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sexualization of girls

On Abstinence, Sleeping Beauty, and Victim-Blaming.

Scene from the documentary 'How To Lose Your Virginity' featuring Hanne Blank and Shelby Knox, with narration by director Therese Shechter.

As we've said many times on this blog, Abstinence-Until-Marriage programs are dangerous on several levels–and proven to be totally ineffective. They don't protect girls and women, they victimize them.

The article "On Josh Duggar And Why It’s Time To Do Away With Abstinence-Only Sex Education" lays it all out in chilling detail, including:

  • Women are naturally pure because their sexuality is encased like a fire alarm behind the plexiglas of romantic love. A girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship. That awakening should not happen until after marriage. (This is why they don’t kiss before marriage.)
  • Love is what not only awakens a woman’s sexuality, it is also what keeps her sexuality in check. If a woman’s sexuality is awakened in any situation other than marriage, she dissociates it with love. And without the governor of marital love, her libido rages out of control and she becomes a shameful and pitiful victim of her own wantonness.

One of the things we talk about in How To Lose Your Virginity (see video above) is the lack of sexual agency for young women, that the men in their lives (father, husband, god) are in charge of their sexual lives. The idea that "a girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship."

We liken it to the 'Sleeping Beauty' myth, the idea that a woman is a passive sexual player waiting to be awakened by her prince, and it's insidious. If women do have any independent sexual feelings, they run the risk of being labeled sluts who are responsible for any unwanted sexual attention or violence that befalls them.

While it's taken to the extreme in fundamentalist communities that concept isn't really limited to Duggar-like environments. First of all, many women of color are experience being labeled hypersexual, de-facto sluts from the get-go. As for white women, any woman who doesn't passively wait for a man to unlock her, so to speak, risks being slut-shamed as well. How can you ask your partners for what gives you pleasure, when sexual satisfaction isn't something you should be asking for–or even know anything about. It's the basic narrative of virginity-themed porn like 'Barely Legal,' where a young (white) woman must begin as totally innocent so that a man can unleash her sexuality with his magic penis. And it's the foundation of rape culture, where a woman invariably has her own uncontrolled sexuality to blame following sexual assault.

V-Card Diaries: Sammie "I haven't had sex because any man who has ever touched me intimately has hurt me"

Today we're highlighting Sammie in New England who is, for the time being, perfectly happy with her vibrator and erotica. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I'm a 31-year-old female from California living in New England

How I define virginity:

I suppose I am technically a virgin because I have never had sex with another person. Vibrators/dildos don't count huh?

Here's my story:

I was molested, and nearly raped, when I was 12 and then was sexually assaulted again when I was in college. I was an early bloomer and because of that I was sexualized by men at a very very young age (by the time I was 10 years old I was getting propositioned on the street by men walking by because I looked more like I was 17). It has always made me extremely uncomfortable with my body, and then my past sexual assaults have increased that discomfort.

I know men appreciate my body and find it desirable but I just don't see why. I actually wish I was gay, or asexual, because I trust women more than men, but I just don't find women desirable. I have pushed away any, and all, physical relationships because of my past experiences and have even lied about my virginity to my best friends. Its just easier to pretend that I have had sex then it is to explain to your girlfriends that you haven't had sex because any man who has ever touched you intimately has hurt you. Plus at my age, people assume there is something seriously wrong with you if you aren't having sex all the time.

I hope to someday meet someone that I can feel comfortable enough with to have sex and build a trusting relationship with, but for the time being I am perfectly happy with my vibrator and erotica.