The Asian Virgin: Sex as a Solution in Western Storytelling

Literature Default
Content warnings: Sex, sexuality, sexual relationships, ‘virgin’ as a descriptive (not to shame), relationship abuse, minors, consent (&...

Content warnings: Sex, sexuality, sexual relationships, ‘virgin’ as a descriptive (not to shame), relationship abuse, minors, consent (& lack thereof), alcohol consumption, ‘virgin shaming’, peer-pressure, mention of drugs and alcohol. 

Trigger warnings: relationship abuse, emotional abuse, pressuring and shaming, minors, non-consensual activities.

Disclaimer: This piece has no intention to slut-shame. I believe in sex positivity, the autonomy to explore their sexual desires and boundaries without shame. This piece will specifically examine the flip-side which is autonomy to not have sex.

Hi, hello, welcome. I am back with another episode of ‘complaining about specific topics and trying to write about them in a coherent way so you don’t have to suffer through my verbal ramblings too much.’ Buckle-up.

This time, I would like to talk about sex. Specifically, the ways in which Western audio-visual media shifted from ‘SEX BAD, MARRIAGE GOOD, BABY AFTER MARRIAGE SUPER GOOD’ to ‘EVERYONE’S BANGIN’!’ in terms of writing adolescent characters. Following that, I want to address how this is often used to ridicule Asian characters and cultural stereotypes about Asian relationships, specifically The Big Bang Theory’s token Indian, Raj. We might even go into a *greater discussion* about *sex being used as a crutch for realism in stories about modern youth. Exciting stuff. So, let’s get ready to ramble!

Defining ‘Virginity’

Now, the idea of the ‘virgin’ contains ongoing discourse about the ways in which such a term can be used to weaponize people’s body autonomy and insecurities — to degrade those who have sex (before marriage or in general) as ‘impure’, even when talking about masturbation, depending on regional or cultural circumstance.

As someone who has not personally experienced dating, relationships, or sexual activity with another person, I will be using ‘virgin’ as a descriptive for ‘someone who has not engaged in a form of sexual activity with at least one other person’. ‘A form’ can be open to interpretation from any reader of this piece. Individuals are allowed to make their own personal and individual judgement about what they may consider their first experience with sex (their ‘first time’). The way you define your ‘firsts’ is your choice as it is your body, and I think it is important to consider that a general ‘umbrella’ definition can not be applicable for everyone and individual experiences. Some people do not necessarily experience the definitions of sex that are heavily centered around heteronormative explanations you may get in biology lessons.

Defining ‘Sex as a Solution’

When referring to ‘sex as a solution’, I am specifically referring to the idea that for many characters, sex is a goal — something to achieve and something that ‘resolves’ the ‘issue’ of being a virgin or someone who hasn’t had sex for a certain timeframe. It is also this ‘idea’ that sex can be used as a tool to ‘solve’ character arcs. Take any Netflix teen film for example, where sex is shown to solve everyone’s problems, from trauma to their dArK, bRoOdInG pAsTs. Films glorify sex to the point where the outsider suddenly feels cool and normal just because they have lost their virginity.

In my opinion, all of these examples are very flat, one-dimensional, and frankly, stupid ways of approaching the nuances of sexuality and relationships when it comes to modern youth. I’m going to say ‘modern youth’ because if I say ‘young people’ I might need to address the fact that I haven’t been a teenager for a good few years, and I already used my quarter-life crisis coupon four years ago, thank you x.

The change from ‘sex as a sin’ to ‘sex as a solution’

To figure out how modern youth consumes stories with explicit displays of sexuality as an expectation of contemporary life, it’s important to recognise how previous decades were expected to tell stories with sex as a topic of shame and disgust, especially for women and the LGBTQIA+ community.

In 1952, CBS prohibited the program I Love Lucy from using the word ‘pregnant’, which is baffling when you consider how it’s extremely expected for women to be mothers; yet, it’s considered a no-no to say because it implies that the married characters had sex.

