Virgin Territory


With the canker on the Clinton

presidency finally healing (or

at least in temporary

remission), the time has come to

seek out new sexual role models

for the men and women (and their

bastard children) of America.

Never again—or at least not

until the 2000 presidential

election—can we expect to look

to the leader of the so-called

Free World for tips on how to

manage our love lives. Gone

forever are them good old days

when US citizens confidently

turned to the White House and

drew romantic inspiration from

the likes of Lyndon Baines

Johnson, whose very initials

suggested illicit pleasures

sodomites enjoy, and Tricky Dick

Nixon, whose presidency ushered

in an age of sexual carnival

that is still being plumbed in

film, fiction, and epidemiology.

Two possible role models

immediately present themselves

for consideration in our debased

age. Not surprisingly, they come

from two traditional, reliable,

and highly respected sources for

moral guidance: professional

sports and the right-wing youth

brigade. They are, respectively,

the National Basketball

Association's A. C. Green and

Wendy Shalit, author of A

Return to Modesty: Discovering

the Lost Virtue.

Both are high-profile

virgins and both embody the

time-tested adage, "Those who

cannot do, preach." A third

possible role model from an

equally respected moral

wellspring, the entertainment

industry, fell by the wayside

when rage-aholic/ex-child star/

security guard Gary Coleman

got hauled into court for

assaulting a "fan." In the

ensuing flush of publicity, the

Diff'rent Strokes mascot

angrily announced and lamented

that he was a virgin (well, if

you don't count sitting on the

lap of TV housekeeper Charlotte

Rae as sex).

If good things come to those who

wait, then it's certainly long

past pay-off time for Green,

who's currently boosting the

karma of his next life by

playing forward for the

offensively celibate Dallas

Mavericks. Green has gained some

small measure of fame as the

Iron Horse of hoops: He holds

the record for consecutive games

played and should, barring

injury, appear in his 1,000th

straight game come 13 March.

While this effort has earned the

36-year-old journeyman a line in

the record books, he is rightly

better known for being the only

NBA athlete who willingly plays

the game with blue balls. More

remarkable still, in a league

where fathering illegitimate

children is now part of the

standard players contract, Green

not only shuns safe sex but sex

altogether. Indeed, one can only

marvel at how he managed to

endure the strike-induced layoff

period earlier this season

without suffering either a

stroke or high-profile,

pants-staining episode.

As Green, who broke into the

pros with the Los Angeles Lakers,

the former team of Wilt

Chamberlain (who claimed to have

bedded 20,000 women and who was

dubbed "the Big Dripper" by

teammates due to persistent

bouts with the clap) and Earvin

"Magic" Johnson (whose nickname,

alas, turned out to be mostly an

exercise in unintentional

irony), has recalled: "I

remember my first trip with the

Lakers, riding on the bus.

Everyone was saying, 'A. C.,

you're not going to believe how

wonderful the girls look who

hang out after the game. You

won't be talking about saving

yourself for marriage after you

see these girls. We'll give you

six weeks before you give in,

man.'" In fact, Green has done

more than hold out. Through his

group, Athletes for Abstinence,

he has spread the word about not

spreading his seed. For the most

part, Green plays his celibacy

shtick much like he plays

basketball these days: quietly,

unassumingly, and occasionally

with a broken cheekbone. Such a

generally low-key approach is

somewhat ingratiating, though he

has also done a little

trash-talking at times, such as

when he produced an

athlete-filled rap video titled

It Ain't Worth It. Such a

confident assertion on Green's

part raises questions of

authority: Who is he, after all,

to know what "it" is worth?

While he may well be right that

"it ain't worth it" (especially

after 36 years of doing

without), precisely what sort of

comparison shopping has he been

up to?

If Green's declarative price

check on the relative value of

chastity suggests a credibility

issue, then Wendy Shalit's

youthful, widely disseminated

musings on the topic undress a

more revealing contradiction in

the open virginity movement. If

pride goeth before a fall, it is

also true that modesty goeth

before aggressively public

displays of supposedly private

behavior. For the 23-year-old

Shalit, whose writings on heated

topics such as unisex toilets

have appeared in

neo-conservative pubs such as

Commentary and City Journal, the

main problem of contemporary

society is that sex is on

display everywhere. "We're not

flocking to Jane Austen movies

because we want the facts [of

sex] but because we're sick of

having the facts shoved in our

faces all the time," she writes,

ignoring the box-office appeal

of films such as Wild Things and Anal

Volcano II, the only reason

anyone downloaded the Starr

Report, and the thousands of

strip joints that do bang-up

business even in the smallest

towns of this sweet land of

liberty precisely by shoving

facts in faces.

Regardless, Shalit ultimately

shafts herself on the horns of

her horny dilemma. "Though there

are many women who conduct

themselves 'modestly' in their

personal lives, no woman has

ever attempted a systematic

defense of modesty. One has to

admit there is a very good

reason for this: A woman who is

reticent about matters sexual is

unlikely to step

forward and squawk, 'Hey,

everybody, look at me! Boy, am I

modest!'" But there she is on

C-SPAN and elsewhere, yakking

about her book and the benefits

of ankle-length dresses, all the

while tossing her hair and

licking her lips like a jiggle

queen in a late-night ad for a

900 sex line or a teenaged model

in a Calvin Klein underwear ad.

Such relentless exhibitionism is

wearing, be it fully clothed

or clean shaven. Indeed, by the

end of her book, Shalit seems to

be having some of those

morning-after doubts she

ascribes to the sexually active,

low-self-esteem crowd. "I have

defended modesty, essentially,

in the most obscene way, but I

did it because I had a hunch

that this was the only way our

culture would ever consider it,"

she confesses. Thus, taking a

page from the oh-so-successful

Vietnam playbook, she destroyed

modesty in order to save it.

Which, if nothing else, suggests

that a return to modesty ain't

worth it. And if nothing else,

it underscores the fact that we

cannot expect virgins, any more

than whores, to guide us when it

comes to our sex lives.

Nick Gillespie is editor-in-chief of reason. This story originally appeared in Suck, and can be viewed in that format here.