Earlier today, Withteeth pointed out a post written by a man who said he’d never teach his daughter about safe sex. This got me thinking about the purity culture among certain religious groups.
We’re constantly hearing about abstinence only sex education, and little girls making purity pledges, and courting instead of dating. We hear arguments like “there’s no such thing as safe sex,” “teaching kids about sex will cause them to want to have sex,” “waiting until marriage makes it that much more special,” “you should save yourself for your future husband,” and so forth. But there are so many problems with these arguments.
“There’s no such thing as safe sex.” So it’s better to leave kids unaware of how to protect themselves so that when they have sex they get into trouble? Even if you don’t want your kid having sex, don’t you at least want them to be able to protect themselves if they do? Are you also going to avoid teaching them how to drive because they might get into an accident? Yes, sex can lead to negative consequences, but those consequences are easier to avoid when you know what they are. And what about the future? You expect people to grow up, get married, and have children but never actually tell them what to expect when it comes to having children. There have been cases where doctors have had to explain intercourse to people because neither partner realized that the man had to put his penis in the woman’s vagina in order for her to conceive. In other cases, the couple was having sex in the woman’s urethra because they didn’t know that there are two holes. I new a girl who didn’t realize that you didn’t have to remove your tampon to go to the bathroom during your period. All of these mistakes have nothing to do with premarital sex, and they can all be avoided with comprehensive sex education.
“Teaching kids about sex will make them want to have sex.” Yeah, and teaching them about food will make them want to eat. See, there’s this thing called puberty, and it makes this point mute because it makes it so that kids don’t need to be taught about it to want it. And if you don’t teach them about it, they’ll get their information elsewhere while you’re not around. Porn is usually where they’ll turn. Would you prefer that your children learn from porn? Because those certainly aren’t the lessons I want my future offspring to get. And what’s so wrong with wanting sex anyway? It’s how we all got here after all.
“Waiting until marriage makes it that much more special.” The people who say this have either not had sex or must not remember it. Sex isn’t special. It’s slimy, and smelly, and it looks funny. It’s weird. But it feels wonderful. At least, it does if you do it right. How many first timers do it right? Do you really want that on your wedding night? I’d much rather remember good sex with the person I love than fumbling and embarrassment. Then again, if you’ve never learned what good sex is, how will you know what to expect? How can you have good sex if you don’t know how to make the sex good?
“You should save yourself for your future husband.” Will he do the same for me? These expectations lie a lot more heavily on girls than they do on boys. Take purity balls for example, they teach prepubescent girls that their desires are bad and they should suppress them. But how often do you hear about purity balls for boys? Sure, many are told that masturbation is sinful and sex is for married people, but they aren’t told that they need to suppress their desires. They aren’t told that they have to control their actions and the actions of others. This is a huge burden to put on a child who doesn’t even fully grasp what’s going on. What if the girl doesn’t want to get married? What if the girl has a high sex drive? What if she gets into a relationship that turns out to be bad because she entered it thinking she had to? What if her husband beats her? What if they don’t know how to communicate and their relationship ends up being nothing but fighting? What if they divorce? What kind of pressure is this girl going to feel in those circumstances? Will she know how to deal with them? She’d be a lot more prepared if she had other relationships to build from. And, of course, if she’d actually been educated in what to expect.
I’ve heard a lot about how my relationship will never last because my partner and I live together without being married. But the whole point of moving in together was to see if we could make it. How would we know what to expect from each other if we didn’t live together? I’d rather find out that we can’t stand living together before we had a legally binding contract making it more difficult for us to leave each other. We know how we’ll deal with tough times, we know how to communicate before we start to fight, we know how to navigate things like cooking and cleaning and errands together. And we know how to navigate sex with one another. We’ve been together for a few years, and we’ve been living together for just short of a year. We still love each other and we are now more committed than ever to spend our lives together, and to have children. We haven’t destroyed our relationship, we’ve strengthened it. That’s not to say that everybody is the same as us. People will respond differently. But, if you break up because you moved in together, I highly doubt a wedding would have changed anything.
For all of these reasons, and more, I’m critical of purity culture. I believe that it causes more problems than it solves, and I don’t believe that anyone should be made to feel ashamed of their sexuality.