One of the many things that makes me so proud to be a Unitarian Universalist and not an evangelical Christian is that UUs have no qualms about being open and honest about human sexuality, even when it comes to teaching children about it, especially girls.
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7 Lies That Purity Culture Teaches WomenOn September 09, 2015
1. Women are responsible for men’s sexual sin.
Purity culture claims that women’s bodies and clothing can cause men to “stumble” with lust. Rather than placing the responsibility for sexual thoughts or actions on the man or boy who enacts them, purity culture places the responsibility on the woman or girl being looked at and lusted after. It’s almost as if Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, go and tell the thing you’re looking at to stop looking that way in front of your eye.”
2. Women’s bodies are something to be ashamed of.
If women’s bodies are blamed for lust—if the church claims that they need to be covered up for the sake of men—this inevitably leads to shame. Rather than celebrating the many wonderful things about the physical shapes God has given them, women and girls are encouraged to see their bodies solely as possible temptations to men.
3. Women shouldn’t have sexual desire.
Purity culture sometimes implicitly and other times explicitly states that the reason men’s sexuality is women’s responsibility is that their “lady brains” are so different that they don’t really have a sexuality, and don’t want to have sex. Unlike men, apparently, who think about sex every three seconds, women are non-sexual. It’s just science. God made men unable to control their sex drive or sexual desire, leaving it up to women to take responsibility.
However, most Christians who perpetuate this view also contradict it with the belief that women are more easily deceived, and therefore men should actually be in charge. Yes, those same men who, according to this ideology, evidently aren’t even in charge of their own sexuality!
4. Your virginity is the only thing of worth about you.
For girls and women who are not married, purity culture insists that their value is based on their virginity. They are taught that having sex makes them like a screwed up piece of paper, a chewed piece of gum, or a jar that loads of people have spat into. Teaching of their inherent value as human beings made in God’s image is superseded, if not totally obliterated, by messages to young women that they will become utterly worthless if they have sex.
5. Women don’t enjoy sex as much as men.
Okay, purity culture doesn’t deny biology, or at least the majority of Christians don’t, but it does insist that sex is something men enjoy and women tolerate. The fact that God created women with an organ that has no other purpose than to provide orgasms is never mentioned. Across the wider population, fifty percent of women cannot accurately label a vagina, so this is a wider issue. But for Christian women, purity culture’s silence on and discouragement of women understanding their own bodies leads to a situation where the clitoris (and it’s implication for mutual enjoyment in marital sex) simply doesn’t exist.
6. If women have sex before marriage, everything will go wrong.
Purity culture makes it clear that if women or girls have sex before marriage, absolutely everything that can go wrong will. The only solution offered is to become “re-virginised” and even then, girls and women are still seen as (and often feel like) damaged goods. The way purity culture portrays sex before marriage leaves women and girls fearful of sex. Further, many Christian women also assume that their lives are hopeless if they engaged in sexual activity before marriage.
7. There’s no difference between sexual abuse and sex before marriage.
Purity culture doesn’t talk about consent. It deals in the right/wrong dichotomy of pre and post-marital sex. Sadly, this leaves many women and girls assuming that the pain and hurt they experience when men/boys sexually abuse them is about having pre-marital sex. At seventeen, when my boyfriend pressured, manipulated, and coerced me into sexual activity, I was convinced this was the normal feeling of failing to honor God with my purity. When he caused me physical pain, humiliated me, and degraded me, I thought my responses were about my failures, not about his choice to abuse and exploit me.
The irony is that purity culture is anything but pure. It is woven with oppression and lies. It is yet another weapon of patriarchy to control and marginalize women. I believe that the church will continue to breed shame, sexual dysfunction, and pain until purity culture is rejected and replaced with a new ideology rooted in Christ—one that celebrates the bodies God gave women and men, and delights in the beautiful gift of mutual and committed sexual intimacy and sexuality.
Ironically, that was from a Christian website. Islamic communities are notorious for oppressing women and one would think most Muslims would also embrace purity culture. However…..
There are no particular rules and laws either in foreplay or in intercourse. The only laws and rules are the ones reached by the lovers by mutual and often unspoken understanding. Whatever is pleasing and satisfying to both the husband and the wife is right and proper; and whatever is mutually displeasing is wrong. The only limitation to this general rule would be any Shariah rule which goes against the wishes of the husband or the wife.
Islam emphasizes on foreplay. Imam ‘Ali (A.S.) says, “When you intend to have sex with your wife, do not rush because the woman (also) has needs (which should be fulfilled).” 1
Sex without foreplay has been equated to cruelty. The Prophet (S) said, “Three people are cruel: …a person who has sex with his wife before foreplay.” 2
Another hadith equates sex without foreplay to animal behavior: “When anyone of you has sex with his wife, then he should not go to her like birds; instead he should be slow and delaying.” 3
As for the role of a woman in sexual foreplay, the Imams (A.S.) have praised a wife who discards shyness when she is with her husband. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A.S.) says, “The best woman among you is the one who discards the armor of shyness when she undresses for her husband, and puts on the armor of shyness when she dresses up again.” 4 After all, modesty and chastity in public is the hallmark of a Muslim lady.
