Virginity: An Issue That Affects People of All Ages, for Different Reasons
One of the most important steps that a person takes in their life can leave both negative and positive memories, pain and pleasure, and pride and shame. The subject of one’s virginity is something that can be influenced by many paradigms of life. One researcher suggests, “Symbolic interaction theory suggests that anticipatory socialization is important in the transition from one developmental stage to another” ( Herold and Goodwin 109) . By this he meant that in sexual instances, when people socialize about the pleasantness of sex, this might motivate an individual to seek those pleasures therefore, making that person anticipate those outcomes. Keeping one’s virginity may also be influenced by religion, peer pressure, peer surroundings, and sense of pride. Contrary to the belief that only adolescent girls are conflicted with their choice of chastity, more and more adult men and women are as well. A lot of people are putting off sex, and not because they can’t get a date. They’ve decided to wait, and they’re proud of their chastity, not embarrassed by it. Suddenly, virgin geek is giving way to virgin chic (Newsweek, October 17, 1994, p.59) Researchers have accumulated an extensive collection of articles based on the sexuality of adolescents, but yet have failed to really do extensive research on the reasons for these sexual choices of young adults. Because of this reason, I believe that the study the causes for virginity between people of all ages would not only be interesting, but substantial as well.
In reviewing many articles about virgins of all different contexts, there were consistent findings showing that gender differences were an important factor in keeping one’s virginity. Women are more likely than men to feel less pressured into giving up their virginity. Also, even though women’s reasons for not having sex were more passionate ( i.e.; waiting for love, commitment) the number one reason for keeping virginity amongst male and females, was “ I’m waiting for the right one”. This indicates that many people are just waiting for the so-called “ perfect person” to sweep them off their feet.
Sprecher and Regan found that apparently, both men and women in their sample desired sex, but abstained from it because they required an “appropriate” reason to become sexually active ( e.g., the “right” person) ; sought to avoid some real, potentially negative consequences of sexual intercourse ( e.g., unplanned pregnancy, disease); and were attempting to act in service of their personal beliefs ( “ College Virgins” 11 ) . Overall, the ratings of these reasons were very similar for men and women. However, they did find that gender differences were given to many of these reasons. The virgin women participants were more concerned than their male counterparts with interpersonal reasons for their virginity ( i.e., not enough love or not having met the right person) (Sprecher and Regan 12). They believe that the reason for this is stemmed in the adolescence upbringing of these individuals. They believe that during adolescence, girls are more likely than boys to have discussed the issue of abstinence and other sexual topics with their parents, laying the foundation for a general knowledge of acceptance of virginity.
Finally, college virgins do not abstain from sex because of lack of sexual desire. This finding doesn’t support the stereotype of a “ frigid virgin” . The number one reason for abstaining amongst men and women had to do with the meeting of the “right person”. In a study by Herold and Goodwin, they also found this to be true.
Another study that examined the first sexual experience amongst college youth, also gave support to similar findings of Sprecher and Regan. Both females and males were more likely to experience their first intercourse experience with a steady dating partner. However, this was more often the case for females than males ( Darling et. al. 104). Even though the focus of this study was on non- virgins and their first sexual experience, they still found that women participated with someone whom they felt was the right one. Whether it was a steady partner, lover, or fiancée, the women had the sense of closeness, love, and stability. These findings really support the gender differences associated with losing or keeping one’s virginity. The aspect of communication was also mentioned in these findings. The acquisition of good communication skills is critical, so that partners can better communicate their needs, desires, and feelings regarding intimate relationships ( Darling et al. 116).
Another study conducted between two researchers, analyzed the factors surrounding the virginity of admant virgins, potential nonvirgins, and nonvirgins. Using research analysis, it was found that peer experience with premarital intercourse was the most important predictor of virginity status, followed in importance by dating commitment and religiosity (Herold & Goodwin 97). In other words, they found that a person’s peers are the most influential factors in their decisions about sex. Friends and associates, who have already experienced sex and tell their virgin friends of their findings, are seemingly enticing the chaste to want to explore for themselves. This is an example of anticipatory socialization.
Herold and Goodwin also found that admant virgins (virgins who didn’t plan on having sex until marriage), had more moral and religious reasons as to why they were waiting for marriage. However, potential nonvirgins gave the response of waiting to meet the right person, as their number one reason for holding out. These findings suggest that you can classify virgins into groups based on their potential to have sex before or after marriage.
One study suggests that the reason why more and more adolescent youth are saving their virginity is in part due to masturbation. Few high school-aged virgins engaged in vaginal intercourse quickly, but many engaged in other genital sexual activities (Schuster et al. 1570). Virgins are figuring that if they participate in sexual activities such as fellatio, cunnilingus, and anal intercourse, they can receive just as much pleasure from these, as they would in vaginal intercourse. Furthermore, these sexual activities when using protection, can prevent the spread of HIV, but transmit other STD’s.
Another finding from Schuster et al. supports findings made earlier by Sprecher and Regan. They found that virginity was more prevalent among those whose parents had higher education levels and who had higher educational expectations themselves (Schuster et al. 1573). These findings target the upbringing of a person, and their parent’s potential influence. However, the correlation between level of education, and sexual status is very gray.
Another possible reason why more people are maintaining their virginity is a stronger in their faith. Moral or religious beliefs were given by 50% of the admant virgins and only 2% of the potential nonvirgins (Herold & Goodwin 108). Also, the virgins who have a higher level of religiosity, are more likely to adhere to conservative parental norms (“Virginity Status” 110). The reason that Herold and Goodwin give for their findings is that when a person is really active in their religion, they tend to follow the rules or laws, which the religion gives. Almost all religions say that sex is for after marriage.
After reviewing these various articles, I feel that previous research on virgins has covered a great deal of information. However, I still think that there are a couple of areas that could be examined a little further. Researchers examined the ender differences between male and female virgins, but they failed to actually go in depth about the male virgins. Yes, the researchers found that among adolescent virgins heterosexual masturbation was used to deter them from engaging in sexual intercourse, but they failed to study how long this lasted; and also if this worked for older virgins.
Since different aspects of virginity have not deeply studied, and really only in female teenagers and adolescents, I feel that it would be a value to all researchers to study the aspects of virginity among male adults. Does masturbation work for deterring males from intercourse? What are male virgins waiting for to give up their virginity? Further research on this topic could possibly lead to more males saving their virginity for marriage, or that special person. A long-term affect from this could possibly be a decrease in STDs among people, and longer, committed relationships for adults. In closing, I pose this hypothesis: If male adolescents save their virginity for that special person, then the presence of fidelity in a relationship will be stringer. Therefore, making the foundation for stronger, loving, lasting relationships between them and their partners.