December 8, 2005

Purity rings.

Flaunting virginity.
The rings are still not mainstream enough to be considered cool. When Ms. McMunn tells her peers that she is waiting for her husband, "people give me weird looks," she said. "I have gotten made fun of a lot." But the rings are catching on to the point where many wearers feel comfortable talking about them....

"I don't think Christian youth are hiding their beliefs as much as they used to," said Jerry Rady of ScriptureJewelry.com in Escondido, Calif.

"Before, it was in the closet, a lot of that stuff," said Nickolas Pfendner, the owner of ReligiousJewelryStore.com, based in Jamison, Pa. "Peers are starting to really appreciate and respect kids who make that choice."

Ring ceremonies, once modest affairs held in people's homes or in churches, now sometimes involve hundreds of participants and laser light shows interspersed with talk of pregnancy and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
Hmmm... this makes me think about the conversation we were having here yesterday in the comments to this post, about the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Some people say that gay persons ought to just keep what is their private behavior to themselves. Everyone who makes the argument that gay persons shouldn't see any need to tell should also object to these rings that proclaim private sexual facts, right?

73 comments:

JBlog said...

Hey, here's an idea -- wouldn't be great if EVERYONE kept all these private matters to themselves?

I don't consider other people's personal conduct behind closed doors to be any of my business, and frankly, I don't really want to know.

But if a large portion of our society decides it's going to put their sexuality on public display, then I see no reason why virgins can't express themselves this way as well.

Troy said...

People say that in public, but then, often times in a group at work or at play the talk turns to sex... So, it seems, many more people are willing to flap their yaps about sex and ask pointed, personal and specific questions. If someone says -- as in the 40-year old Virgin -- "When's the last time you had sex?" or whatever... and the person says "That's none of your business!" or "I don't talk about such matters! or blushes stammers, etc. The assumption is virginity. The rings can be pre-emptive strike against such awkwardness and the rudeness that follows.

Besides -- I put "NEW!" on my eBay listings -- why shouldn't a person advertise their condition? Like new, new, slightly used, gently used.... or perhaps mint, near mint, good, fair, poor like baseball cards... Perhaps we can have rings that reflect our "condition." Hmmm... there's a business idea there somewhere. perhaps not.

Dave said...

A large portion of society does put their sexuality on display.

Every heterosexual couple we see walk down the street implicitly declares their sexuality.

If I walk down the street holding hands with my girlfriend, it should be clear to everyone that my girlfriend and I are making an implicit statement about our sexuality.

brylin said...

Religious cultures, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have traditionally valued virginity.

Consider the vestal virgins of Rome and the practice of burying dead virgins in the foundations of the London Bridge.

And the movie "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and Madonna's second album "Like a Virgin."

Ann Althouse said...

"Besides -- I put "NEW!" on my eBay listings -- why shouldn't a person advertise their condition?"

So you're goods for sale? You need to start wearing a ring that tells us what your penis size is.

JBlog said...

Pardon, but I don't think any couple walking down the street holding hands is making any kind of implicit or explicit statement about what they do or don't do behind closed doors.

erp said...

This has gotten totally out of hand.

A man and woman aka a married couple just by virtue of the fact that they publicly vowed their mutual love and devotion and then live together, perhaps produce some kids, and continue to live together, walk around together, rake the yard together and perhaps hold hands and even swing their arms in a carefree gesture aren't merely going about living their lives and minding their own business, they are, in the opinion of moonbats, making a statement about their sexuality which somehow denigrates gays and now, presumably also denigrates virgins????

Talk about Johnny One-Note. Will everyone please take a time out and go back in the closet, at least, for a little while, so we can enjoy a little peace on earth from those monomaniacs who can't seem to stop obsessing on me, me, me.

dbp said...

Ann,

I don't think such rings are much different than wedding rings. It tells others that the wearer is unavailable. Of course the ability of these rings to communicate would depend on how wide-spread the use becomes.

dbp

APF said...

You need to start wearing a ring that tells us what your penis size is.
That's what sports cars are for.

JBlog said...

"You need to start wearing a ring that tells us what your penis size is.

That's what sports cars are for."

Yeah, but it's inversely proportional. It still works though. :-)

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

But, then, men lie about their penis size, just like women do about their breast size. I remember a scene from a movie, I think it was John Revolting (sorry, Trevolta), stuffing socks in his underwear. A bit juvenile, but not uncommon. Besides, what is important is erect size, and that hopefully doesn't show in public.

