General Question

casheroo's avatar

The myth of sexual purity is damaging a generation of women?

Asked by casheroo (18026 points ) April 23rd, 2009

The article talks about a book “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women”
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30353377//
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you feel girls are too pressured to stay virgins, and this is affecting women negatively? Or is this author full of crap?

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57 Answers

Kiev749's avatar

I’d say its solely on the person in charge of their body… The young lady. You don’t have to have sex to be cool.

My Ex wasn’t sexually active when we first got together and I really didn’t care. After about a year into our relationship is when she lost her’s and I didn’t view her any different.

eponymoushipster's avatar

How can being “pure” and not giving in to peer pressure be negative? I’d think that becoming a skank-ho at 14 would more negatively effect a girl’s life.

Facade's avatar

I was always proud to be a virgin (until I wasn’t anymore). Especially nowadays, a woman should be praised instead of put down if they are able to hold on to that.

Pol_is_aware's avatar

The difference is not as great as some may think.

SpatzieLover's avatar

First of, I disagree with the author:

“Unable to live up to the ideal of purity that’s forced upon them in one aspect of their lives, many young women are choosing the hypersexualized alternative that’s offered to them everywhere else as the easier”

Virginity just is, it is not in any way forced on a girl/woman. Choosing to be “hypersexulaized” is exactly that, a choice. If a girl/woman wants sex, she does not have to go to the extreme to become un-virginized, THAT is ridiculous.

squirbel's avatar

Seriously. I saved myself until my fiance, and he’s the happiest guy on earth to have something no one else has had.

I disagree with the author. Some people actually view virginity as something to be proud of. I personally believe it has taught me how to hold off on what I want, and get the things I need, first. Sure, you can learn those lessons elsewhere and in other ways, but maintaining virginity is a tough job and you come out with stronger character.

Not only that, but it makes relationships simpler. You learn to value the person for who they are, even with all their dents and dings. You don’t have to see past the fog of a sexual bond, which is much like epoxy glue. That’s one reason there are so many divorces… people can’t see past that fog of attraction and sexual bonding… and when the fog clears, they’re like “Who the f@#$ is this person I married? Why!? Why?!”

exitnirvana's avatar

I think what Valenti is trying to get at is that a woman’s morality should not be judged on whether or not her hymen is intact, that she instead should be defined by her outward personality and other characteristics. However, I don’t think the author is very effective in this sense, at least in the excerpt, given the fact that (like eponymoushipster stated) becoming promiscuous would have more damaging affects. HOWEVER, a lot of what Valenti discusses, I was unaware of, such as the formal “Purity Pledges” that girls take to appease their parents, wtf is that all about? As far as I’m concerned to each their own. But a woman should be praised for who she is anyway, whether or not she’s a virgin. I think that’s more of a personal choice and not something to be used as a judgment tool, ESPECIALLY if a woman had the right to choose taken away from her due to rape, etc.

ugh, I’m going to have to read this book now…dammit.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I don’t like this exclusive focus on women’s sexual choices, but men get a pass. Equality or nothing, I say. As if I want my man to have been a skank-ho, either. Pffft.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@exitnirvana
But a woman should be praised for who she is anyway, whether or not she’s a virgin.

Completely agree. I, too, think the pledges are ridiculous. Not because I think girls shouldn’t remain virgins, but because if they already belong to a said religion, this is ALREADY their belief. It’s redundant, and not the place for a parent to butt their nose in.

squirbel's avatar

Every society on Earth views women who have their hymen broken before marriage as… well… less.

Sure, we could fight the long-standing morals of old. But it’s an uphill battle [think 89º].

People want to say it’s religions that press that on people, it’s not. But how do you fight societal mores?

Facade's avatar

So we should be saying “Hey, good job. I’m so proud of you” to the girls who go out and sleep with everyone since that’s who she is? That’s ridiculous.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Facade No, we shouldn’t put a woman down because she’s had sex. Her deciding to have sex is no different than a man deciding to have sex. Just because one is no longer a virgin does not make one a HO.

fireside's avatar

I think these types of pledges are a convenient way for parents to neglect their responsibility to their kids.

