McGinnis: For virgin earsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The question “Are you a virgin?” was asked of me one Wednesday not long into my tenure on 92.5 KISS FM’s morning show. If I had been in a different mood that day, I might have lied about the answer or maybe given a sarcastic response. (“I dunno, ask your mom.”) But on that morning, I responded honestly. Yes. I was — and still am — a virgin.
In truth, my honesty on the subject probably helped me find a niche among the 92.5 crew. Demetrius had a field day during the ensuing shows, needling me for being the stereotypical fat virgin geek who lived in his parents’ basement (I had my own bedroom, but the stereotype was otherwise accurate at that point). The teasing subsided when it became apparent that I wasn’t taking offense to the jabs, and as I grew more comfortable in my on-air role.
I see no need to necessarily feel shame about my lack of sexual experience — nor do I feel any pride, for that matter. It is what it is.
What I did — and do — object to is the notion that because I haven’t had sex, clearly my relationships with the women in my life have been “failures.” Whether said plainly or obliquely, I’ve seen the idea stated quite a few times, symbolized by that horrific concept known as “The Friend Zone.” This terrible condition, many men make clear, is the single most awful outcome one can imagine: that she just wants to be friends.
I detest the idea that being friends with a woman means that somehow I “lost” or that a physical relationship is the only reason a heterosexual man would want to be a woman’s friend. I value my friendships too much to sit idly by and let others try and tell me that what I get out of being close with someone is “not enough,” or that I should want more. It was in response to this idea that I wrote the following Facebook post on May 25:
“Let’s spell this out. Make it plain. Okay? To hell with the idea that somehow I’m a failure or less of a person because I haven’t had sex.
“To hell with the idea that my relationships with female friends are somehow a failure because I haven’t slept with any of them. To hell with the idea that their worth to me is defined solely by whether or not they want to have sex with me.
“To hell with the idea that, because I value them as people — people who I love, admire, and respect, and who I am grateful to, simply for the fact that they want me to be a part of their life — I am less than those who see them as objects to be conquered. To hell with the idea of ‘the friend zone.’ Because being a friend is the most wonderful thing in the world to me.
“I love the people in my life. That is all I ever need. And to hell with anyone or anything who tries to tell me that’s not enough.”
My editor and friend, Michael S. Miller, wrote a June 2 column, “Virgin territory,” in response explaining how important sex can be and how it changes the way one thinks of his — uh, “Person X’s” — friends. He brings up how it is a violation in pop culture to write about something you don’t know about: “McGinnis violates that rule when he writes about the role of sex in relationships.”
Except I don’t think I did, and I think Miller is arguing against things he thinks I said, rather than what my actual point was. I’m not a eunuch. I would love to have sex with someone who I love, and who loves me in return. But I’m also someone who values people as people. I find no “nobility” in remaining a virgin — but I also don’t find it a failing of character.
My argument was against the pervasive idea that because I haven’t gotten it on with any of them, my friendships with women are somehow naturally a disappointment to me — which could not be further from the truth. Will that attitude change once I have had sex? I doubt it, and I truly hope not, because that would be a massive violation of who I am and what I believe as a person and friend. I’d hate to think one act would change my entire world view so massively.
This is not a discussion of what sex is, or why it’s seen as important. This is about the implication that my appreciation for people beyond the fact that they have genitals makes me less of a person. I believe I am fully within my experience to respond to that point of view. And with that in mind — seriously — to hell with that line of thought.
Jeff McGinnis is Toledo Free Press Pop Culture Editor. Email him at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.