A good friend brought this up one time and started such an interesting discussion that it still sticks with me. I think about it from time to time, and I see it over and over again in my story.
The virgin myth is the theme of that innocent young girl, usually a virgin that gets swept up by a man, usually experienced. (Does this theme ever show up in lesbian writings? *makes a note to give that a try*) I’ve seen this in Disney movies like Tangled and the Frog and the Princess, and even Sleeping Beauty to a degree, though we don’t get much into the prince on that one it’s more symbolic because she’s been sleeping and he’s out adventuring.
Well this got us all thinking. Did men really prefer virgins over experienced women? (We didn’t think so, though some of us asked our male partners.) What about an experienced woman faced with a man who was a virgin?
After thinking about it, I could only explain what I was thinking and why it showed up so much in my own writings. Surprisingly, it wasn’t really about the sex.
It’s about growing up and becoming part of the adult world. So I guess it is a little bit about sex. But it’s also about not belonging, and having someone stop to show you the way.
In my own life, growing up has been difficult. I’ve always been painfully shy (or uhm, well I used to be at least), and I suffered a bout of self esteem so low that I couldn’t look at myself in mirrors for a long time. All around me I watched others being a part of life so easily. They just slipped into adulthood, made friends, fell in love, fell out of love, and before they realized it they were adults.
I’m not meaning to suggest that I somehow had it harder than everyone else or that growing up is easy. I always end up explaining this bit poorly, so people go, “Oh it’s like that for everyone.” No, what I mean to say is that I knew I felt about it differently from others, and I knew that I was going about growing up differently from others. It was neither harder nor easier, it was just different, and I was fully aware of the fact that it was different.
It was very much like standing outside and looking in. A lot of people say that, so I know a lot of people understand, but even knowing there are others who feel the same and understand, you still feel like an outsider.
And in real life, if we’re going to talk about the sex, I didn’t get my first kiss until I was 24.
So as I see it, the virgin myth is about someone who is already a part of this world that feels out of reach stopping, noticing that person who stands on the side watching everyone move around them, and then helping them ease on in. It doesn’t always have to change the person who becomes part of that world, and in fact, most often a part of this “myth” is that the experienced partner falls in love with the less experienced partner for who they are, even loving them because they don’t know how to become part of that world.
I make no apologies, least of all for this reoccuring myth that will weave itself into my stories as I go along. It’s part of the fabric that makes me who I am and makes my stories what they are. I refuse to fight it.