On Monday, I talked a little about the toxic culture surrounding masculinity and how it hurts men. Today, I want to start the conversation to help dismantle it. And one of the best places to start is to talk about sex. Specifically: male virginity and the shame in not having sex.
One of the things that I’ve seen come up over and over again in the aftermath of the Elliot Rodger shooting is the number of men – men of literally all ages – talking about the shame and pain of being a male virgin. They talk about feeling broken or unworthy, that they’ve missed some sort of open time frame where they could lose their virginity and now they’re (metaphorically) screwed. It feels like everyone knows – like you’ve been branded by a giant V.
Of course, because they’re so anxious about being an “older” virgin – where “older” can range anywhere from 15 to 50 – that they can’t bring themselves to talk about it. The fear of being “outed” as a virgin becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. They so fear rejection for being virgins that they can’t bring themselves to approach women. They can’t bring themselves to approach women, so they don’t have opportunities to lose their virginity. They continue to get older, becoming even more anxious. And so the cycle continues, leaving them feeling ashamed, lost, even bitter and resentful. Sex goes from being something to be enjoyed to a giant monolith of titanic proportions that casts a shadow over everything they do and who they are.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So let’s talk a little about the problems with the way we think about male virginity… and how to fix them.