Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pure and Confident

Last week, I devoured Anna and the French Kiss. It was an excellent book. Funny and romantic and satisfying, but it also left me aching a bit, and here's why: the main character, Anna, feels embarrassed by being a senior in high school and still a virgin.

This is something I've noticed is very common in general market teen fiction, that if the main character is still a virgin, they feel like they're the only virgin left in high school, and they frequently get teased about it by their friends.

I'm coming to you all today in hopes that you can straighten out my thinking - is it my high school experience that was weird? Because anyone who knew me knew I was waiting until I got married to have sex, and I never caught any grief for my principles.

I had friends who were having sex. And many of my friends who weren't yet sexually active intended to be once they had a serious boyfriend. But no one was ever like, "Stephanie, you're such a weirdo for being a virgin." I honestly believe - both then and now - that nobody cared about my sexual status. (Other than my parents, of course, and my boyfriend.)

As I've mulled this over for the last couple days, it's occurred to me that even though I'm a person who embarrasses easily, I can't dream up a single thing anyone could have said in high school that would have left me feeling awkward about my choice. I believed to the core of my being that waiting was the right choice and that not waiting was foolishness. Just like if all my friends divorced their husbands and teased me for staying married, it would in no way humiliate me because I believe in my marriage.

As someone who writes for teens (and who is raising kids), I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this. If you're a virgin, do the other kids at school tease you for it? Do you feel like you're alone? And if you're not a virgin, do you feel like it's more common at your school to be sexually active or not? I welcome you to either leave an anonymous comment or contact me privately by clicking here.

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out


Anonymous said...

In a word "yes" something has changed in just the past couple of years I think. I'm in my 20s, a virgin, and I want to wait till I'm married. It's only been more recent that I've started to feel like there may be anything uncommon or that I may feel weird about it. I still want to stick to my guns though.

Growing up  my parents sent me to a small Christian school affiliated with our church. There wasn't a lot of dating, most of us had known each other since kindergarten and the was that did date each other never really talked as if they were having sex. Again, it was a Christian school but eve the few non-Cristian people I knew weren't overly critical about it. I know a few who did but either way wasn't odd. This was 2003 & 2004& 2005 ish

So this year, oh you should know I have a large extended family, around January of couple of my cousins who are 19/20ish find out their pregnant and the whole situations kindof threw my for a loop.

When I went to my one cousins baby shower a few weeks ago ALL her friend there except for one had a child. Not just babies, there were a few toddlers!!! The one girl that have a baby was open a out the fact she's actively trying to get pregnant!  I'm not sure if that's abnormal or not?

But on to the feeling pressure thing, I have some strong Christian friends my age who all want to wait and then I have a "friend" and I say friend very lightly bc I think she's more of a frenemy ( i once thought she was a friend but am learning differently) that is very critical of my decisions and has flat out told that I'll only every be able to have a relationship with "pathetic-loser-freak" bc they are the only guys that'll respect me wanting to wait. Cool guys see no reason to wait. She even says she is a Christian and actually went to a non-denominational Christian  college where she says nobody waited

I do wonder if it had to do with so much media making it seem like no one waits, kind of like the whole super skinny model thing. We think it makes us somehow more worthy when really it causes kore hurt in the long run. I'd love to see more mainstream books,music,tv,&movies promote abstinence and all around better decisions.

Trinka said...

I'm actually home schooled in a christian home, so I can't help you there. :) But, yes I have always found it odd when, in some ya books the min character feels embarassed by being a virgin. I hope to never go to an actual high school, and I have been wondering if some girls actually feel that way, or if it's just something the put in the book. Wow, this comment is getting too long, I'd better end it. :)

Anonymous said...

Well I'm in college now but in high school there seemed to be a lot of kids who were sexually active, and a lot who just said they were. I would say that in high school I was never teased or put on the spot for my beliefs. but in college now, sometimes people kind of poke fun at it or things. But I stand firm in my beliefs so I wouldn't say that I feel insecure about it.

I agree that it seems to be a common occurrence of teenage characters feeling like the only virgin left, but in real life I think that is very rarely the case.

Sapphire said...

Well, I wouldn't say I'm ever embarassed when people find out I'm a virgin, but it *does* make things a little awkward. The other person usually just stands there with a dumbfounded look and says, "Oh....." :-P

I do have a friend, though, whose entire college class actually laughed at her when one student asked about her purity ring.

Firenza said...

I'm with you that no one seems to care. In HS, like Anonymous said, some seemed to be having sex and plenty others pretending, but I never paid much attention. In college it's sort of the same, but no one really seems to care either. There's always been a sort of don't ask, don't tell policy, so I'm not sure if anyone knows I'm a virgin (if they did I have no problem explaining) but I've never in any way less respected. And at the end of the day, who cares what anyone but God thinks?

Stephanie Morrill said...

