I wrote in 2012 about the difference between cis male virginity and cis female virginity. Noting there is an assumption that boys have a 'laddish' view of it, which is probably a result of a history of men being excused and expected to go out and sow their wild oats while their fiancÃ©e sits, hymen intact, occupying herself with needlework. Sex education for girls is focused on the preciousness of virginity. Sex education for boys is a slap on the back and 'use a condom'.
But Phin, Phin is different. This isn't a Jonas Brothers style purity ring story. As far as I can tell from excerpts of his article there's no religious reasoning behind Phin's virginity so much as sentiment.
As a teenager you don't have sex, you succumb to it.
What does Phin Lyman, boy virgin have to say about sex: "I believe that sex is an incredibly strong symbol of love between two people. Think of it as glue. Once you have sex with someone, you're connected to them emotionally and physically.
"If you tear that bond the rip leaves open scars where the glue once was. That's why 'casual sex' never works in the long term, it just doesn't."
One has to assume Phin means casual sex doesn't make you happy, rather than casual sex doesn't work if you want a relationship. I think it's none of our business whether or not Phin is a virgin, he's only 18 it's not sincerely headline news, he's probably in the majority.
This is not a story of 'virginity is cool!' Everybody knows that the teenager in your school who stepped out and was different was not thought of as cool or some kind of leader. Phin might have a gaggle of teens who agree with him and they might sit around vindicating each other but surrounding them will be teenagers, virgins and uhm, unvirgins who disagree.
The story is that we have succeeded and teenagers can now only discuss sex is scare quotes. Phin finds his peer's sex lives "depressing", his thoughts on sex are quite extreme. There is no middle ground. You make love or you shag around and cry. Or possibly die of crabs. As a teenager you don't have sex, you succumb to it. You fail.
Daisy Buchanan wrote in the Debrief about the severe lack of and discussion about pleasure in sex education and the ramifications of this: "...it's clear that in many establishments, sex education is synonymous with scaremongering. And it's impossible to be honest about sex when you're frightened of it".
Phin is not heralding in some new virgin revolution in which no teenagers will fall pregnant or contract an STD. He's showing us that the current sex education curriculum is failing us and we need to restructure it without the scare quotes. Think of England.