Lolo Jones and the Problem of Public Virginity

by Stacia L. Brown

As part of the press junket for the upcoming Summer Olympics, U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones has been making the interview rounds, discussing her hopes for success in competition, but there’s another topic she’s been discussing a lot of late: her virginity. Jones is 29-years-old, and forgoing sex until marriage. Of course this is admirable, since she’s doing it in part because of her religious convictions. She also pointed to her unmarried parents’ break-up as a contributing factor in her decision.

But in mentioning her very personal choice to the press, Jones has also opened herself to public scrutiny. In a recent The Jane Dough article, writer Laura Donovan took issue with Jones’ comment that abstinence has been the hardest thing she’s done in her life. Donovan asserts:

Griping that it’s so unbelievably difficult to hold off on sex takes away from the message she seems to be trying to send, which is that it is perfectly fine to wait until marriage to have intercourse. Quarterback Tim Tebow has before but never gone on and on about what a struggle it has been to maintain the stigmatized title. He’s five years younger than Jones, who says being a virgin loses its cuteness factor after a person hits 24, so maybe he’ll begin whining soon as well, but complaints from either person won’t inspire others to stay chaste until their wedding night.


Setting aside the judgmental language of “whining” and judging,” Donovan is also being a bit presumptuous here. She assumes Jones is primarily discussing her abstinence in order to compel others to make the same choice. Based on the tenor of the comments she’s made about it so far, she isn’t exactly trying to be the national face of a 2012 True Love Waits campaign (… yet). Her decision seems nuanced and personal — and the latter is what’s most important.

Virginity is a deeply personal choice; everyone’s reasons for preserving it are motivated by different factors. And having to discuss it with the press for cutesy human interest spin or as a detail that distinguishes the virgin from other celebrities can be an odd and alienating thing. The media always treats virginity and celibacy as freakish decisions, made only by religious zealots and the deeply naive. It’s something they seize on at every (increasingly rare) opportunity, making the virgin the butt of headline puns and jokes. Paparazzi scrutinize every celebrity virgin’s relationships and dog them with inquiries about their virginal status (see: Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson). If they don’t continue abstaining, it’s treated as a very public moral failure. If they do and then marry, they cease to be interesting public figures.

It’s a strange and highly problematic phenomenon.

Given the way virginity is manipulated, celebs would do well not to discuss it at all. Why would we need to know whether or not the 29-year-old athlete is sexually active? Is the public’s interest in her intrinsically tied to her sex life? It shouldn’t be. She isn’t an actress or singer who, whether right or wrong, would be expected by the public to trade in sexual identity. And even if she were a singer or actress, couldn’t it be in her best interest to demure about her sex life, publicity-wise? It would lend an air of mystery and intensify speculation. Unless celebrity virgins hope to convert or convince young (or old) fans, their decision doesn’t need to be open to public scrutiny (or ridicule).

Do other virgins need celebrity examples? Does expressing how “difficult” virginity is compromise an abstinence message? Should celebrity virgins feel obligated to tell the public about it, even as it becomes the only–or primary–thing they’re known for?

  • African Mami

    Just be a virgin and SHUT UP! URRRRRRRGH! Same as for those that are sexing, just do and do him good and SHUT UP! Intimacy is between you and your partner(s), not the world in my opinion. If you are trying to promote abstinence, by all means mention your convictions and keep it moving.

    Celebrities BORE me to death. Brit announced her virginity-you know how that went. Jordin Sparks has a purity ring, and is now very iffy about her stance on virginity! JUST SHUTTTTTTT UP,and do you!

  • andryce76

    She’s not worried about public scrutiny
    Jones mentioned she was a virgin because she wants to be famous
    If she hadn’t mentioned it would anybody be talking about her right now?

  • isola

    I sometimes wonder when some older individuals declare themselves a virgin, how much of a virgin they really are. She could keep that to herself. For all I know this girl is engaging in alternative types of sexual activity but because she has not had the type of sex to make babies, she has declared herself a virgin. Virgins don’t need celebrity examples. I was 22 when I lost my virginity with no prior sexual activity beyond groping. I did not need any celebrity example to accomplish that. If you are able to get out of your teens a virgin you have the mental and physical willpower to abstain from sex. If anyone needs celebrity examples it is the young homosexuals struggling with their sexuality. They are up against a lot more pressure.