“Good, you signed the pledge. Now if any difficult questions come up, honey, just remember that you signed the pledge. End of discussion.”

exitnirvana's avatar

@fireside yeah its akin to that contract young drivers have to sign for the insurance companies and their parents. “I’ll never drink MA, I swear!” “Well you better not kid, ‘cause we got it in writing…”

SpatzieLover's avatar

@exitnirvana That’s exactly what I relate it to as well. If you already have a relationship with your child/children, why would ANY contract other than a POA (which I highly recommend) ever be an issue?!

exitnirvana's avatar

@SpatzieLover definitely. My mom explained that these are the choices you’re going to have to make and these are the possible consequences, you make the choice and you deal with whatever the outcome may be. She never whipped out the legal paperwork…

tinyfaery's avatar

The myth of sexual purity is new? I thought it has always been that way. It damages some women, others not. I do not care who fucks who, at whatever age (within reason), or whom they choose to do it with. Why does society always feel the need to regulate our bodies? Pfft!!

prince's avatar

As a man who grew up extremely religious (ironically with no pressure from my parents), I feel strongly that the pressures of complete abstinence are more harmful than not.

While obviously having sex when you’re 14 isn’t what I’m advocating, my experience in nearly every abstinent community I’ve been a part of (bible study, church groups, etc.) has been that the girls in those communities have been hypersexual—either sleeping around proper, or convincing themselves that anal sex “doesn’t really count.”

I took an abstinence pledge when I was a teenager. Even when I first had sex in college with a woman whom I truly loved, I had a breakdown afterward.

Now, I don’t think that abstinence is an invalid option. As @tinyfaery says, it works really well for some people. But I think when it’s presented in a way that “this is the one true way” it’s unhealthy—and you end up with a significant group of people who act out sexually and have no support.

westy81585's avatar

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having sex prior to marriage. The entire concept was thought up back in the day when a woman’s virginity was a property that her father would sell to her husband (the womans reproductive capability was a right to be bought, and to ensure that she only produced the “buyers” offspring, she had to be a virgin).

Now if you want to wait til marriage, go for it, more power to you. But this nonsense that you’re a morally wrong person for having sex, or liking having sex or wanting too, is harmful. Frankly I don’t care if my future wife has slept with 100 guys before me, so long as I’m the only one from when she began her relationship with me.

MissAusten's avatar

Does anyone know where I can get a skank-ho badge?

westy81585's avatar

@MissAusten Maybe you can borrow your moms! ..... ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…... (lol, j/k, I couldn’t resist the opportunity)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If anything I feel young women are pressured not to remain virgins, they get made to feel socially backwards or that they’re holding onto some religious idealism that isn’t valued much anymore. The detriment is becoming sexually active without emotional maturity, taking health risks and added stress in order to feel evolved. It’s a false and empty accomplishment.
*I’m editing to add I wasn’t able to open the article so I’m just spouting off pure personal opinion and observation.

westy81585's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence I agree….. I think the problem is we see BOTH extremes. On one hand you’ve got hardcore religious types and whatnot telling you to wait til marriage no matter how long that is, and it’s purely sacred for your husband and all that. And on the other hand you’ve got the extreme social view that sex should be had as early as possible, with as many people as possible, and is about as important as shaking hands.

Both are very harmful.

MissAusten's avatar

@westy81585 I asked my mom, but she said she gave it to YOUR mom after that incident with the donkey and the gorilla. :P

Thanks for the laugh!

westy81585's avatar

@MissAusten Don’t forget the Moose!...... hahahahahaha

exitnirvana's avatar

@westy81585 I suppose I find it frightening from both sides of the argument as well; pressure to remain a virgin, pressure to have sex. Why does such a choice have to include such gratuitous amounts of pressure? Why can’t someone make the decision, given it is such a personal one, for themselves? Remain a virgin because you want to, or have have sex because you want to, not because another party dictates it to be or not to be.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@everyone thanks for the chuckles! whilst i enjoy my coffee, i snort

lisaj89's avatar

“Unrealistic sexual expectations?” I don’t know about y’all, but to me, not sleeping around sounds like a pretty reasonable request for a teenager. That author is just trying to get a reaction out of people in order to make money. How can anybody honestly believe that being a virgin is a bad thing!
Too many of my friends have lost it early and then sex is no big deal anymore. Religion has only a small part to do with my choice to wait. It’s a personal, moral choice for me. Everybody should do what is right for them self. If one feels too pressured to stay a virgin and wants to have sex… go for it. Waiting is not for everybody, it’s not worth worrying over all the time, just do what you think is right.

