In America the “Virginity Pledge” has been around for a long time. Fathers and daughters attend a Purity Ball, where, dressed in a white gown, the daughters promise their virginity, purity and chastity to their fathers, and to their God. This is a trend that is gaining in popularity.
For me, this is bordering on child abuse. It is definitely woman abuse.
I’m going to talk about this purely from the point of view of girls, although obviously boys could, and do, make these same pledges. However it is far more prevalent amongst young girls.
Choosing to be a virgin until marriage is a decision every woman is entitled to make, and whilst it isn’t for me, it’s a decision that should be respected. Nobody should ever be forced to have sex when they don’t want to.
But this isn’t giving women the right to decide for themselves, this is pressuring them. Forcing them. This is making women believe, from a young age, that once you have sex your value is diminished. You are spoiled. Ruined. Damaged goods.
The idea that a sexually active woman is less valuable, and somehow unclean, is extremely popular amongst most religions. Or at least modern religions. A virgin woman is held in highest regard, the prized possession for a man. In Islam, virgin women wait the men who die honourably. In Christianity, it’s the virgin woman who bore the son of God (yeah, riddle me that eh?)
Men, on the other hand, generally are put under no such constraints. A man isn’t expected to wear white to his wedding. A man isn’t expected to be “intact” for his wife. A man isn’t expected to pledge his virginity to his mother, until his wife takes it. A man is worth MORE than his virginity. A man’s value isn’t tarnished by the lack of virginity.
So why should a woman’s be? Control. Dominance.
A patriarchal society requires woman be suppressed. A superb way of suppressing people is to put shame and fear in them when they express themselves, when they behave naturally, when they are human. Take an element of humanity away from people and you’ve got them, you’ve got their lives, because they cannot live naturally.
So, if you accept that to force women to believe that having sex is a bad thing is wrong, then what’s the alternative? Am I suggesting that I want Miss Rose to take a different man every week? Every day? Am I suggesting that sexual promiscuity, as the polar opposite of abstinence, is something to aspire to?
No. What is aspirational is self worth, self respect, and happiness. To feel secure and confident in how you behave, and to know you’re being true to yourself and respecting yourself.
I want better for Miss Rose than what I experienced. My sexual promiscuity was not brought about from female empowerment, it was not brought about from freedom and self respect and experimentation. Don’t get me wrong, some of my relationships were from that, and had positive impacts on my life, however long they lasted. But a lot weren’t. A lot of my sexual behaviour was reactionary, and brought about through fear and a lack of self worth which permeated my life following a traumatic event. I don’t want that for Miss Rose. I want better, I want more. I want her to have healthy, happy experiences with her sexuality.
But, as I said, that wasn’t all of my partners. Many, some of whom I remain friends with, were a wonderful experience. I learned, I explored, I developed an understanding of my body, of men’s bodies, and what I enjoy. I feel that, following these encounters, I am able to express myself and enjoy myself in ways that without them perhaps I wouldn’t. Sexuality is a big part of who we are, it’s how we reproduce, it’s a way of bonding and connecting with a partner on a deeper level than we do with our friends.
I do not regret my sexual experiences, even the most negative, because I learned a lesson from each one. Not always a pleasant lesson, not always a lesson I enjoyed learning, but a lesson not the less. And knowledge is power.
I want, for Miss Rose, for her to feel able to express herself, to understand herself. I want her to know that having sex is fun, it is exciting, and it feels fabulous. I want her to know how to have sex safely, and to protect both her heart and her body. I do not want her to grow up feeling that having sex makes her dirty and damaged. Because it doesn’t. But she needs to be educated, not controlled.
Perhaps she will choose to wait, perhaps she won’t. Perhaps she will have several partners, perhaps just a few, perhaps just one. I don’t know. What I do know is that as long as she is happy, healthy, and safe, that it doesn’t matter. What matters is not who she has sex with, it’s how she treats people. It’s how she loves, how she laughs. It’s what she learns from life, and how she applies those lessons. What matters is how she values the lives of others, how she cares for those weaker than herself. What matters is who she is, not who she has had inside her.
What matters is that I do not take away her freedoms to choose. I can guide her. I can teach her that sex connects you to a person more deeply than you may realise. That sharing that level of intimacy will forever leave it’s mark on you. I will tell her that sex is a responsibility and carries with it risks, and how to protect yourself from those risks. I will tell her that having sex with people does not guarantee they will love you, or even care for you. But, accepting those things, that sex is brilliant. It feels really good, it is amazing exercise, and it is one of the most natural things you can do with your body.
I will teach her that so long as she is true to herself, then she is worth the world. And that nobody should ever be allowed to make her feel differently for any reason. She is worth the world.
Sex is used as a weapon, both by using it to attack someone, and by preventing someone from having it. Women seem to come under fire from both ends of this sexual abuse spectrum. It is unacceptable. It needs to stop. It needs to stop now.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!