I usually avoid two posts in a day, but today I was reading about stay-at-home daughters and Purity Balls. I thought, "These people are nuts!"
But when I said, as a teenager, "I'm going to be a virgin until marriage," it put me in solidarity with these crazies.
When I think back on why I chose virginity in adolescence, though, I realize that despite being connected with these loons, I wasn't exactly like them. Firstly, I was able to choose it. Stay-at-home daughters don't choose their destiny or how to explore their sexuality. They go straight from home to husband, with no time on their own to even think about getting their cherries popped.
I thought about conversations I had with my mother. Of course, she encouraged me to wait until marriage (she only had one partner before my father, her husband), but she still said, "If you do have sex before marriage, use protection!" So there was never pressure from my mom to stay a virgin "or else." It wasn't so much about being pure because God says that's what purity is (even though that became part of it for me). It was more about protection of my body, heart and soul. Protection of the body from pregnancy and STD's, protection of the heart and soul from the heartbreak of breaking up with someone to whom you lost your virginity. Meanwhile, my dad said, "No dating until you're 16!" I was a little too obedient to that! But he said it was because teenage boys were immature and only interested in sex. I went to an all-girls high school so I don't know if that was true for every teenage boy, but the junior high boys sure seemed that way...
I think there's a difference between telling your daughter to be a virgin to please God and telling your daughter to be a virgin to protect herself. I guess both can be problematic, but at least in the latter it's more about your daughter, not rules. My parents taught me that I shouldn't give it up to a guy that didn't deserve me. My mom told me over and over, "your body is a temple, and was only designed for a king." That statement can be problematic too. I think my body is not just designed for a man's pleasure. But again, that statement is taken out of the context of a discussion of how wonderful a person I am, how precious my body is, and how I shouldn't just throw it around at any guy who flirts with me.
And I never thought for a second that abstinence-only education should be taught in public schools! I went to public schools through junior high. In the late 90's, we learned about abstinence and contraception. I liked that the best protection against pregnancy and STD's was just to not have sex. Obvious, straightforward, and you don't have to worry about taking pills or fiddling with condoms or getting tested...protected sex seemed like such a hassle. Get to the fun already!
Again, my stance is in transition. I don't want to have an oppressive definition of femininity or female sexuality. As a teenager, I didn't feel like I was missing out or that virginity was holding me back from living a full life. My early twenties were quite full and amazing, even without a boyfriend!
But now I do feel like I'm missing out. Now, I feel it's a lie to say being a virgin is still liberating or empowering me, helping me live a full life. Now, something's missing...
And I definitely don't want to be mistaken for the SAHD's or Purity Ball people! But if people still talk to me like someone who's had sex, I guess I'm not as loony as the fundamentalists.