What’s Sex Got to do With… Cherries?

In a world where we are trying to question social institutions and not let ourselves be limited by stereotypes, are we really going to let ourselves be defined by our virgin status?

Michael Foucault traces a history of sexuality in his research that serves to analyze the ideas of performance and performativity. Performance and Performativity refer to the modern act of defining actions and using them to group people into categories. In other words it is a form of discrimination. We are used to seeing this in terms of race and even religion but now a new category of virgin verse non-virgin has come to be.

In today’s age as pre-marital sex is becoming more and more casual, sex has adopted names such as “popping one’s cherry” and “doing the nasty”. Sex has become so casual that even the term “doing it” has come to be slang for having sex.

With all the hype surrounding ones first time having intercourse, it begins to be seen as a social barrier much like race, gender, and age. The Buzzfeed video entitled “College Virgin Whisper Confessions” depicts several college students who anonymously disclose that they have never had sex and are embarrassed about it.

 

One girl even says, “I’ve never had sex before. When my friends make assumptions, I agree with them. I’m the sluttiest virgin in college.” This connotes that one is looked down upon if they have not had sex by the time they are in college, so students feel the need to lie about it. It has become a very defining term and created a new identity for people to identify with. No one wants to be the last virgin and no one wants to feel left out. Part of the trend of having sex is being in this elite circle of people that know what you feel like and can relate to stories you tell. At my high school in California, sex was very open and girls were losing their virginities as babies at age 14. If you had sex you were automatically considered cooler than those that haven’t. Those “prudes” that haven’t had sex yet were never in on the loop because they “wouldn’t understand”: Sex was built up to be this huge defining moment and even movies and commercials played it out to be life changing. These include:

 

 

super bowl commercials

 

 

the film American Pie

 

 

and even Disney’s Hannah Montana

 

 

For those that haven’t had sex, losing one’s virginity was seen as something magical, much like a first kiss is portrayed to a kissing virgin. I remember after my first kiss, I was disappointed because there was no music or fireworks as seen in Hannah Montana’s first kiss with Jake in the link above. It’s the same way with losing ones virginity; it isn’t as big of a deal as it is made out to be.

The documentary Let’s Talk about Sex shows America as a country that uses sex to sell products and is virtually everywhere, but is also an act that is taboo to talk about. Sex shouldn’t be taboo, but it doesn’t need to be fantasized and overdone. I also don’t understand the need to identify with the category of whether one is a virgin or not. Similarly with race, it doesn’t change anything about the person. Because sex is controversial and taboo to talk about, I feel like it is a subject that is focused on a lot simply because it is “forbidden”. So my question is, why do we feel the need to categorize people based on their sex status when we are working towards a world that is accepting of it all?

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4 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to do With… Cherries?

  1. twadhawan I totally agree. Many times I’ve had friends say they’ve met a new guy and one of the first questions my friends ask (I’m guilty of this myself) is “Is he a virgin?” I’m ashamed that before I ask about his personality or interests I am curious about his sex status, especially if he is going to be involved with my friend. I am not sure why this categorization has become so common amongst our generation. I also wonder why there is such a stigma attached to losing your virginity before college. For some reason teenagers have this impenetrable image in their mind that college is some big orgy that you must be well-prepared for, even though that’s not the case. Perhaps this is because of the way “college” is portrayed in the media. For example, Asher Roth’s popular song “I Love College” has lines such as “And dont have sex if shes too gone/When it comes to condoms, put two on (trust me)” or “I danced my ass off and had this one girl completely naked” which only further feeds this negative stigma. At a young age children are given the wrong idea about college which is what ultimately leads to these misbelief that “no one is a virgin when they go to college.” It is a cycle and until college is advertised more as an institution for learning rather than “sexing” it will continue to mislead prospective teenagers. I wonder if college has always had this sexual notion attached to it or if this is a recent change?

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  2. In one of our previous readings, the concept of a good girl/bad girl was addressed. The concept of losing one’s virginity was seen as a negative or bad thing. Its interesting to see that in college that losing your virginity qualifies you as a cooler or more “normal” of a person. Additionally as the comment states above, I ask the sexual status of a person sooner than I might ask about their personality or defining qualities. This is a social norm that most college students seem to accept. I don’t entirely understand the importance, but I would never think twice if someone asked me if I were a virgin or not. Would most people agree?

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  3. I agree. I am guilty of asking about a guy’s sexual status before asking about his personality as well. I think high school creates sex as a social norm. At least in my high school, it seemed like everyone that was my age was sexually active, even the people that you would have never guessed.
    I think many people question others’ sexual status to determine a level of popularity. Unfortunately, I think the two go hand in hand in high school because it is a time where many people do things to fit in rather than what is best for them. Girls think that they found the guy they’re going to spend the rest of their lives with, get caught up in older boys, or maybe they watch all of these love stories and they just want to feel wanted.
    Every late night talk involving a bunch of girls ends up talking about boys and sex. It seems like such a big deal when they come to you and say that they’ve lost their virginity. I think it’s more accepted in high school if you have lost your virginity because it seems like everyone is doing it and everyone is talking about it, but by the time you get to college it isn’t a big deal at all because there are so many people that nobody really knows until it comes time to talk about it with a significant other or maybe just a hook-up.

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  4. I remember reading Laura Carpenter’s Virginity Lost in the first WGS class I took, and she excellently describes the three most common virginity metaphors in today’s society: virginity as a gift, a stigma, or a step in the process of growing up. Those are the most normative ways to conceptualize virginity. Via the media, culture, peers, etc., we have turned virginity into this tangible concept that holds a lot of significance. What’s up with that? When we define virginity and the virginity experience, we are normalizing and fixating an aspect of sexuality, effectively going against what sexuality really is—individual, self defined, diverse, and on a broad spectrum.

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