So when i was in seventh grade, we had a sex ed day. We all spent the day, broken up between the boys and the girls and were taught sex ed. The boys had a “boy’s bash” and the girls had a “tea party.” We were taught abstinence.
We were taught abstinence as the only method of STD protection and contraception. At one point, the speaker put on a rubber glove and said, “if i were dying of a terrible disease would you shake my hand if this glove were the only thing stopping you from being infected?” She told us that this is what it’s like using a condom when your partner has an STD. A rubber glove is better than shaking your bare hands, but it isn’t going to really stop anything.
That was literally all we were taught about condoms, that they are as thin as a rubber glove and will do nothing to stop any contagion. We were given no actual information on the effectiveness of condoms, nor were we given any information on any other forms of contraception. They didn’t even mention hormonal birth control.
That’s also the whole of the information given to us about STDs. I was lucky enough to know how STDs are really transmitted (as in, not through a toilet seat or whatever), but i worry about the girls who didn’t.
Close to the end of the day, they handed out little rolls of paper. i opened mine, and on it was a pledge to “keep myself pure” for the person i would eventually marry. And i signed it.
I grew up believing that whoever I ended up marrying deserved my virginity. And when I did get married, I had never slept with anyone else. I was proud of that.
Then one day, i found a blog that changed my outlook, and really helped my marriage. It started a post by saying “Virginity is a social construct.” I don’t remember the rest of the post, but it started some wheels turning in my head. I read up some more about it, and this is what I’ve put together about it:
Women are told to be virgins to preserve their purity and “give it” to the right person, who then has it forever. This is a control mechanism, along with slut-shaming, that puts a woman’s sexuality in control of a man. In olden times, virginity was like a paternity test. When someone married a woman, if he was the only one she ever slept with, he’d know it was his child she eventually gave birth to.
Now, though, I was told to stay a virgin because God wanted me to, and my future spouse deserved it. I didn’t want an STD or a baby, so I was told to be abstinent rather than actually use birth control. I was told that if I wasn’t a virgin when I got married, I didn’t deserve to marry anyone. In giving up my virginity, I was giving up the chance to ever be with anyone else.
Forgive me for only just now realizing this, but i realized that I didn’t owe my future spouse anything. Nobody “owes” anyone else their sexuality. No one “deserved” to be my first, not even the person i ended up marrying.
No one “deserves” sex from anyone else. And no one should try to control little kids’ sex lives. Teaching abstinence, at least the way it was taught to me, is teaching shame and misinformation. i was not educated about sex that day. I was shamed and lied to. I was manipulated into playing along with people’s religious game. That isn’t how it should work.
I’m happy I’ve only been with one person, but i wish that had been my informed choice. I wish I hadn’t been lied to and manipulated. And i wish I hadn’t resented my spouse for not being “pure” for me. I felt bad about that for a long time. i felt like I’d been cheated out of something I deserved. That’s disgusting. I love my partner, and it doesn’t matter if I was the one and only. I am the only one now. I didn’t deserve anything from my spouse, and i feel bad for thinking I did.
I’m a better person for realizing this. I realized who’d manipulated me, and I got past it. I realized what was real, and now i’m better. I feel better about my relationship, and now i know to not let my own kids be taught sex ed by anyone but me. I don’t want my kids to be manipulated like that. i don’t want anyone to shame them into disrespecting their own or anyone else’s sexuality. Looking back on a hurtful thing in the past and getting past it has improved my life, relationship, and world-view.
Abstinence shouldn’t be taught as the only method of birth control. And kids shouldn’t be told that anyone deserves them sexually. Virginity shouldn’t even be a concept. If he or she doesn’t have an STD, does it really matter?