Photo: Flickr/Mike Steele

Jane the…Virgin? How the Show Addresses the Expectation vs. Reality of Sex for Jane

I love this show. It’s corny—told in a classic telenovela style, the plot is melodramatic and fast-paced—but it’s so self-aware of its corniness that it’s something else entirely. It’s smart, it’s funny, and the narrative structure helps draw attention to modern issues, often times in a comedic or cringeworthy but thought-provoking way.

The show tells the story of Jane Villanueva, who has never had sex, but becomes pregnant through accidental artificial insemination. The narrator, voiced by the enthusiastic Anthony Mendez, is constantly pointing out the ridiculousness of the story in short recaps before each episode and sly interjections between scenes. Yet, Jane the Virgin has a surprising amount of heart and insight. With mention of immigration issues, reproductive rights, and class privilege (to name a few), the show sprinkles in bits of authenticity throughout.

After the third season arrived on Netflix, I underwent a binge-watching session of all 20 episodes (which equals 13.95 hours of pure entertainment). If you’ve seen it, then you know that eight minutes into the third episode a very significant thing happens which puts the title of the show into question. It’s the moment we were all waiting for…and, I’m just going to say it…Jane is no longer a virgin! FINALLY.

Jane Finally Loses Her Virginity Finally

It’s a pretty forward-thinking show that artfully compares traditional values and cultural norms to contemporary thinking. So when old-fashioned values like chastity are incorporated into the modern framework, it complicates things. And maybe it’s the influence of my Sociology and Women’s Studies classes, but I watched this season with a more critical eye, trying to piece together some kind of message. I began to think about Jane’s virginity as the foundation of the show, now entirely challenged for the remainder of the season.

Jane loses her virginity the way she always planned to: after marriage. In place of a sex scene, cartoon versions of Jane and Michael shoot off into space on a love rocket, with euphoric music in the background.

It’s the kind of moment we were waiting for—in all its clichéd glory. That is, until the audience learns that Jane faked her orgasm.

This conflict serves not only as a plot device for the episode, but also as an introduction to issues that the modern heterosexual woman may face. This is where the show strays from telenovela tropes.

Jane hides her dissatisfaction from her husband because she doesn’t want to ruin “the moment.” Her subconscious expectations about sex come from the influence of her traditional grandmother and cultural upbringing as well as the romance novels she grew up reading and the telenovelas she grew up watching.

Entertainment media often focuses on women as objects of desire and intuitive sexual experts but, ironically, there is also societal pressure to suppress their sexuality until they are settled into a monogamous relationship with a man for fear of being labeled a “slut.” This conundrum easily creates confusion between perception and reality. Ultimately for Jane, this unrealistic ideal makes it difficult to recognize that her situation is not uncommon.

Like everyone, she wants—and even expects—her first time to be the fantasy, but she is disappointed by an unfiltered reality.

Crumpled White Flower and Jane's Lost Virginity

Crumpled white flower or ready to bloom?

On top of the disappointing outcome of her first sexual encounter, Jane feels like she’s lost a part of her identity. This goes back to her grandmother’s lesson that virginity is something “lost” which cannot be recovered—that image of the crumpled white flower. Because the moment does not match up to her expectations, Jane feels like she went wrong somewhere. There is a kind of guilt that rests on her shoulders for not responding to sex from her husband as she “should.” As a result, Jane wonders if she is to blame and thinks that maybe she’s compromised a part of herself in this unfulfilling experience.

It’s her mother, though, that explains that she hasn’t “lost” anything but has, in fact, discovered a whole new facet of life. One that she can now embrace and fully explore.

I love the way that the show compares tradition and modernity, without judgment on any one side. Although Jane wants to be a modern woman, she struggles between this lifestyle and her ties to tradition, which sometimes conflict with one another. These values are often personified by her Venezuelan grandmother, who typically has an old-fashioned mindset, and her mother, who is more of a free spirit.

Her decision to remain a virgin until marriage is partly motivated by her grandmother’s advice, partly by her Catholic background, and partly by her own experiences. Jane does not have any resentment toward women who have pre-marital sex, nor does she try to push her ideals on them.

It’s her personal choice, and one that she has every right to make. However, the societal constructs that produce these values often come with unnecessary and gendered pressures.

In Episode three, Jane’s conflict arises from the disappointing experience and shattered expectation of losing her virginity —and her decision to feign pleasure—after adhering to traditional values. Her journey in this episode is relatable to many women, and gives a candid take on the aftermath of that experience, including how she moved past those emotions to get to a better, more fulfilling place.

Jane the Virgin enhances the TV drama-comedy genre with nuggets of insight and thoughtful representations of real-life situations.

So, even though Jane’s first experience with sex is disappointing, I’m glad that it happens. It’s real life.

I’m glad that she comes clean about faking an orgasm, and that she and Michael continue to have awkward, unsuccessful nights until they get something right. It’s time for Jane to explore and embrace her sexuality, even if her initial path was more traditional than most modern behavior.

There is something to be said for the artful way that the show integrates authentic moments in an exaggerated plotline. Season three of Jane the Virgin expands on the reoccurring theme of Jane’s sexuality and redefines it. Episode three, in particular, is a turning point in the show. Not only does it change the dynamic of the intro (“Virgin” is crossed out and/or replaced with something connected to the episode at hand), but it also allows the show to move beyond an attachment to Jane’s sex life, or lack thereof. It suggests the insignificance of the show’s initial fixation with her virgin status—or anyone else’s, for that matter—and a focus on Jane’s journey as a person.

Jane the Virgin with Virgin Crossed Out

There is so much more of Jane Villanueva’s identity to explore. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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I am a student at UC Davis, currently working toward a B.A. in English (with an emphasis in creative writing) and a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. I especially enjoy the works of Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare. My affinity for the arts is evident in my support of local bookstores, museums, and theaters. Besides reading and writing, I live for discovering new music and revisiting classic jams from the 70's, 80's, and 90's.

