Still A Virgin?

3 Sep

Saw this ad at the Court House and 23rd and Ely Avenue 7  train station tonight and it made me think about the paradox of sexual expression in this society and who get’s addressed in sanctioning messages.

First of all, as a gendered “woman” I didn’t feel targetted by this ad. There are no obvious markers of gender in this ad at all. There are no references to masculinity and yet my initial reaction was to disregard the ad with the distinct feeling that it was intended toward “men”. Why is that?It seems that “men” are prescribed a different set of social pressures which include expectations about sexual experience whereas “women” are expected to be chaste, virginal. This isn’t to say that “women” don’t feel pressures to have sex, I just think the social policing functions in a different way.

Whereas “men” can be socially berated for being virgins or not having sex “regularly”, to do so to “women” would be considered morally wrong. “Men” are so regularly expected to live up to social quotas of sex, women are rarely publicly (or via the media) pressured in this way. Because I know it’s politically incorrect to put an ad up pressuring a “woman” to have sex, I almost immediately dismiss the ad as intended for another audience.

This topic touches on what I intend to write for my Phd application; about the social mass rape of gendered “men” within American society. My main point being that because masculine identity is so tied to heterosexual vitality, men are socially pressured into having sex not merely for enjoyment but for identity maintenance. That is, a “man” who knowing he can take a “woman” home will likely bring her home, regardless of his current sexual appetite, and ever aware that he “should’nt pass this up”.

Anyway, I came home and went to the site the ad referenced and watched the trailer which reveals that the ad was for a movie about “four guys, one camera and their hilarious experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage: losing your virginity. As these guys help their buddy get laid, they’ll have to survive friends with benefits, internet hookups, even porn stars during an adventure that proves you will always remember your first.”

Here the story is told from the perspective of men. I haven’t seen the movie but based on the trailer and the description, this doesn’t seem to be an account of a woman’s losing her virginity (imagine if the description above was reference four girls…it would probably be a porn) but of “four guys” and their “rite of passage”. But how often is the “rite of passage” concept used for talking about “women” losing their virginity? It seems to me that masculinity is much more attached to this idea of unlocking one’s true potential; awakening one’s realization of the self through the first act of intercourse.

To further evidence this implied tie between social pressure to lose one’s virginity and “men”, look at the tabs on the page: One says “Epic Fails” and the next says “Male Animal”. The page also makes comparisons between this movie and “American Pie”; another film in which a group of men are pressuring each other to lose their virginity. When was the last time we saw a film in which women do the same?

This consideration of gender targeting also made me consider the placement of the ad. This ad was on the subway platform of what is considered one of the most liberal cities in America. Would this ad appear somewhere that is conceptualized as conservative? Would devout Muslim, Christian, Jewish (etc) American women and men feel equally targeted or repulsed by this ad? Would the gender dynamic prevalent in a more secular society endure? And how does this ad fit into context of a society that remains conservative in it’s expressions of sexuality in the media? Is this the mark of a new age of sexual rambunctiousness or yet another example of our struggle as Americans to address the issue of sexual expression?

P.S. Check out the complexion of those in the movie. It’s another “white middle class teens” represent everyone’s experiences movie.


One Response to “Still A Virgin?”


  1. Tweets that mention Still A Virgin? « Constructed Meanings -- - September 3, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nilsa , Kirsten. Kirsten said: Are you still a virgin? […]

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