I have a confession to make—nay, a declaration. After nearly two decades of a self-imposed drought, I finally got some real action. I....came into my womanhood, if you will. Now before you stamp me a “goody-two-shoes” and dismiss me snidely for being a late bloomer, allow me to address some things straightaway. I am by no means uncomfortable with sexuality. I stumbled upon "Skinemax" when I was 12 (gasp! Cable is wonderf—er, evil) and I knew the parts of myself long before I was taught the technical names.
My rationale for waiting was not rooted in any deep-seated fears or aversions to the act itself. I simply had not met a man with whom I deemed worthy enough to share that intimacy. Growing up, my mother (about as old-school as Mrs. Butterworth) always told me to never lie down with a man that I could not see myself marrying. For all of her harping on me while I was under her roof, that one sentiment permanently lodged itself in the folds of my cerebrum. And it is perhaps the wisest advice she ever relayed to me. It’s not so much that she was shoving abstinence down my throat as she was trying to safeguard me from giving away parts of myself to undeserving suitors. And I love her for showing me the importance of respecting my body enough to not let any and everybody enter it.
That is not to say that my choice to wait was easy. Throughout high school and partly through college, I was berated for my decision and shunned as a prude. Real dates (as in, dinner and movie—or even just dinner) were hard to come by outside of the few committed relationships I engaged in, all of which ended prematurely. I was strongly considering pulling a permanent Sister Act and just parlaying with nuns for the rest of my days. Still, I stuck to my resolve despite nightmarish fantasies of me in an unflattering habit.
Little did I know how the constellations would rearrange in my favor, setting a summer romance on the horizon. My current boyfriend, whom I befriended senior year of high school and reconnected with last summer, could not have been more patient and loving. It was his compassion and endurance that finally tore down my walls—metaphorically speaking, of course. Through him, I was able to experience a more profound intimacy that was beyond physical.
Simply put, I am grateful that I waited and was able to share my experience with someone I was already in love with. I feel that the base of security around which our relationship was built has only been fortified—rather than compromised—by the experience.
Now, why do I say all of this? I'm not looking to scorn those who didn't wait for love to have sex, nor am I trying to critique people who enjoy a casual romp. Rather, I'm defending something that our culture often disparages as prudish and laughable: Waiting.
Mass media tends to shun the practices of abstinence and celibacy. Per the old adage in Hollywood, “sex sells”. Accordingly, shows like The Virgin Diaries market the story lines of abstinent couples not for the purposes of lauding their behavior but for audience entertainment. As Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business & Culture for the Media Research Center, told Fox, it "plays a profound moral choice for laughs".
Disgusting. This is the reason that many younger people choose to jump head first (pun intended) into sexual activity before they are ready. Our cultural resources, including film and television, are so inundated with sex that those who abstain from such practices are considered anomalous, odd, "other". But why? What makes their decision to abstain any less valid than that of someone who goes Goldilocking in every bed?
The answer? Nothing. I can only hope our culture is mature enough to disseminate that message to youth one day.