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Jane the…Virgin? How the Show Addresses the Expectation vs. Reality of Sex for Jane

I love this show. It’s corny—told in a classic telenovela style, the plot is melodramatic and fast-paced—but it’s so self-aware of its corniness that it’s something else entirely. It’s smart, it’s funny, and the narrative structure helps draw attention to modern issues, often times in a comedic or cringeworthy but thought-provoking way.

The show tells the story of Jane Villanueva, who has never had sex, but becomes pregnant through accidental artificial insemination. The narrator, voiced by the enthusiastic Anthony Mendez, is constantly pointing out the ridiculousness of the story in short recaps before each episode and sly interjections between scenes. Yet, Jane the Virgin has a surprising amount of heart and insight. With mention of immigration issues, reproductive rights, and class privilege (to name a few), the show sprinkles in bits of authenticity throughout.

After the third season arrived on Netflix, I underwent a binge-watching session of all 20 episodes (which equals 13.95 hours of pure entertainment). If you’ve seen it, then you know that eight minutes into the third episode a very significant thing happens which puts the title of the show into question. It’s the moment we were all waiting for…and, I’m just going to say it…Jane is no longer a virgin! FINALLY.

Jane Finally Loses Her Virginity Finally

It’s a pretty forward-thinking show that artfully compares traditional values and cultural norms to contemporary thinking. So when old-fashioned values like chastity are incorporated into the modern framework, it complicates things. And maybe it’s the influence of my Sociology and Women’s Studies classes, but I watched this season with a more critical eye, trying to piece together some kind of message. I began to think about Jane’s virginity as the foundation of the show, now entirely challenged for the remainder of the season.

Jane loses her virginity the way she always planned to: after marriage. In place of a sex scene, cartoon versions of Jane and Michael shoot off into space on a love rocket, with euphoric music in the background.

It’s the kind of moment we were waiting for—in all its clichéd glory. That is, until the audience learns that Jane faked her orgasm.

This conflict serves not only as a plot device for the episode, but also as an introduction to issues that the modern heterosexual woman may face. This is where the show strays from telenovela tropes.

Jane hides her dissatisfaction from her husband because she doesn’t want to ruin “the moment.” Her subconscious expectations about sex come from the influence of her traditional grandmother and cultural upbringing as well as the romance novels she grew up reading and the telenovelas she grew up watching.

Entertainment media often focuses on women as objects of desire and intuitive sexual experts but, ironically, there is also societal pressure to suppress their sexuality until they are settled into a monogamous relationship with a man for fear of being labeled a “slut.” This conundrum easily creates confusion between perception and reality. Ultimately for Jane, this unrealistic ideal makes it difficult to recognize that her situation is not uncommon.

Like everyone, she wants—and even expects—her first time to be the fantasy, but she is disappointed by an unfiltered reality.

Crumpled White Flower and Jane's Lost Virginity

Crumpled white flower or ready to bloom?

On top of the disappointing outcome of her first sexual encounter, Jane feels like she’s lost a part of her identity. This goes back to her grandmother’s lesson that virginity is something “lost” which cannot be recovered—that image of the crumpled white flower. Because the moment does not match up to her expectations, Jane feels like she went wrong somewhere. There is a kind of guilt that rests on her shoulders for not responding to sex from her husband as she “should.” As a result, Jane wonders if she is to blame and thinks that maybe she’s compromised a part of herself in this unfulfilling experience.

It’s her mother, though, that explains that she hasn’t “lost” anything but has, in fact, discovered a whole new facet of life. One that she can now embrace and fully explore.

I love the way that the show compares tradition and modernity, without judgment on any one side. Although Jane wants to be a modern woman, she struggles between this lifestyle and her ties to tradition, which sometimes conflict with one another. These values are often personified by her Venezuelan grandmother, who typically has an old-fashioned mindset, and her mother, who is more of a free spirit.

Her decision to remain a virgin until marriage is partly motivated by her grandmother’s advice, partly by her Catholic background, and partly by her own experiences. Jane does not have any resentment toward women who have pre-marital sex, nor does she try to push her ideals on them.

It’s her personal choice, and one that she has every right to make. However, the societal constructs that produce these values often come with unnecessary and gendered pressures.

In Episode three, Jane’s conflict arises from the disappointing experience and shattered expectation of losing her virginity —and her decision to feign pleasure—after adhering to traditional values. Her journey in this episode is relatable to many women, and gives a candid take on the aftermath of that experience, including how she moved past those emotions to get to a better, more fulfilling place.

Jane the Virgin enhances the TV drama-comedy genre with nuggets of insight and thoughtful representations of real-life situations.

So, even though Jane’s first experience with sex is disappointing, I’m glad that it happens. It’s real life.

I’m glad that she comes clean about faking an orgasm, and that she and Michael continue to have awkward, unsuccessful nights until they get something right. It’s time for Jane to explore and embrace her sexuality, even if her initial path was more traditional than most modern behavior.

There is something to be said for the artful way that the show integrates authentic moments in an exaggerated plotline. Season three of Jane the Virgin expands on the reoccurring theme of Jane’s sexuality and redefines it. Episode three, in particular, is a turning point in the show. Not only does it change the dynamic of the intro (“Virgin” is crossed out and/or replaced with something connected to the episode at hand), but it also allows the show to move beyond an attachment to Jane’s sex life, or lack thereof. It suggests the insignificance of the show’s initial fixation with her virgin status—or anyone else’s, for that matter—and a focus on Jane’s journey as a person.

Jane the Virgin with Virgin Crossed Out

There is so much more of Jane Villanueva’s identity to explore. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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