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Teenagers and virginity: an oxymoron?


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Illustration by Patricia Tompkins
By David Schultz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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"Kids be gettin' freaky!"

That is a basic summary of the recently released study "Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures" by the National Center for Health Statistics. It is "the government's most comprehensive survey of American sexual practices and reproductive health" according to The New York Times , and I must say, it is quite steamy.

However, by far the most shocking aspect of this entire report is that it was analyzed by someone named (I kid you not) Dr. Jennifer Manlove. That's not some sort of made-up porn name; a person who studies sex and is named Dr. Jennifer Manlove actually exists. Seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Aptly named researchers aside, the survey of 12,571 men and women ages 15 to 44 also has some interesting clinical findings.

For example, one-third of all men and women aged 15 to 44 have had more than one sexual partner in the last year. Four percent of men aged 15 to 44 have had anal sex with another man. Most interesting, though, was the finding that more than half of all teenagers aged 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, and a quarter of those have never had intercourse.

Wow. Whatever happened to holding hands? Whatever happened to going to the movies and buying popcorn? Whatever happened to drinking out of a milkshake with two straws while wistfully staring into each other's eyes and violently suppressing the out-of-control urges that haunt your every waking thought?

Essentially, what this survey states is that oral sex has basically become the equivalent of a handshake or a "Hey, nice pants!" in the hallways of America's high schools.

How on earth did this happen? Dr. Manlove (I know, I still can't believe that's actually her name) posits the theory that "these teens who have not had sexual intercourse are engaging in oral sex because they view it as a way to maintain their technical virginity."

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David Schultz
columnist

Let me just clarify this "Manlove Theory" to see if I'm following it correctly: High school girls don't want to have intercourse with high school guys because they still want to be able to call themselves "virgins" so they opt instead to have oral sex. This kind of reasoning is so logically flawed that only a teenager could have thought it up.

Do they actually believe that someone who has had intercourse once is not a virgin but that someone who has had oral sex with 10, 12 or even 37 people is?

If this is the case then it is my sad duty to declare, here and now, the entire concept of virginity to be dead.

Most teenagers don't even consider virginity to be a positive attribute anymore. Oh sure, they want to say that they're virgins so they don't appear to their peers and to themselves as habitual doers of the nasty.

But the "Manlove Theory" proves that teenagers have stopped wanting to put forth the effort necessary to actually be a virgin. (And I use the word "effort" here loosely, seeing that the only way to be a virgin is by not putting forth any effort whatsoever.)

The consequence of this is that everyone wants to say that he or she is a virgin, but no one, neither girls nor boys, actually wants to be a virgin, with the possible exceptions of Steve Carell and the entire Mormon religion.

This need for teenagers to cover up their sexual alliances comes from American society's long, painful history of telling them that sex is something to be ashamed of. But as long as they're having sex in a healthy and appropriate way, both physically and emotionally, there's no need to be ashamed of anything.

However, even in this day and age, teenagers are still unwilling to own up to their own lack of chastity, so they come up with all of these creative little virgin loopholes that allow them to be innocent on account of technicality before the Ninth Circuit Court of Skankitude.

Teenagers need to stop pretending that they actually value their own virginity when everyone - parents, teachers and now even statisticians - knows that they value it about as much as they value their comically squeaky voices or the raging acne on their behinds.

Take it from Manlove: You're not fooling anybody.


David Schultz is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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