Men Guarding My Purity

By Anonymous

Why do some men want to control women’s “purity”?

I was reading about Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, who was almost stripped of her crown due to:

substance abuse, failing to make Miss USA promotional appearances, chafing at other obligations and nonstop nightclubbing at Big Apple hot spots.

Being dismissed for substance abuse and failing to make obligations, I get. But nonstop nightclubbing? What’s the problem?

Donald Trump, the pageant’s co-owner, eventually came to her rescue, granting her a second chance.

Later, he gave her permission to pose in Playboy.

I read about Tara in The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti. She points out that when Trump determined that Tara could keep her crown despite a fast life, and when he determined that she could appear in Playboy, her immodest ways were not the problem. The problem was that Tara was in charge of herself, instead of Trump being in charge of Tara. Some men just want to be in charge of women’s purity.

Even today men may flaunt their sexuality and make “conquests.” Yet women must still be restrained, and are called ho’s and sluts when they aren’t.

And while there is no argument about whether men should be able to use a little blue pill to enjoy sex, various conservative, male-led legislatures find The Pill morally repugnant.

It comes as no surprise to me that young women can grow to be ashamed, and at times even afraid of sexuality.

I, admittedly, have been a victim of the power of negative connotations of virginity, or the lack thereof. Maybe because I come from a more conservative, Latina background I was hit harder than other girls who were raised in America. But after the first time I had sex I drowned myself in guilt and shame. I doubted everything that had just happened. I thought,

This wasn’t supposed to happen that way; I shouldn’t have done it with him; I won’t be able to marry in a white dress anymore; I wonder what he thinks of me now; the whole school is going to find out…

As these phrases filled my head, there was another thought that would not leave me peace: “My parents are going to think I’m worthless.” The worry was so intense that for several months I literally put my head down when having any sort of conversation with them.

I eventually realized that it wasn’t them setting the “standard of virginity,” but the society they grew up in.

Although my mother and I are of different generations, we share the same experience of oppression when it comes to our sexuality. Only she had it worse. Her teenage years were so squeamish that the word sex was frowned upon even between doctor and patient. I, fortunately, have more tools to overcome the repression.

Why do some men want to regulate a woman’s every move, disciplining her if she gets “out of line”?

I don’t know the answer to that. But it feels oppressive. And I don’t think that celebrating sexual males while shaming females helps anyone.

This post was written by one of my students, who asked to remain anonymous.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 19, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Wow–brave words from your student–please thank her for sharing. I am facebooking this!

  2. Having this awareness of how the female body/sexuality is perceived in our country is incredibly valuable. By understanding how these social conventions operate, it makes you respect and value your self that much more – at least for me. The destiny of your body should never belong to someone else. Great post!

  3. Wow, this is the kind of message that needs to be echoed in mainstream media. I’m frightened for those who are shackled by their inability to recognise who they are and what it really means to be.a women as opposed to what women are in virtue of male expectation.

  4. wow, well said. I could remember when sex was only a word one would use behind closed doors. With this generation media has overexposed sex . This generation virgnity is not as well exposed as sex is. There are many that have to say these things but are not able to explain themselves as well as you did. Great post .

  5. i hear about that playboy magazine all the time but why is it that i dont hear about the playgirl magazine, all mens magazines have women that are more then half naked in them but truth betold let me try and post some pictures like that i bet there would be a lot of “getting me back inline” work to do. isnt that ironic. makes you really wonder are you what you want to be in life or what he has allowed you.

  6. Stargazer Lily

    As I read this I began to think of an episode of the Cleveland show. If anyone watches that, well Cleveland Jr.(male) decides to pledge his purity to his father at church during which time only girls were standing up to do so. The rest of the episode deals with the whole town making fun of Cleveland Sr. for having a “sissy” boy. In our society it is greatly valued for a female to keep her purity, but say a male openly pledges his purity then it can sometimes be looked at as “he’s gay” or “doesn’t have balls.” Growing up in a Latino family, out of all of my siblings I am the one that has gone nightclubbing the most. In general the one that is out at night more. My parents always have assumed that if I have been out past 10pm, that I was with a boy having sex. Which at 16, all I was doing was watching a movie or coming home late after the homecoming dance. As I have grown up, my parents’ assumptions have finally caught up. My older sisters had an early sexual life and as a result had babies at 16. I, however, succeeded at school, didn’t get pregnant, graduated, went to college and yet it seems no matter how many accomplishments I make going out at night still places a bigger umbrella over all of the good things. Many times I too have wondered if I should still use a white dress for my future wedding or an off-white. More than likely I will go with white, but the thought is always lingering around.

  7. I can relate to this story, and I know what she means by feeling “guilt and shame” after the fact. It took me a while to realize that it was not my parents who set the standards for me about virginity, it was society.

  8. I can definitly relate. I Mean Im looked at and judged all the time by the way I look and because I have huge breast and a huge butt guys think that ” I been there done that”. truth of the matter is im really a virgin and im called out my name when I refuse to give a guy what he is looking for. Its sad.

  9. In today’s society, if a woman is often taken sexy pictures, many men would say some dirty words to her and even think she is a licentious person. However, men’s naked pictures will not bring negative effect. Why? Many thoughts in the past make a lot of people think women should be conservative. Do men not need purity? Whether men or women, as long as they are promiscuous, consequences the sexual transmission brings are the same.

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