“Virginity Rocks” is the seemingly chaste new slogan teens across the country are sporting on shirts, hats, lanyards and other merch, and while some bear it ironically, the trend has also caught the attention of pro-abstinence communities.
While the man behind the brand, 27-year-old YouTuber Danny Duncan, told the New York Times he began wearing the shirts as a joke in 2017, he added that he’s glad to see fans have embraced the initially “tongue-in-cheek” slogan in different ways.
“I have sex, obviously,” Duncan made a point of telling the Times, “but I want people to do whatever they want to do and not be pressured into anything.”
Duncan raises a good point. While abstinence should never be praised as morally or otherwise superior to sexual activity — much less taught in schools in lieu of actual sexual education — the popularity of “Virignity Rocks” subverts a decades-old societal stereotype that “cool kids” have sex, and those who don’t are inherently uncool or undesirable.
Keeping in mind that “virginity” is a loaded word tied to a culture of gendered stereotypes often used to police women’s sexuality, the “Virginity Rocks” mantra seems to reflect a shifting attitude toward sexuality among young people, one that may finally upend the paradox perhaps best outlined in the infamous Breakfast Club line, “If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut.” Worn ironically or not, the “Virginity Rocks” shirts seem to speak to a new, more inclusive sexual discourse among young people embracing a culture of sex-positivity that respects all consensual sexual choices, including the choice to not have sex.
But because the people who have decided they are in charge of policing young adults’ sexual choices and expression have to be angry about something, various school authorities have punished students for wearing “Virginity Rocks” products in some sort of confused attempt to reassert their moralizing dominance over adolescents who appear to have embraced the exact message of abstinence those authorities have force-fed them for years, often in lieu of comprehensive sex ed.
Teens at schools in Oregon, Wisconsin and Missouri have reportedly been suspended for wearing the shirts, sparking outrage from pro-abstinence groups who believe the products promote Christian values.
Whether schools are banning the shirts as a statement against Christian mores of abstinence or simply out of a reflexive need to police any mention of teen sexuality, the teens have clearly pulled one over on their generational predecessors yet again through their masterful use of subversive irony. May they inherit the earth.
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