Sex between humans in audio-visual media was worthy of clutching your pearls and wrapping your cardigan tighter around you, to the extent that Samantha and Darrian from Bewitched could only acceptably share a bed because Samantha was a witch and therefore not considered human. Thus, you could only be in such a circumstance if you weren’t treated as a literal ‘human’. Lovely. It was in the late-1940s when a show called Mary Kay and Johnny had two ‘humans’ sharing a bed.

The late ‘70s really started to propell sex as a conversation when the title character of Maude chose to have an abortion in an episode in 1972, for example. A show titled Soap had letters written in protest before its 1977 debut on ABC because Billy Crystal would be portraying an openly gay charatcer; sex was absent but this was less to do with characters opting out of sex and more to do with sex as a topic in general being antagonised and a good way for sponsors to drop advertising deals that would help fund television shows — especially when it came to antagonising same-sex relationships.

Let’s not forget the major setback in the acceptance of sexuality in Britain, when the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28 in 1988, which stated that “councils should not ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ in its schools”. Getting the general public to collectively normalize sexuality as a possibility in an individual’s life was a long journey that we are still undertaking, and law enforcement that disproportionately impacts marginalised groups does not help at all.

To corroborate this, the report ‘LGBT in Britain – Hate Crime and Discrimination’ states that “One in five LGBT people (21 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months […][and] One in four black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people (24 per cent) accessing social services in the last year have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity”. Amongst other statistics, this report highlights that hate-crimes targeting the LGBTQIA+ community are ongoing, even if greater proportions in modern societies are more welcoming than policy in previous decades, such as Section 28. Furthermore, the report iterates the fact that non-white members of the LGBTQIA+ community continue to experience racial discrimination in addition to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Examples of a slow….slow…..slow realisation that the mere suggestion of sex does not make you morally bankrupt was accompanied by the continued waves of Feminism and LGBTQIA+ activism that fought to change the way sex was discussed and body autonomy. We are at a stage in history where casual sex outside of marriage is not only accepted and celebrated in modern life but has desenzitised a lot of audiences to the idea that sex equaling shame is ‘protecting’ impressionable groups.

This, amongst other profound changes made in history and law, means that many individuals and groups, especially modern youth, can experience more physical, mental, and emotional safety than they may have in prior years. However, it is also possible that the continued push for body autonomy, particularly in relation to desensitising sex as shameful, has led to some…choices media production has made, believing sex is necessary for storytelling. It also becomes more of a problem when minors are involved in the conversation.

Sex and Adolescence (minors)

It has become an expectation for media about teenagers to explore sexuality under the veil of ‘realism’, even if the characters portrayed in the stories are minors. Granted, it is not uncommon to have known at least one person that bragged about having sex or engaged in sexual activity during school, but it’s strange how some media is so concerned about the sex lives of modern youth that other things almost seem obsolete. We are expected to just accept that the main character got accepted into Harvard, even if we have been given no evidence of them working on their grades and eligibility (The Kissing Booth 2, I’m talking to you, look me in the eye and explain, please). I could know more about a sexual partner’s hickey preferences before I find out what the main character wants to study (ahem).

Kennie J.D., someone who has frequently called out the moral setbacks presented in media targeting teenagers and young adults in their Bad Movies & a Beat series, published a video about HBO’s Euphoria (2019). They argue that it is really jarring to watch a show revolving around 16-year old characters with the implication that many adult viewers would be incidentally witnessing the nudity of minors; regardless as to whether or not the actors are adults, the shows wants us to interpret Euphoria with an understanding that the actors are performing a characterisation of minors (J.D.).