Jeremy said...

I've seen this for years in the circles that I've run in. I don't think it's that new. What's new is the ceremony - which seems like a really weird thing to attend.

I've always thought that it was more for the benefit of the wearer than for those around them. Like tying a yellow string around your finger to remind yourself, "No sexing allowed."

tcd said...

I would wear a purity ring only if it came with a big hulking diamond. I kid. (Want to see if Slocum and his fellow anti-diamond folks take the bait).

The purity rings sound like a good idea. I agree w/ Ruth Anne. The rings can serve as tangible reminders. I think I know what to buy for my neice for Christmas now.

Pooh said...

I'm slightly uncomfortable with the vague co-opting of 'oppressed' status here. I'm more uncomfortable with a gaudy ceremony which proclaims "I'm purer then thou art". Humility should be just as great, if not greater, a virtue as chastity

As for the rings themselves, I think they are fine. Nothing wrong with wearing something to express a commitment or belief, like a LiveStrong bracelet or such. And I don't mean that to trivialize the rings. I may or may not share the belief expressed, but I certainly respect it.

John(classic) said...

Well since this conversation has degenerated..I have been trying to deal with this article:

"Big brain means small testes"
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8429

Aside from the feelings of inadeqaucy generated by being slothful, monogamous, and smart, the article contains this gem:
“Perhaps monogamy is more neurologically demanding.”

JodyTresidder said...

"The rings can serve as tangible reminders. I think I know what to buy for my neice for Christmas now."

Better make sure you keep the receipt. You know, just in case:)

FXKLM said...

After all, do people regret the sex they *didn't* have? I maintain that most of the regret from youth is for the sex that non-marrieds *did* have.

Absolutely not. Missed opportunities for sex are regretted far more often than sex itself.

tiggeril said...

I'm more uncomfortable with a gaudy ceremony which proclaims "I'm purer then thou art". Humility should be just as great, if not greater, a virtue as chastity

You said it much better than I could. I completely agree.

Paul said...

If it feels good, do it?

Mehera said...

Well, from observing what happened in the conservative christian wing of our family, there is an element of the parents hoping to "mark" and influence the daughter. I wouldn't assume the kids totally buy into it, ring or no ring. That girl was the first in the family to get pregnant before marriage.

Timothy said...

Makes me want to punch every pretentious jackass of a parent who thinks this is a good idea. Were I friends with somebody in high school who'd decided to have a "purity ring" I would've expressed the same sentiment.

I didn't have sex in high school, had few opportunities but certainly could've, but I knew folks who did and, well, whatever. None of my business.

If you need some bauble to remind you of your own purity, just how very weak is your purported moral compass? Don't want to have sex, don't have sex, but don't go making a public display of your prudery.

I wouldn't even buy shoes without trying them on, I can't for the life of me figure out why anybody would make a commitment like marriage without testing everything out first.

Andrea said...

I remember my sister's best friend proudly showing off her "promise ring" when they were 14 years old. She had promised her parents and her church to stay a virgin til marriage. I, seventeen at the time, made a snarky remark like, "Isn't it a bit late for that?" and got shushed by my mother. Well, the kid was pregnant a year and a half later by a man 10 years her senior. She had two kids with him before moving back home because he beat her up. My sister went on, lil slut that she was, to get masters in architecture and succeed in her endeavors. She now lives in sin with her very loving, kind boyfriend, no doubt fornicating to her heart's content. Those rings are substitutes for good parenting and good education, and only advertise that fact to me.

tcd said...

For those of you poo-pooing the idea of purity rings, no one is saying that the rings are the end-all and be-all when it comes to teaching kids about sexual relations and abstinence. Really, how unrealistic would that be?

Mehera said...

Does anyone know if there is a male equivalent of the promise ring? The early ones were presented to daughters by their fathers but maybe that has changed. Seems kind of like a modern virginity belt symbol or something.

In our extended family, the parents that took this approach with their daughters were the same ones who didn't think the girls needed to go to college, but are now escorting their son all around the country trying to decide the best college for him.

