Not that you were so brazen as to ask, but one of my greatest sources of pride as an old, happily married man is that I always managed to resist the siren call of premarital sex. (Okay, I probably had help from the fact that once those mythical temptresses got a good look at me, they invariably stammered, “Um, sorry… wrong number. And your face looks like it has already smashed against the rocks.”)
Still, I would have felt less geeky and self-conscious in my teens and twenties if something like the current “Virginity Rocks” phenomenon had existed then.
As you may know, Danny Duncan (a 27-year-old YouTube personality and prankster) introduced “Virginity Rocks” T-shirts as a joke in 2017. But the message has caught fire. Chastity fans embrace it with dead seriousness, while hedonistic hipsters embrace it for the irony.
Of course, the casual observer’s confusion over who falls into which camp can both blunt the lesson and cause people to practice abstinence even after tying the knot. (“Honey, I say that guy over there truly believes that True Love Waits.” “Wrong. I say that guy is mocking traditional values, dear.” “I say you’re crazy.” “I say you’re sleeping on the sofa for the next couple of weeks.”)
Duncan’s lark has caught business experts by surprise, generating millions of dollars of sales of trademarked merchandise. (Apparently, at least half the consumers are announcing, “I’m saving my virtue for marriage, but I’m blowing my paycheck on those sandals and hoodies.”)
A feeling of kinship with like-minded individuals nationwide might have given me more backbone when I was 14 and working at my uncle’s junkyard. As it was, I remained silent when one of the scrap haulers (a macho loudmouth) pontificated pronouncements such as, “If my son ain’t (had sex) by the time he’s 16, I’m buying him a (hooker).” After 40-plus years, I still wonder how that boy turned out. (“Dude! My STDs plotted against me and voted me out of the house! Guess I can sleep on a park bench and cover myself with paternity suits.”)
The world of “Virginity Rocks” first caught my attention via news reports of the quandary faced by school administrators. Some schools have sent students home for having the audacity to wear “Virginity Rocks” shirts to class. Parents have protested that it’s illogical and counterproductive to punish kids for displaying a positive message. (A “Don’t Run with Scissors” lanyard would probably get the young hoodlums sentenced to breaking rocks in the hot sun.)
No, really, the T-shirts are intimidating because the administrators would rather that students not think about sex at all. That’s asking a lot from teens awash in raging hormones. Their minds can drift onto sex from just about any subject, whether the Magna Carta, the shifting of tectonic plates or the Trail of Tears. (“So, how exactly would a Cherokee maiden send smoke signals of her breasts to a young brave she’s interested in?”)
I know there are people who sneer at the “Virginity Rocks” adherents and espouse “letting it all hang out.” These folks might sing a different tune if they ran afoul of a protective father who decided to avenge the deflowering of his precious daughter. (“Ouch! I prithee exercise a modicum of self-restraint. Ouch! No sir, you just can’t beat keeping your emotions in check and calmly!”)
Danny Tyree welcomes responses at email@example.com.
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