  • Zaza

    I hate this public virginity stuff, it’s very demeaning to a woman as far as I’m concerned.

    If you’re a virgin, if you’re not, good for you, either way it’s a private matter.
    The minute you’re making a big public statement it is going back to a very patricarchal belief that a woman’s truth ‘worth’ is only ‘preserving’ what’s between her legs.

    I feel sorry for her because rarely with people who take public stances like this are they speaking for themselves, but are revoicing what their parents/church/PR have fed to them and they are building a rod for their own back. As with Britney and Jordin Sparks you then thave to ‘defend’ this stance you made and almost invevitably have a public climbdown/exposure that contradicts it. There will now be a millino people with camera phones waiting to snap her even looking in a guy’s direction, have her dumbass PR prepared her for this??

    There’s nothing wrong with publically professing your Christianity , that however doesn’t mean you need to give the world status updates about your vagina.
    She’ll regret this in a few years when she’s being pestered like Jordin Sparks as to whether she has ‘fallen’ or not. Somethings are not appropriate for PR , it may have capapulted her name to global knowledge but at a tacky, cynical cost.

  • S.

    I don’t see why she has to keep her (non) sex life “to herself”. We don’t ask the same of celebrities who engage in sex and frequently talk about all things related to sex in their songs, interviews, etc,.

    I just think it makes people angry and uncomfortable because it forces them to analyze their own decisions regarding sex and who wants to think about that? People just want to do it without a thought in the world

    However, I don’t see any harm in people questioning her motive for speaking about it so openly and frequently

    I would guess that it’s a huge part of her life. Think about it. She’s famous, attractive, fit and young… sex would be a huge part of any woman of that description’s life if they weren’t practicing celibacy. On Wendy Williams she mentioned that it makes her dating life very hard. My guess is that she’s putting it out there so that men who come up to her already know the deal

    just my guess

  • Sasha

    a) Tim Tebow is awesome!

    b) Lolo Jones is so pretty, she shouldn’t have any issues dating! As for the whole abstinence thing, I admire her for that but don’t think it should be anyone’s busines however if she wants to talk about it then who are we to stop h

  • starr

    So Virgins should keep their sexual choices to themselves in time where everyone is putting their business on front street, and it seems perfectly normal and acceptable. But if your virgin, keep it to yourself.

  • Candy 1

    I agree…

  • Nestafan2

    People should keep their sex lives to themselves altogether. Really, who cares? Whether you’ve had multiple partners, or no partners, that is your business. People can’t judge what they don’t know. Why would someone’s sexual status come up in an interview? Is this all people have to talk about? If she’s a virgin, that’s great. But, again, who cares?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i heard she cannot run in the relay because she refuses to accept the baton……

  •!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    I would like to see her be more positive and outspoken about it. The world is over sexed, it would be nice to have celebs who are virgins promote it. Kids might see it as cool.

  • Stanley

    Here we go again!!!

  • niksmit

    What a momentous occasion. I agree with African Mami. Everyone needs to talk less about their sex lives in the public sphere.

  • edub

    Thank you! You said exactly what I was thinking.

  • I got sense!


  • Congocapanilo

    She has just as much right to express her sexuality publicly as any one else. We accept the way rappers, and other entertainers, go on about their sexual exploits and their sex life. Society embraces other forms of sexual exploitation in photography, advertisement, nudity, film…even when it specifically targets the underage.

    A married couple can be pictured half nude, a pregnant woman naked and so on… on the cover of a major publications and no one has a problem with it. Celebrities can talk about how much sex they have and how good they are in bed with their spouse, and other wise…

    But when someone publicly expresses their virginity, they need to keep it to themselves?

    That makes no sense. You’re not censoring everyone else.

    Society hates the chaste and celibate, yet people of all ages face the spread of HPV, STD, STI and HIV. People are having children they don’t want, that the system can’t and doesn’t adequately (where neglect and abuse is high either way) care for when they end up in foster care. People are ill educated in relationships, the divorce rate is high…

    the root of these issues boils down to sex, liberal sex, misconstrued and deceptive relationships – sex.

