By LUCY ORMONDE
Turn on the television to watch a few episodes of your favourite drama and you’d be forgiven for thinking every 20-something woman is a virgin.
Think Shoshanna from Girls, Sophia Swanson from Underemployed and April Kepner from Grey’s Anatomy.
The reasons for their virginal status as well as the way they hold their cards are mixed. For 28-year-old April Kepner it’s religion. For 20-something Shoshanna Shapiro it’s nothing more than missed opportunity. For others it’s an active decision to wait.
The fact that these characters are being written into scripts is interesting – it’s something we’ve never really seen on TV before. While the TV characters of the noughties and nineties were learning their way around a bloke’s body in their mid teens, it seems something is changing.
And according to this article from The Daily Beast, it’s a change that’s not confined to the land of TV.
It used to be that a television character losing her virginity wasn’t all that different from the way most girls thought it would go down in real life: The attractive high-school or college-age protagonist finds a compatible mate, and after a few months of back-and-forth and some overanalysis from friends, family, and fans, she waits for a sweeps month to decide that—just like Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) on prom night on Beverly Hills, 90210 or Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) on a senior ski trip on Dawson’s Creek—now would be a good time to have her first consummation.
And despite what the media may have led us to believe, the idea of a 20-something virgin isn’t that far off from real life. An October 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that the percentage of teenagers having sex has actually gone down since the late 1980s, remaining at roughly 47 percent since 2001.
It can also make for interesting characters, both real and fictional.
When it comes to the popping of cherries, fourteen is generally seen as young and 16 to 18 is viewed as “normal”. Anywhere thereafter is an explanation.
Because pop culture would previously have had you assume that it’s normal for most people to lose their virginity in their teenage years; anyone over the age of 20 is “old”.
What these TV shows are doing is making the point that being in your 20s and a virgin is not so uncommon after all.
Take Tina Fey as an example. She didn’t lose hers until she was 24.
In an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman a few years ago, Fey admitted she “couldn’t give it away” until she was well into her twenties.
In her own words, she was an “old virgin”.
But she’s not the only one. Coldplay’s Chris Martin didn’t lose his until he was 22. Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima was 27. Actress Brooke Shields was also 22.
I also have a friend who falls into this category. She’s 25 and still proudly holding her V-cards. She doesn’t see her situation as unusual and she’s not smug – but she also doesn’t freely offer the fact for fear of judgement.
And for that reason, I had to beg her to do this interview with me. (Anonymously, of course).
I guess the big question is why? Is it religious reasons? Are you waiting for the right guy?
Definitely not religious reasons, at least for me. Though I understand those for whom that is the reason. I guess I’ve never particularly been a very forward kind of girl, so I’ve thought that the situation would have presented itself if it felt right. I thought it was going to happen with my college boyfriend and then we broke up right before it did.