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This month Jane magazine is sponsoring a contest to get a 29-year-old virgin laid, a cheap publicity stunt that misses the bigger point: Why does a "funny, gorgeous" virgin need to place what is essentially an ad for sex at all?

There was time when virginity was a prize, a treasure to be guarded and a badge of honor, but now, it seems that for the modern career woman virginity is nothing but a curse.

Where the proliferation of online dating fosters a culture of freewheeling, uncommitted hookups.

What's worse, the longer she waits the harder it is to find a guy -- not just the right guy, but any guy -- to do the honors.

Which prompts the question, Has the sexual revolution ironically made it impossible for a mature woman to get laid for the first time?

Everybody is saying "Look, this is what's going on. " At parties, especially college parties, conversations tend to revolve around sex, and about the last thing any virgin wants is for her sexuality to be the hot topic or, worse, to risk the chance that someone in the group will talk down to her, as if all she knows about sex is the birds and the bees. "I remember one of the guys saying, ' Man, if I was 24 and a virgin I think I'd go crazy.

Laura, a virgin until she was 25, remembers parties where friends and strangers would trade personal sex stories. I think I'd die.' Then some other guy said, ' You know the Unabomber was a virgin," and I'm thinking, ' Oh my God, they think I'm going to turn into a sociopath because I haven't had sex at the age of 23.'" On the men's lifestyle Web site Ask Men.com, relationship correspondent Lawrence Mitchell wrote a column in 2002 called "Should You Date a Virgin?

It reminded her of the last time and she started to cry.

But this guy was actually nice about it, telling her things like "That guy was such an asshole" and "You should say you just haven't found the right guy; be more self-confident." It made her feel better, and when he left he said he'd call her the next day. "No offense, but most people do that in high school," he told her.She still tried, occasionally, and after about a year she met another guy, someone else from work. Oh I could make these jokes all day long — just like we made fun of the high school virgins back in the '80s, when "virgin" is what the cool bullies called you when they wanted to negatively impact your self-esteem. " Now there are dating sites, so boys and girls can get together to make it harder to maintain their virginities. " (That's "boyfriend" if female, because Proposition 8/Smoposition 8, this particular virgin dating site is hooking up singles like it's Aug. Frankly one expects better story exposition from the recently deflowered blathering away online. Nevermind that fetishized "purity" has been used to oppress women since the dawn of time or that teens who take virginity pledges are more likely to engage in riskier sexual behavior. Anxious virgins looking to meet their match can read (currently three) inspirational stories written by people who got married and had sex, allegedly in that order. It reads like the lamest fan fiction on the Internet."The culture is getting more and more permission to be sexual at any age," says Shirley Zussman, a sex therapist in New York."It's almost a directive from the culture: movies, books, magazines, TV programs. I'm washing dishes at a party because I don't want to be involved in this conversation.'" But it was probably for the best.renewing their commitment to chastity) during their short-lived re-engagement and all. "Vcards can be used to represent the value of your purity," reads the description for the product valued at .50 ( for customers outside the U. This attempt to clarify "sexual intercourse" only muddles an increasingly muddled topic. The "guess the virgin" game should be a lot easier to play on You And Me Are … The virgin dating sites home page features images of a diverse rainbow of racially-matched "happy couples." Alas, reading the print at the bottom reveals, "The persons in the photos are models. You And Me Are better hope so if it wants to make it beyond the Jonas Brothers demographic.But it may be the first one that offers an actual prop to create literal card-carrying virgins ... The dating site's store offers perplexingly "sold-out" gift memberships (did they run out of Internet? The images are being used for illustrative purposes only." Sigh. But most of those people are religious conservatives who are pretty much doing what they always did.The phenomenon of involuntary virgins, on the other hand, exists underground in liberal America, where sophisticated career women are supposed to have active sex lives and gyms offer pole dancing and stripping classes as a kind of aerobics.

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