GAMBIT's avatar

I never dated someone I didn’t think about marrying. My wife was the first girl I dated. We have been happy for sixteen years. I hope my daughters will chose their partners wisely.

westy81585's avatar

@lisaj89 I don’t think anyone was saying being a virgin is a bad thing….. Just saying that dictating that if you’re not a virgin when you get married you’re a morally wrong person, is a bad thing. If you make that choice for yourself, good for you.

MissAusten's avatar

@eponymoushipster I don’t get it. ??? But I’d be a skank-ho for Mark Wahlberg. I remember, back in the day, when he was still Marky Mark and my best friend and I went to a concert of his. Oh, and those Calvin Klien ads…mmmmm…..

@westy81585 No, no, no, you’re confused. The moose wasn’t around until later. Didn’t your parents ever tell you how they met?

allen_o's avatar

Fucking Catholics, sex is fun, and it’s not wrong, evil or impure, it’s the most natural thing in the world, I fucking hate people who abstain!

elijah's avatar

I’m not going to expect my son or daughter to wait until marriage. If they do wait, it would be for their own reasons and I will be proud.
If they choose to have sex, I would hope that they wait until they honestly feel it’s the right time. I don’t expect them to marry the first person they have sex with.
I hope they will be discriminatory in choosing sexual partners, as I don’t believe in casual sex. Your mind and body are the only things you ever truly own, and you should demand respect for both.
Whenever my daughter chooses to have sex , I will not love her less. I will feel a pang of sorrow because my baby is growing up, but that’s natural.
If my daughter views sex as just another physical activity, I will be disappointed. I don’t want her to sleep with the entire football team. Those girls are a dime a dozen. I want her to see sex as something special.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

The only drawback I have heard about to such things as a “purity” pledge, is that at some point, some individuals who take such a pledge make a decision, many times in the heat of passion, to depart from the pledge. At that time there is no preparation for a “safe” departure, and these individuals end up having unprotected sex.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@allen_o I am a Catholic. Purity rings ARE not a “Catholic thing”. Generally, they are a tool used by “reformists” or Evangelicals. I think they are indeed a tool

cyndyh's avatar

I think the problem is in these groups that tell young women that their only value is in their virginity and that all guys want from them is sex or to marry a virgin. That shouldn’t be the whole focus of a girl’s identity and worth.

mamabeverley's avatar

I think being a virgin until marriage is totally unrealistic. As said before, even with the plegde, things happen. Then you are dealing with a whole different set of issues. As with drinking, we always knew it was not ok to be drinking. But, my mom was really cool. Better to call and say you had a drink and were crashing with a friend than to drive home drunk after a party. Sure you were still busted for drinking, but at least you were not dead or killing someone else. Sex or not, teens need to plan ahead. Even in high school, when I was not sexually active, my mom made me carry a condom in my purse (just in case). That way there was no reason not to be protected. That was the 80’s, and HIV was new to the scene. WAAAY scary

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I guess first you have to decide how you feel about sex… is it important? to what extent? what meaning does it have/not have to you?

