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Stop worrying about how much sex young women are having. Seriously.

When we judge young women predominantly based on their sexual activity or inactivity as virtuous or loose, responsible or irresponsible, ethical or unethical, we shift focus away from the rest of the values and behaviors we should be teaching them: Self-determination, self-compassion, work ethic, empowerment, the value of education, inner strength. By enslaving girls in a dichotomy of virgin/whore, we are robbing them of their futures. As a society, it is a grave disservice to our youth and a terrible injustice to perpetuate.

I read a great book on the subject a few years back by Jessica Valenti called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women that explores this exact problem in great depth, but that’s the crux of it. By idolizing virginity, we objectify women by implying that their only worth is their sexuality, that their greatest gift is their hymen.

What hooey!

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“I don’t understand how you can be so anxious to populate the world with children who can’t afford to get an education or are going hungry. It’s wonderful to have a family but it takes money. We’re in an election right now where there’s a lot of talk about how the government is not supposed to make it easy for you to get health care, education, food, or any of the things you need to give a child a chance to be a contributing member of society. I don’t understand how that works? If you don’t have control over your reproductive system as a woman, then who steps in to help you? Clearly, abstinence doesn’t work, and we’re living in an age where a lot of gentlemen don’t take responsibility for the children they’re so happy to give to women. So who helps? … Are the Republicans suggesting that they take care of all the children that are born when you don’t have birth control available to you when you’re a poor woman? Do these guys not understand what it takes to raise a child, financially and time-wise? They sound like complete idiots!”

-Susan Sarandon

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“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me, but they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim, they all want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and our own bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe. But even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us because America needs to set an example for the entire world.”

Hillary Clinton

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9 Comments

    1. Which limits are you referencing? Are you referring to rules/guidelines for parenting a young girl, giving her guidance re: her sex life? Or are your referencing the current legislation controversy surrounding contraception, insurance, etc? Or perhaps something else?

      1. Oh, OK. Yes I realize that is that case these days and has been a long time with the modern economy not being what it used to be but as far as above 18 I would personally think that parental involvement would be more like advice I would say which is good to have from those more experienced but of course at that age decision making would hopefully be based on a life of learning how to smartly evaluate situations to make good decisions.

  1. Ahh, interesting! You (perhaps inadvertently) raise a good point. I did say “young” women. I tend to think of them as post-pubertal (sexually aware) – but at that impressionable stage where they’re still trying trying to figure out who they are, what to do with their lives. I envisioned teenagers when I wrote this post, but now I’m seeing that I don’t think we should care about how much sex women are having in general, regardless of age, or people, to include males, especially if they are of legal, consenting age and able to act as their own guardian.

    I’m childless by choice (for a variety of reasons), so it’s an intellectual argument for me to try to step into a hypothetical parental role, but I have noticed good things from parents I’ve observed who focus on autonomy and self-preservation with their children – their kids tend to make better choices about everything, including in the sexual realm, safer sex, waiting until they’re ready, not sleeping with people who disrespect them, etc.

    I read a sociological study a great while back re: permissive vs. authoritarian parenting. Both had bad results. There’s a degree of moderation that needs to be practiced in the whole good cop/bad cop shuffle. It’s tough to set general “limits,” really, because I think it would depend on the kid, their personality, the circumstances. But having an open line of communication seems important, for your kid to be able to tell you things, or for you to be willing to refer them to a different source if they need counseling/assistance and don’t want to discuss it with you for whatever reason.

    I think people of all ages are in greater danger when they isolate themselves.

    As far as legislation, I think that employers indirectly already fund a great deal of things that they wouldn’t agree with, simply by providing a paycheck to their employees and the employees running off and spending the money (rightfully) however they want.

    And people having access to things like condoms and birth control actually has the potentially to diminish the number of abortions – and of course things like government disbursements.

    I’d rather have socialized medicine anyway, have it be part of citizenship.

  2. sorry don’t have the time this evening to read this last comment in its entirety but I am stuck by why you would say the point raised was inadvertent. Seems odd to me. Anyway, that aside there is simply no substitute for being involved and knowing your child as a person and living the example and not just telling but walking the walk. There is no amount of talk that will ever make up for genuine respect through example and a truly personal relationship. I will read the rest of you comment at a later time. Thank you for you responses. I, at first had a different impression of what you were trying to say so I’m glad light has been shed on it.

  3. “I am stuck by why you would say the point raised was inadvertent. Seems odd to me.”

    Ah, my phrasing was odd there.

    I should say that you raised a few good points – and that the one I tackled first was kind of off on a tangent, maybe not exactly what you were getting at, but your remarks triggered the realization that I was focusing a bit much on age. So it indirectly raised that point – though you certainly directly raised good points!

    “Thank you for you responses. I, at first had a different impression of what you were trying to say so I’m glad light has been shed on it.”

    You are very welcome!

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