Tag Archives: virginity

Reflections on Jason Voorhees, Virginity in Horror, and the Specter of the Anti-Sex Killer

So yes—in one version of the story, “prude” is synonym for sadist.

—Cameron Awkward-Rich, “A Prude’s Manifesto”

In popular culture, the slasher genre is known for killing off anyone who has sex, and many a slasher movie—including genre codifier Friday the 13th—has been interpreted as a conservative, anti-sex morality tract. But how much do these interpretations hold up under scrutiny? The answer is… complicated. What interests me about these films, though, isn’t as much the films themselves as the way that certain interpretations of them have been taken up in popular culture, imagining the survivors as always virginal and the killers as punitive avatars of anti-sexuality.

In order to dig into these perceptions, I’ve chosen to focus on the Friday the 13th franchise, best known for the hockey mask-wearing Jason Voorhees. The Friday movies are salient here not just for their immense influence and popularity, but also because Jason’s backstory readily lends itself to moralizing about irresponsible sex. So if there were ever an anti-sex killer, you’d think it would be Jason.

[Crossposted to Pillowfort.]

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Academics sure are bad at talking about abstinence, huh

lol nothing like a little academic reading on “purity culture” to reopen some old baggage

[cn: conservative Christian talk, anti-ace stuff, discussion of rape (fictional and political)]

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thinking about high school assignments again

[cw: rape]

In my first year of high school, I was assigned to read a book with a subplot where a girl has pity sex with a boy because he’s a virgin, and whose plot and characters did not make nearly as lasting an impression as the rape/incest joke I can remember almost word for word.  In my second year of high school, I was assigned to read a book where I saw some of my own sexuality represented in literature for the first time, as a key part of a dystopian regime, and where the protagonist contemplates becoming a rapist out of irritation with an evil prude.  In my third year of high school, I was assigned to read the friggin Scarlet Letter, a book which could not possibly be more melodramatically obsessed with how awful the Puritans are — not for being racist, or misogynist, or any of the other things that the book gleefully embraces, but for being such darn prudes.  In my fourth year of high school, I was assigned to read another book where one of the main characters contemplates becoming a rapist because of an evil prude, a character whom one of my classmates described as an “All-American Hero” and who is overtly celebrated in the book.

You know, sometimes, I feel like how messed up I am is way out of proportion to my actual life experience, but when I get to thinking about the kind of things I had to read and hear as a teen kid, I kinda have to wonder how I didn’t turn out worse.


Regarding Virginity’s Existence

Nakiya wrote this post about sexual violence and virginity published today, and I feel selfishly relieved to see someone criticize the “virginity is a social construct” discourse (not because it isn’t a social construct, but more the context in which that phrase comes up and how it’s handled).  My personal experience has more to do with this asterisk:

*I think ‘virginity is a social construct’ as a phrase also rubs me the wrong way because of how it’s used in the sex positivity movement, a movement I want nothing to do with because of how they talk about survivors

…because.  Yeah.  Theoretically, saying “virginity is a social construct” would just mean that it’s more of a cultural, social, and interpersonal idea than it is an embodied physical status and people construct that idea in the ways we communicate about it… but the times I’ve encountered VIASC proclamations it came off more as having a vibe of “virginity doesn’t exist and has no consequences and if you treat it as something relevant to how you conceptualize anyone (including yourself) then you’re wrong” and the priority felt more like a narrow focus on “don’t say negative things about women who have enthusiastically chosen and sought sexual experience,” which, um, sure, but that doesn’t do anything to address how being sexually experienced can be socially weaponized, or to interrogate how and why that sorting mechanism has cultural relevance, or do anything to help me out as a dirty virgin prude.

Makes me think about being told the story of how Evangelical Girl* cut off a guy from participating in a conversation about sexual ethics by saying, “How can you have sexual ethics if you’re a virgin?”

*Evangelical Girl is not an evangelical Christian.  I started calling her that because of how she evangelizes about sex, and because I figure that she would hate me framing it that way.

Anyway I guess my point is the VIASC stuff as I’ve encountered it has been more about getting people to stop using the word/framework of virgin/virginity without fighting to give space to people to stay “virgins” if they want to or have a negative relationship with sex in any way and so in my brain everything has just kind of merged into feeling like VIASC is itself a hostile statement.

Also I highly recommend Nakiya’s post if you didn’t go read it first already.