nromstadt's avatar

If anything, I feel that girls are pressured to have sex more than to stay a virgin. I can honestly say that about half of my friends in high school are on birth control, which they were put on my their parents because they just assumed that they’re having sex. My parents are completely opposite. It has always been, “Don’t do it.” While I’m not necessarily waiting for marriage (as I don’t plan on that for quite a long time…) I want to be sure that it’s the right person. I was in a relationship for almost two years with someone that I loved, but I just wasn’t ready. I guess it’s a personal decision, but I feel like girls and guys even, have so much pressure put on them to have sex. I can’t even count how many times people have asked me whether we did, or just flat out assumed it.. I’ve been called a liar for saying I’m still a virgin… like it’s so ridiculously unbelievable. It kind of bothers me that people look at losing your virginity as something that makes you ‘part of the club’... as cliche as that may sound. I know I’m in the minority, but all the stories about peoples’ sexual experiences, many partners and stuff like that kind of make me feel left out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’ve so accepted that people won’t wait, that we seem to expect them not to. Personally, I admire people who wait, and I do know a few couples who have. For me, at least, I see waiting as a kind of a test to see if that person really wants you, and not just physically.

I know it’s a very personal thing, and I’d be lying if I said that waiting isn’t very difficult, but I think that it’s important.. I don’t think it’s up to the church, society, or other people to decide for you,either. I hate the pressure that I get from my family, friends, the media… My decision is based on what I feel is right for me. I’m not saving it for a guy because chances are that he’s already had sex with other women-Instead, I’m saving it for myself. (Not literally, of course) But I’m saving it for my own reasons…. Not someone elses.

Oh, and @westy81585 you wouldn’t care if she’d slept with 100 men? Personally, I don’t like the idea of guys I date/like having been with a lot of other girls. It makes me feel less special. While I don’t think that I’ve been a virgin when I get married, I want to keep my number as low as possible so that he knows how important he is to me and that he has something that I don’t just freely give away.

westy81585's avatar

@nromstadt Haha, well despite my #, she should know that she’s immensely special to me :)

elijah's avatar

@nromstadt That was a wonderful answer. You sound like a smart young lady. I hope my daughter thinks like that :)

MissAusten's avatar

@nromstadt I also hope my daughter thinks like that! I believe you about the pressure to have sex. Once you get to college, it’ll ease up a bit (if you still haven’t met the right person by then).

I didn’t have sex until late by many standards—I was 22. This is such a ridiculous cliche of a story, but the first guy I slept with was a real jerk and broke up with me the next day. I was mad, but old enough to be able to deal with it. Honestly, I should have seen him for what he was a mile away. If that had happened to me at age 14 or 15, I think I would have been affected by it. Now, thinking about it doesn’t even slightly piss me off.

Horus515's avatar

I don’t think the obsession with staying virgins is healthy but something does need to be done about how BOTH men and women conduct themselves in this society. So many people just give it up on the first date and fuck so many people that its pathetic. Its getting hard to find decent women anymore!

lisaj89's avatar

You know what? I just go back from the movies and have decided that there are very few girls left who actually want to protect their purity! Everywhere you looked teenage girls, very young, like 13, were wearing clothes, if you can call them that, that exposed EVERYTHING! When did jeans go out of syle? Not much made it down past the mid thigh except for glances. And then, these girls are going to be the ones crying when some guy tries to have his way with her. What do these girls expect, they are sending mixed signals to guys. Or, maybe not, maybe that’s what they want! Times are a changin’. I feel SO old!

Dr_C's avatar

Each case is different.. some girls can handle peer pressure, others can’t. Sexuality in young teens can sometimes be more of a point of pride than a personal choice which is a negative influence. If these girls decide to lose their virginity because they feel it’s the right thing for them at the time then good for them.

If they decide however to lose their virginity because all their friendsa re doing it… and have a bad sexual experience their first time (mainly because they weren’t ready) then that could negatively affect their life in various ways…. but mostly their future relationships.

The author is full of crap. (of the article… not you cash)

hitomi's avatar

I think that everyone is dancing around something that most people can agree on. We want our girls to make decision based, not on peer pressure or what society says is good and right and moral, but on what THEY want and feel is right and works for them. It’s important to find the balance; you need to teach young girls that “virgin” isn’t a dirty word (to quote the billboard), but neither is “sex”.

As long as they’re safe and doing things for the right reasons – not letting people take advantage of them or put them at risk – and being responsible, whatever they decide to do is alright.