Kennie continues this video by addressing one of the counter-arguments that the nudity presents realism about some of the wild things teenagers get up to. They address that it is not impossible to imagine teenagers drinking, taking drugs, and saving because some do, but not all; it’s becoming apparent that adult writers of media who were teenagers in specific decades don’t know how to write about teenagers of this decade and use sexuality as a shortcut for the ‘realism’ of sexual liberty, when normalizing the absence of sexuality in a non-shaming way was never an option to begin with. Kennie J.D. states that,

“Ranging from every genre: Degrassi, American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, On My Block, Skins, Superbad […] they all in some way or another capitalize on this idea that ‘it’s okay to make sexual content about teenagers because “teens out here sexualising themselves”; which becomes something to question if and when content curated to be ‘real’ is consumed through an adult lens.”

Kennie J.D.’s argument exemplifies how the societal expectations that audio-visual media has curated about sex has had a significant shift from presenting abstinence as an expectation to belittle sexually active people and sex work, to presenting frequent sexual acitivity as an expectation to belittle those who aren’t. Moreover, the gradual desensitization to writing about explicit sexuality and sex in fictional media has gone to the extent that minors are presented in highly explicit context, such as Netflix’s ‘Cuties’, in a way that is voyeuristic.

When it comes to western media continuing to release projects that are at the centre of its arcs for ‘realism’, J.D. addresses that sex for the sake of realism is not technically feasible with fiction,

“I think people forget there is no such thing as realism in curated work […] you cannot be a real, edited, stylised, scripted show. That’s not a thing; you can’t do that. […] At that point [For ‘Euphoria], it boils down to either you made sexually explicit content for minors, OR you made sexually explicit content about minors for the consumption of adults. […] What does this 35 white male [writer] of this show know what it’s like to be a sixteen year old, biracial girl in 2019; he’s already taken some artistic licenses, you think he couldn’t have just bumped them up to nineteen” (2020).

If production teams are curating stories under the fallacy of realism, it is frankly disappointing that the option to not have sex without shame or ridicule is never truly considered for the fallacy. It is not even conceivable to write about characters that express body autonomy without sex involved in their arcs because ‘what’s real about not having sex? Everyone’s doin’ it these days!’

It has gotten to a point where you can almost draft a Yerkes-Dodson curve, where too little or too much of something can lead to equally damaging results for the dynamic between performance and arousal (Pietrangelo). How ironic. In application to sexuality in audio-visual storytelling, the x-axis of our ‘sex curve’ could indicate the creation/consumption of sex-based stories decade-by-decade, and the y-axis may show its affects on society (healthily) interpreting sexuality from weak to strong. The first point of the curve would illustrate the tight censorship of sexuality and the end point being the opposite.

Both points of the curve may illustrate an equally ‘weak’ presentation and interpretation of sexuality, just with contrasting methods. Additionally, both points of this (made up and hypothetical) curve showcase a caricatured version of the society it’s situated in, to implicitly suggest that an unhealthy interpretation of sexuality is representative of how things just are rather than how things could be for a selection of characters.

Rajesh, inebriated misogynist. 

Although my parents and I watched The Big Bang Theory, we often watched it and other US comedy shows with a level of understanding that the writing isn’t necessarily gold standard writing. We more often used US comedy shows as a platform for inside jokes and quotations to say to each other in any given circumstance (BAZINGA being one of the culprits). I don’t really have that much animosity towards the show; I always watched it through a lens of understanding the heavy stereotypes that surround it, especially with Raj as the token non-white person that is often the centre of ridicule.

During my university years (what a vague way to show my age as a non-teenager), I discovered a YouTube channel called ‘Popculture Detective’, particularly, a video they published titled ‘The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory’’; this detailed the ways in which men in geek and nerd cultures — that don’t fit the typical moulds for attractive main leads — fly under the radar of misogynistic behaviour because they are considered awkward ‘nice guys.’ I think that it is becoming a common narrative that calling yourself a nice guy is just another way of feeling like you are entitled to a woman’s sexual time with you, simply because you are considered the ‘underdog’ of attractive men — ‘I’m a nice guy’ sits at the same table with ‘I’m not like other girls’.

