Teenage Boys and Virginity Loss

Ozy Frantz breaks down the numbers in a CDC report on teenage sex. Spoiler alert: reality does not resemble stereotypes very well.

This post originally appeared at No Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

The CDC has recently released some interesting information about how teenagers lose their virginities, so it is time for a Ozy Reads A Bunch Of Stats and Comments On Them post! It’s been way too long since we had one of those, I’m sure we can all agree.

The money quote is this: 43% of never-married teenage girls and 42% of never-married teenage boys have experienced sexual intercourse at least once. (Note: throughout this post, “sex” means “a penis put inside a vagina.” Blame the CDC.) In addition, a similar number of girls and boys have had sex in the last month. It is almost as if boys and girls are more similar than they are different! Nah. Couldn’t be.

The percentage of teenage girls who have had sex has been steadily declining over the past twenty years; the percentage of teenage boys who have had sex was steadily declining, but has been the same since 2002. So, uh, that hookup culture thing those people who like talking about The Kids These Days on the TV keep talking about? Dooooesn’t really seem to be in evidence. It’s anyone’s guess why people have stopped having sex so much: Internet porn? Abstinence-only sex education? A sudden rise in the popularity of oral sex? Who knows?

The majority of both boys and girls had lost their virginity to someone they were dating at the time. However, about a quarter of boys lost their virginity to a friend or someone they’d just met, as opposed to 16% of girls, which is a fairly significant and interesting difference. I have no idea why that is; perhaps it’s related to the sociologically attested fact that boys tend to see their virginity as a shameful burden to get rid of as quickly as possible, while girls tend to see their virginity as a gift to give to someone special whom they truly love.

Boys were more likely than girls to be happy to lose their virginity: 63% really wanted it, 33% had mixed feelings, and 5% didn’t want it. 41% of girls really wanted it, 48% had mixed feelings, and 11% didn’t want it. “Didn’t want it”, of course, can include everything from “I wasn’t ready and I really shouldn’t have lost my virginity then but I consented” to “my partner raped me”; I do find it interesting that the gender ratio for not wanting to lose one’s virginity when one did is roughly the same as it is for rape.

I think a lot of the girls’ mixed feelings are rooted in slut-shaming; some percentage of those girls who have mixed feelings are going to be ones who actually do want sex, but are afraid that having sex will make them worth less or that giving it up will make him not want to be with you any longer.

…holy shit the boys are lucky because 63% of them actually and unambiguously wanted to lose their virginities AMERICA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

41% of virginal girls didn’t have sex because it was against their religion or morals, compared to 31% of virginal men. The next most popular among men was not having met the right person yet, at 29%; for girls, not wanting to be pregnant and not having met the right person yet were roughly tied. Again, we see girls tending to see their virginity as a gift to be preserved and men as a stigma to be gotten rid of; men are about ten percentage points more likely to be like “I want to lose my virginity but I don’t have anyone to lose it WITH,” while women are more likely to be all “I don’t want to have sex yet.”

The single result that has left me the most boggled is that 13% of girls and 19% of boys would be pleased by a pregnancy, and 57% of girls and 46% of boys would be very upset. I can only presume it is because boys do not have to give birth, are less likely to have their entire lives disrupted by a child, and are less likely to have babysat. Perhaps I have spent too much time reading what asshole misogynists have to say, because my gender stereotypes were assuming that women would all have The Baby Rabies and men were all Kids Suck, Rawr, but apparently not.

 

Photo—A portrait of a sweet couple from Shutterstock

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.

Comments

  1. Well, excluding homosexuality, who else could guys be doing it with? Girls! So of course the percentages should be the same!

    • That only means the frequency of sex acts would be the same, it says nothing about how many times each person has had sex.

  2. I felt sickened by being a virgin for so long. I finally managed to get rid of it at the age of 20. The unfortunate part is that remains my one and only experience and that is all the more depressing. I can think of few fates worse than involuntary celibacy.

    • Trigger Warning.

      It took me ages to lose my adult virginity, I kept running away from women, and self sabotaging. This was because I was raped repeatedly, by an adult women, for about a year when I was eight years old, I and had pushed the experience out of my mind because I couldn’t deal with it. If you had asked me a year ago weather I had been raped, I would have said no, because I had no conscious memories. (Like 84% of men with documented histories of sexual child abuse)

      Now that I have had a lot of therapy, I am starting to trust and make friends with women. Soon I will be ready for healthy adult consensual sexuality, without having to “push through” all of my triggers, as I did in the past.

