According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of Americans who lose their virginities (defined here as vaginal sexual intercourse) is 17.1 for both men and women. The CDC also reports that virgins make up 12.3 percent of females and 14.3 percent of males aged 20 to 24. That number drops below 5 percent for both male and female virgins aged 25 to 29 and goes as low as 0.3 percent for virgins aged 40 to 44.
I found these interesting facts published in an article in March issue of The Atlantic, “On ‘Late’-In-Life Virginity Loss” by JonFortenbury. The author reports “those who don’t have sex during their teen years are in the minority, but the reasons for – and effects of – waiting differ for everyone. Of course the CDC statistics only represent heterosexual penile-vaginal sex. The question of “what is virginity?” obviously has a different answer in the LGBT community. And straight people, too, sometimes feel that oral or anal sex counts as virginity loss. Still, the most common definition of virginity loss is penile-vaginal intercourse, as Planned Parenthood points out on its website.”
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky gave a whole new meaning to “having sex” that had a memorable historic impact. Monica is back in the headlines this week reminding us of her sexcapades with the President as a 19 year old White House intern. She is speaking out against bullying by the media and trying to help others. According to Bill, “he did not have sex with that woman”, so perhaps she was still a virgin. Sadly for Monica, her last name became synonymous with the sexual act of fellatio. WOR’s Mark Simone takes us down a Monica Memory Lane by posting Bill’s famous video interrogation about sex on his website.
The Atlantic article continues “Statistically, if you didn’t have sex in your teen years, you’re in the minority. But most people I asked in my unscientific poll felt virginity loss wasn’t “late” if the person was still college-aged. Many thought 25 was the first late age. One friend told me that for secular people, “late” is 20 and older, and for religious people, 40 and older. The popular 1999 film American Pie suggests that late is freshman year of college. And the character Jess (played by Zooey Deschanel) on New Girl stated in a flashback in a recent episode, ‘In three years, I’ll be 25. I can’t rent my first car as a virgin. They’ll know’.”
For better or worse, there is a difference between the sexes and the experience of losing one’s virginity. I do not have a daughter. My son is in his early 20’s and I have shared many anxiety fraught conversations with mothers of girls on the other side of puberty. Loss of virginity in high school was common place for both sexes. Raging hormones, peer pressure, alcohol and sometimes drugs or perhaps just for fun played a role in the loss of virginity. Some were in relationships and others had multiple partners. Often the girls were more aggressive than the boys, particularly when they entered college. Access to birth control was easy. Many of the moms confided they wanted to be sure their daughters had access to the pill for fear of unplanned pregnancy. When this particular age group continued to college as freshmen in 2010, sex was just a regular routine for most – like a good movie or a tasty meal.
I do know a handful of young women in different parts of the country who entered their freshman year of college as virgins. Some were ashamed of their sexual status to the point it made me think of Hester Prynne in Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Instead of Hester’s scarlet A for adultery in puritanical times, they are burdened with a shameful V for virgin in contemporary times.
During my 90 year old mother’s generation virginity was considered a treasure sacredly saved for marriage. When the pill arrived in the 70s, many college women took advantage of that revolutionary safety net for the fear of pregnancy was gone and replaced the virtue of virginity.
Now it seems you are considered a bit of a freak if you are still a virgin in college. I personally know of a few sweet girls who were very studious and doing well their freshman year, with one exception – they were virgins. Unfortunately, privacy is a thing of the past and sex is a hot topic to be discussed openly in groups of peers or on social media. So everyone knew. These young ladies of 18 were determined to shed their shameful “V” status, despite the fact that they had no boyfriend in the picture or a raging libido. It was a “first” to get over with – like trying an exotic food or riding a bike! I wonder what their own advice will be to their daughters or sons years from now. My advice to any remaining virgins, or single women in general, is to cherish your privacy and carefully select your experiences, for they will last a lifetime!
On the lighter side, I recommend watching the new television series “Jane: The Virgin” on WPIX. It is the story of Jane, a young Hispanic girl, who has tried to do everything right in her life from studying hard to become a teacher to remaining a virgin until she marries her boyfriend of two years. She tries to overcompensate for her mother, who had an unplanned pregnancy at age 16, and never revealed the father’s identity. She chose to have her baby (Jane) and raise her with her abuela‘s or grandmother’s help. Jane’s abuela is very old world Spanish and passionately lectures her granddaughter at a very young age on the importance of remaining a virgin until marriage.
One day Jane goes to her doctor for a routine PAP smear and patient records get mixed up. She fatefully receives artificial insemination instead and soon discovers, much to her surprise, she is a pregnant virgin! Her mother believes her lament that she is still a virgin and falls to her knees to thank God for La Immaculata, the virgin birth. Chaos ensues within the family. There is a developing story about the donor father, who didn’t know his frozen sperm was defrosted by his scheming unfaithful wife, who got the PAP smear meant for Jane.
All sorts of issues, both serious and entertaining, are raised. I recommend you tune in to watch these episodes on demand and follow the story. There is humor and pathos and lessons to be learned. I predict Jane will have the baby and still remain a virgin until she marries!
While searching for a picture to highlight this post, I came across this wonderful poem by Robert Herrick for your reading pleasure!
TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
by Robert Herrick
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may forever tarry.