This is how my brother and I were both raised. My brother has had sex with multiple partners throughout his 27 years and I am still a virgin. For both of us it is a choice. I’m not a virgin because I think pre-marital sex is wrong or because I think sex is something that should only be shared between two people that are absolutely in love with each other and intend to be together forever. I’ve just never had the right partner or moment. It’s about choice and knowing yourself and why YOU are making decisions, not why your best friend is making the decision or the popular girl or what that cute guy says.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have read a lot of Valenti’s work and I often agree with her…as I do in this case as well…virginity, imo, is valued more in women, obviously because women have to be ‘pure’ for their man and what not bullshit…there’s no reason to value virginity or lack of virginity…opening your legs is no easier or harder than keeping them closed…both should be voluntary…but teeanagers (hell, all of us) are swayed by societal patterns…I lost my virginity just so that I can stop effing thinking about what ‘it’d be like’ and focus on academics…

Garebo's avatar

I think the complete opposite, I think the promiscuity and sexuality is way out of control; we have kids who think they are adult porn stars; I am sorry they are still just kids – I witness it all the time. Is a women a bad person because she prefers to be with someone she genuinely wants to be with? Maybe I am weird, I respect women that know what they want in their life and and can control their urges.
Or should we return to the age of pure debauch sex as during the Weimar Berlin Republic or Caligula Era, etc.- these societies have never nourished any stability, moral compass or spiritual growth for society.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

There is some truth in that article, to the extent that women’s sexuality is artificially dichotomized, for example in the following statements:

“she’s an angel in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom”
“I’d bang her, but I wouldn’t take her home to my mother”

Implication being that “nice” girls don’t do sex, or at least, they express their sexuality only in the prescribed (private) areas.

This is artificial because “nice” women and “nice” men can both still be sexualised beings. And yet, a woman that expresses her sexuality is often called any of a range of disparaging names – whore, slut, etc. Somehow there are no negatively-connoted names for sexualised men. They are only studs, pimps, ladies’ men, etc.

And these are a couple of the aspects of this debate that seemed most pertinent.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Garebo
I thinkt the two issues you discuss are not necessarily related
as in both expecting women to be promiscuous and expecting women to ‘control their urges’ is unfair and controlling…all people should know what they want out of life but we have all been teenagers and hardly were we omniscient…and those times of debauchery that you speak of, that was for the sake of men, not women

Garebo's avatar

I don’t agree it was for the sake of women. Yes, women were under much greater coercion especially in ancient times, you didn’t have much choice then, but by no means were all periods of cultural sexual deviancy been completely a lack of free will amongst women. The questions thrust is a woman a bad person because she prefers to follow and adhere to her virgin ideals, if she does, all power to her- I find it admirable. At the same time, I don’t agree with those people who put unduly pressure on a kid to refrain from sex by any means – its futile and unhealthy. My point and disgust is at the rampant sexuality among kids is as if it is no different then taking a piss. I think it is a little more than that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t understand why people think it’s so admirable to remain a virgin – it’s not hard

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I don’t think the ideal of sexual purity is “damaging” to young women. I think bad choices that some girls make in life is more damaging, and that concerns sexual “impurity”. We should always live and abide by virtuous ideals——they are the last bastion of sanity and civilized, moral behaviour in this increasingly ugly and broken-up world.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES bastion of sanity? wow…yeah the world’s always been ugly, bud

bongo's avatar

This is not really the case in England, here most girls I know lost their virginity around the age of 14 or 15 which is under the legal age here. Being a virgin in high school tends to be something some girls are teased about rather than respected for.
It is so different here, I think the drinking age may have something to do with it. I know I got drunk for the 1st time at 13 which is about normal in the UK as far as im aware. I mean it wasnt something i did every week or even every month but still.
Im not saying its a very bad thing, most girls do wait till they are ready as I did, Its not like we are forced but looking at teen pregnancy rates the sex ed we recieve here really needs to match the changing culture. I had no information from school regarding contraception until I was 14. That is too late for some girls. I was lucky and had parents open to talking about sex and contraception so I knew what was what when i needed to. Infact even well before I needed to.

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