      I am not necessarily saying that your experience has mirrored mine, but it is something to think about.

      • Yes, it’s certainly something to think about.

        And I’m glad you brought it up. The statistics, which I totally believe are that roughly 25% of children are sexually abused by age 18 (which means a lot of different things) and these discussions of teen sexual behavior almost never allow for it. So, it becomes kind of a discussion of what cultural myth do we wish to polish, rather than deal with the realities of who we are. Even in CDC studies, the “experts” do this. The “no conscious memories” seems almost by choice or cultural design.

        Perhaps you could write here about some reality and your experiences. It would be much more interesting than the cultural fictions.

    • The big thing is not to jump into the first relationship that comes alone. Take it from someone that endured ten years of constant emotional abuse. There is something worse than not getting laid.

      • Honestly, I’ll take absolutely anything I can get. I have no standards at this point; I just want to feel like someone — anyone — feels affection toward me. I’d rather be an abusive relationship than none at all. I can handle abuse. Abuse and I are very well acquainted.

        • Seriously, I’ve been in abusive relationships, being single is better. I really would recommend hiring a therapist, and talking to them.

          • Been there, done that. (therapy) Obviously, I’d prefer a non-abusive relationship but something is better than nothing!

        • Amen. Single trumps abusive every time. Single, you may tell yourself no one wants you, but what you tell yourself is something you have some minimal control over. Abusive relationship, you’re hearing it not from yourself but from someone else who is trying to keep you unhappy.

          There’s no comparison. I’m a long way from the finish, but every step I take toward not measuring my self-esteem in women is a positive step.

          While you’re at it, don’t get into a relationship with someone who isn’t abusive but doesn’t see all the value you have. If you can’t conceive of the value you have yourself, I agree that therapy is the best course to try to figure out why.

          • Value is a relative term. Nothing has value unless others acknowledge that such value exists. A dollar is only a piece of paper and its value is derived from the collective belief of what it is worth. The same is true for everything. A person can only have value in so much as others believe them to have value. If no one thinks or demonstrates you have value, to believe that you do would be ridiculous. I understand that contrarian opinion can be right sometimes, but generally if the whole world thinks one thing and you think another, you are probably incorrect. I have no desire to delude myself.

            • I hear you. People telling me that self-esteem “has to come from within” always pissed me off, because it isn’t true; as you say we are all affected by how others value us, and to say otherwise is a cop-out.

              What that means, though, is that we can try to expose ourselves to those influences and people that lead to us valuing ourselves, and shutting out those that don’t (for which digging into your past is almost certainly going to be a requirement). I’ve got people in my life and stuck in my own head who push me both ways, so I’m trying to learn to turn the volume up on one and down on the other.

          • when some one is reach near the age of 16/ adult they can sex. they know every things.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    “It’s anyone’s guess why people have stopped having sex so much: Internet porn? Abstinence-only sex education? A sudden rise in the popularity of oral sex? Who knows?”

    Excellent questions one and all. It’s best to be cautious about jumping to a lot of conclusions one way or the other without finding a way to exclude some of the variables. If “sex” here only refers to PIV, then it could be that teens are having more other kinds of sex instead of less sex on the whole.

    I’m not sure how common the “saving my virginity for someone special” really is a major idea for most teenage girls. It’s certainly not any kind of universal concern. I’m guessing the risk of pregnancy is probably a much bigger factor, considering the biological teenage father could very easily get off the hook but the pregnant teenage girl can’t run away from it.

    I wonder how much people today still think of virginity as a thing, either a burden or a gift. Why don’t we think of your first time as “making your debut” instead of losing something or giving something away? It’s downright archaic.

  4. John Anderson says:

    “I can only presume it is because boys do not have to give birth, are less likely to have their entire lives disrupted by a child, and are less likely to have babysat”

    Or it could be because they know that they don’t have as much of a say in it and have resigned themselves to make the best of a bad situation if it ever came up.

  5. Speaking from the perspective of a former teenage boy, I will definitely say that virginity was our own mark of shame, where bizarrely for girls the lack of it was seemingly the same.

