Fuck You Purity.
A group of young girls sit in a circle in a dimly lit room. They are trying not to giggle as they listen to the group leader talk. They squirm uncomfortably at the mention of certain words. Sex. Virginity. Lust. Their snickers stop and their backs stiffen at the next word uttered. Purity.
The group leader then passes around a white rose. She asks each of the girls to take a petal. By the time the rose makes it around the circle there are only a few wilted petals left. Soiled by sweaty hands and drooping in symbolic shame.
This is you if you give yourself to someone before marriage.
The giggling has stopped and the girls absorb the weight of what they just heard. Their value and worth can be taken away, like that.
Which rose do you want to be?
The loaded question aimed like a gun at each vulnerable girl’s heart.
Purity. The gold standard of goodness, cleanliness. Holiness.
I don’t get it.
I think it’s all bullshit.
Let me clarify. If you choose to remain a virgin until you’re married because it’s what your heart tells you to do? I’m not calling that bullshit. That’s a very private, very personal choice. And I’m all about choice.
I am calling bullshit on the pressure. On the guilt. On the mentality that purity is the only way to be worthy of love. On the irrational attachment to a virgin status.
I’m calling bullshit on the word and the idea.
Fuck you purity.
You are holier than thou wrapped up in condescension and judgement.
You are a beast of burden placed on young girls who are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in.
You are fetishizing virginity.
You are firing up uneducated loins and fanning the flames with ignorance.
You have no place in a mature and educational discussion about sex.
And it makes me angry.
Because I don’t like shame. I don’t think shame ever produces anything healthy or productive. Not when it comes to parenting or relationships and not when it comes to sex.
Because I have seen what the purity mindset has done to girls.
I have listened to a friend describe the ridiculously flawed and phallic white rose purity lesson that she had to sit through at a young age. With her words catching on emotion she goes on to describe a “date” with a much older boy that went too far. She talked about it in ambiguous terms until she choked out the word that summed it up: rape. She talked of the shame and guilt she felt because she would never be that white rose again.
THIS is fucked up.
Because I read a transcript of a speech given by Elizabeth Smart at a Human Trafficking Conference. She details how her upbringing focused on purity added to her feelings of worthlessness after she was raped repeatedly while in captivity.
Smart said she was raised to believe that her virginity was “the most special thing” and described how her childhood self viewed her rape as something that “devalued” her. “Can you imagine turning around and going back into a society where you’re no longer of value?” she asked the audience. “Where you’re no longer as good as everybody else?”
Smart then goes on to tell of a teacher who used a chewed gum analogy for sex (similar to the white rose “lesson”). She explains the feeling of worthlessness and shame realizing that she was the chewed piece of gum.
THIS is fucked up.
Teaching young girls that their value is contingent upon their virginity is a disaster in the making.
It is archaic. It’s roots run deep in a patriarchal society hell bent on controlling women. On keeping paternity of offspring intact and unquestioned for harvesting of fields. Archaic.
It is based on a mindset that views women and girls as commodities.
It teaches girls that their worth lies between their legs.
Their heart and their minds? Secondary to their precious flower.
THIS is fucked up.
Hypocrites all over the world are demanding a status that is nothing more than a notion, an ideal. A standard most of them never met. But it doesn’t stop them from placing this on the shoulders of a little girl.
Bullying by way of manipulation and coercion.
What happens to that girl if she doesn’t meet the standard?
Will she feel unworthy of love? Not valuable enough to seek out and find a healthy relationship?
Will she find herself so riddled with guilt that she can’t enjoy sex, even in marriage? So entrenched in the dirty mindset that orgasms are far out of her reach?
Will she allow herself to be mistreated because she has been taught that she matters less once she is no longer “pure?”
Or will she rush into a hasty marriage at a young age because her desires are scaring her and she worries about temptation?
Will she avoid relationships for fear of intimacy? And in doing so miss out on the valuable lessons that relationships teach us? Miss out on the emotional maturity that we develop when we go through the process of opening ourselves up to people?
What if she finds herself in an unhappy marriage. Will she feel trapped, bound by carnal contract?
What if she marries a man and there is no sexual chemistry? What if she realizes that not exploring this side of the relationship has her “in like” with a husband and unfulfilled? For life.
What happens if she is raped? Sexually abused? An already traumatic and terrorizing assault amplified by the affect it has on her virgin status.
Will she keep it to herself out of fear of lowering her value on the wife market?
Will she refrain from getting help, reporting it to police or even speaking of it because she feels the way Elizabeth Smart felt? No longer of value? No longer as good?
Tell me, what good comes of any of this?
Fuck you purity.
Take your pristine, your clean, your ancient and unrealistic and unattainable notions and get the hell out of the way.
Because we need to educate a new generation of girls.
We need to teach them that they matter. That they are more than what someone can take from them and more than something they can give away. They are not something that rises and falls with a label or a status.
We need to teach them that what matters is mutual respect. Self respect. Ownership. Autonomy.
We need to teach them how to decide for themselves what is precious and what is sacred without thrusting it upon them like sheep or shoving it down their throats.
We need to teach them how to be strong and resolute and confident in their convictions and their own ideals.
We need to tell them that it’s ok to enjoy and relish and rejoice in their sexuality and the gifts that it offers.
We need to teach them to recognize shame and guilt for the thieves that they are. And teach them not to listen to, heed or subscribe to any notions that employ them.
We need to teach them that mindsets that place all the burden of purity on girls is abusive and destructive and corrupt.
We need to teach them to love themselves enough to eschew bullshit comparisons to roses or chocolates or chewed gum.
We need to teach them how to protect their health and their choices.
We need to separate sex from shame.
We need to take the sexuality out of rape and abuse and treat them like the sick and twisted acts of violence they are.
We need to take sex out of the conversation when it pertains to rape and abuse. It’s time to grow up and see the difference between the two and not turn away from the crime because it makes us uncomfortable.
And you better damn well believe that it all starts with the pursuit of purity and virginity.
We need to accept that our daughters will grow up and that they will be fully independent sexual beings and while this makes us uncomfortable we can’t try to keep them in the little girl role and then thrust them into adulthood and intimacy in one rash move.
We need to allow conversations to happen and to not look away in awkwardness or embarrassment because we are still stuck in an our own uncomfortable place.
We need to start raising our girls without conditions or qualifications.
We need to collectively grow up.
We need to take purity, the idea, the notion, and place it squarely where it belongs. In the past.