Makes my blood boil.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not pooh-poohing the rings. I'm just noting the connection to the debate about being openly gay. I think to be consistent, one ought to say everyone's sex life should be a matter of personal privacy, not to be flaunted, or that it's just fine for everyone to flaunt if they feel like it. Personally, I would keep my sex life private. I remember finding it disturbing to be visibly pregnant, because everyone could see that you had had sex. (Unless you wore an "It was artificial insemination" ring.) But you can do want you want.

Troy said...

Ann... OK. What the heck? Maybe the virgin ring is false advertising. Do you really want to start a trend of men wearing gaudy and huge rings?

The eBay thing was not not meant seriously at least not in the commercial sense. People send message by their attire and accessories all the time, that's not a controversial idea.

Pooh said...

tcd,

I'm not 'poo-pooing the idea'. I think they are fine, just that some of the surrounding stuff is over the top.

tcd said...

Mehera,
The article, linked by our host, mentions that boys are also wearing purity rings. So what is your point about your extended family? That anyone who give their daughters purity rings are backward sexist yahoos? Did you intend to stereotype all of us, who think abstinence and purity rings are good ideas, as yahoos?

Troy said...

Andrea, so the little 14 year old is responsible for being raped by a 24-year old? I never could get away with saying that. I see a lack of parental control. There would be a pregnancy followed by a murder of that 24 year old predator.

How Victorian of you.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Ann: Some people say that gay persons ought to just keep what is their private behavior to themselves. Everyone who makes the argument that gay persons shouldn't see any need to tell should also object to these rings that proclaim private sexual facts, right?

Well, yes. Proclaiming private sexual facts by anyone is bad. But a rainbow pin that proclaims a political or religious allegiance or an AIDS bow or a cross or a yarmulke is OK.

Mehera said...

tcd: "So what is your point about your extended family? That anyone who give their daughters purity rings are backward sexist yahoos? Did you intend to stereotype all of us, who think abstinence and purity rings are good ideas, as yahoos?"

Heck no. I'm only remembering what happened in my own experience and putting it out there with healthy skepticism about the "purity ring" movement. And to say that the wearing of such rings may or may not represent an actual commitment on the part of the wearer.

Tony said...

"Besides -- I put "NEW!" on my eBay listings -- why shouldn't a person advertise their condition?"

So you're goods for sale? You need to start wearing a ring that tells us what your penis size is.


I guess it's all what you value. I value virginity, you value the size of a man's penis. ;)

(This sort of response tends to make me think that some can't compete in the marketplace and want to devalue that which makes others stand out.)

37383938393839383938383 said...

After all, do people regret the sex they *didn't* have?

Isn't that the point? Someone who is lonely and pathetic and does not even know it is in much worse shape than someone with the life experience to make the right choices going forward. And, yes, people do regret not having fully experienced life. Then they become bitter.

Million Dollar Mary said...

As Ruth Anne's sister, and giver of the TLW (True Love Waits) ring to our 15 year old daughter, you have to understand the context in which the ring was given...it IS a personal matter and the ring didn't come with neon lights saying, "I promise to be a virgin until I marry." It didn't come as a "You have to wear this ring" from a parent trying to look good on the outside. It came after much private and personal discussions with our daughter about choices..and making good choices about a future partner,etc. Our daughter wears her ring with much humility and privacy. No one would know it's a PURITY ring....it's a personal decision that she made which prompted us to have the ring made for her...

And the TLW stands for True Love Waits...because (and I wish I would have learned this one in adolescence) LUST wants more but True Love WILL wait...

just a thought..

37383938393839383938383 said...

Personally, I would keep my sex life private. I remember finding it disturbing to be visibly pregnant, because everyone could see that you had had sex.

Exactly. Now, obviously, you can't help but be visibly pregnant. But someone doesn't need to tell you that they are a virgin or gay just because you say hello.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Well, now I'm rethinking things. I don't like virgin women and I don't have any use for gay men. So maybe everyone ought to say what they are and how slutty(e.g., with a number from 1-10 on their foreheads, 10 being the sluttiest), and that way I can just talk to all the women who are 7 and up.

downtownlad said...

It's pretty simple:

This is what is appropriate for PUBLIC consumption:

1) A straight man talking about his spouse, his kids, his marriage, etc.

2) A teenage girl talking about how she enjoyed going to the movie with her boyfriend.

3) A twenty-something male talking about how he wants to find a wife.

4) A gay man talking about how he's looking forward to an upcoming vacation with his boyfriend.

5) A lesbian talking about how hard it is to meet a nice girl these days.

