Virgin Male? Honey, You Must Be An Alien.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but life has been taking me for quite a loop of late! That being said, let’s talk a little more about Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

If you recall, I had previously written an article praising this show for having a virgin male superhero. And now, sadly, I must take all of that praise back.

In the third season finale, Clark had been forced to decide between the people of Earth or the people of Krypton. In the end, he chose to protect Krypton, leaving his friends, family, and fiancée, Lois, behind.

The fourth season pilot goes more in depth with Clark’s new world and responsibilities. Namely, having to marry for politics. And after they marry? Why, they must go to the bedroom suite, of course! Tradition and future babies, ho!

Instead of doing any sort of intimate play, they awkwardly stand away from each other and chat. About both being virgins. Why? Oh, this is the kicker. His wife explains it’s because they’re both Kryptonian. It’s a Krypton thing, you see. To save yourself for the one you love.

… Right.

I’m not sure if the writers meant for this to be a huge retcon on their take of Clark Kent or just adding to what they’d already envisioned for him from the start. What I can be sure of is that it left me with anger deep down in the pit of my stomach.

Superman saved himself for the woman he loved… but don’t worry, kiddies. He’s not a man. He’s a Kryptonian.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    Oh, right. Because only freaks refrain from sex, especially among men. It couldn’t be that he had a moral reason. Or that he’s too fixated on education, creative pursuits, or learning. It couldn’t be that maybe sex just isn’t the biggest deal to him because then he would be a disgrace to America’s image of its white boy studs. Always on, always ready to do your women! /rolleyes

    And the patriarchy thinks it’s feminism that makes men look like clothed gorillas?

  2. says

    His wife explains it’s because they’re both Kryptonian. It’s a Krypton thing, you see. To save yourself for the one you love.

    Not having seen much of the show, I cannot say anything definitively, but does it sound like this is meant to be the true explanation, or just what Kal-El’s wife assumes is the explanation?

    Depending on where she gets her information about Earth it is completely possible that she is under the impression that all Earth boys are loose.

    (If the writers did decide to portray male virginity as an abnormal thing that is troubling to me, as a 28-year-old male virgin myself).

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    (If the writers did decide to portray male virginity as an abnormal thing that is troubling to me, as a 28-year-old male virgin myself).

    Glav, have you ever seen male virginity portrayed as a normal thing? I can’t think of a time I have. It’s not always lionized, either, but if I had only TV to go by, I’d definitely think men are always willing to have sex with anything they can get their hands on, regardless of morals or other interests or psychological factors (there are personality types that are simply not that interested in sex). Conversely, going by TV, I’d think there are some girls who are virgins, and that’s really sweet and noble of them.

    Even in real life, I’ve found people speculate a man is gay before they speculate he’s just inexperienced. They’re more likely to be skeptical (or downright disbelieving) of a claim of male virginity into the 20’s than female. The media is echoing – and thus perpetuating – a cultural stereotype that all men are horndogs, no matter their claims to the contrary. I’m not sure where this comes from, but I’ve always suspected it’s some sort of male territorial thing: “Our men can do your women faster than you can do ours, so we win! Stand down, loser country!” Pure monkey thinking.

    IMO, this is definitely one example of a gender bias harming men.

  4. Ifritah says

    I’m confused. Did L&C’s Krypton not blow up? Or is this the bottled city of Kandor?

    Patrick – Krypton did blow up in this storyline’s past, but not all the Kryptonian’s died. Those that survived populated a new planet that they called “New Krypton”.

    Not having seen much of the show, I cannot say anything definitively, but does it sound like this is meant to be the true explanation, or just what Kal-El’s wife assumes is the explanation?

    Glaiv – It’s hard to say where the writer’s were going with the scene. I can tell you that there was the soft ‘epiphany music’ in the background when she said that, with Superman looking thoughtful, but remaining silent.

    From that, *I* certainly took it being a fact and not just her opinion.

    I haven’t finished the season yet, but usually on the final disc of the box set there are interviews with the writers and producers. I’m hoping they will touch on this, but frankly, I doubt it.

    As Beta pointed out, the cultural stereotype of men having their first sexual experience fresh out of high school (or before) is not new. It’s very disappointing, not to mention hurtful to those boys and men who have no interest in taking the plunge based on their age instead of their own readiness.

  5. sbg says

    Sooooo, he conveniently wasn’t having sex because that’s the cultural norm for his people (even though he didn’t know it, so maybe it’s more a genetic quirk), and he conveniently must not have loved Lois. Because if he had loved her, there would have been no saving himself once he met her.

  6. scarlett says

    Even in real life, I’ve found people speculate a man is gay before they speculate he’s just inexperienced
    -Beta Candy

    A male friend of mine is very awkward with women, and very aware that, as a male in his mid-20’s, the media says he should have loads of experience, which makes him more akwards and continues the cycle. It infuriates me when close friends of ours are convinced he’s gay because he’s never had a girlfriend. Because, you know, peer and media pressure couldn’t be exaserbating low self esteem or anything…

    (If the writers did decide to portray male virginity as an abnormal thing that is troubling to me, as a 28-year-old male virgin myself).
    – Glaivester

    Glaiv, for what it’s worth, what attracted me to my current guy was how at ease he was with himself and his sexuality despite being a 23-year-old virgin. I think it takes incredible strength of character to be secure in who you are despite the media constantly telling you who you ought to be.

