Unworthy of Love: Women's Bodies Under Control


Purity culture is a problem in our society. It's a culture that teaches girls and women to judge themselves against an impossible standard of moral perfection. This moral perfection is based on what men want from women instead of who women are as individuals. In this regard, purity culture is sexist and pushes the idea that sex before marriage will ruin your future chances at happiness- which could be nothing more than a myth.

Women Worthy of Love

According to purity culture standards, there are two instances where women obtain personal value. The first is for their virginity and purity until they get married or moved; the second is another stage of life, such as motherhood. With virginity and motherhood as the goal, purity becomes more important than personality, intelligence, or anything else that makes women human. Purity culture defines her worthiness of love and belonging purely by virtue of whether she has had sex or not.

Purity Rings

Purity culture has roots in purity rings, typically given to girls by their fathers when they are 9 to 11 years old. Purity rings look like regular jewelry but have a specific meaning, giving an outward sign that the wearer is reserving sexual activity for marriage. The purity ring acts as a token to give her father authority over her body until she marries or passes it on to someone else who will have authority, their spouse.

There is no distraction about what purity rings really mean in purity culture because chances are you'll find articles telling women how having sex before marriage leads to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, among other things. Purity rings are pushed by purity culture because they are a visual representation of virginity. Therefore, the wearer should see value in this ring as an engagement ring or wedding band. However, purity rings may actually be a stressful reminder for women to deny their natural sexuality.

Purity Culture's Oppression of Women

While purity culture is justified in teaching young women to respect their bodies, it ultimately teaches them that sex before marriage makes them unworthy of love, fidelity, intimacy, and commitment. In most cases, it does not consider whether or not a male partner is worthy or holds them to the same standard. Furthermore, purity advocates only care about purity as it relates to sex and not of character.

As purity culture continues to be upheld by churches and different areas of society, these standards make it harder for girls to find real love; the kind where intimacy is shared between two adults who are equals. Pure culture does not provide young women with practical ways for them to manage intimacy before marriage, but it also sets up a system to suppress their natural feelings of attraction and desire. There is no room in purity culture to deconstruct how normal it is for men and women to feel attracted to others, want intimacy with each other, and have multiple relationships before settling down. Even if there was some way purity culture could help teach young women about sexuality and purity, the practice of purity rings and purity culture itself does not reflect that at all.

What Does Purity Culture Teach Us?

When we deconstruct purity culture, we can understand that women deserve to be loved for who they are- not for whether or not they have had sex or how many partners they've had in their lifetime. We should focus more on our own happiness than pleasing other people such as parents, friends, and especially boys/men by meeting their purity standards. The best way to get around purity culture is to change the conversation about romance society altogether. By making it more acceptable for women to express their emotions, comfort each other, and guide one another through relationships, women don't have to hide their natural feelings bin fear of purity advocates judging them.

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