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Our Born-Again Virgin Bachelor

Our Born-Again Virgin Bachelor


Mar 13 2013
Exploring America's obsession with virginity.

The Bachelor just ended, and hi-ho the cherrio, the Born-Again Virgin gets a wife. The tabloids are still harping on how this season's beau, Sean Lowe, proclaimed to be "saving" himself for his wedding night, raising the question: How did a gorgeous young heterosexual American male manage to stay a virgin by 29?

Well, truth be told, he didn't. He's had sex before, but he's abstinent now. The media's not worried about the logistics, though. It's much more titillating to focus on Lowe as the born-again virgin, the golden boy who found God and therefore gets to reclaim his virginity and wear it like a heavyweight champion belt across that ripped Adonis torso of his.

The fascination with The Bachelor's virginity speaks to our cultural tendency to both ridicule and idolize virginity at the same time. Our view of said virginity also relates to a person's age and appearance. The 40 Year Old Virgin is cast as a nerd with a dead-end job at an electronics store who still plays with toys, and The Bachelor's born-again virgin is a 29-year-old hunk… who happens to have prior sexual experience, making him already a "real man."

With Lowe at the center of this show, ABC saw viewership for The Bachelorboost this season, as women from soap opera junkies to groups of sorority girls tuned in for the drama. I wonder if it is just a matter of time before Hollywood comes out with a new reality show where a group of gorgeous contestants live with a single virgin. Bet you can't guess the premise! It sounds a bit vulgar and crass, but really, today's programming is not far from it. Competing for someone's virginity can easily become both the adrenaline of pursuit and the prize to be won… provided they are the right kind of virgin.

We tune in for what our culture has deemed the desirable virgins. For the ladies, we picture an attractive woman between 18 and 30 (early 30s if she's especially "hot"), without any emotional baggage, sad back story, or religious zealotry. For the man, he has to be good-looking, so we know he's chosen to remain a virgin, unlike the unattractive male virgins who didn't have a say in the matter. Oh, and he has to be somewhat sexually experienced. We expect all adult men to have had sex, unless some sort of emotional, physical, or mental problem is keeping them from doing the deed. That "born-again" modifier is perfect. The lucky bride gets to have her cake and eat it too.

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