When it comes to Rajesh specifically, the astrophysicist with selective mutism around women unless inebriated, ‘Popculture Detective’ argues that his misogynistic behaviour is clocked by the excuse of alcohol, that:

“The show’s token geek of colour and is endlessly mocked for being the most effeminate of the four friends […] it’s in those uninhibited moments when we see some very extreme levels of underlying misogyny come to the forefront.”

These statements are accompanied by clips of Raj taking a drink and saying to a woman college “do you like to hear about it more in my hot tub”, calling Penny “dear, why don’t you shoot another silver bullet my way” and undressing fully naked in a busy cafe when he’s on a date. The drunkenness gives Raj leeway to mistreat his interactions with women because alcohol is part of the joke. At least that’s what the writers intended.

To examine how Raj’s relationship with sexuality exemplifies the ways in which Asian youth may struggle between a ‘traditional’ family’s expectations of abstinence before marriage, and a friendship circle’s expectations of sex in general, it is important to look specifically into the history of sexuality in Indian culture.

Sexuality in Indian culture

Kaustav Chakraborty and Rajarshi Guha Thakura state that,

“India played a significant role in the history of sex, from writing the first literature that treated sexual intercourse as a science, to in modern times being the origin of the philosophical focus of new-age groups’ attitudes on sex. It may be argued that India pioneered the use of sexual education through art and literature” (2013).

This highlights how today’s preconceptions and stereotypes about Indians having strict rules about sex and marriage is a modern interpretation in comparison to India’s ancient history. This is supported by Chakraborty and Guha Thakura whereby,

“Nudity in art was considered acceptable in southern India, as shown by the paintings at Ajanta and the sculptures of the time. It is likely that as in most countries with tropical climates, Indians from some regions did not need to wear clothes, and other than for fashion, there was no practical need to cover the upper half of the body […] Vatsyayana’s classic work “Kamasutra” (Aphorisms of love) written somewhere between the 1st and 6th centuries includes the three pillars of the Hindu religion “Dharma,” “Artha” and “Kama” representing religious duty, worldly welfare and sensual aspects of life respectively. The main theme here appears to be the expression of Indian attitude toward sex as a central and natural component of Indian psyche and life” (2013).

This assessment emphasises how India has historically interpreted sexuality in a liberating manner that was ‘central’ and ‘natural’ to daily life and mentalities in India – to the extent that it informed, and was influenced by, the arts and choices in clothing. So, what happened between the early centuries and now, where many people stereotype Indian culture as restrictive and influence the way Indian characters are written?

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, the thing we love to hate with all of our being: WHITE SUPREMACY!

The British Empire played a pivotal role in reshaping sexuality in Indian culture; this was because the Empire essentially wanted to ‘de-Indian’ Indians and their culture(s).

Victorian England and its industrialisation were a very formative period of history that shaped art, literature, science, and technology in ways that were both liberating and inhibiting. Something of note about Victorian England was the fascination with physiognomy and Eugenics. Hitler (oh god we got to the Hitler portion of the tangent) is the most notable figure that believed in Eugenics, but in Victorian England, physiognomy was used to determine a person’s manner and behaviour by their physical characteristics.

By judging someone’s character from specific visual features, this led to a eugenic mentality where many people would select their partners by physical characteristics. Many Victorians believed that it was important to select a partner that physically looked the most ‘fertile’ or viable for a strong offspring in looks and characteristics. Darwin’s theory of evolution with natural selection informed a lot of eugenic theory in the sense that natural selection kept the visually ‘fittest’ as the ‘most evolved’; this led to this idea that if you were not white or had non-British features, then you were scientifically ‘less evolved’ and not viable for a marital partner, as this would essentially affect the selective breeding of the family line. Yikes.

