We’ve all seen one of those movies.

That dorky, young man comes on screen, stutters around the girls and is eventually is made a “real” man by a woman’s touch. The virgin: he’s just the latest in a long line of Hollywood stock characters. We pity him due to his inexperience and cheer him on when he’s sealed the deal.

In recent years, “slut-shaming” has become a buzzword. Individuals who deviate from traditional gender expectations are shamed ― for requesting birth control, engaging in premarital sex or as victims of rape or sexual assault. Discourses have emerged that recognize slut-shaming as a heinous practice that needs to be abolished.

But there’s another side to this coin. As gender expectations have shifted in our society, a new shaming process surrounding sexual activity is on the rise: virgin-shaming.

In some circles, the virgin is treated as a unicorn of sorts. Often the rational is that there must be something wrong with them. They must be undesirable, unwanted or just plain weird. The male virgin just isn’t a “real” man, while the female virgin must be some sort of sheltered religious nut.

We’re pressured into believing that maturity, liberation and self-knowledge are somehow only obtainable through experience in sexcapades ― that somehow without these things, we don’t truly know ourselves.

I have numerous friends who’ve “lost it” to strangers in unsafe and uncomfortable circumstances just to “get it over with.” Safety aside, something so inherently personal should never be the result of pressure, guilt or feeling ashamed of inexperience.

There are so many reasons why people choose abstinence: they’re waiting for marriage, they want it to be special, they identify as asexual, etc. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to shaming, the reason is irrelevant. These misconceptions need to be shed and we should strive to make social environments safer and more inclusive.

I think that it’s about time we stopped shaming people who take a different sexual course than ourselves.

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