6) A bisexual man telling a friend how he's not sure if should date Mary or Joe.

Here's what's NOT APPROPRIATE for Public consumption. This stuff should be PRIVATE.

1) Any intricate details about your sex life.

Just because I'm gay provides no more details about my sex life than somebody mentioning he's straight tells about his sex life.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JBlog said...

"Ann Althouse said...

I'm not pooh-poohing the rings. I'm just noting the connection to the debate about being openly gay. I think to be consistent, one ought to say everyone's sex life should be a matter of personal privacy, not to be flaunted, or that it's just fine for everyone to flaunt if they feel like it. Personally, I would keep my sex life private.
"

I tend to agree Ann, per my earlier post. Unfortunately, many in our society have already decided all these private details SHOULD be flaunted in public, whether we like it or not.

So I think there ought to be some uniformity in how "the rules" are applied on this.

If a hairy, 300-pound man can march in a Gay Pride parade wearing a strapless evening gown, I think it's okay for a straight 14-year-old girl to wear a virginity pledge ring.

stoqboy said...

I remember my mother telling me as a teenager that I didn't have to be confirmed into the Catholic church if I didn't want to. She then proceeded to hold the confirmation classes in our living room with all of my school mates. We talked and had heart felt discussions, but I knew I really had no choice. I would venture a guess that lots of girls with rings wear them for their parents. And I believe what Andrea said, the rings may more aptly represent poor parenting.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Just because I'm gay provides no more details about my sex life than somebody mentioning he's straight tells about his sex life.

This is utter bunk, because you leave out of the equation to whom you are talking. If you're talking to your friends, say whatever you want. But you don't have a right to dirty up the small talk at the office water coooler just because the married people talk about their children.

Aaron said...

Re: regretting sex I didn't have. Well - is it the sex or making an intimate connection that you would miss. I doubt that for most it is the actual orgasm that one regrets. Anyway - to be fair you might also have missed an unintended pregnancy, STD, or some really creepy morning after alienation from the stranger you randomly hooked up with. Sex is not always a positive growth experience to be celebrated. Sexual hypocrisy isn't always the worst thing that can come from sex.

On a different note: Is the absence of sex the same as having sex? Anti-A can't = A. Is a sign saying no cursing somehow the same as a sign saying Happy Happy F*ck F*ck? Seems like a logical fallacy somehow.

chuck b. said...

"you don't have a right to dirty up the small talk at the office water coooler just because the married people talk about their children."

Says you.

Poor you!

downtownlad said...

I wonder if criticalobserver is gay or straight?

Unfortunately, according to his rules, he can't actually answer that question without revealing intimate details about his sex life.

Paul said...

Am I wrong, or not too long ago wasn't the ear a ring was worn upon announcing you were Gay?
If that's not a myth, seems Gays were first.
No, wait, if you wore a ring on your left, ring finger that said you were unavailable(maybe). People sure talked a lot about their engagement ring and how they were in love forever!
We have symbols everywhere, let them wear their ring and have us think what we will. I can choose to believe it's meaning or not.

downtownlad said...

I wonder if they remove the ring after they have sex?

I doubt it.

Slocum said...

A 'purity ring ceremony' with a laser-light show? OMG -- I can't wait for the South Park episode (sounds like it could have the potential to rival 'Christian Rock Hard' which is one of my all-time favorites).

Slocum said...

I wonder if they remove the ring after they have sex?

No, silly, they turn from black and white to color -- didn't you see the movie?

37383938393839383938383 said...

DTL*: I wonder if criticalobserver is gay or straight?

It isn't any of your goddamned business, you sex-obsessed pervert, which is my entire point. Get your mind out of the gutter and stop trying to bring everyone down there too, you guttersnipe.

*Dirty
Truculent
Lecher

downtownlad said...

It isn't any of your goddamned business, you sex-obsessed pervert, which is my entire point. Get your mind out of the gutter and stop trying to bring everyone down there too, you guttersnipe.

So gay. ;)

Aaron said...

I wonder if most folks problem with this has to do with taste as opposed to ethics. The earnest unironic intention of making a pledge that has an element of self-denial is so counter to our current culture people reject it on aesthetic grounds. It is Squaresville.

Even if folks don't always live up to it - the idea of taking one's sex life seriously and trying to live by some set of ideals seems a good one. A lot of people seem to be conflating the ideals themselves with a symbol and rag on one for the other. Either chastity is lame because of the ring - or the ring is lame because of chastity. Maybe folks just think both are lame.