Anonymous (the first one) I've had friends who have given up on the idea of waiting because they're afraid they won't find a guy who waited. (Or if they do, he'll be a pathetic freak, like your "friend" said.) Every time I've heard that, it's made my heart hurt. Because fear just seems like such a dumb reason to give in on something like that. Although I think it's natural to feel some anxiety about if your future husband will have waited for you too, if you'll every find him, etc., our faith in God and His plan for us should always conquer those fears. They shouldn't run our lives.

Stephanie Morrill said...

Trinka, thank you for your feedback! I'm sure there ARE high school girls who feel embarrassed to be virgins (maybe even the writers of those books used to be those girls) but it just seems so foreign to me.

Anonymous-in-college, stand strong! My husband said the same thing about his high school experience - that some were, but he also thought some were just talking like they were.

Sapphire - an entire room of people laughing at me would definitely churn me up a bit. Poor girl :( And I've definitely experienced that awkwardness you mentioned...

Firenza - thank you for your perspective! You're right. In the end, He's all that matters.

Betsy St. Amant said...

I'm continually shocked by the world's mindset on sex in general. Even's almost like some believe that if you make the pre-marital sex mistake once, you're free and clear to keep making it. Or if you were a virgin, and get married then divorced, there's no reason to stay pure until your NEXT marriage. I'm sorry but I thought the Bible was super clear on matters of pre-marital sex...husband/wife only! :) And I bet 99.9% of those who had pre-marital sex got married and wished they had waited for their hubby or wifey.

Betsy St. Amant said...

PS - I'm one of the freaks! :) I got married at 20 and my husband was 19 and we were both virgins. We're so proud and relieved of that fact now that we're celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary and have a toddler. I can honestly tell her one day that mommy and daddy were both virgins on their wedding night and it IS possible.

Sierra said...

I'm a homeschooler like I haven't had any pressure about it.I can't decide if the books are exaggerating or not.I sure hope so.I feel sorry for the poor girls who are pressured and the ones who feel like in doing something right that they're doing something wrong.Would you recommend the book Stephanie?And I agree with Betsy on what she said.That is awesome kudos to you!Sierra
Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Cause You Are!)

Stephanie Morrill said...

Betsy, hello fellow freak! In high school, I didn't think much about my actions impacting my future kids (wasn't even convinced I wanted them) but like you, I'm glad I'll be able to tell McKenna, Connor, and any others we may have that we waited.

Stephanie Morrill said...

Sierra, I really enjoyed the book. Excellent writing, very funny, and pretty clean too. There's nothing issue-wise that's more mature than a Sarah Dessen novel. (Haven't you and I had a conversation about Whatever Happened to Goodbye? I hope I'm not confusing you with someone else.)

Sierra said...

No, that was me.Thanks for letting me know! I'll have to go see if my library has it :) I can't wait to read it!Sierra
Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Cause You Are!)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 here!
Thanks Stephanie,waiting to meet the guy I'll marry seems endless at times but I don't want to get married just to be married in I have to know it's right in my heart. Nothing worthwhile is even easy is it.

I also have a friend, and I do consider her a friend, who has gotten herself in over head and gone farther than she intended just from getting caught in the moment. She struggles with a lot of guilt and regret. I spent a lot of time talking to her about how God forgives and it took her a very long time to feel like it was ok for her to apply to a Christian college. She wants to go into ministry and she carried so much guilt that she felt unworthy bc she gave her virginity away. She met a guy at her Christian college and when he found out she wasn't a virgin, he dumped and she was heartbroken. Again she had to work through the guilt.
So, I just wonder if there are a lot more girls who regret not waiting?? We hear so much about feeling insecure FOR WAITING but have you ever heard anyone say "I wish I had sex before I was married"?? I don't think I have

Counter Cultural Teen said...

I am waiting for marriage. I am homeschooled but live in a large homeschool community and I have many public schooled friends. I play volleyball with many of the middle schoolers around here. Most of them are not virgins. And they are totally okay with that! And yes do think anyone who hasn't is crazy! These girls think I am crazy for waiting and yet they come to me for advice and counsel! Even about boys! I am so blessed to be able to be in that position for them! And I am so thankful God put them in my life! It has blessed me so much!

Anonymous said...

I'm not ashamed of my virginity I think that it's awesome that I'm waiting. I have the support of my parents to stay a virgin. Then there's the threat my best friend tells me she'll do if I do loose my virginity. In a way I feel that there are a lot of kids who say they are sexually active but I'm not on to say whether it's true or not.

Stephanie Morrill said...

Ack, so sorry I haven't been responding to all your wonderful comments!

Anonymous #1, I'm so glad you were there for your friend. We all make mistakes. (I have always been especially prone to mistakes when boys were involved - aargh!) While I would never encourage or glorify premarital sex, of course, I also don't want to be hasty to judge those who have made that mistake. I'm glad your friend is still planning to go into ministry - God needs only willing people, not perfect ones.

You make a really good point. I'm sure they're out there (because I hear a lot of strange stuff come out of people's mouths) but I've never heard anyone say they wish they'd had sex sooner.

Stephanie Morrill said...

CCT, how awesome that God is using you in that way! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous, I think it's awesome you're waiting too :) And that you are surrounded by such supportive people. Wonderful!