Worthwhile Reads: Virginity and Creating a New Moral

Same ol’ Story, on Sarah Over The Moon

“Once upon a time, there was a girl who was pure, virtuous, an angel in a white dress, and most importantly, a virgin. Then, one day, she met a boy and fell in love. Although the girl was committed to remaining pure, the boy kept pressuring her for more than she was willing to give. Using lies and manipulation, he convinced her to come into his bed. The girl feels dirty and worthless. Her purity gone. But then she begs Jesus for forgiveness from her sin. She no longer has her virginity, but once she is forgiven she can be pure in God’s eyes again.”

You’ve heard this story before. It’s far from original. Our society, and especially Christian culture, loves this narrative. It’s on sitcoms, and in sermons, and in abstinence-only curriculum. We hear it from our mothers and from our friends. And many of us have lived it.

This story needs a new moral. One about what consent looks like and what healthy, consensual sex is. One about holding abusers accountable and about assuring victims that they do not need to feel at fault. One where goodness does not equal virginity. Where women are complex, sexual human beings who can have a sex drive (unless they are one of the 1 in 100 adults who are asexual) and still say “No,” rather than glowing angels of light who would never even dream of wanting sex.

Trust me, my daughter will learn this story with a new and different moral. From me, at least. Unfortunately, I can’t change what society will tell her.


What Courtship Was for Me
Nine-Year-Old Sluts and Masturbating Dinner Guests
Be Pretty, but Not Too Pretty
The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • smrnda

    What doesn’t make sense in the story is that if the girl loses her virginity (I hate using these words but I’ll stick to what’s in the narrative) because of lies and manipulation she’s no longer pure? What would these people say to a rape victim? (Kind of a rhetorical question. I’ve seen enough posts on your blog to know that actual victims don’t get much sympathy from people who write narratives like these.)

    Also, if someone uses you for sex, I’m not sure ‘dirty and worthless’ is the most sensible (to me) reaction; I can see being pissed off and feeling betrayed, but why feel dirty and worthless because someone else is a manipulative shit?

    You already pointed out that the narrative leaves out any possibility that a girl might actually want to have sex and that young people could be mutually interested in sex, and that it would be possible for young people to respect each other and still have sex with each other.

    What really scares me about a story like this is the “MOST IMPORTANTLY a virgin’ line. Tells you what some people think matters about women…