of people whose perception is built up to such an extent that they fear it, become unsure of themselves and I work with many men whose performance anxiety is born out of issues faced when attempting to lose their virginity.
My interest in this subject was piqued some more… Whilst reading this issue of Health Magazine, this subject gets explored a little bit further by Brooke Shields, of all people. In the article, Brooke reveals that she too views it the way my teenage friends and I did. In the interview, she is asked, “What’s your biggest health regret?”
Guess what her reply is to that question…. The biggest health regret that the former child actress, celebrity former partner of André Agassi and supermodel said, was, “Staying a virgin too long.”
Apparently she was a virgin until the age of 22. You might now be thinking and questioning, “Brooke, how on earth is that a health issue?”
For many it is. For Brooke Shields it is. For me it was.
Well, for me, I thought my head might explode if I did not get my virginity cast away… Which I interpret as a health issue!
The main reason I mention Brooke Shields here is because she went on to tell the journalist that the main reason for virginity being kept in tact until the age of 22 was that she found herself unattractive! Brooke Shields?!
The same woman who did her first Hollywood film appearance aged 11? The same woman who became a household name and pin-up following her Calvin Klein jeans advertisement aged 15?
It is incredibly common… A sort of mis-placed self-loathing that can stop a person from wanting others to see them naked… What craziness, eh? I am guessing there were no lack of potential suitors!
I don’t want to get on Brooke’s case here, BUT she did proudly state, in her autobiography published when she was twenty, that she was still a virgin because, “Love is what I want to wait for. I don’t need to experiment.” She could have been a member of the Jonas Brothers… The Jonas Sister!
She openly laughs in the article as states to interviewer that if only she had liked her looks better, “I would have had sex a lot earlier! I think I would have lost my virginity earlier than I did at 22… I wish I had just gotten it over with in the beginning when it was sort of OK. I think I would have been much more in touch with myself. I think I wouldn’t have had issues with weight — I carried this protective 20 pounds. It was all connected. And to me, that’s a health regret.”
It’s hard to unpack and disentangle that tight coil of emotions and reactions. There are so many psychological, social, cultural, emotional and experiential factors that make this a subject only the really brave dare attempt to unravel… Or blog about 😉
This example though does highlight that some human beings see themselves as ugly (or overweight, or stupid, or unlikeable etc., etc.) no matter what the public says and no matter what evidence exists to the contrary. This is proliferate on my courses and in my consulting rooms.
Have we totally dispensed with the entire idea of joyful anticipation and initiation? Do we not look forward enjoying the process at all? Perceiving it as something that is a LOT of fun? That feels good? Almost everyone I have ever heard describe their first time, no-one refers to it as any kind of fairytale moment, that’s for sure… Why is it that virginity is something we feel the need to “get it over with”?
There are other things that we’d like to get over with, aren’t there? Pulling off a plaster, a visit to the dentist, discovering exam results, household chores, and so on.
I wonder if Brooke Shields or any other mother will be advising their daughters to just get it over with when discussing virginity? Or will they be using super glue to affix a purity ring to the fingers of their children?
I think this evening, what with me being married for a while now… I might suggest to my wife that now is the time for me to get it over with. 😉