    But this doesn’t necessarily stop at our 20th birthday. I’ve been meaning to submit an entire GMP article about this, but it boils down to that society has a two-prong stereotype: if a woman is not having sex, it’s because she doesn’t want to, but if a man is not having sex, it’s because no one wants him. We know this because teh TV sez that he spends every waking second slavering after any random vagina he can smell from 300 yards away.

    The CDC may have punched a hole in that theory, but more holes need punching, if you’ll pardon the image.

    And I’d just like to say, apropos of nothing else in this thread, that Rick Santorum is an ignorant jackass. This article seems like as good a time as any to make that comment.

  6. Slut-shaming and teens! Now there’s something that’s been on my mind for a while.

    I was a teen in the early 2000s. These are condensed versions of some of the messages I heard growing up. I’ve ordered them by their effectiveness in discouraging me from having sex. (Note that I say discouraging – none of them actually prevented it.) :
    Don’t have sex because you could get pregnant and you’re too young for that responsibility.
    Don’t have sex because you might catch an STD that could be with you for the rest of your life, and even if it’s not, STDs are icky.
    If your teachers or parents find out you’re having sex, you’re in BIG trouble.
    Don’t have sex because you’re too young to handle it emotionally.
    If your peers find out you’re having sex, you’ll get called a slut, or worse, for years.
    Boys will want you to have sex with them; it’s your job to say no. It’s normal for you to not want to have sex because you’re a girl.

    So how is someone who hears these messages regularly while going through puberty and having their first romantic/sexual encounters NOT going to have mixed feelings about losing their virginity? Or really, about sex in general – even into adulthood?

    I get the point behind discouraging teens from having sex, I really do. I even agree with it, because when I look back at the things I did as a teen out of the sheer fun of rebellion and experimentation, I was NOT ready for most of it. But I think the kind of messaging mentioned above, which certainly wasn’t unique to my community or upbringing, sets the stage for sexual confusion, and even dysfunction. “Mixed feelings” seems like putting it lightly.

    I will say this, I’m immensely impressed by the sex ed program I witnessed at the Unitarian Universalist church I used to attend (it’s not a UU-specific program, though). It is called Our Whole Lives, and there is curriculum specifically designed for different age groups, from very young kids all the way up to adults. It’s based on frank, open discussion about all things sexual between adults and kids, and doesn’t pretend there are no positives to sex. I sat in as a volunteer on one of the classes for young teens and was left wishing I could have had that program at that age. I think it would have had a much better chance at curbing my sexual behavior than the “Don’t do this or else” line of thought I was exposed to elsewhere.

    • “Boys will want you to have sex with them; it’s your job to say no. It’s normal for you to not want to have sex because you’re a girl.”

      Exactly! These two sentences are sort of the foundation of the sexual morality that came out of the pop-culture and liberation of the 60s and met the pearl-clutching moral panic of the 80s. If we take these two sentences as true, everything we teach teens and young adults about sex makes perfect sense. If we don’t, well, it doesn’t.

      More than anything, I think it was the idea that women enjoy and want sex that poked a sensitive spot in our traditionally repressive culture, and created a horrified backlash that somehow still manages to hang on decades later. I’m passionate about this stuff but in my own life even I can’t internalize that simple fact, what with all the conditioning I’ve gotten. I can only imagine how tough it was on women to be similarly conditioned about themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      The power of slut shaming is hard for me as a man to understand, but I accept it as a huge issue.

      (background: I’m in my 50’s and sexually very unexperienced with women and opposite sex relationships.) Months ago, I was asking my girlfriend unending detailed questions of what pleasured her, interested her, liked and didn’t, etc. and she started to cry and said she’d never had a (male, only males) lover be interested in all that. I’m still dumbfounded by that. Coupled with at times a profound reticence to talk about her sexual experience/pleasure.

      I take this as the lasting wound of slut-shaming, and I’m glad to see it lessening in girls today. Unfortunately, shaming boys seems to be a favorite weapon now that gender war is good for girls and business, but that’s another story. Still, it seems the author’s spending “too much time reading what asshole misogynists have to say” is telling.

