Virginity! Something we are often too scared to talk about to teens, but really need to be telling them more. Today on Sunrise we spoke about a new controversial reality show in the UK, “ Like a Virgin”, where the host follows young teens on their journey to lose the big V and everything is revealed to the cameras. Of course, there are calls to ban this show (as with most things that cover teen sex) but it is the allegations of it not being educational that really upset me. In an age when there is a real lack of sex education, anything that encourages us to talk about the subject, I welcome!
At the end of the day if you have a problem with the content of a TV show or feel that your children should not watch it, you always have the choice to turn it off. We have the right to view material that deals with sexuality, but we also have the right not to be exposed to what we don’t want to see (hence why TV’s come with an on/off button). Use that right, but don’t take away the choice from others.
Personally, I think we need to talk about the topic of virginity more and I commend people who can be so open about their sex lives, no matter what age. We need more people to be open so we can shine a light on important topics, normalise certain sexual behaviours and learn from each other. I will not say that everything on this show is going to be appropriate, but at least it will encourage us to talk about the topic.
This is also why open communication is so important with children, so when they view material such as this, they feel comfortable to ask questions about what they have seen and heard. I only wish more parents had enough knowledge to adequately respond to these questions, maybe education is a problem on all levels!
I also think when it comes to the subject of virginity, from an educational point of view we have it all-wrong. Even calling it “ losing your virginity” can be so harmful. You do not lose anything, but experience something special for the first time. The word “loss” implies that something is gone, maybe innocence or purity which can cause feelings such as shame and guilt in many people. Innocence and purity has nothing to do with virginity or lack there of and sex does not make someone any less of the person they once were. The opposite of innocent is guilty, therefore if having sex is a loss of innocence, does that makes us guilty?
What is even harder is really defining what the entire experience is about. When we can’t even adequately define sex, how can we define the first time we have sex? Someone who might engage in penis- vagina sex for the first time will see themselves as having lost their virginity, where someone else who engages in same sex behaviour might see oral or anal sex as having lost their virginity. Sex is defined by how the individual feels they experience sex, so losing it is dependant on how they engage in the act!
If we were to decide that the only way to lose one’s virginity was when a penis penetrates a vagina we are not taking into consideration how everyone has sex. Why should penis-vagina sex be more important to a heterosexual couple for the first time than anal or oral sex between a same sex couple?
But what about breaking the hymen and that old tradition of looking at the sheets for signs of blood Well I hate to disappoint, but not everyone has a hymen, some break without sexual contact and some break with no signs of blood. Breaking the hymen does not signify the loss of ones’ virginity. How many Muslim brides and others have suffered for this myth?
There is also too much pressure for teens when it comes to their first time. They are told it should be perfect and it can only happen once. In a ideal world we would all have that roses and candles experience, but it is not always the way it happens in real life and it does not always work out the way we expect. I am not trying to be cynical but we need to start being realistic with teens and showing them a glimpse of reality instead of exposing them to constant fantasy sex. I’m not saying it should not be special, it should, but teens also need to be educated and exposed to what it can be and all the consequences that goes with having sex, good and bad.
Is this show just an honest form of self-expression? If people are shocked and offended by the honesty of the teens in this show, then maybe they have to ask themselves why? It is not the show that is the problem but our own personal views of sex and what it should be and also what our teens should be told.
We need to question how these teens are being portrayed by this show. There is an educational component but we also need to remember that this is TV, and sometimes ratings are more important than fact.
Banning the show is not the entire issue here; it’s why we are so afraid of exposing our teens to all the facts of life and sex, the good, the bad, the ugly and the lower class Brits!