Our contributor Katherine Chen, a sophomore English major at Princeton University (check out her personal site here), is penning a series of confessions for EMandLO.com collectively called “The Virgin Diaries.” Here’s her third installment:
These days, every girl between 10 and 50 seems to be obsessed with the Twilight Saga. You’d think it was because a story about an intense love triangle between a teenage girl, a vampire supermodel, and a buff werewolf must have a ton of great animalistic sex in it, right? Wrong. Stephanie Meyer’s four-part story seems to appeal to millions of readers and moviegoers precisely because it doesn’t have any illicit sex in it.
Some movie critics have argued that “Twilight” is the latest form of abstinence-only education — after all, it’s not that Bella and Edward are incapable of having sex; they choose not to until they are married. But there’s no denying that by delaying their gratification they make the moment of their first union so much more meaningful and, yes, special. And that aspect of “Twilight” reflects my own views about virginity and abstinence.
Now before anyone classifies me as a Twihard who dreams about being Bella Swan at night, I just want to set the record straight regarding my feelings about the Twilight Saga: Hate vampires. Hate werewolves. Hate the whole damsel in distress business. And I am not a fan of androgynous good looks. Got it? Okay, we’re moving on.
Virginity has always been a very significant part of who I am. I can’t deny my mother certainly influenced my perspective on sex: she raved about how all my female classmates were sluts and whores just for going out with a boy on Saturday night. But I’ve also had two friends get pregnant and then undergo abortions before they turned 18. The pain and agony they went through by taking a chance on someone they hoped was Mr. Right (who turned out to be Mr. Wrong) did not seem worth it at all. One turned into a total recluse, to the point where her parents were forced to take her out of school. She told me later on that even though she was ashamed of what she had done, it was the gossip and accusations being made at school that truly got to her. My other friend attempted suicide a few times and eventually landed in a hospital after her family threatened to disown her. At one time, these two were the most vibrant, funny, and energetic human beings I knew.
Studies have shown (see here and here) that when women don’t receive the relationship they anticipated after losing their virginity, they feel like their sexual power has been taken away from them. Of course, there is also the emotional and spiritual devastation that comes with feeling deceived, even if that was not the intention of the other party. I believe good sex isn’t just about physical reciprocation, but emotional reciprocation — and that’s not something you can get with a fling or someone as emotionally immature as a student in high school or in college. It may not even be something you can get before the kind of commitment that comes with marriage.
Despite my fairly old school views, I don’t think virginity should be viewed as a treasure, much less a curse or a stigma. The fact that female virginity is so prized among certain (if not all) cultures confirms that women are still viewed as sex objects. I’m not down with that. Nor do I think losing one’s virginity should be considered an automatic rite of passage for young people, like attaining one’s first driver’s license or graduating from high school. When the situation and circumstances are genuinely right, it can happen quite naturally and in its own sweet time, but until then you should have the right to protect your feelings and your body without undergoing external pressures to conform to any arbitrary sexual standards — whether that’s doing it before you hit a certain age to avoid being seen as a freak or not doing it until you get married because of some religious ideology.
Virginity is a one-time thing. You lose it, and you won’t be able to get it back. Stephanie Meyers knows this, which is why it took her four books to get Bella and Edward in bed. Why rush something so sweet? It’s more exciting and ultimately satisfying to take the time to make sure the situation and the person are right for you. Or should I say, right for me.