In any event the fact that a lot of objections center around accusations of hypocrisy is a sure sign that their issues aren't substantive. Accusations of hypocrisy tend to have to do with issues of Authenticity. 50 Cent is authentic because he has shot at people. Virginity Rings are inauthentic because some folks don't live up to their "image".

There was a nascent gay semaphore system set up surrounding different colored bandanas. The color and placement of the bandana denoted if one was a top, bottom and other sexual predilections. Was there something wrong with this? In my opinion - no - so why such a hard time for a hetero virginity ring? It just isn’t edgy and cool. People are uncomfortable with the aesthetics.

Ann Althouse said...

You boys need to learn to get along. Don't make me come in here and delete things.

downtownlad said...

Ha ha. Sorry Ann. I thought we WERE being nice this time.

Slocum said...

I wonder if most folks problem with this has to do with taste as opposed to ethics. The earnest unironic intention of making a pledge that has an element of self-denial is so counter to our current culture people reject it on aesthetic grounds. It is Squaresville.

I do think the rings and ceremonies are kitchy, but that's not my main objection. To begin with, I don't think the rings reresent self denial at all--it is not a freely taken decision by the young teen, but rather one imposed by the expectations of church, family, and peers. In this regard, the rings are not really unlike the islamic head scarf -- which is one thing if it is freely chosen, but how often is it really a free choice?

And consider the question of whether or not the kids stop wearing the 'purity ring' if they have sex (which, studies show, they do at a rate as least as high as those who didn't 'take the pledge'). The question seems a joke, but it really isn't. If a kid who has sex doesn't stop wearing the ring, the ring becomes a daily reminder of her guilt and hypocrisy, but if she does stop, she's advertising her newly 'fallen' state. I find it all quite creepy.

There is a long, unpleasant history of families feeling they 'own' their childrens' sexuality (daughters especially). Feeling that it is the family's right to trade their daughters (whose value depends crucially on their perceived 'purity') to earn a profit or form alliances. To be frank, I see the purity ring as a minor manifestation of the same outlook that results in honor killings of 'impure' daughters.

As it happens, I have a 17-year-old daughter (who would laugh her ass off at the idea of a 'purity ring'). Not because she's sexually active--I think the chances are high she's not. But it's really none of my business. Her sexuality is hers, not mine in any sense. Of course, I don't want to see her get hurt, but she has a very good head on her shoulders, and I trust her to make good decisions.

Freeman Hunt said...

Purity ring ad campaign:

"Never had a penis in your vagina? Never had your penis in a vagina? Let the world know! Choose from a variety of cool, new styles to signify your level of commitment. Display any type of purity from technical (genital only) to pristine (all orifices)."

Note: I have nothing against purity rings, and I greatly respect young people who decide to hold off on sex. I just think the literal meanings behind the rings are funny.

Aaron said...

Slocum - I don't have any kids so I haven't the experience you do but it sems to me there is at least as much pro-sex peer pressure out there as anti-sex pressure. More I'd expect. The motives for the pro-sex forces can be seen as at least as dispcable as the anti-sex. Funnily, your anti-sex motivations seemed to have an economic aspect and many pro-sex messages are mercenary in nature. I'd also prefer parents and family exert pressure - or possibly more constructively impart ethical and moral values than MTV and The OC etc.

Maybe at 17 you have made the decision that she is a free agent sexually but what about at 14? Or, suppose your daughter didn't have such a good head on her shoulders? I have heard that not all teens have it together. In any event you were ostensibly imparting your value system to her even if it was by letting her figure it out on her own and make her own mistakes. Is it that parents with another value system shouldn't be allowed to? or is it that you disaprove of them wearing their values on their sleaves (or fingers)?

Freemen Hunt: Yeah - sex is inherently funny. People make wierd faces and do things with their bodies that taken out of a private sphere looks just silly unless everyone involved is good looking and well lit. There is a reason penis jokes outnumber knock knock jokes.

Jacob said...

"Knock Knock"
"Who's there?"
"Penis"
"Penis who?"
"Uh... I really don't know where I'm going with this"

Slocum said...

Maybe at 17 you have made the decision that she is a free agent sexually but what about at 14? Or, suppose your daughter didn't have such a good head on her shoulders? I have heard that not all teens have it together.