How did this affect Indian sexuality? Well, Victorian Britain believed that anyone not white/British were scientifically ‘less evolved’ due to their physical features (you can imagine how this influenced racial profiling in the criminal justice system). The British Empire tried to ‘solve’ this by trying to strip Indian colonies of their Indianness with teaching (enforcing) the English language, teaching (enforcing) values and practices in Christianity, as well as other texts or aspects of Victorian culture that informed ‘proper’ British sensibility. Essentially, if Indians can’t be ‘evolved’ physically, then white supremacy can make the Indian intellect more ‘evolved’ to continue working under the Empire. Double yikes.

Chakraborty and Guha Thakura support this assessment by stating that “Victorian values stigmatized Indian sexual liberalism. The pluralism of Hinduism, and its liberal attitudes were condemned as ‘barbaric’ and proof of inferiority of the East” (2013). This is horrific to think about through a modern lens, but explains why many of the attitudes towards modesty and abstinence before marriage is commonly associated with the ‘strictness’ of Indian culture.

It is significant also to note that homosexuality in India was not illegal pre-Empire. ­­Once again, the British Empire put in their big bigoted foot by 1861 and enforced Section 377 of their penal code onto India, “which could punish those who committed sodomy or other homosexual acts with life in prison” and Section 377 of the Indian penal Code continued to be law for years even after India gained back its independence in 1947 (2018).

Many Indian youth are, or have been, affected by homophobic and non-liberating values enforced by law or parents, and you cannot invalidate that struggle; however, it is important to understand that a lot of specific ‘Indian values’ are rooted in white supremacy as fallout from the British Empire and Victorian England shaming Indian culture for its sexual liberalism. Even though the main argument in my piece is to unravel sex as an expectation in storytelling, it is valuable to recognise how the caricatures that inform writers about Indians’ relationship with relationships, no matter how relevant to modern youth, has an underlying history of white supremacy.

Raj, his parents, and Hinduism.

Although I mainly discussed the ‘strictness’ of Indian values with contexts of British Christianity, Raj from The Big Bang Theory was not raised as a Christian. His parents are Hindu and therefore, specific Hindu teachings about relationships can also frame Raj’s struggle with sexuality. According to Chakraborty and Guha Thakura,

“In the life of a Hindu male, for instance, marriage is regarded as necessary, because without a wife, he cannot enter the Grihasth ashrama (the life stage of a householder). In addition, without marriage there can be no offspring, and without a son, no release from the chain of reincarnation in birth-death-rebirth. […] a husband should only approach his wife sexually during her ritu (season), a period of sixteen days within the menstrual cycle. However, intercourse is forbidden on 6 of these 16 days, the first 4 days, and the 11th and 13th” (2013).

I recognise that, even though my Dad’s family were raised as Hindu, I don’t have a religion. It’s not that fair of me to make sweeping judgements on a religion when individuals may practice it according to personal interpretation. With that being said, the idea of a husband approaching their wife within their menstrual cycle is oddly comedic to me. It’s phrased in a way that makes it seem as if we’re witnessing a nature documentary about prey apprehensively making their presence known for mating during someone’s time of the month. Anyway –

This specific interpretation of sexuality in Hinduism emphasizes sex in connotation to biology and ‘offspring,’ rather than pleasure and desire. Arguably, this informs the way Raj’s parents pressure him to be married as the expectation of sex is the expectation to have children. Furthermore, characterising Raj as misogynistic with a tendency to use casual sex to solve his loneliness continues to reinforce stereotypes about South Asians’ relationship with relationships. How South Asians try to engage in western society, which normalizes casual sex outside of marriage, could be seen as a direct opposition to traditional ideas of sex after marriage and arranged marriages in South Asian culture; but both contrasting cultures place pressures on the individual, such as Raj, to adhere to expectations about sex.

This suggests that for Raj to break out of ‘traditional’ ideas in Indian culture, he needs to fulfil the western ideas of sexual relationships — by having them. Therefore, the continued conflict Raj has with marriage to appease his parents and sex to appease status in his friendship group reinforces the characterisation of Raj as a ‘lonely and desperate virgin’ – he must have a partner to marry and have sex with otherwise he is a ‘let-down’ to both of his friends and family for opposing reasons.

