Forget Purity; Here’s What You Should Really Teach Your Daughters About Sex

Houston Press blogger Jef With One F is sick of all the modesty/abstinence-only/purity culture stuff he keeps reading about and he’s come up with a fantastic list of ten things he plans to tell his daughter about sex (when she’s old enough to handle it):

I’m not looking forward to it, to tell the truth, but if the alternative is fetishizing chastity while giving Oedipus a handie then by God I’m going in full guns blazing.

10. That sex is beautiful and fun as hell, but so is driving a car and a bunch of other things that come with responsibilities. You need to ask yourself if you can handle those. I knew I couldn’t be trusted with a car at 16, so I didn’t ask for one. Same with sex. I waited until I knew I was with someone that wouldn’t use me wrong and knew what they were doing. You shouldn’t be afraid of it, but you should respect its possible consequences, such a pregnancy, disease, and just the general mess that sometimes come from sleeping with someone you shouldn’t have.

6. You cannot be “ruined,” by an act. You can only be ruined if you let shame and self-loathing consume you, and even then there is always a path back into the light. This goes double for someone trying to convince you sex is evil. That person was either hurt badly or seriously misled.

Obviously, he’s not going to sit her down and read her this list, but they represent the values he hopes to pass along to her as she grows up.

Read the whole list. And then pass it along to your conservative Christian friends just to watch their heads explode. Brace yourself for the negative reactions brought about by good, sex-positive parenting.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Tainda

    That’s a very good article and I love that it’s written by a man.

    He is wrong on one point though “There is nothing you will ever do that will shock me, disappoint me…”

    Trust me, they will shock the piss out of you and disappointment will abound but he was right in saying that would never make you love them any less. It’s all just being a teenager.

    • David Kopp

      I’d replace that with “There is nothing you will ever do that will make me stop loving you.”

      • Tainda

        Perfect

    • http://www.tinyurl.com/jefbook Jef With One F

      I’m sure she will find something to surprise me with, but shock? Like “Oh my god THAT!?” I doubt it ;)

      • islandbrewer

        Once she hears you say that, somewhere in her brain, in just one little corner of it, shocking you becomes a challenge.

        • RowanVT

          Not necessarily. I never went out of my way to shock my parents.

          • http://www.tinyurl.com/jefbook Jef With One F

            You know how Zowie Bowie rebelled? He changed his name to Duncan Jones. It’s sort of that situation.

            • 3lemenope

              I had the singular frustration of not being able to rebel through choice in music, because my parents liked all of it. I can’t begin to describe how annoying that was.

              • LizBert

                I rebelled by getting into really chill folk music because my dad is a metal head.

                • Tainda

                  You sound like my daughter! I’m a fairly big metal head and she listened to country just to piss me off lol

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Yeah, same here. Being my “normal” self was shocking enough…

            • Anna

              Me three. I was the world’s most boring teenager.

              Maybe I just didn’t have enough to rebel against. I might have acted out if I’d been stuck with controlling, authoritarian parents.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                No, I mean I didn’t have to go out of my way to be shocking or bizarre.

        • Japooh

          I raised my kids much like fiona64 and Jef With One F. They’re 26 and 22 now, and I got through almost completely shock free. Caught off guard a few times, sure (generally when they framed something in a way I hadn’t considered that caused me to change my mind about something), but that was about the extent of it. We had very open communication about darn near everything, and no topic was completely off-limits. They weren’t perfect (neither was I) but they knew they could come to me with literally anything and we would get through it together. They did, and we did.

          Family styles vary. Kids vary. Mine knew, as they grew up, the kinds of stupid things I did at that same age (or
          close) that I didn’t want to see them do (and WHY), and the things that I think were good choices then too. I didn’t hide my mistakes, past or present, and I believe that made it easier for them to tell me uncomfortable things. This isn’t a “recipe” for everyone – like I said, families vary, and my kids know some really embarrassing stuff about me – but for some families it turns out quite well.

      • Tainda

        As a mother of a 20-year-old, don’t count on it lol I’m as open with my daughter as possible and even when she did stuff that I did when I was a teenager, it would still shock me sometimes. Mainly shock as in, “Did she REALLY just pull that?!”

    • Willy Occam

      “Trust me, they will shock the piss out of you and disappointment will abound…”

      Ain’t that the damn truth, Tainda! I’ve got two sons (21 and 17), and I fear I have at least another decade of shock and disappointment to look forward to.