These sayings clearly show that the husband and the wife should feel completely free when they are engaged in mutual stimulation which is known as foreplay. There is nothing wrong, according to Islam, for a woman to be active and responsive during sex. As for the Islamic Shariah, all the mujtahids are unanimous in saying that the act of sexual foreplay in itself is mustahab (recommended). Likewise, it is recommended not to rush into sexual intercourse.5 The operative word is mutual pleasure and satisfaction.
That’s certainly a step in the right direction. But then there is a problem:
The only restriction is that no foreign object should be used. The restriction on the use of foreign objects is based on the following hadith. ‘Ubaydullah bin Zurarah says that he had an old neighbor who owned a young slave-girl. Because of his old age, he could not fully satisfy the young slave-girl during sexual intercourse. She would therefore ask him to place his fingers in her vagina as she liked it. The old man complied with her wishes even though he did not like this idea. So he requested ‘Ubaydullah to ask Imam ‘Ali ar-Reza (A.S.) about it. When ‘Ubaydullah asked the Imam (A.S.) about it, the Imam (A.S.) said, “There is no problem as long as he uses any part of his own body upon her, but he should not use anything other than his body on her.” 7
If a man of any age is using a SLAVE of any age for sexual purposes, is that not RAPE? Why not free the girl and then offer marriage to her before having anything sexual with her? That’s a bigger issue to me than using a foreign object on any woman. So that website as a source of credible information about sexuality is rejected.
Moving on, we look at the sexuality courses offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.
Our Whole Lives: Lifespan Sexuality Education
Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
Interactive workshops and lessons engage participants, while step-by-step instructions for program planners and facilitators help ensure success. Six curricula speak to participants’ needs, by age group:
Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.
Our Whole Lives Offers…
- Accurate information presented in developmentally appropriate ways
- Affective and emotional learning
- Guiding values and principles
- Activities that help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
- A safe and supportive peer group
- Acceptance of diversity
- A social justice approach to inclusive sexuality education
- Step-by-step instructions for program promotion, implementation, and facilitation
- Parent orientation that affirms parents as their children’s primary sexuality educators
- Facilitator trainings and continuing education to increase knowledge, skills, confidence
- Expert user support from OWL Program Associate (UUA) and OWL Program Coordinator (UCC)
- Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious supplement for use in Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.
Our Whole Lives Values…
While Our Whole Lives is secular, it is not value-free. The program gives clear messages about the following key sexuality issues:
- self worth
- sexual health
- justice and inclusivity
Our Whole Lives recognizes and respects the diversity of participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. The activities and language used throughout the program have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible of this human diversity.
Who Uses Our Whole Lives?
Our Whole Lives is used in faith communities as well as by public, charter, and private schools; after-school programs; youth groups; home schoolers; colleges; correctional facilities; and groups in other settings. Although developed by two religious organizations, Our Whole Lives contains no religious references or doctrine.
Many Unitarian Universalist congregations and United Church of Christ churches offer Our Whole Lives programs. To find one near you, please use the Find a Congregation (Unitarian Universalist) or Find Churches Near Me (United Church of Christ) search engines. The Director of Religious Education or Director of Christian Education, respectively, will be able to answer questions about their programming.
Our Whole Lives: Approaches that Work
Our Whole Lives covers topics and skills that both parents and students want to have available but schools are less likely to cover. National surveys show that most parents, along with educators and students themselves, would expand sex education courses and curriculum. Our Whole Lives is an excellent way to accomplish that goal.
Our Whole Lives curricula are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (PDF) produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education, and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). In every category of assessment, the curriculum meets or exceeds the National Standards for Sexuality Education Core Curriculum, K-12.
Sexuality and Religion
The Our Whole Lives program can be put into the context of religious values with the addition of the Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ companion publication, Sexuality and Our Faith. The reasons sexuality education belongs in a religious setting are outlined in the brochure Sexuality is Honored Here.
Our Whole Lives users from several faith traditions have created their own companion document. Contact email@example.com for more information.
If we can adapt this for public schools, that would be ideal.
Why Is Sexual Education Taught in Schools?
A 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicates that more than 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex, and 15 percent of high school students have had sex with four or more partners during their lifetime. Among students who had sex in the three months prior to the survey, 60 percent reported condom use and 23 percent reported birth control pill use during their last sexual encounter
Sexual activity has consequences. Though the teen birth rate has declined to its lowest levels since data collection began, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. Roughly 1 in 4 girls will become pregnant at least once by their 20th birthday.
Teenage mothers are less likely to finish high school and are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, depend on public assistance, and be in poor health. Their children are more likely to suffer health and cognitive disadvantages, come in contact with the child welfare and correctional systems, live in poverty, drop out of high school and become teen parents themselves. These costs add up, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which estimates that teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $9.4 billion annually
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I am certain that “Suzanne” and ‘Cathy” got almost no sex education from their parents. A well educated girl about her sexuality would have known not to have sex out of wedlock unless and until she was certain she would not get pregnant. Their family was so “pro-life” that they excused the girls’ repeated blunders.
I certainly think essential sex education should include TV shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”.
I actually think teen girls need to be a little selfish and not be so willing to sacrifice their lives for boyfriends and babies. They will only be lessened as a result.
If you have sex before marriage, NEVER do so without birth control.
If you get pregnant, be willing to have an abortion.
If you decide to keep the baby, MOVE OUT OF YOUR PARENTS HOUSE AND GET MARRIED TO THE BABY’S FATHER AT AGE 18! If that is not an option, give the baby up for adoption. Don’t keep it as a single mother and end up in POVERTY.