Sex™ (and the lies I was told about it)

*”Sex™” for this post refers to traditional (procreative/penetrative) intercourse*

Sex™ is hard – and I don’t mean it in the cute double-entandra way. I mean it’s difficult.

It’s hard being newly married with an unhealthy body image, unhealthy (and untrue) understanding of what Sex™ is and means. Becoming quickly disillusioned by false promises perpetuated by parents and theologians and feeling horribly ashamed – and mostly? mostly angry. Because the lies of my childhood permeated every fiber of my being and made intimacy scary.

Imagine being told that you’re damaged goods and no one in their right mind would love you if you had sex before you were married. Imagine being compared to murky water in a glass, a scratch on a sports car, a chip on fine china if you were to be impure (which is so loaded that it could even mean something as simple as having a crush on someone. I know I felt guilty and apologized for having a crush once – thinking that made me undesirable). Imagine being scrutinized for kissing, or so much as holding hands while dating. Because that leads to Sex™ you know? And there’s no such thing as self control.

But then also being told, as a young girl, that when you’re married – you have to have A LOT of Sex™. Whenever your husband wants it, and you have to have unprotected, unsafe Sex™, too, because otherwise you’re ruining god’s design. Being told that essentially your job, once married is to be a baby and sex machine – because otherwise your husband would probably leave you (don’t get me started).

To make this worth it? To make not having sex before you’re married worth it, they tell you that you will have The Best Sex Ever™ just because you’re the purest of them all.

The Best Sex Ever™ is supposed to happen with absolutely no knowledge of your body, learning only abstinence, and being told your entire life that Sex™ is evil, bad, and ungodly outside marriage, but that as soon as the pastor announces you, it’s the most best thing ever and you suddenly know all about your anatomy and how your bodies work together?

It’s about time someone called bullshit.

Purity teachings, abstinence only education, and guilt/fear/shame tactics about my sexuality have been hard to get rid of. They permeate, they collect, they stay, they tell me I can’t talk about the fact that I did not, indeed, have The Best Sex Ever™ because I waited and proceeded to be ignorant about my body. My ignorance has cost me much, personally. Largely in embarrassment, but also in identifying physical problems, and forming a healthy relationship with myself and my own sexuality.

Those feelings of failure persisted for a while, failure because purity teachings required us to be ignorant. Our parents subscribed to “if you tell them nothing, they won’t do it or know how”. The ignorance that was required, the lies I was told – the fact that value as humans were dependent on first: whether or not sex was had before marriage, and second: on how many kids you’ll have after – anger me to no end.

The philosophy of, women must be 1) horribly self-conscious and paranoid about other women their husband see and 2) must be gods in bed because that’s what’s keeping their husband there strikes me as demented and generally makes me want to strangle whoever is spreading that lie around.

I often feel strange when I’m around people who live this way. Because I don’t feel self conscious or paranoid, I don’t care, and I trust my partner. Our relationship is based on so much more than that.

“Purity” teaches you that appearances and sex are everything, but also that you should in no way think about or know about your body, sex, or have any healthy relationship regarding your sexuality or your future partner’s.

“Purity” taught me that ignorance is safe, wanted, necessary and it lead to me feeling like a failure, guilty, ashamed, confused, and disillusioned.

I was homeschooled,  I bought the lie, I believed ignorance was best, and I was told I’d be rewarded. I know countless others have suffered at the hands of purity teachings, and abstinence only education, of not being allowed to know about our own anatomy. I was ashamed because I didn’t know basic things (like, about my hymen).

I wish that I had been taught a healthy outlook of my body, of my sexuality, of my existence; instead of one that degraded not just women, but all of humanity into raging sex beasts.  Even so, if there is one thing I learned the hard way (ha), the one thing that I learned that made dealing with the shame and guilt easier (if not almost completely go away)? Is that sex is what you and your partner make of it. Sex is about enjoyment, it’s about each other, it’s about what makes both people involved feel good and is not about procreation.

26 comments

  1. LGVazquez says:

    I wanted to comment to you on Twitter earlier that you should write this. I’m so very glad you did. Having the courage to publish this post indicates a positive change. Being open about it is a step in the right direction. Plus, if this post helps just ONE person realize there are not alone in this Purity trap, then it would’ve been worth it.

  2. Lenwe says:

    “creative people are less inclined to accept prevailing views, less narrow in their perspectives, and less likely to conform
    with the thinking of those around them.” This reminded me of you. You have to one of the most creative person I know. I agree with you 100% and Im glad you decided to write this.

