Monday, October 02, 2006

Silly Once Meant Innocent. Hence, Silly Virgins

My reporting class and I had a nice discussion of the controversy -- a pretty slight controversy, one I blew upon like a good Boy Scout trying to encourage a spark -- that has arisen around my assigning the "virginity pledge" story to my young reporters.

One of my kids made the mistake of attempting an email interview of a faculty member, the interview beginning with a question I advised the students to ask of a faculty member only with the greatest care, if they asked at all. And it wasn't the bombshell: "Sister Felicity, are you a virgin?" (I'm joking. No Sisters were in any way discomfited in the writing of these stories.)

The question was simply, "Have you ever taken a virginity pledge?" which is not the same thing.

The students said -- those who talked up in class; silence does not mean assent one sometimes learns to one's grief -- that they were comfortable talking about sex with fellow students, but certainly not with faculty.

Power differential? I asked.

Not really, several of the kids said. It's just, they said, that among people your age -- you, Santa Claus, certain sedimentary rocks -- talking about sex is a taboo, while among kids our age having retained your virginity is a stigma.

Possibly not true but neatly said. Kid could make a feature writer.

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