When I tell friends the tale of my summer romance, it seemed torn out of a Nicholas Sparks novel: In the beautiful city of Cambridge, a liberal California girl falls for a Southern, conservative, Ivy League boy who folds her clothes before they fall asleep together in a cuddling position post-sex.
As much as we connected intellectually and emotionally, however, the “crème de la crème” Ivy League boy values sexual purity beyond our connection, so he could not see me as a viable romantic partner. What’s worse, he justified valuing purity on the basis of “willpower” and “discipline,” as if I were a kid in the marshmallow experiment and failed to fight the urge to eat the candy later for a greater reward.
The last I checked, my life is not an experiment, and I was not informed in the debriefing session that my goal was to wait. By eating the marshmallows early, I didn’t realize I was putting myself second tier to the “good girls” in his conservative hometown.
With that, the sliver of a sliver of a chance that Nicholas Sparks will base a love story on me vanished, because not only did the romance not materialize, but I am also not pure enough to be the heroine in a romance novel. And, I no longer have the right to tear up when I listen to Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.”
I’ve definitely had my share of bad romances, and a good portion of sex-negative advocates try to convince me that it’s my fault. In a nutshell, the purity police argue that because I do not actively abstain from sex, I am not as deserving of love as a sexually inexperienced girl, who likely has a nice shower head with five different pressure settings in her bathroom — but I digress.
My mom tries to shove her anti-sex attitudes up me like a dry tampon up my vagina — which she probably thinks is easy because it’s already “too loose for good use” — and ignores the fact that my shitty prospect pool can be due to bad luck. She claims that being sexually pure is conducive to a good relationship and boils my track record down to the fact that my body count has reached unwife-able double-digits. And a crème de la crème, according to her, is not forgiving enough to cream in a girl who loves sex.
Still having yet to lose faith in humanity, I smart-mouthed back, “No! Your assessment of the well-educated, egalitarian men I surrounded myself with in college is invalid, and your misconception can be attributed to the generational gap!” But, given my romantic history, I’ve had a hard time finding examples to prove her wrong.
Though the belief that sexual purity makes for a better mate is cultural rather than gender-specific, men disproportionately and hypocritically apply it to women. Mr. Not-much-holier-than-thou is not close to being a virgin himself and has had sex with me, contributing to the body count that he finds so off-putting.
He was ignorant to the fact that in order for a woman’s number to increase, some dude’s number has to increase as well, which is something the dude would brag about. It makes no sense to judge women on a separate metric when the body count in total is the same across both genders in the straight population. The double standard and hypocrisy is almost too blatant to point out.
Whether one wants to very loosely translate sexual purity to mean “willpower” — or, if they’re feeling especially unreasonable, “self-respect” — they are in both cases making inaccurate and absurd assessments about a person based on their personal decisions about their own body. Not everyone thinks it is necessary to wait to save sex till marriage, so not everyone actively fights their sexual urges. It says nothing about my willpower. And the number of men I find attractive and let spelunk in my cave does not correlate to the amount of respect I have for myself.
All having sex illustrates is that I do something about my hormones, and it doesn’t involve PornHub. Therefore, it is hard to deny that the foundations of sex-negative views are ignorance, misogyny and insecurities men have of being compared to other men.
So fuck no one. Or fuck everyone, as long as it’s consensual. Do what you want with your body, and apply your beliefs to yourself. No one’s value as a human being should be contingent upon their sexual capital, because sex neither fucks the value out of a person nor is a pathogen.
And to those who still want to use sexual purity as a prerequisite for screening partners, I hope you find a unicorn in the pool of sexually active women out there, or at least one who is willing to lie about her body count.
Catherine Straus writes the Thursday blog on taking two sides. Contact her at [email protected]