Reel Sex: The Cinematic Pains of Being a Virgin Part II

Last week I explored how emotionally and physically painful losing one’s virginity is for the ladies. The women discussed all held on to their v-cards like prized pies at a county fair, and when they gave it up disaster often struck. Be it mass suicide, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, or (worse yet) feelings, each movie addressed this entirely relatable coming-of-age experience. While many of us look back at our first time through rose-colored glasses, it was watching movies growing up that helped us come to terms with what happens to our bodies, feelings, and sexual futures. Thank god, for every female virginity tale, there are female sex positive films, family friendly fantasies, and Golden Years send-offs.

But what about the boys?

Unlike women centric virginity films, the boy’s story is often considered awkward, comical, and down-right head slap inducing. Why are boys never given as much respect in sexual awakening stories as the girls, who consequentially are considered fragile glass eggs. I could sit here and list off all the hilarious comedies where a terribly geeky boy not only kisses but fucks the girl of his dream, but I think there is something deeper to explore in these movies.  Losing our virginity is a push into adulthood, an emotional journey for some and anticlimactic for others. But no matter what sex for the first time only makes us want it more.

Easy Going

2010’s The Virginity Hit follows in the sex-comedy tradition of Porky’s and American Pie. All of these films follow a group of best friends desperately trying to stick their Ps in any girl’s V, and the affect this has on each one of them. Unlike the film’s big brothers, The Virginity Hit pushes the envelope even farther. Rather than show boys looking at naked girls through a peep hole, or Jason Biggs fucking a pie, here we have 16-year-old Matt (Matt Bennett) in a committed relationship determined to make love with his high school sweet heart. He runs into complications along the way, including his gross best friend Zack (Zack Pearlman) (who somehow tricked low self-esteem-laden girls into letting him inside of them), a cheating(ish) girlfriend Nicole (Nicole Weaver), and a graduate student disguised as an innocent older woman interested in deflowering our hero. But despite all this, he is able to get the girl and the bong hit his group of friends reserve for each of their first times. It’s a shame that Matt, who is very sweet-natured for a majority of the movie, comes off as a controlling and vindictive boyfriend for the latter half of the film.

Bumbly, Fumbly, and Heartbreaking

Few films resonate and captivate decades after their release. Sex, of course, sticks in an audience’s mind a little longer than say, a genre specific horror film, and the coming of age story is a common theme that brings audiences back time after time. First times for anything are not always pretty, they rarely feel good, and sex is especially one of the firsts that tends to have a lot of build up with very little payoff and a whole lot of mixed feelings. Three films in particular stick out as examples of the heartbreak associated with first time loving. While two out of three of these end on a semi-positive note, all the main male characters have to overcome soul crushing obstacles to get there.

The Blue Lagoon often finds itself swept up in the tides of female virginity; however both characters were virgins when they bumped uglies. Cousins (yes, cousins) Emmeline (Brooke Shields) and Richard (Christopher Atkins) are shipwrecked on a deserted island en route to San Fransisco. Years go by, and the pair enters their adolescents unguided, with all the feelings, changes, and hair associated. They eventually cannot control their sexual longings any more, and fall into man-made beds with each other. Richard has to deal with his strong emotions for his cousin, while still recognize his role as provider for their little fort. He has no idea what he is doing, as he is absent a father figure and is overcome with sexual urges. These two adult-children do not understand the way sex works let alone the ramifications of their decisions. They do what feels good, and once Emmeline realizes she’s with child, Richard has to take the final step as an adult—grow up and take responsibility.

Meanwhile Edge of Seventeen and The Last American Virgin both feature the negatives of sex with the wrong person. Edge of Seventeen stars Chris Stafford as Eric, a young gay high school student who falls in love with the wrong boy, Rod (Andersen Gabrych), loses his virginity to him, and is then tossed aside right afterward—the most legit fear any virgin has. Their passionate affair lends itself to only be a brief summer fling and causes Eric to enter into a relationship with his love-struck best friend Maggie (Tina Holmes), before coming out to his family and friends. His first time is the kind we all feared when taking that first step, regardless of orientation, and watching Eric come out of it alive assures many future gay teens that they will too.

On the other hand, the same cannot be said for sweet pizza delivery boy Gary (Lawrence Monoson) in 1982’s The Last American Virgin. While the movie has gotten a reputation as a comedy, Gary’s story is quite frankly one of the sadder stories on screen. He is seduced by a overtly sexual older customer, unrequitedly loves good girl Karen (Diane Franklin), and sweeps into help her when her boyfriend Rick impregnates and leaves her after their first time. Gary gives her everything, his money, his support, and his love, and she accepts it thinking Rick will never return. However, after he pays for her abortion, Gary finds Karen in the arms of Rick once again, leaving him heartbroken and possibly hateful of all future women in his life. This tragic tale doesn’t seem too far from what could have befallen Matt in The Virginity Hit.

Yes, comedies are great and they relieve a lot of the tension these experience cause, and often they are written by men who chose to make their characters’ sexual exploits way more exciting than their own paultry ones, but there are many with depth, heart, and a funny bone.

While Gwen Reyes has only briefly been a film critic and columnist, she's long been telling people what movies they should drop dollars on, regardless if they are listening to her or not. Based out of Dallas, she wants to live the dream by watching movies all day and drinking vodka gimlets all night. She graduated from Sweet Briar College with a surprisingly handy degree in Philosophy and Film Studies--it explains why she spends so much time analyzing the murderers in sexual thrillers (yes, dear reader, that's her excuse!)--and she loves anything to do with gnomes, pot-bellied pigs, and beards. But most importantly, Gwen likes movies about sad people, funny people, naked people, and bearded people.

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