  7. Patrick says

    I’m also a virgin male at age 27, and I can’t count the number of times that people have assumed that I must be gay – even close friends explaining that THIS must be why I’m awkward around unfamiliar women.

    It’s really aggravating. Everywhere I look I get the reinforcement that I must be “less of a man,” because “real men” lose their virginity before they’re 20, and are apparently manlier the younger they did it.

  8. sbg says

    Personally, I think virginity until later than this supposed norm happens a hell of a lot more often than people think, with both men and women.

    There are many, many reasons a person would remain a virgin, some by choice and some not so much.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    Ditto to what SBG said. There are tons of groups online for various TYPES of celibates: virgins, voluntary celibates, involuntary celibates, married celibates, medical celibates, etc. That’s not even touching on the whole asexual crowd: people who simply don’t have much (or any) desire for sex.

    Granted, not all of these people are virgins, but quite a few are. And in my experience and observations, celibates aren’t treated a lot better than virgins and/or gays in the court of Nosey-Ass Public Opinion, and they face the same issues of being assumed to have “something wrong” with them as opposed to simply making a lifestyle choice (or putting up with a choice the entire rest of Earth’s population has made for them).

    Some of you have heard me say this before, but on a feminist site, I feel it’s always worth repeated: sexual freedom means the right not to have sex as well as the right to have it. No one deserves to be labeled or judged.

  10. Mecha says

    I agree that that’s a damn annoying reversal, because it justifies the stereotype textually (as Ifritah pointed out.) It’s sorta worth hoping that an overall message of ‘Humans are my real people’ will come through the season, but I’m personally wary of what that might entail.

    (Also, if the entire society is virgins at marriage, specifically for the purpose of marital bliss, then why are they socialized to be _shy_ about it, as Ifritah describes? I get Clark, but if ‘virginity as gift’ is an actual societal rule, then… it should be something one anticipates, not is ashamed of, yeah? ‘Human mores, alien society’ showing up again in writing.)

    I know for a fact that a large number of my friends are virgins, or at the least very inexperienced. But I can never quite convince myself that it’s a statistically significant sample that defeats the stereotype of it being normal.

    -Mecha

  11. Ifritah says

    (Also, if the entire society is virgins at marriage, specifically for the purpose of marital bliss, then why are they socialized to be _shy_ about it, as Ifritah describes? I get Clark, but if ‘virginity as gift’ is an actual societal rule, then… it should be something one anticipates, not is ashamed of, yeah? ‘Human mores, alien society’ showing up again in writing.)

    One thing I didn’t mention in my post, but that deals with this point: Clark and… okay, I don’t recall her name off-hand, but we’ll call her Krypto wife were expected to be married from birth. Most citizens get to choose who they want to love. The royal family doesn’t. So, I’m thinking the shyness factor dealt with them being forced to the marriage bed when they didn’t even know each other well.

  12. Ifritah says

    I only saw one episode of B5 and it caused me to abhor the show. So, yeah, have no idea who that is!

    Is he human or fitting the ‘not from earth’ jive?

  13. Patrick says

    Marcus Cole is human, a colonist of British descent (born off of Earth), well-educated. He states that his virginity is because he “never met the right person.” He typically forms casual friendships with many people, but doesn’t really get close to anyone but Dr. Stephen Franklin and Ivanova. This probably has to do with losing his entire family to the series’ Big Bad, which led to his becoming a Ranger.

  14. Ifritah says

    Patrick: Awesome! I love it when writers work outside of the box. ^_^

    Though, considering I don’t watch the show, I have to ask this: Have women come on to him and he declined, stating that they were not “the one” or is he saying that as an excuse because he’s recluse? (Obviously, I’m going with the two opposite spectrums here.)

    I’m not meaning to belittle your example, because like I said, I’m quite pleased with hearing about it, but I can’t help but wonder what the writers intended for him. If it was really to have a male character that doesn’t care about being a virgin until he finds the right person, then they definitely get a gold star!

  15. Patrick says

    Oddly, we don’t see women come onto him (despite him being handsome, dashing, and genuinely charming). He pursues Ivanova romantically, which she resists for all sorts of reasons of her own, while still accepting his friendship.

    Marcus’virginity comes up in one of their conversations. Ivanova is rather surprised, but doesn’t seem to think Marcus is abnormal. And, interestingly enough, even though Marcus is actually madly in love with Ivanova, he does NOT indicate to her that she would be “the right person.” So it is presented in a context of “friends getting to know each other” rather than “you’re the only one for me.”

  16. Ifritah says

    Marcus’virginity comes up in one of their conversations. Ivanova is rather surprised, but doesn’t seem to think Marcus is abnormal.

    Okay, the show definitely gets a gold star for that!

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