If Slut-Shaming Is Not OK, Neither Is Virgin-Shaming

Rachel del Guidice /

Society condemns so-called slut-shaming, but apparently it’s perfectly acceptable to “virgin-shame,” a concerning reality for a culture that prides itself on tolerance and acceptance.

Daytime talk show host Wendy Williams has slammed a 26-year-old recent contestant on “The Bachelorette” for revealing that he is a virgin.

The contestant, former San Diego Chargers tight end Colton Underwood, made the announcement during a segment of the hit reality show.

“Why are you 26 and a virgin?” Williams, 54, said on the July 10 episode of “The Wendy Williams Show.” “Really? What’re you doing? I believe in God and everything the way most people do, but I just don’t find the practicality of being so good-looking and gettable and he’s a virgin.”

Williams even went as far as to say that virgins are untrustworthy.

“I don’t trust people that have never had a drink, a smoke, and I don’t trust people that have never had sex,” she said.

The TV personality said Becca Kufrin, the lead “bachelorette” of the show’s 14th season, should be wary of Underwood’s lack of sexual experience.

“This is a grown woman,” Williams said. “She’s supposed to get engaged at the end of this show. She’s never checked out his junk, he’s never used his junk, this is not realistic.”

Two things immediately stand out from Williams’ comments and shed light on the hostile attitude prevalent in society for those who “come out of the closet” and say they are virgins.

The first is the irony that it’s OK to virgin-shame in a society that puts tolerance and acceptance on such a pedestal.

The likes of Williams would never direct such harsh criticism and scorn at someone coming out as gay, bisexual, or transgender, but yet it’s perfectly fine to insult the character and trustworthiness of someone who shares that they’re saving sex for later for one reason or another.

Underwood told Kufrin that revealing that detail about himself was difficult but is now something that he is proud of.

“I am a virgin,” Underwood said. “It was tough. I am not even sure, to be honest with you, [that] my dad knows, ’cause it is something that I haven’t shared openly to a lot of people. There is only a handful of people that know. It is something, now, that I am proud of, and it is something now that I think that everybody who I see a future with should know.”

Underwood said he focused on furthering his pro football career rather than his personal life. In an Instagram post following his reveal, he said that he often considered his virginity as both a positive and negative aspect of his life:

I considered it a gift and a curse for many years, but finally have come to terms about standing up for who I am and the details that make me, me. Anyone who feels like they are hiding their truth out of embarrassment or fear of being judged … I have been there. You are not alone, I have covered up my truth with lies and tried to ‘fit in’—while I thought fitting in was what I wanted, I’ve recently learned that being different is what I need.

Underwood ended his post by encouraging his following to be different and worry less about how society views them:

We all have something that we hold close to us and something that makes us unique in our own ways. I ask for respect from everyone I meet moving forward and I’m here to call on everyone that needs that extra motivation to be ‘different’—here it is. Be who you are …

Underwood’s words tap into a segment of the population that is simultaneously ignored and belittled.

Ignored because abstinence in so many social circles, from schools to universities to workplaces, is a taboo topic. Belittled because when the topic does surface, it is discussed in a demeaning light, as Williams’ comments display.

A report published in 2016 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, highlighted in The Washington Post, found that “younger millennials—born in the 1990s—are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s as the previous generation was.”

This illustrates that Underwood’s current lifestyle choice is more popular than Williams might realize.

Specifically, the study showed that 15 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds have not had sex since turning 18, up from 6 percent in the early 1990s.

It also found that high schoolers who have had sex decreased in 2015 to 41 percent from 54 percent in 1991 and about 47 percent in 2013.

While Williams’ virgin-shaming of Underwood was mean and inappropriate, equating Underwood’s trustworthiness with his lack of sexual experience is an unfair judgment.

According to research highlighted by the Institute for Family Studies from the National Survey of Family Growth, women who have had no or only one sexual partner prior to marriage were the least likely to divorce, with the likelihood of divorce increasing with additional sexual partners.

The sheer numbers speak to the fact that marriages are far more successful with fewer sexual partners in the picture.

Williams is certainly entitled to her opinion. However, her remarks illustrate a widespread, unfair bias against those who choose abstinence in a society that worships acceptance, tolerance, and sexual experimentation.