Is Virgin-Shaming The New Sl*t-Shaming?


Women seem more ashamed of being virgins than they are of being promiscuous, but why should we care?

Lena Dunham and the leading ladies of HBO's Girls give us a more realistic, true-to-life depiction of the two extremes. On one side of the spectrum, there's Jessa who gives us the impression that the last thing she wants is a relationship with any of the men she sleeps with. "If I wanted to go on dates, I would," she says, "but I don't, because they're for lesbians."

On the other side is Shoshanna who admits, "I"ve never had sex, okay? AKA, I'm almost 22 and I'm a virgin. It's like everyone and their mother has had sex except me, and I'm a virgin."

Of course, Marnie fails to reassure Shoshanna when she tells her that "sex is really, really overrated."

"You think I'm a loser," Shoshanna moans.

It doesn't help when Shoshanna's hookup, Matt, tells her that virgins are not really his thing. "I'll totally have sex with you once you've already had sex," he says. "It's just, you know, virgins get attached or they bleed. It's like not gonna happen."           

Lena Dunham superbly dramatizes in Girls what Leslie Bell describes in her article Women In Their 20s Shouldn't Feel Bad About Wanting A Boyfriend as the emotional plight of today's generation of young women. Bell diagnoses it as a painful manifestation of cognitive dissonance. Women are continually torn between the need for their own career, independence and control, and the need for a relationship and vulnerability. They are labelled as either "sl*ts" or "virgins" and there is no middle ground.

What therapists, counselors and relationship coaches can take from this is that young women today — and let's not forget their boyfriends — are in need of emotionally focused therapy that encourages them to get more in touch with their raw emotions, triggered when they feel emotionally deprived or deserted by each other ("sl*t-shaming" and "virgin-shaming").

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