By: Belle Knox
Growing up Catholic, I was always taught abstinence. When I was in middle school, a special teacher came to the class and passed around binders full of pictures of sexually transmitted diseases. She told us that birth control never worked and neither did condoms. She said birth control gave women cancer. She told us young ladies that sex was a gift that we needed to “save” for our husband. If we didn’t “save” ourselves, we would be ruined and no one would want us. To make her point, she brought in a gift box wrapped nicely with ribbon and a bow, then ripped it open, and asked us to put it back together.
Needless to say, she made me terrified of sex. I didn’t masturbate for a year after her lesson.
Our high school threw an assembly in which they invited a male abstinence education speaker to inspire us with his wisdom. For 2 hours, we listened to him talk about the evils of sex. He particularly directed his comments towards us females, who he said nobody would want if we had sex before marriage. “Men like a challenge, ladies. They want to win you. If you’re too easy and give it up to him too soon, he will never want to marry you.” Basically, women are objects and games to be won.
I still remember seeing girls crying after the assembly, distraught because they weren’t virgins and so their life was ruined and they were dirty, slutty, and no one would ever want them.
In retrospect, I’m horrified and angered at the sex education I received. I see it now for what it is: a systematic attempt to control female sexuality. I wrote about it, and how it oppresses and violates women, in my first XoJane article:
“The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon—as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.
The prevailing societal brainwashing dictates that sexuality and sex “reduce” women, whereas men are merely innocent actors on the receiving end. By extension, our virginity or abstinence has a bearing on who we are as people—as good people or bad people, as nice women or bad women.
Women’s ability to be moral actors is wholly dependent on their sexuality. It is, honestly, insane.”
To deny that young people don’t have sexual urges is absurd. It is completely natural, healthy even, to feel sexual curiosities and desires when you’re young. We need to educate our children on sexuality, and have open and honest conversations with them, instead of repressing them or ignoring the matter altogether.