Thursday, May 26, 2011

In response to Danny's Corner: Are We Really That Rare?, OR, A Post On Adult Male Virginity

Apparently virgins count for less than 3% of the over-25-years-old male population of the US.  While I sometimes think about virginity and the ways it's valued and constructed in US culture, I don't typically spend a lot of time thinking about adult virgins...  unless I see posts like this one over at Danny's corner that actually address the issue.

I tend to assume that most people over the age of 25 have had sex at least once.  I assume that there's a larger proportion of virgins in different, more religious subcultures than the one I'm in.  And it seems that I'm mostly right.  I do tend to assume that people-- male and female-- who are virgins into their mid twenties are religious... which might be because the one guy I know who I know for sure is a virgin is religious.  He's of the courtship rather than dating mindset, so he's pretty extreme in his views as far as things go.  But... it's a choice.  And for another guy who I knew in college, it was also a choice.  I have no clue what his status is now, since, well, college was four years ago, but for him it was that he wanted it to be special and all that jazz.

What I'm more curious about is how many guys are virgins into their mid twenties against their choices-- either because they're in relationships with men or women who are determined to not have sex, or because they are too busy to date and against one night stands, or because they just keep. striking. out.  I know that there are definitely guys like this out there-- the whole "forever alone" concept, and sad self-posts to reddit are enough to make most people who spend too much time know that. A quick google also found me two websites focusing on involuntary celibacy, which is apparently also called Incel, though they include people who have had sex in the past, but who are long term celibate anyway.  But I'm curious about the guys who are still virgins, and why, and if it's not by choice, why it is that they've been unable to find a sex partner.  I'd guess shyness, mostly, because in the age of online dating, even if you are what the majority of society considers sexually unappealing, there are people who like all sorts of appearances, and a partner could probably be found online, even if it would take a lot of effort.  For some, I'd think it might have to do with behavior-- I can't imagine a straight man who is openly hateful and misogynistic having much success with women, for example, or someone who is so shy he doesn't actually talk to women or make clear his interest.  And for some, of course, I'd assume it's because they dated a woman who didn't want to lose her virginity for a long time, and after the relationship ended, have been unsure how to proceed.

I've noticed online that there's an idea that male virginity is a huge turn-off to women, and something most women would run from.  I actually have no clue how most of my friends feel about this, for a change, because it's just something that has not come up-- other issues get talked about, but i think meeting male virgins doesn't even cross the mind of most of my dating lady-friends.  Hell, the last virgin I encountered was in college, and he was 21.  Most guys-- 97% of them, once they hit 25-- have had some experience.  But 3% is still a really large number, when you think about.  Just look at your Facebook-- you probably have, like, 500 Facebook friends.  3% of that number is 15.  Now think about all the dudes in the US who are over the age of 25.  Statistically, its a small number, but it's also a HUGE number, so a ton of guys out there aren't having sex, either by choice or without choice.  And think how many more guys have had sex with one person who they aren't sexing anymore and who aren't having sex now.  An even huger number!  As someone who thinks that sex is an important, healthy part of being an adult (unless you're asexual) this is just... boggling and disturbing and saddening.  Though I hope most virginal guys aren't sad, I have to think a large portion of them probably are, especially because of the messages society says about guys who "can't get laid" being worth less than other men.  It's the sort of thing that also makes me annoyed that we don't have safe, legal prostitution or sex surrogates in this country (and my thoughts on sex work are enough to fill up many other posts, but in short: I think prostitution should be legal, I don't think it's any worse for most people than sleeping around with non prostitutes, but I think the ways it often happens in the US are not good situations for sex workers.  Legalize and regulate is my motto in this as in many other things).  It can't help erase frustration at not having a relationship, and it's unlikely to help a lot of guys with any underlying issues that may be keeping them celibate by choice, but it's at least something.

7 comments:

personalmap said...

I've noticed online that there's an idea that male virginity is a huge turn-off to women, and something most women would run from.

Aw, not all women. It wouldn't be a big deal to me. Like you, I think I would assume that anyone who's a virgin after age 25 or so is either religious or crushingly shy.

25 year old woman said...

I would have no problem dating a virgin at this stage, when I date men <= 30 years old. If I liked the person, saw we were suitable, I would be glad he was one, one who hasn't changed women as gloves, like some do, one most likely without STDs (you can't check men for HPV f.e. until you yourself become ill).

In some places I read "go to prostitute" advice (only to men!) to gain experience and confidence, and I became sad and disgusted: I don't want a man, who visited prostitutes, don't want him to put his organ in me after that. Don't want one who will think it's OK to take our son there too. If sex isn't just physical thing, which masturbation can supply too, if it has a mental component, imo having first experience with a prostitute is horrible and may influence how the man'll see women for the rest of his life. With 1 night stand, it's mutual fun, with a prostitute it's ... not that. You can't pay somebody to be your friend or to want you.

Of course, it's also the horrible double standard: what about the women? Making prostitution legal wouldn't make anything to change the double standard, and I am afraid would even strengthen it.

Xamuel said...

Some guys go into their early twenties having never asked a girl out, never kissed a girl, etc. It builds momentum. The longer you go, the harder it gets to break the pattern. I went til 23, and then joined the seduction community and managed to get a regular sex life but it took a ton of effort, self-discipline, etc.

