Sexy Virgins?

Adriana Lima

Jessica Simpson

Teyana Taylor Black Men's magazine cover

Meagan Good

The four women pictured above either were or are virgins. If you have kept up with pop culture you most likely can point out the ones who are no longer virgins because you know something about their lives. You know that they are  married and entering into such a union makes it probable that they have since lost their virginity. But what makes these women the topic of my discussion today is not the fact that they were or are virgins, but the way in which their virginity was put on display–either by themselves or the media–and how the portrayal of their virginal nature–or lack thereof–has created a misconception of who and what virgins are.

It used to be people could tell a virgin from far away. The female virgin was one who exuded chastity and seemed to walk around with an impenetrable force field of purity. She was so good you couldn’t stand it. She was dressed in white, wore skirts that hit below the knee. None of her clothing was form-fitting because modesty was de rigueur for the virgin. She was like an angel or a beautiful bird, caged, singing a particular song that people could hardly stand to listen to but they were always captivated by. Through the years our virgin started to wear red–on her body and her lips. The hemlines of her skirt began to rise, her clothes began to be more form-fitting, but, as she began to change her look to match that of her contemporaries, she still held on to the ideal of chastity and purity. But, this time around no one believed her and couldn’t stand her. No one believed her because she changed everything about herself that made her seem virginal. Her virginity became less of a visible quality and more of a state of mind which confused people.

What virgin models lingerie for Victoria’s Secret and wear angels wings while walking down the runway in her skivvies for the world to see? What virgin gets engaged to a gorgeous boy band member who drips sex and doesn’t immediately have sex with him, before the wedding night? What virgin makes her money playing coquettish women for a living in movies and leaves very little to the imagination when seen in public? What virgin poses for a popular men’s magazine exposing a tantalizing view of her breasts and thighs and calls herself, “The sexiest virgin you know.” What virgin does any of those things? Each of the women pictured above have been those virgins and one is that virgin.

Because each of them is a public figure their sexuality has been up for grabs from the moment they stepped into the spotlight. For Adriana Lima and Jessica Simpson, their virginity has been packaged and sold. Simpson, the All-American girl who saved herself until marriage and then let the cameras roll until her marriage was destroyed. And Lima, the exotic beauty and Victoria’s Secret cash cow. She could sell lingerie to a blind man as long as he could smell her Strawberries & Champagne scented sex appeal and she could keep the man with good eyes ogling her and fantasizing about what it’d be like to be with a sexy virgin, like her.

Then we have our last two women, up and coming R&B singer Teyana Taylor, and starlet, Meagan Good. I didn’t know that Taylor was a virgin until she took nearly all her clothes off and declared to men–and women who like that type of thing–that she was the sexiest virgin they know. Now the images of her virginity go hand in hand with the image of her stripping down and being “sexy.” (I have to put sexy in quotes because I think we currently misunderstand what it means to be sexy, but that will be for another post.) And Good, the young starlet who has made the majority of her fortune playing not so “good” characters. There is no evidence that she was a virgin throughout all of this, but she has claimed to be a Christian and a person with high moral standards. Given this it was no surprise that upon announcing her engagement to Hollywood producer and Seventh Day Adventist preacher, Devon Franklin, she also announced that they would be waiting until they got married to have sex. Oh how the tongues wagged at this. Could Good be capable of not having sex after years of acting as though she’d been around? Should she be judged so harshly just because she had a few “sexpot” roles?

It all culminates in this: What should a virgin be like today? (Assuming there is an ideal for a virgin in our currently over sexed society.) Has our culture changed what virgins look and act like? Is the term “virgin” just out-of-place in our culture? Can a woman be a virgin and “sexy” simultaneously or is it all one big oxymoron?  Do we need to bring virgins back like Justin Timberlake brought sexy back?

Let’s talk.

Censoring Cosmo Magazine

Censoring Cosmo

I just happened upon this article about a petition circulating to censor Cosmo. If the authors of this petition have their way–and if the already 33,000 signatures have any say–the magazine will be packaged in non-transparent wrapping and not sold to anyone under the age of 18. This is supposed to help in cutting down the negative consequences of following Cosmopolitan’s advice on sex–because that’s what this is really about.

So, what do think about this? Let’s talk about the implication of distributing messages on sex and sexuality in the media to young people. Let’s even talk about the implication of these messages on the sexual identity of adults. Are you pro-censorship or anti-censorship? What role do parents play?

Sex vs. Love

Recently I started reading a book entitled, “The Paradox of Love” written by French philosopher-type Pascal Bruckner. The book focuses on the misconceptions of love that our society thrives on and the fact that love is one big paradox. It is beautiful and messy, to be desired and not…A few days ago I reached a chapter entitled “Seduction as Market” and Bruckner said something that resonated with me.

“…sexuality is an irresistible drive that has to be satisfied so that one doesn’t have to think about it anymore. Whereas the Frenchman says, ‘Faisons l’amour,’ the American in television series and film says: ‘Let’s have sex.’ The difference is not merely semantic, it reflects two worldviews: in the latter case it is a matter of a pressing, animal need, like hunger or thirst, and in the former of a complex act that gives rise to a whole erotics, love that makes us as much as we make it, a subtle construction rather than a physical evacuation. Ceremony on the one hand, bestiality on the other.”

Faisons l’amour translated is, “Let’s make love.” So Bruckner suggests that what we are dealing with is the tension between having sex and making love. It occurred to me that what many of us are fighting for, particularly Christians who want to argue that sex before marriage is permissible, is really just that, “SEX before marriage.” Sex, the culmination of our lust, as opposed to making love, the consummation of love.

Now I know that making such a distinction is difficult and, in a way, it trivializes some people’s understanding of sex. But, what I am getting at here is the fact that I think there is something to be said for Bruckner’s distinction and how we view our sexual activity and its purpose. To what end do we use sex? For what purpose? What do we really want when we want to have sex as opposed to making love? Because the reality of the situation is, it is easy to have sex but it is hard to make love. It is hard to do the latter because there are very few people that we can do such as act with and because there are very few people, a wait is imposed a upon us. A wait and a weight. The weight of having sexual needs and desires unfulfilled until that great day and a wait for the great day. There are very few people that we can make a ‘subtle construction’ with and plenty of people we can have ‘physical evacuations’ with. Even the language is indicative of something more, we “have” sex, we “make” love. To “make” is to participate in a new creation, to “have” is to possess something and possession is not always safe or healthy.

Yes, we can have sex and have it all day, every day. It demands nothing more of us than an ability to rip one another’s clothes off–or not–thrust and grunt and get it over with. But can we wait for love? Can we wait to make a new creation with someone? And lest you think I am campaigning for “True Love Waits”, I am not–but I won’t touch that in this post. But I’ll say this, as much as I dislike the “True Love Waits” campaign, I think I can see where it aims. True love does wait. Sex doesn’t wait, we don’t want to wait for sex. I can admit that as someone who wants to base her life’s work on possibly arguing that the wait is in vain. But, because of Bruckner I realize, the wait for making love will never be in vain. The rush to have sex with someone you probably only have lukewarm feelings for, probably in vain.

I want to hear from others though. Is there a problem with this distinction between sex and love? Can there be love in sex? Can there be sex in love? Is this semantic argument too granular? Let’s talk about sex.