    It’s non of our business when any of these ‘celebs’ share any aspect of their personal lives via interview or through their craft, even through how they portray sex on screen…but they do it and it influences society.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the example Jones offers.

  • freebee33

    Well said.

  • edub

    “I just think it makes people angry and uncomfortable because it forces them to analyze their own decisions regarding sex and who wants to think about that?”

    + a million

  • pe.riche.

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Regardless of what someone’s sexual activities (or inactivity) are, I do NOT want to know! Like you said, keep that business between you and your partner. If you’re a virgin, okay. Great for you. But why do people feel the need to shout their personal business from the roof tops? Just keep it quite and go about your life.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    This. The hypocrisy of the so-called “sex-positive” gang astounds me.

  • freebee33

    This right here, tell them Congocapanilo! lol

  • CurlySue

    Lol, I see what you did there.

  • Merci

    Thank You!

  • itsok

    She has done a good thing as it isnt easy being a virgin to that age. this will tell other girls those that have had sex and those that havnt that yes it is something that can be done and you are not alone. Many people think that you cant abstain. This maybe a source of encouragment for someone. By saying that it isnt easy may help other women not feel guilty for struggling wit it, particularly religious women.

  • Arcy

    Yes, yes and yes!

  • Zaza

    I definitely see the point people are making that why should virgins keep quiet when sexually active people celebs are shouting about their lifestyles. Fair point and I agree society is sex-saturated and virgins/celibate people are crowded out /looked at as strange and this is wrong.

    However I’m coming from the perspective of a very private person lol, I don’t even do the stating whether I’m ‘single’ or ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook as I figure the people that care and I want to know, already know that stuff, and I don’t need to be making public announcements to classmates/aquaintances etc.

    I don’t get needing to inform the world that you’re a virgin, as much as I don’t get celebs telling magazines about ‘their favorite sex positions’ and whatever.

    But that’s just me, others are very comfortable with this ‘share everything’ culture.

  • apple

    who is that naked man in your icon O_O

  • Roberta

    Hit the nail on the head. To me, she can give encouragement to others who choose this for themselves.

  • stellaxo

    couldn’t have said it better!!!!

  • Perspective

    LMBAO –

    Well that’s one light skin chick black women don’t have to worry about stealing their black men…

    LOL – I’m sorry, I’m sorry (tears)

    I’m so wrong for that one.

  • NoitAll

    @starr Yaaaaaassssss! There’s too much talk about what’s going on between everybody’s legs. Keep that ish to yourself. I don’t want to hear it from LoLo Jones, and I certainly don’t want to hear it from Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and the like. I’m not being contradictory. I think they all should SHUT UP!!!

  • Nadell

    Lollipop – Lil Wayne
    MAGIC S___ – LIL KIM
    I CAN TELL- 504 BOYZ
    How Many Licks – Lil Kim
    P Poppin’ – Ludacris
    Dirty P – Jacki-O
    Case – Sex Games
    112 – U Already Know
    Tipdrill – Nelly
    U A Freak (Nasty Girl) – Chingy


  • edub

    LOL! You are cuttin’ up before noon!

  • kidole

    I don’t see why she shouldn’t discuss her virginity. Anyone who has tried to maintain their virginity in this overly-sexed society always feels like “everyone else is doing it!” So if a beautiful and successful woman comes forward and is open about her journey, imagine how many young virgins and those who are celibate will be inspired?! Society stays promoting being a freak, etc so why not advocate for balance??

  • Laugh

    There’s nothing wrong with professing she’s a virgin! Good for her! God forbid, we have a gorgeous woman with a beautiful body, let our young women know hey you can be fly and not give it up to every loser that crosses your path. We need more people like her. Everywhere you look our society is talking sex sex sex and how to have more of it. But a virgin dares to open her mouth and she needs to shut up? The only difference with her and the TEENAGERS who profess they are virgins is that those little girls are singers and if their managers see fit that they can sell a few more records by having a certain image then that’s what they’ll do! This is a grown woman who is committed to her beliefs. And how dare that pathetic writer compare her to Tebow?! Oh all he does is right but this gorgeous woman has a nerve to say its a hard choice, how dare she speak the truth, please.

