Madison Prewett’s commitment to abstain from sex until marriage is something that she’s “extremely proud of and grateful for” in her life. But in her turn on the latest season of The Bachelor, it also made her journey to find love a difficult one.
In her first official interview since her breakup with Bachelor Peter Weber, Prewett discussed how her virginity played a role in her experience on The Bachelor, admitting that she put Peter in an “uncomfortable position” by waiting until the fantasy suite week to share with him her intention to save sex until marriage.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I was not perfect through the process. I didn’t handle everything perfectly… I really tried to do the best that I could with the situation I was in and let my heart lead me in those moments.”
“Opening up about something like saving myself for marriage and that gift I one day want to give to my husband, that’s a very intimate and vulnerable thing to open up about… I wasn’t just discussing [that commitment] with Peter, but I was inviting millions of people into that vulnerable place. I wanted to really feel it out and make sure I felt comfortable, I felt safe in the environment, like it was the right time, the right moment, to really go there.”
Prewett’s reticence to reveal her virginity on national television is certainly understandable. After all, the media has not been kind to late-in-life virgins (i.e., the statistical minority who do not have sex during their teen years).
Already facing limited representation on television altogether, a late-in-life virgin onscreen is often treated as a freakish anomaly, or as someone with a problem that urgently needs to be solved. Monica Geller was met with abject horror when she revealed that she hadn’t yet had sex in an alternate reality episode of Friends. (“Oh my God! You’re a thirty-year-old virgin!” Rachel screamed at her in the middle of Central Perk.) On Girls, Shoshanna Shapiro, then only 20 years old, confesses that her biggest piece of emotional baggage is that she’s a virgin, “obviously.” And Emma Pillsbury’s virginity storyline on Glee, which could have been a poignant opportunity to discuss her deeply-rooted issues with intimacy, was instead made into a punchline. When she reveals that the thought of having sex with her husband makes her uncomfortable, she’s simply met with the pointed response, “He’s hot… and you’re 30.”
However, there is no bigger offender of exploiting sexual inexperience for the sake of a storyline than the Bachelor franchise. The Bachelor, especially in recent years, has become increasingly fixated on contestants’ sexual status. Contestant Heather Martin’s chyron, instead of listing her occupation, simply said, “Never Been Kissed.” Ashley Iaconetti’s virginity was so widely discussed that it spanned a seasons-long arc. For Bachelor Colton Underwood, his choice to abstain from sex until he found the right partner became the driving narrative force of the season. However, this very legitimate decision was given little exploration and zero nuance in its portrayal onscreen. Instead, “virgin” became his main personality trait and his season was punctuated by endless v-card jokes and one very unnecessary promo poster that spoofed The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
And even though her motivations are certainly different, Prewett’s commitment to her virginity and disappointment about Weber’s choice to have sex with other contestants draws comparisons to Luke Parker, the self-described born again virgin who got the villain edit on the last season of The Bachelorette. But while Parker lorded his beliefs over Hannah Brown (for example, informing her that sex can only be beautiful “when it’s within the guidelines of marriage”), Prewett has simply remained steadfast in the values she ascribes to for herself. And, regardless of the backlash she has faced, Prewett remains undeterred.
Instead, as she focuses on a new chapter in life, Prewett is trying to keep things in perspective. She said,
“The show didn’t end the way I expected it to or the way that I wanted it to and that can be a little sad, but at the same time I have no regrets and I can genuinely say I am a better person because of it… I have grown so much and I’ve learned so much about myself, about relationships, about love, and so for that I am very, very grateful.”