      Sorry to break it to you, Jeff With One F: your list is fantastic, but unless you have an incredibly high threshold for shock and disappointment, be prepared. 3 am calls from jail, driving intoxicated, dealing drugs, etc… I hope you never experience any of that yourself, but I can think of no other normal response to these things (and others) than shock and disappointment.

    • fiona64

      I don’t necessarily agree. Here’s what I said to my stepson when he was 14 and his dad and I got serious: “I have been around the block. A few times. I have seen and done many things. Some of them several times. There is very little you can do to shock me.”

      We have a great relationship. He’s 26 now, and seeks my guidance. The proudest moment in that relationship was when he said “Now, when I meet a woman, I ask myself what Fiona would think of her.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I have been talking about sex with my daughter for many years. She will be 15 soon, is still a virgin and she has no plans on having sex anytime soon. That might change come high school but even if it does she knows how to use a condom properly. I purchased a banana and a box of condoms and she proved it to me.

    She also knows that if she wants to go on birth control all she has to do is ask. I’ve done my best to tell her that if a boy doesn’t have a condom then sex is off the table no matter how much he begs and don’t use a condom that has been in a wallet.

    I have also told her I don’t expect her to stay a virgin until she is married. Sex is an important part of a relationship and she needs to take a test drive before she commits.

    We have also had the wonderful talk about masturbation multiple times. She knows it is natural, healthy and nothing to be ashamed off. She also knows that I’m going to purchase her a vibrator/dildo when her little hormones do kick in. She doesn’t always like that talk but she has never objected to it.

    • Sven2547

      She will be 15 soon, is still a virgin and she has no plans on having sex anytime soon.

      That’s what YOU think!!!

      Kidding, kidding.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        As her friend Anna once said. If she was dating Harry Styles, she would not be a virgin for long and yes, my daughter is madly in love with Harry Styles.

    • Smiles

      “…she needs to take a test drive before she commits.”

      I don’t think this is much betterof a message. …perhaps, “can take a test drive” would be more appropriate.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I highly doubt my daughter will stay a virgin until marriage so I’m not worried how it is worded.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      If she’s 15 than her “hormones” probably already have kicked in.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        She will be 15 in Nov. and while they have kicked in, they have not kicked in 100%, just yet.

      • RowanVT

        I went through puberty starting when I was barely turned 11. I was not sexually interested in anyone until I was 16.

        • Anna

          It took me until I was 14, and boy, did I feel like an outcast! It’s amazing how much pressure there is on middle school kids to be interested in dating.

    • Lefty

      you are a great example of why i will never have kids:

      1: it’s hard, awkward work
      2: people like you are out there doing a better job than i ever could.

      power to ya.

    • cary_w

      I’m going to assume from the way you worded this that you have one daughter and no sons, because if you do have sons, I sincerely hope that you would have these types of conversations with them as we’ll, and teach them how to use condoms too.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Just my daughter and yes, I would have had the same talk.

  • Michaela Samuels

    Love this article! I feel I was a casualty of the abstinence/purity movement, having received my own purity ring at the ripe age of 13 and quickly finding myself pregnant at 17 by my first serious boyfriend less than a year after becoming sexually active. I was so under-educated on how to view sex, myself, guys, and safety. I emphatically disagree with those who find honest, open talk harmful for their children (male or female). It sure would have helped out this formerly helpless teenager who truly wanted to do the “right” thing, whatever that was.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I think my head would explode if I caught my daughter wearing a purity ring.

      • Michaela Samuels

        Certainly me, too.

    • fiona64

      ^^ This. Parents who keep their children (daughters in particular) socially naive are not doing them any favors. My parents were ridiculously strict; I think I had two or three dates in high school before I moved out. I didn’t have any skills to use in assessing social situation, risks, etc. Those who think that teaching “abstinence only until marriage” is the answer are not listening to the questions being asked by their kids.

    • Stev84

      There is a reason why southern states and/or ones with abstinence-only sex “education” have the highest teen pregnancy rates.

      • Michaela Samuels

        I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear that I hale from Texas (although I attended a private Christian school, so I had no hope at all for proper education!).

  • rwlawoffice

    As a Christian father, I agree with his advice. I would word some of it a bit differently but really not that far from what some Christian fathers tell their daughters and close to what I told my daughter. It did not make my brain explode. Sorry

    • 3lemenope

      That’s to your credit. Besides, head asplode can be very messy.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      That, at least, I can respect you for.

  • Tel

    I think it’s really great that he included item 7, about rape. One thing I’ve never heard growing up with some influences from this culture is that rape is bad because it violates your bodily sovereignty. Never. If it’s brought up at all, it’s bad because it means that someone has had sex before marriage (since marital rape doesn’t happen, of course).

