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S/O: Sexual Abstinence vs Sexual Purity

Posted by on Aug. 12, 2014 at 9:45 AM
  • 103 Replies

IMO too many folks confuse these two.

Sexual abstinence is easily defined :

Sexual abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social, financial, philosophical, moral or religious reasons.

and while abstinence is required by many religious groups for single people outside marriage, it is not limited to religion. It does not specifically, by definition, require a certain religious/cultural basis or religious/cultural consequences. It simply is not having sex for whatever your personal reasons may be for that. Many other non-religious people also practice abstinence for a variety of reasons. 

Purity and purity culture is much harder to define and includes cetrtain religious/cultural rules and consequences for breaking those rules. Purity takes abstinence to a very different level. Purity is a construct, brought up using the religious or cultural requirements of abstinence.

Purity is a curricula of abstinence that is administered by some starting at a very early age. These purity curricula exist in many cultures/religions around the world, including our own, can vary wildly in content and come with a vast array of social rules and consequences for the group that administers them. It is politicized abstinence. While the purity culture is in theory something that applies to both genders, it nearly always is focused much more on female sexuality and biology, especially when it comes to consequences.

Purity equates a value to virginity, as a commodity...something to be "saved" and "given away" to the right person, purity = self-worth. 

Here is what Elizabeth Smart has to say about the purity abstinence training:

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 by a drifter named Brian David Mitchell, who held the teenage girl hostage for nine months with the help of his wife, Wanda Barzee. Mitchell claimed that Smart was his “second wife” and raped her repeatedly until she was found by police in March 2003.

Citing her own experience, Smart, now an advocate for missing and exploited children, described why so many kidnappees, especially those who have been sexually abused, don’t attempt to escape their captors:

“I think it goes even beyond fear, for so many children, especially in sex trafficking. It’s feelings of self-worth. It’s feeling like, ‘Who would ever want me now? I’m worthless.’

That is what it was for me the first time I was raped. I was raised in a very religious household, one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. And that’s how I’d been raised, that’s what I’d always been determined to follow: that when I got married, then and only then would I engage in sex.

After that first rape, I felt crushed. Who could want me now? I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand so easily all too well why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.”

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?”

Years of abstinence-only sex education fueled her sense of unworthiness after she was raped, Smart said as she recalled a teacher who compared sex to chewing gum. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easily it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value,” she said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”

“That’s terrible,” Smart said as she remembered her teacher’s words. “Nobody should ever say that.”

The best thing we can do to prevent children from becoming a victim to sexual abuse, trafficking or kidnapping, Smart explained, is to teach them from an early age that they are worthy of love regardless of what happens to them. “You have value,” she said. “You will always have value and nothing can change that.”

What are your thoughts on Abstinence vs Purity? 

Discuss....

nwp.org

by on Aug. 12, 2014 at 9:45 AM
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Replies (1-10):
AtiFreeFalls
by Silver Member on Aug. 12, 2014 at 9:59 AM
9 moms liked this

I support the practice of abstinence. I think it's a valid choice, and a reasonable option, so long as no one is made to feel ashamed for deciding at some point it is no longer right for them.

Purity culture disgusts me. It teaches shame and hatred and bigotry, and it is inherently sexist. It makes sex into something bigger and badder than it really is, and can keep people, even after they're married, from enjoying their sex life.

I wish it would disappear. 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Aug. 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

It has damaged many people around the world.

Quoting AtiFreeFalls:

I support the practice of abstinence. I think it's a valid choice, and a reasonable option, so long as no one is made to feel ashamed for deciding at some point it is no longer right for them.Purity culture disgusts me. It teaches shame and hatred and bigotry, and it is inherently sexist. It makes sex into something bigger and badder than it really is, and can keep people, even after they're married, from enjoying their sex life.I wish it would disappear. 


nwp.org

SLTmom
by Silver Member on Aug. 12, 2014 at 10:05 AM

I completely agree.  Couldn't have said it better.

Quoting AtiFreeFalls:

I support the practice of abstinence. I think it's a valid choice, and a reasonable option, so long as no one is made to feel ashamed for deciding at some point it is no longer right for them.Purity culture disgusts me. It teaches shame and hatred and bigotry, and it is inherently sexist. It makes sex into something bigger and badder than it really is, and can keep people, even after they're married, from enjoying their sex life.I wish it would disappear. 




"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief"  Gerry Spence

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Aug. 12, 2014 at 10:09 AM
2 moms liked this

I have practiced abstinence during times of my life for non-religious reasons. I know many others who have. Our reasons were personal and necessary to us at the time.

GLWerth
by Gina on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM
7 moms liked this

Abstinence is a personal choice.

Purity is a religious concept pushed on women (mostly) from a very early age to create shame with regard to sexuality.

It makes virginity a commodity and by extension, the virginal woman a commodity. It also extends shame to those who, for whatever reason, are not 'pure' or virginal. It teaches women that their value lies primarily in their 'purity'.

Honestly, it is another reason that religion is a net negative influence on society overall, in my opinion.

MelanieJK
by Silver Member on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

You're trying to parse out abstinence for religious reasons so you can attack religion.    hohum. 

Shaming is not a phenom that's unique to religion.     It's human.     We're a social pack animal.    It's a social mechanism.    There's shaming in many things,    including abstinence (or lack thereof) that has nothing to do with religion.   

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:46 AM

This is not a post about religion. In fact, there are many cultures that pratice purity constructs that have little to do with religion.

One must separate the actuality of abstinence from that religious/cultural structure of purity, as one does not need to be religious or have a cultural practice requiring it to appreciate or practice abstinence.

For example, I was abstinent for 6 weeks after the birth of each of my two children. There was no shaming or religion or morals involved. 

What are your thoughts on abstinence vs purity?

Quoting MelanieJK:

You're trying to parse out abstinence for religious reasons so you can attack religion.    hohum. 

Shaming is not a phenom that's unique to religion.     It's human.     We're a social pack animal.    It's a social mechanism.    There's shaming in many things,    including abstinence (or lack thereof) that has nothing to do with religion.   


nwp.org

furbabymum
by on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM
4 moms liked this

 I've been abstinant but I've never been pure.

littlemum41
by Gold Member on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

 

Quoting AtiFreeFalls:

I support the practice of abstinence. I think it's a valid choice, and a reasonable option, so long as no one is made to feel ashamed for deciding at some point it is no longer right for them.Purity culture disgusts me. It teaches shame and hatred and bigotry, and it is inherently sexist. It makes sex into something bigger and badder than it really is, and can keep people, even after they're married, from enjoying their sex life.I wish it would disappear. 

 Well said !  :)  I agree.

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM
5 moms liked this

Both are up to the individual.

Myself, purity runs too deep along the lines of remaining such up until you relinquish yourself to a man.  Once you are no longer 'pure' you are less than.  Don't buy in to the whole religious aspect.

There is indeed a huge difference between the two.

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