Rajesh, forever single.

Given the fact that there are often very few Asian characters that are main leads in Western stories to begin with, Raj is not given the same courtesy of a long-term romantic relationship as his white peers and co-workers. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a main character that does not fit the typical arc of having a life-long relationship at the end of a story (example: Joey Tribbiani from F.R.I.E.N.D.S.), but the fact that this role is given to the only non-white lead of the program means that Raj falls short on the expectations of his family and his circle of friends. His sex life is a problem, and it needs to be solved with sex in return.

It is a weird dichotomy where Raj is struggling between two opposing cultures when it comes to sex — either he is pressured by the wants and desires of his family and not adhering to orthodox ideas of sex to expand the family, or he is seen by his peer group as someone lonely, desperate, and in need of a quickie to stop moping about whilst being lonely and desperate. He is either having too much sex to fulfil his long-term goals, or not having enough sex to fulfil his ‘needs and desires’. I can imagine for many young Asians this is a type of internal conflict they may experience. We are shamed if we have sex, but we are shamed if we don’t. Sex is both the solution and the problem.

Virginity as Heteronormative

One of the major issues I have with the portrayal of virginity is its heteronormative connotations in western content. If you are a ‘boy virgin’, have sex with girl. If you are a ‘girl virgin’, have sex with boy (which also excludes the possibility of exploring trans and nonbinary people as leading characters in relationship arcs). Not only that, but there is a disregard for the idea that virginity is a conscious choice involving an individual’s sexuality rather than a commitment to ‘traditional’ ideas. If a character is a virgin, it is either because they are seen as undesirable or they haven’t yet met tHe OnE to have sex with. There is no option in these fictional scenarios where a character doesn’t want sex because they just don’t. ‘The Take’ states in one of their video essays that,

“Through TV history, a perceived lack of interest or experience in sex generally tends to either be played as a joke or explained away; think about how the word ‘virgin’ is used as an insult. […] A hesitance around sex is often shown as laughable and shameful, especially in men” (2021).

You could even argue that the latter part about men being shamed for virginity comes with its own hetero-patriarchal undertones. Even if it is not deemed acceptable for ‘men virgins’, it is more feasible to imagine ‘women virgins’ becasue of the way women’s bodies have been policed to antagonize sex outside of marriage, and their ‘virginity’ is eventually ‘solved’ by having sex with the one and only man they are exptected to marry.

Although western media loves the idea of finding your one and only (I’d dry-heave but I recognise I will probably be just as disgusting when I eventually have a relationship, we all have our flaws), romantic attraction that is not inherently linked to sexual desires is rarer than schools discussing the importance of consent.

When it comes to virginity, a lot of western media is not interested in exploring asexuality, demisexuality, or anything that directly addresses the nuances of the ace spectrum. If a person is ace in a piece of media, it is more likely confirmed by writers/directors off-screen than when the media goes from pre-production to post-production. Even if characters are LQBTQIA+, they are heavily characterized by the ‘sex’ in sexuality.

Circling back to The Big Bang Theory, there was an opportunity for Sheldon to potentially represent individuals that are on the ace spectrum and have fulfilling lives that don’t involve sexual activity. ‘The Take’ corroborate this stating that Sheldon,

“Is initially presented as someone with absolutely no interest in, or understanding of, sex […] and a strong distate for intimacy is eventually written into a more “normal” sexuality later seasons” (2021).

This is followed by a clip of Sheldon in bed with the sheets covering his body and saying “well, I enjoyed that more than I thought I would” (2021). It’s almost sad to hear him say this because it implies he previously would have considered sex as unenjoyable for him, yet the writers change Sheldon’s mind with sex as the solution.

