So when I read that MTV was planning to do a reality TV show about a group of 18-25 year old virgins, I about flipped. Totally unexpected.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the still untitled one hour reality show is going to follow the lives of a group of virgins. Instead of the usual party like a rock star people typically featured on MTV shows (think Spring Break!), this cast will grapple with their commitment to abstinence, their sexually active friends, parental talks about sex and their own struggles and temptations in our sexually saturated culture. The outcomes for each cast member can’t be predicted, but supposedly will not be shown if virginity is lost.
So why am I skeptical?
I don’t trust MTV to do justice to the subject of abstinence and virginity.
Here is why: It’s like asking a democrat to document the thoughts of a republican.
Do the writers, directors, producers or editors have anyone to consult with who might be sympathetic to a young person who wants keep his or her virginity until marriage? If they do, it would help.
So far, on most TV shows with virgin characters, they are portrayed as sexually repressed, radically fundamentalist, and just plain weird. Generally speaking, the characters don’t represent people I know, especially the Christian characters. Usually, Christian beliefs are mocked, their positions outdated, and their thinking presented as distorted. So if the producers were to hire scriptwriters to reflect Christian or abstinence views accurately, it would be a step in the right direction.
Now, the fact that this show on MTV will be “real” life may make it more authentic, but we all know how “real” reality TV shows tend to be. They are scripted and highly edited. Editors, producers, directors can make the sacred look foolish, commitment look like a phobia, and respecting one’s body, a disorder. In the “everyone is doing it” era, virgins are targets of teasing.
So, if you ask me if this journey into the minds and hearts of STI-free (Sexually Transmitted Infection) people will be unbiased? I seriously doubt it. But I can always hope.
I’ve only seen the virgin position respected in churches, not pop culture. And despite the lip service offered to abstinence approaches in the schools, educators do not expect anyone to really be a virgin. Most often, they begin their educational efforts with the expectation that no one can really resist. And when you look at media programming, it appears that no one really does. Even the “Christian” characters eventually give in to carnal desires, as in Grey’s Anatomy.
A few years ago, I sent one of my clients to an OB/GN for a gynecological problem. The physician actually called me thinking I was pranking him. He told me he had a good laugh with the patient’s story of being a 30-year-old virgin. I wasn’t amused. I told him this was no prank. The woman was serious about her religious conviction to wait until marriage to have sex. She was still single and still waiting…and by the way, dating a guy with a similar convictions. The reason she was seeing me was because her family thought something was wrong with her because she wasn’t sleeping around or living with the guy. Her mom was living with her boyfriend and pressuring her daughter to do the same.
So yes, I am skeptical but open and glad that another narrative of sexuality will become part of the conversation.
Just this week, I heard an interviewer praising Vanessa Hudgens for pole dancing in her latest movie role as a stripper. The commentator was all about Vanessa being empowered by her sexuality. And I thought of all the girls who loved her in High School Musical, who will now see the next step of being famous–take off your clothes in the name of empowerment. It’s an old lie with new words that keeps getting repeated. Someone ( National Organization of Women) should tell these young women that they are being objectified for money. Just because a woman decides to take off her clothes, doesn’t change the way men look at her–and it isn’t for her acting talent.
What is really sad is the complete irresponsibility media show for making sexual activity appear to have no real life consequences.
In real life, in the therapist’s office, sexually active women regret that they gave parts of themselves away and feel sad that they can’t retrieve what was lost.
In real life, women are grieving over abortions, over infertility due to an STI, over lost love, and feeling used by men who promised to love them if they would have sex.
In real life, the CDC reports that sexually transmitted infections are a significant health challenge facing the US, with 20 million new cases reported every year.
In real life , over 9 million Americans are living with some type of sexual addiction (Mental Health Directory Portal)
In real life, women are objectified by a porn industry that rivals any other and are fed the lie that because a woman chooses to take off her clothes, this is empowerment. Wake up ladies!
In real life, couples feel the emotional pain of multiple partners and live with the physical consequences.
In real life, the stories of the sexual abstinence are mocked, not validated.
If MTV could really give voice to those who choose a different path, it would be refreshing and significant. It would show tolerance for a different point of view.
Yes, I am skeptical, but let’s wait and see. I would love to be surprised!
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