  • Alisha

    If she chooses to talk about her virginity, I don’t see a problem with that. I hate that it has to be the main focus given her talent though. Now, she’s Lolo Jones, “the virgin.” Why is it still a big deal that virgins exist at a certain age? People have a right to have a sex life or not and not be judged or scrutinized for it. Also, Lolo saying maintaining her virginity is hard isn’t a big deal. It’s real, and I can’t see how it would deter virgins because they already know how difficult it can be, if it’s difficult for them at all.

    Good story.

  • African Mami

    @ niksmit,

    Hi. What is momentous?! Agreeing with me?! LOOOOL. I’ve never seen you disagree or agree, you should comment if you are disagreeing oo!!! I love banter, esp. the kray kind

    *waving*——>and still praying!!! :) It’s only in America. Who you are not fugging is personal,not mass consumption. I sho, hope I got the right person, if not just ignore the wave and the prayers.

    @ apple
    Girrrrrl, I ain’t know. All I know is that he could get iiiiiiiit!!!!! And I’d announce to the world.

  • realitycheck

    Funny how that has absolutely nothing to do with this topic.
    IR obsessed people can apply IR to anything !

  • Ladyt


  • Ladyt

    Is she kin to Quincy Jones? She look just like his daughter.

  • edub

    I really think it was a joke!!! Lighten up!

  • kidole

    I was thinking the same thing!

  • SassyFrassy

    I’d also like to point out, though, she’s not alone. And her example is not just an inspiration to young girls to keep their virginities, but to women her age and older who have been shamed about their (lack of) sexual choices. Everyone just assumes that everyone else is sexually active, so it’s nice to have someone break out of that marginalization.

  • Glow

    Totally agree!!!!

  • grateful

    yeah right!

    ya’ll are very quiet when the Jill Scotts of the world are talking about their sex lives!


  • grateful


  • Elle

    Completely agree. She’s a role model.

  • African Mami

    Abeg, I HATE anything jill scott! So I ain’t know who you talking to!

    Dude, if you feel like bungee jumping and declaring your virginity, go right ahead.

  • Isis

    She’s pretty. She’ll be able to find a man that will wait for her.

  • Chic Noir

    I hope Lolo has a better Olympics this time around. I swear I hate the 100 meter and 110 meter hurdle races. They are the worse, real nail bitters. One hurdle and you’re out.

  • Chic Noir

    Lolo must have a freak gene if she thinks maintaining her virginity is harder than the training she does for the 100 meter hurdles. No way in hell can I believe that statement.

  • Anne

    Wow, so are you saying that if she weren’t pretty she wouldn’t be able to find a man to wait for her? Way to sidetrack from what this post is really about.

  • cocochanel31

    I was curious to know why she thought we cared as well. Whatever her reasons are, they are her reasons and it is not my business or anyone else’s what she does or doesn’t do behind closed doors. I’m assuming that perhaps she is endorsing some abstinence campaign, otherwise I don’t know why she shared. Is she even that well known like a Tim Tebow.

    Adn the author of that article was an idito to say she should not have said it was “hard”. Why should’t she ..she was keeping it real! Alot of times people preach about what not to do or why they don’t do something but are never truly transparent . I think it’s great she is admitting that is is difficult, however, she is standing by her convictions. It’s called being a human being.

  • Annaleisha

    I so agree darling!

  • Annaleisha

    That comment was posted in the WRONG place.

  • Annaleisha

    I so agree with you!

  • Annaleisha

    I second every word!

  • grateful


  • Glow

    Co-sign this to the 1,000th power!

  • E.M.S.

    In our culture, no matter what you choose for your sex life as woman, it’s wrong. Virgin? You’re a prude. Sexually active? You’re a slut. There’s no winning.

    I respect personal decisions about sex either way, but unfortunately the media does not. It probably is difficult for her to stay true to her beliefs with the way society views virginity, so she has a right to say that. Maybe te media is just uncomfortable with the fact someone is challenging convictions so regularly.

  • au napptural

    I really don’t know why anyone feel they need to announce what’s happening or not in their bedroom. That’s creepy. I could understand if it was like that last Olympic shoot for Maxim where they ask you outright what you are doing sexually, but I don’t get how asking about training led to her saying “I’m a virgin”. Some people are a lil too hyped to announce it. Creepy.

