let’s talk about “The Bachelor”

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Or rather, let’s talk about not having sex, shall we? And let me start out by saying that, whether you have, whether you haven’t, etc. etc – it doesn’t matter. At least it shouldn’t. If you want to keep it private, you absolutely should. And wherever you stand on the matter, it shouldn’t be used against you. You shouldn’t be allowed to feel guilt because you have, or you haven’t, or you did in high school, or you didn’t until you were married.

It’s your life. Live it.

But today, I wanted to talk about the issue of the most recent Bachelor, Colton Underwood’s, virginity. Because apparently that’s what we do with virgins. We talk about them. And we don’t let them live it down:

The truth is, it makes my stomach churn watching this season (and discovering the advertisement above). Hearing every interview, every podcast, every commercial or teaser for the show being rooted in this fascinating idea known as “Who will he find to pop his cherry?”

Whatever happened to finding love?

This frustration is rooted in a personal struggle for me. Something I’ve thought about for a long time and had to come to my own terms about. Because I was someone who didn’t even date in high school. I didn’t really date in college, either. My first kiss took me by complete surprise outside of a Starbucks after a first date. It was awkward, and it felt wrong, even though it was exciting to feel wanted for the very first time. He ended things on the second date because I needed to “grow up some more”. Then it was several years after that when my first real boyfriend dumped me after a month because, surprise, I wouldn’t sleep with him. Even though he said it was “fine” that I felt the way I did about the issue.

So sex is a sensitive thing for me. It’s a topic that has made me feel judged. It’s also a topic that has made good friends of mine feel judged. And it’s a topic that people are judging this Bachelor for right now.

Think about it. If the Bachelorette said she was a virgin and 30 guys started talking about how they were going to get in her pants before the season ended (filming only lasts over the course of about 9 weeks), society would have a pretty big issue with that, right?

But because this Bachelor is a 26-year-old male who hasn’t found the right person yet, it’s all anyone can talk about. Everyone is speculating about when it will happen, with whom, in The Fantasy Suite, or after? There’s even gay rumors going around. But why?

Here’s a news flash for you:

IT SHOULDN’T MATTER.

Maybe it’s an interesting fact for a minute, and it does need to be discussed in any potential relationship…but then we need to move on. Especially as a society. There’s gotta be more to this guy than his virginity. So why not embrace that? Why not use it as an effort to teach younger men and women that it’s okay to make that choice? That seems to be what Colton would like to do. But even the show trying to help him find love (and making millions of dollars in advertising in the process) is milking this bone dry for their marketing. Sure, maybe it’s “his fault” for letting the cat out of the bag. But to use it against him? To belittle him with comedians coming on the show talking about how he can’t find a vagina?

What the fuck, y’all. What. The. Fuck.

Last night, I found myself getting more upset about this issue as I realized it’s an increasingly talked-about subject in our media. Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. Netflix’s new series Sex Education. They’re great to watch, and eye-opening. But also troubling to someone who wants to have kids in the next five years. Because we’re not just talking about adults in movies pursuing relationships and getting in bed together. These are shows about teenagers who are desperate to get it over with, to feel like they’re not “behind”.

I don’t want my future children to feel like they’re in competition. I’ll let them make their own mature decisions when they’re (hopefully) a little older and in a strong, committed relationship, but I don’t want them to feel pressure. I don’t want them to feel shame just because they’re not ready, or they haven’t found the right person, or they just don’t want to.

I don’t want my kids growing up with this mentality that it’s “wrong” to do things in a way that makes sense to them.

What I do love about Colton, and find somewhat inspiring, is the fact that he owns it as best he can despite the circumstances. Sure, he’s a guy. And I’m sure he’s got urges. But he’s solid in his stance. He’s committed to being committed to another person, whatever that may mean for him. I feel bad for him having to put up with all the jokes, and the gossip, and the judgement. Because I know how it feels, on a much smaller scale. And I don’t want others to feel it even more now that it’s become some sort of national issue.

This isn’t me preaching on morality. I am neither higher nor mightier than thou. But it is me hoping for a world that can find agreement in letting loose of the judgement that is placed on those who go against what their society thinks they should do. It used to be that sex outside of marriage was considered the ultimate sin, and to some it still is. But now, it’s like not having sex by the time you’re 18 or 20 means that there’s something deficient about you; like there’s some reason no one wanted you. And the longer you go, the harder it is to find someone who is either 1. On the same page, or 2. Understanding of your decision and/or predicament.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. We are who we are because of the life we’ve lived and the choices we’ve made. That path looks different for each of us. And that’s okay. Because in the end, all we can do is hope that we’ve made the right choices for us, and find solidarity in the life those decisions have created.

My only wish is that people would just let it go. We don’t need TV shows where sex is the only option, the main target, or where it’s just the natural next step for any relationship, like there’s a timeline or a deadline or a consequence involved with not taking that step. We don’t need to live in a world where it’s deemed okay to ridicule someone on a very personal issue. Some of us just don’t live that way, whether it’s a premeditated choice or a factor of chance.

The idea of being open-minded means that we’re open to both sides of any given issue. And in a world that’s increasingly divided by racism, religion, violence, political parties, and national border walls….why should what anyone’s doing behind their closed bedroom doors matter to the rest of us?