What happened to saying no?
Confessions of a St Andrews Virgin: a rebuttal.
As a fellow student of St Andrews, I understand the social meaning behind the word and concept of ‘virginity’ and the role it plays in the construction of gendered norms. The author of Confessions of a St Andrews Virgin looks at such constructions and rightfully criticizes, in her opinion, the stigma that is attached to revealing her sex life, or rather lack thereof. I admire such a stance despite the author choosing to remain anonymous—reinforcing her own criticism of the stigma of revealing one’s own virginity.
The problem that I have with this article lies not in the author’s opinion, but rather in her own accounts of using her virginity as a tool in refusing sex. The article reiterates this by stating: “there seem to be only two ways to make a guy well aware that you’re not going to have sex with him: either say you’re on your period, or say you’re a virgin”.
As I came across such a statement, I must admit that I was taken aback by the author resorting to either saying she is on her period or a virgin in order to tell I guy she didn’t want to or wasn’t ready to sleep with him. What happened to the word no? What happened to saying I don’t want to sleep with you because I don’t want to sleep with you? When did that not become reason in itself? The author’s apparent dependency on saying that she is on her period, or a virgin to dismiss offers of sex, has very big implications relating to gender. The first, being that the men of St Andrews won’t simply take no for answer. Or secondly, that instead of saying “No, I don’t want to sleep with you” she reaffirms her own criticism of virginity—that it is a subject that will surely make guys run away.
It is truly sad that bringing up virginity may indeed cause, as the author states, “looks of annoyance and sometimes even disgust” and guys walking away from her without another word. By using virginity as a means to get out of an offer of sex, she reaffirms its construction of being a ‘thing’ that will scare people away, even as she wishes it didn’t.
I do believe that there is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about being a virgin, and that society and the atmosphere of university does present a certain attitude towards virginity that makes it hard for the topic to not be considered secretive. However, using it as an excuse to ‘make a guy well aware’ that you aren’t going to have sex with him is quite silly in the fact that it relies on the social construction of virginity to scare guys off. A much simpler solution that applies not only to virgins: simply say no if you don’t want to have sex with someone.