Sunday, June 04, 2006

Virginity pledgers often dishonest about past and for good reason

Yahoo News (hat tip to: Shakespeare's Sister)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Teenagers who take pledges to remain virgins until marriage are likely to deny having taken the pledge if they later become sexually active. Conversely, those who were sexual active before taking the pledge frequency deny their sexual history, according to new study findings. These findings imply that virginity pledgers often provide unreliable data, making assessment of abstinence-based sex education programs unreliable. In addition, these teens may also underestimate their risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
This makes perfect sense to me. With the level of pressure applied to teens to take virginity pledges and the consequences of being seen as sinful (even when done in a secular setting like a public school) the virginity pledge cannot be seen as the same as making an informed decision.

As to the lying, it may come from the pressures teens face from adults and how they respond to those pressures. My responses as a teen swung back and forth between open rebellion and denial. Both of those frequently resulted in dishonesty.

I think the pledges are a bad idea because pledges inherently ignore issues like sexual abuse and rape and that omission can make victims feel like they robbed their future spouse of the gift of virginity. And if all the emphasis is on virginity rather than self-care and respect for others, teens who have "lost" their virginity may feel they have been labeled as bad or sinful so what's the point in trying to be good.

Frequently victims of rape and abuse are told by their rapists and their abusers that they are responsible (to keep victims silent) and if that message is echoed in abstinence-only sex education programs, the impact can be horrific.

I know this because after I lost my virginity through rape I felt this way. That, combined with anger I didn't know how to channel, led to behavior that seemed to confirm my badness.

This emphasis on virginity without serious discussion of rape and abuse also alienates teens from the very people who are trying to reach them. If teens see that what they are being told contains dishonesty or hypocrisy or obvious flaws, they may consider the whole package they are being given as one big sham.

And if a program is seen as a sham, teens have no reason to believe they can drop their defenses and be absolutely honest.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:56 AM   1 comments links to this post


At December 27, 2008 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

I hate this whole "adultery" "virginity" "chastity" bull shit. it completely materializes women. what happens when a woman falls in love and gives herself to someone who ends up leaving her? (is she supposed to just never move on and rot away for the rest of her life?) what happens when a woman is raped? What happens when a woman grows up in a society that does not educate her in this particular way? What happens when a woman is sexually molested as a child? What happens when she waits to have sex...marries a man who takes her virginity but changes his mind and leaves her? WHAT then? is she useless goods? is she a slut? thats what the words "adultery, virginity, chastity" all imply..

so you may say that it was the fault of her guardian, that she was ravaged...but what does that matter? she is still damaged goods. her mind is irrevocably corrupted.

you may say that she can be a "born again virgin" whatever. it is much harder for a "born again virgin" to stay a virgin than it is for a virgin to stay a virgin. Once sex is experienced, the universe as the girl sees it, is forever changed. The memories and thoughts of her "sexual impropriety" will haunt her and stigmatize her for the rest of her life.

There is no sensitivity to these cases. People do not know when they are being offensive.


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