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From the long list of manga I read and anime I watched, especially in romance genre, including romance comedy, harem, etc, being a virgin has been depicted as something bad, especially a male virgin. Many of them have the virgin guy pretending that he is not. When his close friend, who happens to know that he is a virgin, blurted about the fact, he was seen embarrassed as if being a virgin is something bad despite them being High School Students. Another even said that if you are a virgin until 30 then you will become a wizard (IIRC it was Haganai).

Why is it that anime and manga depict being a virgin as something embarrassing? Does this reflects the Japanese society, mainly the teens?

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    Seems like every time there's a question about sex on our site, it hits the Hot Network Questions. Like when we had Why are anime girls drawn without pubic hair? all over the sidebar on every site from Puzzling to Parenting. – Torisuda Aug 11 '16 at 4:40
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    Because it's embarrassing. And not in just Japan, it's that way in literally every Western country. It's been for thousands of years. How in the world is this surprising to you, OP? – Davor Aug 11 '16 at 12:50
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    Don't have time to make an answer, but someone should probably approach this from the angle of "This is a sign of adulthood, or more specifically manhood, in many cultures." – Adam Davis Aug 11 '16 at 17:09
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The media depicts being a virgin as embarrassing because it reflects how teenagers feel about being a virgin. As for why authors choose to reflect this particular part of society, that would be a bigger discussion. The short answer is to evoke empathy from their audience.

This is not exclusively a Japanese thing. A study cited in Psychology Today found:

One in three boys ages 15-17 say they feel pressure to have sex, often from male friends. Teen girls feel less pressure--only 23 percent said they felt such coercion. Researchers questioned 1,854 subjects between the ages of 13 and 24 in a national survey.

This is an American study, so it may be different in other countries, but probably not significantly so. This excludes regions where the religion/government censures sex.

Some reasons teens receive this peer pressure is the common belief that:

  • everyone their age does it
    • due to media
    • due to pressure from friends
    • due to pressure from partners
  • having sex is cool
  • having sex makes you popular
  • having sex proves "love"
  • having sex proves maturity
  • having sex proves you're not gay

Most people in the western world would proabably be very familiar being pressured with these reasons.

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    And the media depicting it that way make teenagers feel embarrassed about being a virgin… – Ángel Aug 10 '16 at 19:07
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    @Ángel yep, hence bigger discussion that's probably more suited in cogsci.se – ton.yeung Aug 10 '16 at 20:11
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    In Asia when people says "sex" 99% of the times it means between male and female. Homosexuality is something frowned upon here in Asian countries. So, having sex would equal to "you're not gay". Dunno about in the western countries though. – 絢瀬絵里 Aug 11 '16 at 3:07
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    I'm sure that Asia is not that different from America in this regard: having sex with someone of the opposite sex suggests that you're not gay, while if you have sex with people of the same sex, you might be gay. – Torisuda Aug 11 '16 at 4:47
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    And we should keep in mind that, at least in the US, "having sex to prove you're not gay" is like a double whammy of immaturity: only a teenage boy would be afraid that his peers might think he's gay, and only a teenage boy would think he needed to have sex with a woman to prove to them that he's not. ton.yeung didn't bring it up as a true statement; it was meant as an example of the silly ideas teenagers have about sex that motivates their anxiety about being virgins. There's no point asking for a citation for a highly dubious statement that was never intended to be taken as fact. – Torisuda Aug 11 '16 at 4:48
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Sex is an important part of human life, as each life usually starts with somebody having it. People like discussing it because it's pleasurable. And there are other things comparable in popularity, like drinking alcohol with friends, going to parties, cursing and swearing (especially for kids) and other less legal or healthy activities, like taking drugs.

Often when people express their concerns about feeling embarrassed that they don't do one of those activities as often as their surrounding, they say that it is such a common topic of discussion that even if they didn't initially think it was something to be embarrassed about, after some time they started to think they are less of a person for not doing it too.

This is a common response for people when they're being told something again and again − they start doubting themselves and whether they should change what they do. And so, this isn't unique to Japan or the teens. People of all ages and nationalities are susceptible to peer pressure about most things, given enough time.

One might get the impression that this is mainly an issue for teens in Japan because anime tends to depict topics that might hit close to home for certain target audiences better than others using the characters who are worried about the same things as the target audience. For example, you don't often see anime marketed for very young children in which adults are discussing complex issues of marriage and dealing with personal issues and trauma.

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in japan specifically, the population is on the decline. their census has detected lower reproductive rates for the population, leading to problems. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30653825 google reports: 1.41 births per woman (2012)

clearly, 2 people having 1.41 children is not sustainable for a country.

japanese culture is such that nobody leaves before the boss, and the boss has to maintain respectability by staying long hours. this essentially means there is little time to consider raising a family. the government has addressed this by attempting to allot time away from work to allow conjugal visits. furthermore, the media is encouraged to promote reproductive efforts ableit with heavy censorship (due to the conservative culture).

  • It would be much better if you added some statistics from other countries so it would be possible to compare them. – Hakase Aug 10 '16 at 22:02
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    While this is true, we need to be careful not to blow this out of proportion. I have a hard time believing that anime writers are sitting there writing these scenes into their shows while thinking "I'd better do my part to help reverse the declining birth rate by making sure teenage boys feel like garbage for being virgins". It seems more likely the scenes were inspired by real-life peer pressure of the sort mentioned in ton.yeung's and Hakase's answers. – Torisuda Aug 11 '16 at 5:09

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