  • chanela

    right! people have no problem with damn near porn shows like True blood and Spartacus (those shows are WAYYY TMI) but get mad that this lady is a virgin. WOW!

  • lulu

    ita.. there are so many songs about sex- i invented sex, graphic songs about sex, detailed songs about sex but the time some one says GASP- i’m not having sex– oh no who are they- they need to shut up – dont talk about that-the world is twisted and reversed

  • Isis

    What Im saying is when it comes to dating/relationships being pretty goes a long way for Women And what they can command/demand from men. Take that anyway u like

  • chanela

    RIGHT! just look at the movie easy A. emma stone’s character was ridiculed and bullied and called a slut because she had supposedly lost her virginity. she was called a damn slut for THAT!(she lied about it anyways) but then they made fun of the male characters for being virgins.. who the hell do they think the virgin guys would be having sex with? men don’t have sex with themselves!

  • Steamer

    You’re so right. It is a catch 22, especially if you’re unmarried. And it’s such a blanketed statement that someone would judge you for.

    Honestly, my friends and I kept our virginities through college, but there were different circumstances to how and when we ended up “losing it” and that’s what was “hard” about remaining one. We experienced first love, flings, and a rape. Does that mean that being a certain age changes our values and self-respect because we no longer have the label of “virgin?”

  • Paula

    Okay au napptural thats a total double standard. Everyone talks about sex. Sex is used to sell everything. So why is it “creepy” when someone talks about not having any. The point is that sex is mentioned! Thats what we all love to hear about! SEX!

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    *le sigh* If a woman is unwed and sexually active, then she’s a slut/whore/everything but a child of God. If she’s a virgin, she a prude/holier-than-thou b*tch/lost woman still shackled by a rigid paternalistic society.

    No wonder I prefer the celebrities who keep their love lives super-secret. It’s really none of our business what they do or do not do in their bedrooms.

  • Laina

    I do not understand the comment made by Laura Donovan. Why is it hard to understand that someone finds it difficult to remain a virgin? It is not like they are abstaining from eating poison. From a basic physical perspective, it is a pleasurable act they are forgoing. There are men that will marry a virgin. But I venture to say many of those men are not virgins and are also having sex with someone else while dating a virgin. I I were a virgin, I do not think I would find that kind of man a great prize.

  • Val

    Lolo ought to give me a call. We can move to Canada and get married. ;-)

    Yeah, yeah, I know, same-gender marriage is legal in a few States but why not live in a country that gives you equal rights everywhere in the country.

  • joe

    Lolo is gay. Her religion prevents her from understanding it.

  • Val

    @Joe and Stacia

    “Why would we need to know whether or not the 29-year-old athlete is sexually active?”

    Because of people like Joe, Lolo is probably afraid that her chasteness will be seen by many as her being a closeted lesbian. So rather than have that happen, which unfortunately could impact her ability to earn money, she announces her virginity to the world. It’s unfortunate that she has to fear being “accused” of being a lesbian. But these days if celebs aren’t seen out and about with someone of the opposite sex (on a regular basis) there is speculation about their sexuality.

  • AustralianGirl

    Yes, Isis i agree 100%.

    Its not politicallly correct, but its true.

    Although, more homely girls can also wait, and the man who loves them will wait if he really loves her.

    Weeds out the sleazebags.

  • AustralianGirl

    ‘status updates about your vagina’….. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

  • Congocapanilo

    ++++++++++++”However, I don’t see any harm in people questioning her motive for speaking about it so openly and frequently”+++++++++++

    This, too!

    Yeah, she paints a nice picture, because we REALLY don’t know whether or not she’s a virgin, but the idea is nice. However, why is she even painting this picture to begin with? Is it to encourage other women/girls, to compensate for something, or does she intend to sell something other than the idea of virginity, but is using it to ‘hook us in’.

    And that goes for anything any celebrity puts ‘out there’ for use to know, especially when the public isn’t even asking.

  • Congocapanilo

    Lol. How may ‘Joneses’ could she possibly be related to. I thought she was related to Marion Jones since she’s a track athlete. I figured it must be in the genes. Isn’t she and Marion Jones both from California?

