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In this op-ed, Teen Vogue wellness editor Brittney McNamara explores how "The Bachelor's" focus on Colton Underwood's virginity is a symptom of a societal problem with how we view sex and masculinity. Sex on The Bachelor franchise is a funny thing.

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It's expected that you will have it, yes, but only on one night in a weird mansion to which you get secret keys. Once you're in that mansion, the whole viewing audience thinks you're doing only one thing. But if you have sex before that one sanctioned night, everyone — viewers and contestants alike — freaks out. If you're the Bachelorette, that freak-out is magnified, but if the Bachelor breaks the fantasy-suite sex code, he often gets a pass. On both iterations of the franchise, one night of sex is supposed to be the litmus test for whether the suitor and suit-ee are physically compatible.

If they are, then that's taken as a that they can move on to marriage. The goal of both shows, after all, is for the couple to get engaged. On this season of The Bachelorthough, the subject and the act have become more fraught: Colton Underwood, the Bachelor himself, has never had sex. Truly, this is not a big deal. Having sex doesn't say anything about you, and the same goes for not having sex. But if you watched The Bachelor 's season premiere on January 7, you'd have noticed that Colton's virginity was the central topic.

Rather than the end goal of the show being engagement, which is already an outdated and heteronormative premiseit seems this season at least one of the main objectives is to see whether or not the Bachelor will have sex.

When the show's host, Chris Harrison, was asked whether Colton would still be a virgin by the season's end, he reportedly said"Not if I do my job right. According to Vox 's count, the word "virgin" was mentioned four times in the first 40 seconds of the premiere. The women on the show to date Colton made a handful of jokes about his never having had sex.

One woman's first words to Colton included the comment that she hadn't dated a virgin since age These are just a few examples of how The Bachelor mentioned or made fun of Colton's virginity. The subject has become a staple of the show's promotion this year, too; prior to the premiere, a promo featured Colton in the same pose as Steve Carell in The Year-Old Virgin movie poster. For the record, Colton is Despite all the hype, though, Colton maintains that his virginity is not a big deal.

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When he's asked about it, he says he's not waiting for marriage, he's just waiting for someone he loves. He has also mentioned that not having sex is, unsurprisingly, not really a big issue in his life. I think those answers might come out this season. I don't know if people will ever be satisfied with the answer because they just don't understand who I am yet…" Colton said, according to E News.

No," he said. I'm a human being. We're all human beings; we all have parts of our life that make us into a unique individual.

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View on Twitter. Despite Colton's pleas to be known as more than just a television personality who hasn't had sex, it remained a major plot point on the January 7 episode. The show seems to be using love and sex interchangeably: During the premiere, "Will Colton find sex?

And the issue goes beyond how we talk about Colton. This season highlights the strange lens through which we as a society view sex. Sex is absolutely to be had, according to those on the show and in society, and if you don't have sex, you risk being seen as prudish or regarded as if something is wrong with you. Some might consider you less of a man, as Colton said he feared some would think of him.

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The message being pushed here is that you should definitely have sex. But when you do have sex, it has to be under the right circumstances — say, in one particular room in a mansion — and you shouldn't do it too much. But not too little either.

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You shouldn't do it with certain people, but that could also make you appear prudish. You shouldn't talk about it too much, but you should talk about it just enough so that people know you're doing it. What we're watching play out on television is an inverse example of the Madonna-whore complex, and it's not the first time The Bachelor franchise, or television in generalhas illustrated it.

Defined by Penn State University, the Madonna-whore complexas coined by Sigmund Freud, suggests "that men cast women into one of two to allay the uncomfortable dichotomy of fear and desire: the Madonna women he admires and respects and the whore women he is attracted to and therefore disrespects. Basically, the theory asserts that there are only two ways to be a woman: one is desirable and one is used. But that's not reality — women can be both, neither, and more. When Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, who made the dolphin joke about Colton, had sex with Nick Viall before the sanctioned time in the mansion's fantasy suites — the dates when a Bachelor or Bachelorette can invite suitors in, and everyone totally accepts that they will have sex — she was viciously slut-shamed.

She had stepped outside the acceptable terms of sex on the show by not having it in the highly produced sex room, but instead did so during a one-on-one date. As a result, she was cast as the whore. In Colton's case, this theory has been flipped on its head.

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Since he's a man, it's apparently not OK that he's also a virgin. Now, rather than fretting over whether he will have too much or too little sex, societal expectations are pushing Colton into the role of the whore, hungry to hypersexualize him to make him what they think of as a real man. Colby Fleming, a sociologist at Westat who has studied masculinity and virginity, told Mel Magazine that this behavior plays out in social settings, basically acting as a way for a virgin's peers to bring them into the club.

In some sense, this was an invitation for the virgin to try and fit in with the group. Sometimes, this sort of invitation would come with a further suggestion: going to this party might get you laid, we can set you up with girls, etc. Fleming researched virgin-shaming among college-age men and found that "having sex is often held as a marker of status or achievement of hegemonic masculinity," and that "virgin-shaming is found in social spaces more concerned with upholding masculine norms.

Maybe people are feverishly focused on Colton's virginity because it's at odds with what they think a Bachelor should be, but it's a clear example of how our society thinks about sex, which is to say, all wrong. Sex is a normal part of human life, but it's not the only part. It's a choice that anyone, regardless of gender or TV-show status, should be able to make freely.

There's nothing wrong or shameful about Colton not having had sex, and if chooses to have it, there won't be anything shameful about that. But with a country full of people watching, waiting, and laughing at his expense, the pressure is on — and when it comes to sex, that should never be the case. Let us slide into your DMs. Actually, Colton doesn't want to be known as the virgin Bachelor. Teen Vogue has reached out to ABC for comment. Keywords Virginity sex sexuality the bachelor.

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