On one hand, I can imagine that writers may have wanted to present Sheldon with a character arc whereby he opens himself to romantic opportunity — but again, the absence of storytelling about asexuality, demisexuality, or even something like demiromantic attraction, means that we are essentially getting a similar arc of growth that Leonard and Howard developed with their partners but repackaged into another white guy too smart for his own good. Sheldon’s relationship with Amy could have been a great opportunity that deep, meaningful and long-life connections can be made without physical affection, intimacy, or either partner feeling pressured to have sex because it’s ‘expected’.

Furthermore, the show attempts to ‘solve’ Sheldon’s character by altering Amy’s character to be more sexually driven to an almost caricature level that starkly contrasts Sheldon (and not in the two opposites make harmony type of way); she becomes the one that wears Sheldon down to be romantically and sexually attracted. Sheldon’s character is ‘fixed’ with Amy’s hopes to eventually have sex with him.

If Sheldon was beloved by a lot of people, wouldn’t it have been nice for a beloved character to show that the absence of sex doesn’t make your life lesser? Apparently no, they would rather make Raj needy and sex-starved.

It is important for stories about LGBTQIA+ relationships to be shared and respected, but the obsession with thinking that modern youth is obsessed with sex means that anyone who is not having sex by choice is either orthodox or waiting for the one to make their life all rainbows and butterflies for doing the horizontal tango. Virginity as a general concept is not exclusively heteronormative, but Western media continues to create stories that ‘overcome virginity’ with sexually driven dynamics. Sex is used to solve heterosexual character arcs, so why bother having ace arcs if sex can’t solve their problems?

Final notes: Sex is a choice, not expectation.

There is already plenty of discourse about how Western media tokenizes non-white characters, but I find it interesting how there is ample opportunity for stories about character’s having fulfiling lives outside of sexuality, but media would rather use sex as a tool to weaponize, sexualize, and ridicule.

Most of my piece was arguing how western media often amplifies sex in stories about adolscene and young adulthood that may be disproportionately frequent to real-life circumstances. However, I do recognise there is still this miasma of sexual frustration that often clouds over modern youth in schools, colleges, and universities — an expectation that is both spoken and unspoken with intention to weaponize and ridicule. I want to make it very clear to anyone — you are not obliged to start something or do something sexually just because other people are.

Do not feel ashamed for making choices that can help your wellbeing. If you have made choices that you did not expect or plan, or were a negative consequence such as pregnancy or STDs, do not feel ashamed — find help that can actually help you. If you are still in education, it is the institution’s responsibility to make sure any student can learn and feel safe with proactive resources. If an establishment is not doing that, they are part of the problem.

You are not obligated to ever have sex if that is your choice. If someone is pushing you for any form of activity, that is a breach of consent. If people are implying you should, or implicitly/explicitly shame you for being a ‘virgin at your age’, it is not anyone’s business to talk to you about your preferences as if they think they know you better than you do. They don’t.

Sex positivity is about exploring desires and understanding boundaries. Sex positivity is about the choice to have sex and to not have sex. Body autonomy is about choice, not expectation.

When it comes to this matter: be healthy, be safe, be unapologetic.*

*unless you are someone who disregards consent in which case apologize, mean it, and take a brisk walk on lego to the consequences of your actions, you colossal douche baguette. Thank you x

A/N: Two weeks into writing this new thesis, after pitching this idea May 28th (yes, I checked), I discover this video essay titled ‘The “Asexual” Asian Man – End the Undesirable Stereotype’ in my recommended whilst I made notes during another video essay from the same channel. It delights me that I have a resource directly addressing what I want to write about with the exact same case study, but it’s also funny to experience this ‘twin film’ phenomenon by accident, ‘The Take’ (highly recommend their videos) got there before me and now I look like a copycat! Regardless, I recommend also watching this video essay as a corroborative source.

Editors: Bri S., Lydia L., Megan L., Simran G. Joyce P., & Sophie G.

Edited 8/20 – Simran G. , Bri S., Lydia L., Sophie G.

Cover image: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/704xn/p070p26m.jpg

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