If you're one of the guys or girls who haunts the Girls Gone Mild book club on Facebook, you may have already seen the advice Dr. Gail Saltz recently gave to a 25-year-old woman via her column on the Today show site (and you might recognize me. Hi!). This young woman wonders:
...At times I feel there must be something wrong with me and that I’m incapable of carrying on a relationship. I do have a good group of friends. I’m a little shy and reserved at first, but I then open up to people, and am basically confused as to why I haven’t had the opportunities most have already had at this point in their lives."
To me it sounds like the only thing 'wrong' with this woman is her sense of modesty, but since I don't have a PhD, let's hear Dr. Saltz' psychological diagnosis:
Fortunately for our girl, Dr. Saltz isn't actually suggesting that she has Asperger's syndrome or schizophrenia because she does actually have friends, so the problem must be something else. She suggests shyness or "social phobia" could be the root of her troubles, but then hits on another possibility:
Maybe my own experience is unusual, but the few girls I've known who were sexually abused as kids turned out, for the most part, to be more promiscuous later in life. So it surprises me that this is the common psychological response to virginity, and I think it's cruel to suggest that someone who chooses abstinence must be "damaged goods."
The good Dr. finishes her column by saying that "It is not terrible to be a virgin at 25," (oh really? 'Not terrible?' Thanks!) and suggesting that the young lady should practice talking in front of a mirror, and probably find a good therapist.
[On a side note, I like to imagine Dr. Saltz' internal dialogue going something like this:
"Oh you're a virgin? And you're how old? Really? Wow. Well, you might have a mental disorder: Schizophrenia? Autism? No? Ok, so you were sexually assaulted then right? Are you sure? I guess you should just go to therapy then. Sorry."]
Of course the young woman herself may have led Dr. Saltz to this demeaning diagnosis of her "problem" by suggesting that there might be something wrong with her, but I think this is further proof of our society's stigma against virginity (which the comments section of the original article suggests). Why is it no longer socially or psychologically acceptable to be a virgin at 25? Why is it assumed that virgins are mentally or emotionally defective? And at what age does one pass the point of social acceptance as a virgin?