    And, is Marion Jones related to Quincy Jones?


  • Congocapanilo

    “Isn’t she and Marion Jones both from California?”

    Should be:

    *Aren’t she and Marion Jones both from California?

  • Riva

    It didn’t seem like a human interest spin. It seemed as though she willingly gave up the information. She didn’t even sound like she was talking to a reporter, just a whole friend. That says a lot about her as a person. I admire her courage. I hope she finds someone who loves her qualities and will wait for her.

  • au napptural

    Actually, it’s not a double standard. I don’t want to hear Rhianna and company talking about the freaky stuff they do either. Sex is private. Do what you do and hush.

  • shawn

    What is the real issue here, the fact that Lolo chooses
    To stay off her back until marriage? Or the fact that those who take issue with her decision, regret not following suit? Mr thinks somebody protests too much….

  • Congocapanilo

    re: @Isis “What Im saying is when it comes to dating/relationships being pretty goes a long way for Women And what they can command/demand from men. Take that anyway u like”

    Exactly. Looks go a long way. She could be the biggest whore and a man would still marry her.

  • pe.riche.

    @Afrian Mami *waves back* It’s me! Lolz. You have no idea how appreciative and grateful I am for your kind words and prayers! I am sending love and peace, and pray that you have a multitude of blessings unfold in your life.

  • African Mami

    @ pe. riche

    *yohoooooo over hurr*!!! Nice. Thank you, I receive those blessings, that are needed right NOW and lock them with the mighty blood of the Lamb and the fire of the Holy Spirit Amen!!!

  • Gam

    Clap Clap*

    Said All, I could have said.

    Some people need to know that not everyone is having sex!

  • Tami

    I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with Lolo saying that she is a virgin. I actually think it’s wonderful & its something that young people need to hear. All the media talks about is who is doing it with who. You can’t avoid it. So, for a young woman mentioning that she is trying to wait on marriage before indulging, I say ‘cheers’ to her. And I think maintaining her virginity is a hard thing to do since she has to deny her sexual feelings.

  • Insight

    This is so true, my freshman year in college everyone was an “expert” but me and my friend. My friend made it known to all of us that she was a virgin and they constantly made fun of her for it. I lied (about having sex) just to fit in until I did it and regretted it immediately. Now 7 years later she is still a virgin. I’m not saying I would have abstained until marriage, I just wish I waited until I was in love for it to mean something (my first time blew so bad…apparently it was his first time too….it was more like a science project gone wrong… embarrasing/horrible).

    I dont think I would have felt that way (or feel pressured to fit in) if I knew that celebrities like her (and other girls who were also lying) are (were) just like me.

  • maemay

    If we can listen to a woman autotune about getting her cake ate by the man who beat her beat her UP, UP, UP…then we can listen to people who refrain from sex.

  • Jen

    @ chic noir. I agree. I ran track in college. what the hell is she talking about? I for one could care less about her precious virginity. her abstinence maybe the very reason why she can’t find someone. most men nowadays prefer to spend time with women who are sexually available….like it or not, right or wrong I’m only stating the obvious. besides my intuition tells me that the olympian isn’t into men at all…before you attack me, I will concede the fact that maybe I was prejudiced by her demeanor and posture which appeared to me to be a bit masculine. nothing wrong with that at all….just an observation.

  • Kristina Tramel

    I agree.And I don’t understand the fact that just because someone is a virgin all of the sudden people see a halo over their head. That doesn’t make them any better than someone that isn’t.

    And unless I asked(which is rarely) about someone’s sex life I really don’t care what they are or not.


    Thank you! Between the music/videos/commercials that hype up sex, all day everyday, I’m glad she came out and said, “I’m a virgin and I’m waiting until I’m married” She made a girl somewhere proud to say that she is too, and let her know that she’s not alone. I say good for her. I dunno why ppl are all up in arms about it.

  • Guest

    Laughing my black ass off!! i hate when it comes on the radio and my mother is in the car-keep your cake-eating to yourself.

  • Rastaman

    Lolo Jones virginity: much ado about nothing.

  • Maximo Strole

    I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

  • thgirbla

    Does ANYONE here really have a LIFE ???

  • Joe 12-Pack

    Lolo, will you marry me?

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