lifestyle

Meet television's 20-something virgins.

Meet Shoshanna. She’s like “the least virgin-y virgin ever”.

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.

Joey and Pacey on the night of the high school prom.

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.

Tina Fey talking to David Letterman.

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.

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But I think since the build up to that had been so relationship-oriented, I always kind of felt like the person I finally did have sex with would be built out of a relationship as well. I guess in some ways I am waiting for the right guy, but I wouldn’t say I’m waiting for the right event with that guy (i.e., 5th date or saying ‘I love you’ or anything else). Just for it to feel like the right time with that guy.

Do you feel like it’s a big deal?

Not really. It’s important enough that I’m not seeking it out with just anyone or walking into a bar looking to hook up with someone for the first time and just “get it over with,” but I’m also not holding onto it like a treasure.

Do you know anyone else who’s in a similar situation?

Yes, though funnily enough they’ve lost their virginities very recently. I will say I feel like since people are losing it earlier and earlier, I’m one of the remaining few. But it doesn’t alienate me for the most part.

What’s your experience with men been like until now? Have you had boyfriends?

I’ve had boyfriends, really just one major one in the past few years, and yes we’ve done other stuff. But I don’t date regularly and I haven’t had a serious boyfriend in many years.

If you found the right guy, is it something you’d talk about with him?

I’d like to think so, but I would be very nervous since I do feel like the anomaly. I do worry that it would make a guy very nervous, so in some ways being in a relationship where it won’t be the central focus up front might make it easier. But I also feel like the guy would know/recognize if I didn’t tell him.

Is there any part of you that feels like the longer you leave it, the scarier it becomes?

Abso-friggin-lutely. This is probably the number one issue I have when thinking about it. This lends itself to the “just get it over with” mentality…

How do you feel about the portrayal of 20-something virgins in TV shows and in movies? April Kepner from Grey’s Anatomy and Shoshanna from Girls spring to mind….Do you think they are an accurate representation of reality?

I’m glad they are being portrayed but I REALLY wish they wouldn’t make us look so awkward, like we don’t have social skills. But I do like the idea that someone one day will just become enamored with me and want to do it right there and then…but honestly, I think each of those roles in particular are about 50 per cent truth and 50 per cent awkward TV drama. I appreciate that at least April is represented for some religious reasons which gives her a bit more depth. But I don’t think they are doing us much harm.

What age did you lose your virginity?

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