Is being a virgin in your 20′s harder than being an Olympic athlete?
June 1, 2012 Leave a comment
According to hurdler, Lolo Jones it sure is. I actually caught a bit of her recent interview on HBO’s Real Sports, so was quite intrigued to see these rather potent response from Slate’s Emily Shire:
However, Jones also ascribes an irksomely large value to virginity. In the Real Sportsinterview, she said maintaining her sexual purity is “the hardest thing I’ve ever done inmy life. It’s harder than training for the Olympics.” For those who don’t know Jones’ remarkable racing history, she is essentially claiming that not having sex is more difficult than training to run 60-meter hurdles in under eight seconds flat; not only is that hyperbolic, but it insults the willpower, strength, and commitment Jones devotes to her sport—or any personal endeavor other than abstinence. Jones places virginity on such an impossibly high pedestal that even the greatest athletic event in the world could not compare with (marital) sex. It is completely understandable that Jones wants to combat the “uncoolness” associated with being a nonsexually active adult, but feeding into a mythical cult of virginity does not help matters. Rewarding chastity only serves to shift rather than resist the flak associated with adult abstinence.
That Jones makes her virginity into a prize is also problematic because it is not ultimately even a decision for herself. Jones stated during the interview that “It’s just a gift I wantto give my husband.” Really, something that supposedly involves more work and discipline than making the Olympics is for some person you haven’t even met yet? While Jones’ faith in her future spouse is admirable (especially for someone who has braved the online dating world) it’s disheartening that her choice to remain a virgin is not for her own sake, but someone else’s. If virginity is commodified into the “perfect gift,” it becomes about a woman pleasing a man rather than herself, and it is difficult to picture the determined and forceful Jones being that submissive in any other aspect of her life.
You go, girl! Shire, that is. I’m no expert on the cult of virginity, but I’m nonetheless fairly confident in concluding that is very much about a patriarchal system in which men “own” women’s sexuality. That’s not at all to argue that sexual promiscuity is a good thing, but I think Jones’ attitudes about viriginity to reflect an outmoded way of thinking which devalues women’s autonomy.