Part of the problem is that society surrounds men with terrible advice. Movies and TV shows are full of romantic tropes which are absolutely ridiculous. Standard advice from people who don't know what they're talking about include "just be yourself" and "just be patient, it'll happen when you least expect it". Both of these proverbs ensure a long, long embrace with celibacy! Also society pushes the idea that first times have to be special and magical. This is absolutely crippling, it's poison if you believe it: the specialness and the magic come AFTER the sex, and if you try to pursue them BEFORE it, that makes you The Friend (or The Creep).

Speaking from experience, men who have long been celibate will try to save face by making excuses about "not wanting to commit to something like that right now", "having really high standards", etc. If a man tells you this, he's lying and the merciful thing to do would be to buy him a prostitute...

One does not go from late celibacy to having a sex life without going through a transition period when he loses a LOT of face, being the clumsy guy who doesn't know what he's doing, etc. Newcomers to the seduction community are often warned that if they pursue the path, they're likely to burn a lot of bridges with their past life. It's a major, almost traumatic decision to make.

25-year-old woman said...

specialness and the magic come AFTER the sex, and if you try to pursue them BEFORE it, that makes you The Friend (or The Creep)

It takes time to love somebody, but to "fall in love" doesn't have to take ages. If a woman wants to start falling in love before sex, to date for 2-3 weeks f.e. before sex, does it make her "The Friend (or The Creep)"? I read anonymous men in university forums saying they don't want to sleep with women they don't know at all, that they want some connection. This despite the culture of teaching men that using women is OK. I say "using" since this same culture sees those women as dirty, unmarriagable afterward. I believe we, men and women, are much more similar than culture teaches us from birth AND that approaches to sex and relationships differ, are very personal.

"having really high standards", etc. If a man tells you this, he's lying and the merciful thing to do would be to buy him a prostitute...


What about single women? 25-year-old virgin women? Prostitutes for them too? Why or why not?

In general, I feel anger and sadness from looking at the ways society treats men and women. The first are told to get prostitutes, the second are called prostitutes themselves, if they aren't virgins/ slept with more than 2 people, etc.

I think saying "poor man should be offered a prostitute" closes eyes on how society sees those women, on what it teaches those men, how they themselves look on prostitutes with contempt as things to be used before finding "pure" wife. And I don't mean religious people here. It's true in general. When men start "joking" about porn or what such and such sex-worker did, well,... they would never look at another man this way.

2020 said...

It’s difficult to get people to consider that as a man I could be happy with my virgin status, but it’s true I am. Although I don't consider myself fully asexual I tend to think of myself as right in the middle of asexual and heterosexual (I've done sexy stuff in the past and enjoyed it but never gone all the way In the asexual community people like me are called Gray A's I think that suits me).

I sometimes feel like I should care since there are guys out there of the incel type who for this is clearly a big deal and I wonder why I don’t feel the same way but I don’t lose sleep over it.

I don't think sex is unimportant; however I don't particularly think it’s very important ether for living a healthy adult life (just my opinion), would I like to go all the way with someone? Possibly in the future but it’s just not high up on my list of priorities at the moment.

Societies attitude to male virgins as people on other blogs I read have noted s sort of like the flip side to the attitudes society has of sexually confident women, where they are slut shamed men are virgin shamed (however the scrutiny is not nearly as intense and hatful).

We as a society really do need to rethink our attitudes to sex and sexuality in order for things to change that’s why I’m such a huge fan of sex positive feminism its taking the old sexual standards and tearing them down so everyone is free to have there own personal presences as to the type of sex they feel comfortable having without being shamed for it.

Thanks for a good post it’s always interesting to find read other perspectives on this issue.

Danny said...

Thanks for the linkage Amanda.

I assume that there's a larger proportion of virgins in different, more religious subcultures than the one I'm in. And it seems that I'm mostly right. I do tend to assume that people-- male and female-- who are virgins into their mid twenties are religious... which might be because the one guy I know who I know for sure is a virgin is religious.
Not surprising considering that when it comes to sex most major religions see to want to limit or restrict it. Either by telling folks that they will get dirty if they have sex with anyone other than "the right one" (women) or by making them out to be dirty (because if women supposedly become "unclean" or "dirty" after premarital sex and said premarital sex is with men....).


I'd guess shyness, mostly, because in the age of online dating, even if you are what the majority of society considers sexually unappealing, there are people who like all sorts of appearances, and a partner could probably be found online, even if it would take a lot of effort.
Yes paralyzing shyness is a big part of it. And there is also fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of having ones intentions assumed in the worst faith.


I actually have no clue how most of my friends feel about this, for a change, because it's just something that has not come up-- other issues get talked about, but i think meeting male virgins doesn't even cross the mind of most of my dating lady-friends.
Well the thing is there is this presumption that when it comes to sex men are supposed to know what they are doing so that women shouldn't have to tell/show them what to do (a relative of that crappy presumption that a woman has sexual experience and knows how she likes it is not a woman but a slut) or else they are not men they are losers. Yes there is a lot facepalm inducing mix messaging going on there. I recall a few years ago a woman saying in conversation that she would never let a guy go down on her who had never done it before because she shouldn't have to tell/show him how she likes it (which is odd because switching that would be a guy thinking he found the Holy Grail in the form of a woman who has never done oral before and that he gets to be her first).


I'll have to stay to take a look around. Nice post.

Colleen said...

I'm with you on the legalize and regulate 100%.

I don't know if I would find male virginity to be a turn off, depending on the reasons for it. Honestly, I'd be shocked to find myself dating a virgin based on the circles I travel in (if I weren't married).

I know one adult female who is a virgin by choice and not because she's religious. She seems comfortable with it, but it does seem to be a hurtle for her as well.