People don’t ask anymore.
At the age of twenty-one, after one serious relationship and a variety of flings, it’s just assumed that I’ve lost my virginity. So why bother asking?
And the reality is that if you did ask me, even straight to my face, I probably wouldn’t tell you. I would probably just say it’s none of your business. Or I would lie. I’ve done both on the rare occasions that the question has been asked.
But the truth is: no, I haven’t had sex.
That’s a private thing to say, in writing or out loud. I’m actually glad no one asks me anymore because I don’t want to justify it — it’s an embarrassing process. I don’t seem to fit any of the socially acceptable excuses for being a virgin in my twenties. No, I’m not particularly religious. No, I’m not waiting until marriage. No, there’s nothing wrong with me.
I hate the prodding questions that follow. Like one girl wondering how I ever relax, another asking if I really loved my boyfriend at the time. And even worse than the questions: complete silence from the guy lying next to me in bed.
It’s these reactions that tell me that somehow I don’t fit in because of this fact, that somewhere along the line, I did something wrong. The uncomfortable conversation turns into genuine shame on my part. If sex is natural for humans, like eating food and drinking water, it’s like I’ve failed at some basic biological performance — I’m unnatural.
As a single woman, my sex life is silently understood to be a reflection of how desirable I am — although society’s line between desirable and slutty is ironically thin. Not having sex, with no acceptable excuse, just labels you as pathetic and prudish.
Even when I dated someone seriously, people would pass judgment on our relationship based solely on the intimate fact that we weren’t sleeping together. It was whispered to be abnormal and I began to think of it in the same way, although I never fully decided I was ready. I just became embarrassed.
By no means am I the first person to feel shame for their sex life, whether it is for their lack of a sex life, for their active sex life, or for their unconventional sex life.
Maybe I’m a part of the problem by internalizing this shame until I’d rather lie than explain that it just hasn’t happened, that I don’t trust easily and that I’m scared. But in a society obsessed with carefully constructed images of overly sexualized women, it’s hard to be candid about yourself.
So, even though it might be more than you wanted to know about a stranger — even though no one asked — I’m a virgin.