  3. gtaylor619 says:

    That’s crazy. Unfortunately, I can relate to most of this. I was raised similarly, taught to not have sex before marriage, and since I don’t plan on getting married, I guess that’s out altogether. When you mentioned the murky glass of water my eyes got huge because that’s exactly the analogy that I’ve heard so many times before. The church group I’m in feels very segregated (guys/girls) presumably in an effort to stay “pure.” And because I can’t really even talk with a girl without that being a problem, it just seems extra crazy…

    • ugh. I’m so sorry. I thought the murky water analogy was unique! Now I wonder where it came from. I hate the amount of….pressure they put on absolutely normal interactions, because it does the exact opposite of what they want it to do. They’re so concerned about sex happening that they don’t realize they’re over-sexualizing *everything* in the process and just hurting people for no reason. >.<

  4. -Girl- says:

    ~~~~~hijack this awesome post with my own story~~~~

    I had sex with a guy I had only known a couple months while I was still in a relationship with a Xtian, committed, wanting-to-make-things-serious boyfriend.
    Things were moving forward slowly, but while I wanted more physically (we had kissed and held hands, that was it) (I offered him to take off my shirt a couple times but he always turned me down)– he wanted at least one ring on my finger before we went any further. I even began going to a marriage and family counselor in order to try to work out why I was so reticent to commit.

    Then, I met this other guy at work and he made an effort to get as close to me and spend as much time with me as he could. I have never said this before (and never experienced it before) but there was some deep chemical/animal attraction that pulled me to him despite his undesirable habits (smoking) and his less-than-attractive physical aspects. Something about being with him and near him makes me feel safe and alive and happy.
    Despite being completely attracted to the work guy and things becoming more and more tense with my boyfriend wanting to get serious and me being reticent, I tried to drop communication with work guy and make things work out with my boyfriend because I wasnt “one of those people.”

    Then, extenuating circumstances at work threw us together and in about a week we had spend so much one-on-one time that when he asked to kiss me I let him. A couple days later it was second base, and then he asked me to sleep over at his house.
    ME!!!! The conservative girl with a boyfriend. I went telling myself that I would just sleep. Nothing else. I didnt even take off my clothing…. until about the middle of the night when laying beside him became overwhelming and I knew I couldnt handle it any more. I asked him to have sex with me and his reaction what (and I quote) “Now?!”
    It felt “natural” and strange and good and weird and RIGHT. Being with him was right, somehow, which messed up my little fundie brain so much that I refused to work with or speak to him again for a week. During that week I slowly broke the news to my boyfriend. First, I told him we kissed, then I told him second base.
    After a week I realized that I was driving myself crazy and work-guy was all I could think about and all I wanted. I told my boyfriend the whole truth and he dumped me like any reasonable, betrayed man would do.

    I called work-guy after I stopped crying and we have been together ever since. Its not the perfect fundie story and I caused a lot of hurt and pain with my actions. And sex was a learning curve, to be sure. I did a lot of learning and we had to do a LOT of talking in order to make sure both of us were happy. But it still feels “right” to be with work-guy.
    And we are in a non-commited relationship. We signed a 1-year lease, but we have never promised any time to each other except for not having other relationships outside.
    Sometimes I wonder if I should change, but I dont feel like I need to.

    And SO MUCH of what they told us was lies.
    ~~~~Anonymous

  5. ButWhatIf says:

    Thank you. It’s time more of us spoke out against this enforced suppression. Women are kept in ignorance, kept as infants living in adult bodies, then handed over like property, in the 21st century. I, too, was told that abstinence was the Only Way, that no godly man would ever want soiled goods, that purity was entirely on me, as the vagina-and-breasts-haver, and if I tempted a boy ever, I may as well have just let him go to town, because I was the filthy one. All of which I later found out were complete lies, since my husband did in fact want impure me, because I am not a piece of material goods that can chip or rust, but another individual with desires and agency over my decisions. We need to be giving more little girls agency, letting them know their individuality and their dreams and their urges are all normal and good and wonderful, if only because guilt and shame are poison to healthy development.

  6. Thank you so much for saying this. So much of what you said sounds familiar to my own experiences, although mine were a bit different since I was a lesbian. Dealing with that additionally was certainly difficult, especially given my complete misunderstanding of what sexuality, attraction, and gender was. I really really want to write about my own experiences, but trying to figure out where to start is so hard and part of me is still nervous. I would like to submit to HA, but I think that my story would have to be broken into multiple parts. What do you think? Thanks again for the wonderful read. It is healing to me to see that I’m not alone.

  7. veggiedogs says:

    Thumbs up from another ex-homeschooler here.. and congrats on having a partner that makes sex a good and healthy experience. I can’t help but get angry over the recurring illustrations used to promote “purity”- broken cars, dishes, and crushed flowers.

    My homeschool experience was pretty liberal for the most part, It wasn’t abusive and I’m thankful for the experiences it allowed me. BUT when church youth groups are your biggest social outlets, they unfortunately have a huge influence on things,

    Being reduced to a sexual “temptation” for men, with your value consistently equated with preserving your hymen is a lot for an already confused teenage mind to carry. It is easy to slut shame in a culture that sees womens bodies this way, and that’s one thing teenage girls learn quickly. I think it also sets a foundation for body image issues. Your body is never seen as strong and amazing (and definitely not an agent of *gasp* pleasure), It is a problem, :(

    Today I am thankful for good therapists and a partner who is awesome and forgiving with me.

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