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?

95 Comments

  1. 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!

    • niksmit

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

    • 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.

    • apple

      who is that naked man in your icon O_O

    • @ 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

      @pe.riche.
      *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.

    • grateful

      yeah right!

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

      hypocrites!

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • @ 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!!!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

    • Annaleisha

      I so agree darling!

    • Annaleisha

      That comment was posted in the WRONG place.

  4. 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.

    • AustralianGirl

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

    • 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 doing..virgin or not.

  5. 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

    • Candy 1

      I agree…

    • I got sense!

      +2

    • freebee33

      Well said.

    • “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

    • cupcakes and shiraz

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

    • Merci

      Thank You!

    • Yes, yes and yes!

    • stellaxo

      couldn’t have said it better!!!!

    • Ladyt

      AMEN!

    • Totally agree!!!!

    • Annaleisha

      I so agree with you!

    • grateful

      yessssss!

    • 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

    • ++++++++++++”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.

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