Justin Bieber isn't just a mega popular teenage heartthrob with swooshy hair and puppy dog eyes. He is also a brand new member of a sacred class: The pop star virgin. Mind you, Justin Bieber is only 16 years old, so the pronouncement from his mother in an interview that Justin is a virgin and would like to remain "pure" for the right girl, shouldn't be surprising. But then again it is kind of remarkable because as a society, we face 11-year-olds engaging in casual sex and Disney stars sending nude pics of themselves via cell phone. So by some standards, Justin is sadly exceeding expectations.
Virginity as a prop for morality, virtue and family-friendliness is nothing new in pop music. Britney Spears ran that gimmick into the ground while she bounced around on stage with teeny tiny, belly-baring sweaters and hard nipples in the late '90s/early '00s. Jessica Simpson wore her virginity pledge like a giant paegant sash, bringing it up in interview after interview hoping someone would reward her with a gold star. Actually, her dadager (dad manager) Joe seemed to harp on Jessica's sanctified girly bits more than she did, which creeped people out a lot.
More recently, the Jonas Brothers took a pledge to remain virgins until marriage, in accordance with their strict Evangelical Christian beliefs. Even Miley Cyrus has pledged to remain chaste until marriage, despite stumbling through sexuality-tinged scandal after scandal.
So given that Justin's not alone in his pursuit of purity, how did the previous teeny boppers in the field fare with their virginity pledges?
Britney Spears: The virginal Lolita
On her virginity:
"I don't believe in sex before marriage. I go out with boys and we kiss, but that is it," she said. "I want to wait until I get married before I sleep with anyone." - Britney Spears in 2000
Did she crack: Well, yes, but it's a bit of a trick question. Britney "confessed" that she had slept with her pop star boyfriend Justin Timberlake in an interview with "W" magazine, but reports have abounded Britney wasn't a virgin even when she was publicly vowing to remain one. So it's quite possible that the whole bit was built on a PR lie. That's showbiz, kids.
Did anyone really buy the virgin bit: Sort of. For some reason, soccer moms did. And they were positively outraged, outraged at "virginal" Britney for her naughty pictures in "Rolling Stone" magazine. Never mind that the girl's debut music video had her shimmying her chest in a half-shirt and a mini skirt. Britney Spears' music career and her sexuality were symbiotic forces that couldn't ever really be separated to begin with.
Jessica Simpson: Daddy's little virgin
On her virginity:
Jessica Simpson's father Joe made the singer promise to stay a virgin until she married during a ceremony when she was twelve. Simpson Sr., who doubles as Jessica's manager, handed the 24-year-old a promise ring and vowed to be the only man in her life until she married. He explains, "I'm going to tell you how beautiful you are every day. Even when you make a mistake, you are someone special. And I am going to be that person until the day you find a man to do that in my place. "Jessica - who married Nick Lachey in October 2002 - then promised she would remain a virgin. Joe adds,"What better gift to give her husband? Never touched by another man." - Joe Simpson in an interview
Did she crack: No. Unlike Britney, Jessica did manage to maintain her virginity until marriage, giving her holy hymen to husband Nick Lachey, lead singer of third-rate boy band 98 Degrees. But their marriage was short-lived and after she split with her husband, Jessica began to date other Hollywood types. Apparently, once the cherry was popped, all rules were thrown out the window as John Mayer described her as "sexual napalm."
Did anyone really buy the virgin bit: Sure. Her saccharine Christianity was obviously forced-fed but she seemed to really take on the vow with earnest. Unlike Britney, Jessica didn't really incorporate sensual choreography or much sexual tension in her music. She started out with the virginal power ballad "I Wanna Love You Forever" and by the time she finally got around to mimicking Britney's class of dirty pop with "Irresistible," no one really could be convinced she had an inner vixen anyway.
Jonas Brothers: Bros before hos
On their virginity:
On a quiet Friday morning in a dressing room at Madison Square Garden, the Jonas Brothers hold out their hands to show off their purity rings. Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas—the teen-pop trio who stand, at this very moment, on the brink of hugeness—wear the metal bands on their fingers to symbolize, as Joe puts it, “promises to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage.” - Jonas Brothers in an interview with Details
Did they crack: Not yet. But Kevin quickly ran off to get married as soon as he could at the age of 22. (Bet he wished he could fast-forward through the boring ceremony and skip straight to the consummation of the marriage bit) Joe Jonas has presumably kept his pledge, despite dating high profile starlets like Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift. Nick Jonas has managed to do the same as well, despite a history with Ms. Can't Be Tamed, Miley Cyrus. If Nick and Joe do slip up, TMZ will find out sooner or later.
Did anyone really buy the virgin bit: Almost everyone did. Russell Brand, a British comic and Katy Perry's fiance, got into hot water for cracking on the boys' purity rings at the VMAs, joking that he'd deflowered them. He seemed to be deeply disturbed that a group of uber famous, teenaged boys (with hormones presumably racing) were totally indifferent to their burgeoning sexualities. What Russell didn't understand is that the power of Christ (and middle America dollars) compels them. With a former pastor for a father, repressed sexuality not only comes with the territory, it's also a badge of honor. And the Jonas brothers are the best boy scouts pop music has to offer.
So with 2 out of the 3 pop stars reviewed making it through to marriage with their virgindom intact, there are hopes that the Bieb can make it. (Miley Cyrus, not so sure about) Of course, "virginity" pledges never delve into details about what their definition of virginity is. Does it exclude oral sex? Is heavy petting a violation? What about suckling a teat? With so many different standards out there, it's possible that one person's "virgin" is another's "whore of Babylon." And that's not even going into whether masturbation invalidates the "purity" promise either.
All of this confusion and cynicism shows that we should probably stop leveraging teenage pop star's genitals as a marketing pitch. It really is just oversharing gone overboard. And the worst part is that it's their parents who are behind it.
Justin Bieber is 16, why does he need to pledge a thing about who he'll be licking or sticking in the future? Can he finish puberty first? The only things he should be worried about at his age are video games, multicolored sneakers and fart jokes. If the Bieb does ever have premarital sex, that's between him and Jesus. Well, as long as he doesn't end up man-whoring like Tiger Woods. Then he'll have become a weapon of mass destruction that the public has the right to know about.