If she didn't have a good head on her shoulders then a 'purity ring' wouldn't do any good (as research indicates they actually don't).

In any event you were ostensibly imparting your value system to her even if it was by letting her figure it out on her own and make her own mistakes. Is it that parents with another value system shouldn't be allowed to? or is it that you disaprove of them wearing their values on their sleaves (or fingers)?

Not all value systems are equal. The value system that holds a girl's chastity is family property, that it should be declared publicly, that loss of this 'purity' is a cause for shame that reduces the girl's value (and the the family's status)...all of this, I would submit, is involved in the 'purity ring ceremony' and it is a crummy value system (however traditional).

To me, it's not a question of wearing the value system on their sleeves (or fingers)--I think it's a poor value system with or without ring & ceremony.

reader_iam said...

Everyone who makes the argument that gay persons shouldn't see any need to tell should also object to these rings that proclaim private sexual facts, right?


Yes.

Pooh said...

Slocum, I hope (and suspect) that the though you believe the 'chastity as property' value system is bad, this does not imply that chastity per se is bad. Am I correct?

To my mind it's not inconsistent to say that one can advocate chastity without a need to trumpet one's own superiority through chastity. In my way of thinking there is very little in the way of moral absolutes on this issue. (Assuming competent consent, etc...) Some people are equipped to handle sex and some aren't. We can certainly offer advice based on our own experiences but freedom includes freedom to make mistakes.

Finally, in the abstract, I have to say that such 'pre-commitment strategies' are often not the best idea, as people are very bad at evaluating (and properly discounting) future risks and rewards.

My, I'm ramble-licious today...
verification word = bpeef.

Balfegor said...

"Everyone who makes the argument that gay persons shouldn't see any need to tell should also object to these rings that proclaim private sexual facts, right?"

Oddly enough, my initial reaction, when I started reading this post, was exactly that -- a mild revulsion. Indeed, those kinds of private sexual facts should be kept behind closed doors -- or at least limited to discussions among friends.

Or so I thought at first. When I thought about it a little more, it occurred to me that little rings and things like that could be a useful signal. Not so much for virginity, but as with marriage rings and whatnot. It would be nice, always, to be able to tell who is taken and who is not (and who is lesbian and who is not), and a ring is unobtrusive enough that it doesn't really force itself into your consciousness unless you're actively looking.

That said, though, public displays of affection of any sort make me feel vaguely uncomfortable -- even if it's just parent-child, really. Hand-holding between adults has always looked a bit peculiar to me, though all kinds of people do it. Those things are all very well in private, but in public? Mmm.

In the end, I suppose, I'm just extremely repressed, and wish everyone else were too. But I did have the looked-for reaction.

Troy said...

Um Slocum... the purity rings = girl = property is way off base. It's based on the Christian value found in the Old Testament and in the new Testament against adultery and fornication. Don't confuse immoral Positivist traditional addition under common law, etc. with true Christian virute.

The modern True Love Waits, etc. is under the premise that as a creature of the Creator you are valuable and not a pair of bowling shoes to be tried on by the general public. Why would anyone denigrate trying to keep oneself pure, avoid the pandemic of HPV, genital warts and pregnancy before one is ready to have a family? Afraid of standards...? (Not you in particular Slocum since I don't know you of course, but rhetorically...)

Also, the "my cousin/sister/best friend X didn't stay pure" is fallacious reasoning (no, not fellatious)

YAMB said...

And then there's the masterband, mostly aimed at guys, telling/showing observers that the wearer hasn't, umm, pleasured himself. Now THAT I find really icky to know about.

Nevermore said...

I think Ann's original question was if it was inconsistant if we have our children wear a ring symbolizing abstainance while we ask gays to keep it to themselves.

In my opinion, there is no correlation. "Don't ask don't tell" applies only to people who voluntarily joined the military. Outside of a military context, I hope we all agree that anyone has the right to express themselves however they wish.

Considering STD's, unplanned pregnancy, and other health risk associated with promiscuity, it's interesting that a few people here are critial of this practice. I think it's an honorable idea.

http://nevermoreblog.blogspot.com/

Aaron said...

