Sex is something some people like to talk about and some people don’t.
I always thought the people who didn’t talk about it were just private people, or very conservative, or just not into TMI, or found talking about sex to be crude. But a few people aren’t talking because they’re virgins.
Actually, 4% of the US population are virgins (according to the Center For Disease Control’s Health Statistics Report.) It makes sense that some of those 4% of virgins are in their 30’s.
I remember directing a production of Savage In Limbo in college and thinking that it’s crazy and impossible to be a 32 year old virgin. I was 19 at the time and didn’t really understand the play the way I do now. All of the 5 characters in the play are 32, lost, and frequenting the same tired bar that they went to in high school together. Not much has changed in their lives.
The 32 year old main character, Denise Savage, has never had sex. When asked what it’s like to still be a virgin, Denise says:
“In the beginning, it was just bad luck. I’m not like you, and I got a big mouth, and well, it’s easy not to lose it at first. You’re scared, they’re scared, somebody says: Boo, and everybody runs away. At least that’s the way it was for me. To start with. But then it became a thing. Most everybody I knew lost it, you know, over a certain period a time, and there I was, still in the wrapper. It woulda been easy to lose it then. But it became a thing, you know? I felt different. I felt like I was holdin out for somethin, sayin no, no, I’m not takin that life just cause it was the first one I was offered. So here I am. I’m thirty-two. And I’m still sayin no, no. And I still only got offered the one life, and I still don’t want that one.”
Savage In Limbo is about 32 year olds who’ve stagnated and aren’t moving along with their lives. They all worry about the accidental limbo they’re stuck in, the ever-present and problematic “sameness.” But for some 30-something year old virgins, virginity isn’t accidental and it definitely isn’t problematic.
In an article I read recently, It Makes For Awkward Conversation: What It’s Like To Be A 30-Year-Old Virgin, one woman talks happily and openly about her decision to maintain abstinence. She even wrote a book about it! She says,
“I decided to write my book on my abstinence experience when people were continually shocked that I was a virgin. People’s first response after being informed that I’m a virgin is usually, ‘No you’re not,’ justifying their claim by pointing out the way I dress or my outgoing attitude. Then there are people who are confused and ask, ‘But why? You’re pretty’ as if every virgin is a virgin because no one desires them. I began to realize that my look and attitude did not fit the idea of a virgin that many had. So, I decided to share my journey and give a new face, dress and attitude to the virgin. As readers are invited on my journey of abstinence they will realize that I have had plenty of guys who were willing to introduce me to the pleasures of sex and that I have even had to suppress my own urges when my body’s desires were not aligned with my decision. I want to make it clear that there are women and men who are adult virgins not because we are not desired by the opposite sex, but for reasons that all drive the choice that we have made.”
In the comments section of the article, many virgins, men and women, anonymously write about how they’ve been afraid to share their stories, and don’t like when conversations turn to sex, because they have nothing to add, or are ashamed to talk about it, even when it’s a personal choice.
I believe that no one should be made to feel ashamed for their choice to stay abstinent- it just may not be well- understood. I didn’t know that so many 30-somethings are virgins, by choice or otherwise, but I’ve actually had more than one 30-something friend open up to me about it! If you are a 30-something virgin, don’t be ashamed or feel the need to hide! You don’t need any more pressure added to the already long list of pressures in your thirties. The aforementioned article says it best:
“The Dirty Thirty. It’s an age where your concept of what being old is has changed because you are now at the age you once thought was on the precipice of old. You are finally making strides in your career while your student loan payments are devouring your income. You are getting a grasp on your life goals and have set a plan in motion to achieve them. The idea of becoming a responsible adult begins to set in, and the pressure of settling down becomes a reality. With all of the adulthood responsibilities your thirties bring, a few women have added “maintaining abstinence” to their list.”
I couldn’t find any photos from my college production of Savage In Limbo (sadness- they’re on my old hard drive), but I did find quite the intensely provocative postcard image from a University of Alberta production in 2010.