To “a College Virgin,”

I was sorry to read that you feel as though other Hoyas are judging you for your choice to abstain from sex – I can assure you that this Hoya is not. I cannot speak for the entire student body, but I can add that I do not know of any person in my friend group or broader network who would ever look down on you for this personal decision. There are points in your “Confessions,” however, that made me uncomfortable, and I would like to share them with you not to put you on the defense, but rather in hopes that in the future you can advocate your position on sex in a way that receives less pushback.

I respect your decision to abstain from sex, but I do not think it is fair for you to claim that “the prevalence of hookup culture … has contributed to the sexual assault crisis faced on college campuses today.” I struggle to understand what you are referring to when you say “hookup culture,” as I think it could have a range of meanings for different people. Additionally, whether you mean extramarital sex between committed partners or occasional dance floor make outs at parties, I don’t believe there is any conclusive data showing that consensual sexual behavior leads to increased violence, and upholding a narrative that it does could be harmful for survivors and allow rape culture to prevail. Just as your decision to abstain from sex is your own decision, is healthy and gives you a sense of liberation, consensual sex does these things for those who choose to partake in it.

A second point I want to address is your confession that you and your abstinent friends have fun and are not unlike the “rest of us.” If it helps you to hear, I have many close friends who have chosen to abstain from sex and many who have not. Rather than finding this differing area of our lives to be in opposition, we often comfortably and freely exchange feelings and experiences about sex, partners and our bodies regardless of our sexual backgrounds. It is empowering for me to have friends who support one another’s choices without judgment. I hope that you could be able to establish these relationships, too.

Regarding the “rest of us” who I felt your article was addressing, please know that most of us do not view your choices negatively. We may not agree with your views on issues regarding marriage and reproductive choice, but this does not mean that we — the likely many Hoyas who feel as though in your statements, you are painting a broad picture of an “other” student body — think anything less of you. Just as you are much more than your choice to abstain from sex, I am much more than my sex life.

Some Hoyas listen to “Mr. Brightside,” but not all do. Some Hoyas are heterosexual, but not all are. Some Hoyas have had sex, but not all have. I do not regret or judge myself for my decisions, and I would hope that you would not either. I hope that in the future, you can feel better united with the student body regardless of their sexual choices.

Jennifer Clifford (COL ’18)

This letter was written following a discussion of “Confessions of a College Virgin” in the course Feminist Thought I and was reviewed by the class before submission.

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