An interview from 2015 with Funmi Iyanda where Nigerian singer Asa revealed that she lost her virginity at the age of 28 has resurfaced and is now trending.
In the interview Asa says, “On the day I lost my virginity, I called my manager, Janet to tell her and she was surprised that I was a very late starter. I also called my mum and she didn’t have any advice, she said, “it will be painful at first’, and I was there wondering what she was saying. “I am ashamed to say I lost my virginity at 28, so don’t clap for me. Perhaps one of the reasons why I lost my virginity that late was because I was shy and somewhere else where I was too focused on my career that I didn’t even think about having sex.”
At some point in history, someone said something that made it awkward for human beings not just women to say that they’re above a certain age and still a virgin. Like slut-shaming, virgin-shaming involves making fun of someone for their personal choices regarding sex. But while slut-shaming has become increasingly frowned upon, virgin-shaming remains fairly acceptable, and can be a form of veiled bigotry. It often occurs to public figures such as Asa who are in the entertainment industry as they are often hyper-sexualised.
The precarious divide between sex-positivity and pandering to the male gaze is a challenge all female performers face. Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, a psychologist and author of The Book Of Sacred Baths, believes that even though there isn’t any shame inherently tied to being sexually inexperienced, virgins still can’t seem to erase the negative stigma tied to their virginity. “The shame comes in comparing yourself to others,” Sherman says. “Shame is a very destructive emotion because it makes you feel as though there is something wrong with you that you need to hide or keep a secret. The experience of shame can cause low self-esteem and also cause people not to date and even stay away from associating with friends.”
While a lot of virgin shaming is internal, female virgins do experience criticism from other people. Part of the reason women feel ashamed about being virgins is due to the societal expectation that you’ll lose it by a certain age. David Routt, a licensed professional counselor at Totius Therapies in Caldwell, Idaho, believes that a lot of the negative stigma surrounding virginity stems from cultural values. “Our society and culture seems to put a lot of stock into having a sexual relationship at a fairly young age,” Routt says. “This does not seem to be helping us in the least because relationships, especially deeply intimate ones, are difficult and most people are not prepared at young ages for the rigors and stress that is placed on a person when you are trying to work harmoniously with someone you have deep feelings for.” This idea that someone can be too old to be a virgin is visible everywhere in our society. There are even movies that focus solely on the concept of being an “old” virgin like The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Why can’t people who lose their virginity at an older age shake of the stigma of being inexperienced in a largely ‘value based’ society?