    • Tainda

      Don’t even get me started on people’s ignorance of marital rape. That is one thing that REALLY gets ignored. Even some otherwise rational people don’t believe it exists.

    • fiona64

      I am old enough to remember the Rideout case, which *finally* made marital rape illegal. I concur that it’s great he included that information in his list.

  • katiehippie

    “Also, porn is acting, not a how-to guide.”

    This 1000x

    • Michael

      I prefer to compare porn to martial arts.

      If you used martial arts the way they do in movies you’d never win a fight.

      • islandbrewer

        Wait, you’re saying I shouldn’t be carrying around my flying guillotine?

        • Michael

          Depends whether it’s performance art.

    • Raising_Rlyeh

      Porn is acting, since when? The porn I have seen has the worst dialogue and the plots are horrible. I know that’s not the point, but calling porn acting is a bit of an oxymoron.

      • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

        He didn’t say it was GOOD acting.

  • Jim

    Christians ought to be promoting geek culture. Kept me a virgin for 20 years.

    • Tainda

      Unless they’re girls. We get laid much easier lol

      • Sarah-Sophia

        Not all girls; getting laid is only easy if you have good flirting skills and low standards.

        • Tainda

          Any girl can get laid at any time if she wants to. But in no way did I mention sleeping with ANYONE or having low standards. If that’s the way you want to look at it, more power to you.

    • Michael W Busch

      Can we skip the geek stereotyping?

      • Jim

        No.

        Next question.

        • Michael W Busch

          That was a rhetorical question. Stop stereotyping geeks.

          • Jim

            “Geek” is a stereotype.

            • Michael W Busch

              No, it is not a stereotype. “geek” is a descriptive word for “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake.”

              And I say that as a science and science fiction geek.

  • john@gmail.com

    This attitude is what is wrong with our world. You are a really irresponsible and a perfect example of someone who is “in love” with his own selfish desires than what is right. It is sad that you have a public forum to discuss your distorted views.

    • Bev Stapleton

      What? I think the father has a very healthy attitude toward his daughter and her rights to her own sexuality.

    • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

      Yes. What the world needs is more shame, so that men are patriarchs and women are property.

      What other nonsense. Tell me, why is talking about sex not “right.” Make a case, you!

  • Anna

    Good article! It’s refreshing to see something like this written by the father of a daughter. Too many times, the whole subject is handled in a creepy, possessive, sexist, emotionally incestuous way, even outside of purity culture.

  • L.Long

    My daughter got her main sex ed in England and was shown the entire process from the insertion to the film of a kid coming out the vagina. She look at the big head coming out and looked down at her crotch, and swore nothing that big was coming out of anything that small.
    She was also taught how to kill at age 12yo and was filmed on local TV and performed the technique at the local fair. At 16yo I asked if she was still a virgin and she looked at me and said, ‘Do you know how hard it is to get a date or just meet boys when they know you have the skill and knowledge to kill them in less then 5secs? Thanks Dad you made my social life easy–I don’t have one!!’

  • cary_w

    My question is, why is this only directed at girls? A common complaint against the whole purity culture thing is that it primarily focuses on girls, so I think any type of counter-advice should be directed at both boys and girls. I’m not familiar with the author, so maybe he only has daughters, but I still think he should have written something to his daughters and potential-future-sons. He’s perpetuating one of the major problems of the purity movement by only addressing girls.

  • Mother of four

    I have read the post here and as a Christian parent (mother) of four boys. I feel like maybe some of you have the wrong information about what we are teaching our children when we are teaching them about purity or abstinence. I am teaching that they have the choice to not have sex. That it is possible for them to wait on sex until the marry. I talk with them about the how they can avoid being tempted with sex by not putting themselves in undesirable situations. They know what sex is and what a pleasure sex can be if they are mature enough to have it. My reasoning for waiting my children to wait on sex is because it is Biblical but else I have seen what happens to children who have sex to early. We are very open when it comes to talking about sex with our children. I have three teens and one is very glad that I have faith that he can wait until he is married to have sex. The other two we are still talking about it. They may have it before I would like them to but I know that if they do they know what to do. But I believe that I need them to know that I believe that can wait if that is their choice. So many children are having sex because someone else wants them to. I want my children to know that their body is a gift and should not just give to anyone and they should not want to just have sex with someone because everyone is doing it. I teach if that person is that important to them then they are important enough for you to wait.


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