  7. Maybe this is why some are waiting?

    Teen sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a serious health concern. Half of all new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur among teens, with about 1 in 4 teens becoming infected each year. Teens are more susceptible to STDs than adults because their bodies are still developing.

    Teen sexually transmitted diseases are easily spread by contact with the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth, or with bodily fluids. Abstinence from sexual activities protects teens from most STDs. If a teen is going to have sex, he or she should always correctly use a male latex condom – or another type of condom, if a latex allergy exists – which reduces the chances of a teen getting an STD. Teens should avoid drugs or alcohol, as these increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

    Many sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms, or only a few mild symptoms, so a teen who seems healthy might still have an STD. A teen can still spread a sexually transmitted disease even if he or she has no symptoms, or does not know that he or she is infected.

    Genital Warts (Human Papilloma Virus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America, with 50 percent of sexually active teens eventually getting the virus. It cannot be cured, and increases the risk of cancer of the penis or cervix.

    Genital Herpes, caused by a virus, cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated. It is spread mainly among teens and young adults, and 1 in every 4 or 5 teens has this STD. Herpes can cause miscarriages and birth defects in later pregnancies.

    HIV is spread by contact with infected blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. HIV generally progresses to AIDS, which causes death when a person’s immune system stops functioning, though new medications are able to slow this process.

    Hepatitis B is caused by a virus 100 times more contagious than the HIV virus. There is no cure for hepatitis, but there is a vaccine for teens who have not already been infected. Hepatitis B is especially dangerous for children and teens, and can lead to liver failure and death..

    Syphilis is caused by bacteria, and is very contagious; in addition to sexual activity, it can be spread by kissing or close physical contact. It can be treated with medication, but if left untreated can cause many problems, including brain and heart damage.

    Gonorrhea (“clap” or “drip”) is caused by bacteria. It is most common among teens and young adults. If untreated, it can lead to infertility, internal scarring, and an increased vulnerability to HIV.
    Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics; if left untreated it can cause serious infections and infertility.

    Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD among teen girls, though teen boys can get it too. It is caused by a sexually transmitted parasite, and can make a person more susceptible to HIV.

  8. Mark Neil says:

    Why am I not surprised the “presumptions” all turn out to be rather misandric attacks on boys and masculinity promoted by stereotypes. For example:

    “The next most popular among men was not having met the right person yet, at 29%; for girls, not wanting to be pregnant and not having met the right person yet were roughly tied. Again, we see girls tending to see their virginity as a gift to be preserved and men as a stigma to be gotten rid of;”

    I’m uncertain how religion or not wanting to get pregnant constitute evidence of virginity being a gift. This is especially perplexing given that boys are actually 10% more likely to deem who they have sex with as an important factor in giving it up. Of course, you dismiss this descrepancy as equating waiting for the “RIGHT” person as “waiting for anyone who will have sex with them”. Why is it you deem “the right person” for a guy is the first person available? Since we’re talking presumtions, I’ll presume you do it to maintain your male=bad, girl=good perception.

    Next we have your presumption regarding pregnancy. Your presumtion holds boys as irresponsable, unaffected by pregnancy (clarly uninformed about the child support gastapo) and don’t like “babysitting” (when a man tending his own child is refered to as babysitting, you know you have someone with no respect for fathers). First I’ll point out how you massaged the numbers. Your numbers for pleased actually constituted the numbers for “a little please” and “very pleased” combined. Girls tended to be more likely to be very pleased than boys, while boys are more likley to be a little pleased than girls. Overall, boys are more likely to fit into the pleased side. Then suddenly, when it comes to upset, you no longer consider the aggregate. Girls are again most likely to fall into the very than boys, while boys fall into the a little colomn more than girls. So overall, boys are less likely to get highly emotional over pregnancy than girls, and are moderately more likely to be accepting of the idea. Of course, you need to equate this to negative male traits, again, I will presume it is because of a desire to maintain the male=bad, female=good doctrine. It couldn’t possibly be because these boys like many men, want to be fathers (and haven’t yet learned the damage it can cause them). Nah, you couldn’t possibly ascribe a positive trait onto males, even males of the child variety.

  9. The real stereotype buster in that is the previous 12 month data that shows that men are x2 as likely to report a completed rape as women during that period.

    http://i.imgur.com/Ps9wW.jpg

Speak Your Mind

*