Slocum - yes, I suppose if a kid was un-levelheaded then a ring isn't going to do much. But as part of a grounding in a general lifestyle it may help some young folks figure things out. If it is so mild in its effects then it is hard to see how it hurts. Also, it isn't like there isn't a ton of slutwear out there. How many T-Shirts say "Pornstar" etc. or there was that trend of wearing cockrings on necklaces not too long ago. I guess I am sympathetic to the idea of providing some sort of alternative set of choices to Abercrombie & Fitch. I'd disagree if I was 15 again.

I have to agree with pooh that your take on the motivations of those indulging in the practice of Purity Rings are not necessarily the most generous. I am sure there are some who feel as you describe but others may come from a much better place.

I am Jewish and there are many practices that set one apart and are not particularly cool and are open to multiple interpretations of their derivation, inherent politics, and necessity. I think the argument that we don't need outward symbols of our beliefs or that the symbols we do surround ourselves with don't matter is false.

I haven't ever met anyone who practices the Purity Ring thing but I am leery of making snap judgements about its worth. In my tradition only men wear a Yamulke - it could be seen as inherently sexist. Does wearing one make me sexist? If I am really Jewish in my heart why do I need to wear anything Jewish? Why wear any symbols of anything at all since it is what is on the inside that counts. Isn't it wrong to force our children even through social pressure to adopt our symbols? I think instilling our values in our children - even under some duress - isn't bad and that symbols matter.

I doubt you disagree greatly but differ in what values you want to instill. Chastity and equating sex with commitment aren't the worst values I've ever heard. Wasn't what I preached or practiced when I was younger but I also had to learn from some harsh experiences about what matters to me and I don't know as I'd dismiss someone who tried to instill some ideas in their kids. Between STDs, pregnancy, and just the emotional rough edges involved in a sexual life I am not sure validating the idea of taking things slow and underlining that there should be an emotional commitment aren't bad jumping off points. Even if my kids then had sex it would be a decent way to come to sex. It may increase the chances of it being with someone who gives a crap about them.

Hey! If you want to talk about forcing your symbolism on your kids with a sexual aspect to it - my parents circumcized me. I think most folks would jump on a ring if they waited to some older age of consent and were given the choice.

Cat said...

The modern True Love Waits, etc. is under the premise that as a creature of the Creator you are valuable and not a pair of bowling shoes to be tried on by the general public. Why would anyone denigrate trying to keep oneself pure, avoid the pandemic of HPV, genital warts and pregnancy before one is ready to have a family?

I think it's this inherent value judgement, and the loadedness of the term "pure", that disturbs me most about this particular movement. That assumption that sex, unless sanctioned by marriage and with the sole purpose of begetting children, is somehow dirty and degrading to the person involved, that they are allowing themselves to be "used" and sullied by a careless stranger. These may well be the beliefs of some, and frankly I think they buy in trouble and neuroses for the future.

Where is the healthy thinking and teaching about sex? The necessity of practicing safe sex, and that fact sex can be a great joy between partners?

I'm certainly not advocating teenage sex, but there are many, many more valid reasons not to be "doing it" rather than just the wearing of a ring or other symbol, which seems blind and unthinking to me. Whatever happened to simply saying "no thanks, I'm not ready... yet" and feeling empowered to do so?

This movement and the twisted thinking it parades, whilst no doubt well intentioned, may have the effect of creating a generation, not now, but in ten or twenty years' time, of adults with confused and troubling attitudes to that most natural, healthy and normal of functions - sex.

Alex Elliott said...

This is utter bunk, because you leave out of the equation to whom you are talking. If you're talking to your friends, say whatever you want. But you don't have a right to dirty up the small talk at the office water coooler just because the married people talk about their children.

I am gay, but I'm also one of the married people (same-sex marriage is legal where I live). Is mentioning my husband "dirtying up the small talk" at the water cooler?

Amalia said...

Hey I'm new on here. Couldn't help but notice this discussion...I know I'm a bit late to get in on this, but I felt that I just had to.

Common opinion seems to be that teens who wear purity rings only do so because their parents and/or church organization has pressured them into it, that it is not the teen's choice. However, I am 18, a senior in high school, and I am a virgin. I wear a purity ring on my ring finger and am committed to waiting for my husband to have sex. And guess what? That was MY choice. Not my parents' choice, not my family's, not my church's, not anyone else in society. Mine. My parents did not buy the purity ring for me or even suggest that I should buy one. I bought it with my own money and I wear it proudly. There was no big ceremony when I bought it, no bells and whistles - actually my brother often laughs at my decision and makes snide virgin jokes - and I certainly didn't do it out of an "I'm purer than you" attitude. I did it because it's what I feel is morally right, and I want to give myself to one man only. I don't "flaunt" my virginity or bash other girls who have had sex, but I do take pride in my commitment. I don't talk about it often except with my four closest friends (all of whom are virgins, two of whom also wear purity rings) and you really wouldn't know unless you grabbed my left hand and read the inscription around the band. (I'm actually looking to buy another one that feels more personal to me with a less generic message, and that's the one I'm going to wear until I have an engagement ring to replace it with.) People don't ask a whole lot and I certainly don't scream it from the rooftops, but when they do, I'm more than willing to talk about what the ring stands for, and usually I'm met with interest, or at the very least a measure of respect. At least, no one has been hostile about it.

Many people also say that the rings don't make any difference, that the people who wear them only last about a year and a half or whatever before having sex anyway. That may be true for many teens, but in a few months I'll be out of high school, and it has never been an issue for me. Granted, I still have college to finish, but I honestly believe that I'm going to be among those who actually make it down the isle without going back on my promise - not because my family expects me to, or I want to be more holy than the next person, but because I need to do it for MYSELF so that when my daughter asks me one day if I waited for her father, I can honestly say, "Yes, I did."

Okay, I'm done. I'm interested to hear if you have anything to add - I just felt that I had to post this.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for posting, Amalia.

Pam in Colorado said...

Well said Amalia. I am a Mom to five. My oldest daughter just graduated. She is a virgin by choice. She feels the same way as Amalia and we are glad of that.

We want all of our children to remain virgins until marriage. We want them to be able to give all of themselves to their future spouse. We have not handed out purity rings to our children. We are getting one for our daughter soon as she would like to have one and we have wanted to give her one but it has to come from a personal walk and decision if it truly has a significant meaning.

Will our other four wear purity rings? Time will tell. I would just as readily have my boys wear one as my girls. Wearing a purity ring does not ensure abstinence, but it is a wonderful reminder to the wearer of a path THEY have chosen to walk.

R said...

Get it right...Guys do wear the rings...It's amazing,
no...sad...that people will bash that which they don't understand, or were not able to accomplish in their own lives. They see others trying to live by Gods' standards...that which He has called us all to...and because they couldn't keep their legs crossed, or their pants on, and gave themselves up to the first little "hotflash" that came along, and continue to, they (in their guilt) feel they can now ridicule others who want to do the right thing. Some might say,"well, real men or women have sex"....Well,... so does my dog...but he doesn't have to live according to the same standards...but apparantly some of these would rather sleep around like dogs.
At any rate, these same young people who you
want to bash, to make yourselves feel better, or less "unclean", still have their virginity, and desire to stay that way until they are married, according to Gods' plan...something you can never say for yourself anymore. However, you might be really
surprised at the growing percentages of youth
who desire to stay pure...Hmmmm...Could this be
a sign of this Generation coming back to the "Heart of God"???? Yes...it could, and is...Oh No...
quick...somebody get a call in to the acl_...before they take over...Too bad...Jesus is coming back, and He is taking over...but there is still time to get it right...How about this...try talking to one of those"Purity ring" wearers, and ask them what makes them so convinced that they need to do this...and why they believe what they believe...
Have a blessed day.......

butterflykisses5487 said...

i love the idea of purity rings. i'm 21 now. and i wish i had of gotten a purity ring when i was younger. although i did wait until i was 20 to have sex. i always thought it would be better to wait on the guy i would marry. but as it turns out, that didn't happen. and now i've had sex with several different people. and i forgot who posted the comment about regretting the sex they didn't have vs the sex they did have. and in my opinion i definatly regret the sex i did have over the sex i missed out on while i was in the process of waiting.

and someone else had posted a comment about showing what "condition" the person was in. while i'm not sure if they intended that in a rude sort of way or not, but it was actually in a way something i had been thinking about. since i'm not a virgin, a purity ring doesn't really seem to fit me. but i really want a ring now to symbolize my newfound relationship with God and how i wish i could have my virginity back. but i wish there was a wring that was like a "new found purity/promise between me a God" to wait for sex until marriage" i'm just not sure what kind of a ring that would be. maybe something with just a simple scripture? but what scripture would most apply to that? any ideas out there?