This was brought on by my mother's friend talking about her tall, talented, georgeous daughter who wants to stay a virgin and wears a purity ring, and gets a lot of flack for it.
Purity rings get a lot of flack. I'm guilty of that, I think. I can't remember, but if I am, it was probably the same flack that I hear from other people: Kids can't control their sexual urges, the rings don't mean anything, they don't stop teens from having sex, and on and on and on.
I've never worn a purity ring. I'm uninterested in partner sex, so I don't see a reason to remind myself to not do something that I don't want to do, and have no urge to do. However, the one ring that I wear in a gold band with inset diamonds in it that my mother gave me. I'm concerned about blood diamonds, so those are the only diamonds that I'll wear.
My moral issues with diamonds aside, I've worn that ring for the last few years, ever since Mom gave it to me. Recently, I noticed that one diamond was chipped, so I took it in and was told that in addition, two more were loose. I didn't want to loose any of the diamonds, so I took the ring off. It's been two months, maybe three, and my finger still feels naked without the ring. I'd fiddle with it when I wore it, and it reminds me of Mom every time. Not wearing it makes me feel itchy, and sometimes I'll be looking around, wondering what's out of place, before I'll realise that my ring's not on my finger.
My point in relating this is that if my ring reminds me so much of my mother, how much do purity rings remind their wearers of maintaining their chastity? What's wrong with being a virgin, for waiting until you're more mature, possibly married, before having sex? I understand, somewhat abstractly, that sex is important to a lot of people, and a need only slightly less urgent than breathing. But what, I ask, is wrong with practising self-control and not indulging in carnal pleasures?
Sex outside of marriage is, for me, not the right way, and not what I choose. I'm not saying that it's what everyone should choose; it's simply what I choose, and I do expect my choice to be respected. It irritates me that any moderately attractive person is automatically assumed to be not a virgin, and the excuse I most often hear is, "But you're so pretty!" What, ugly people have no sex drive and don't have sex? Millions of ugly people are now asking how they and their kids got here. It irritates me that physical appeal is so intrinsically linked to sexual appeal, and minds boggle at the thought of someone NOT having sex, of CHOOSING to not have sex. This choice, which is ours and ours alone, is questioned by people who have no reason to question it. It's not like we're going to have sex with you, or that we want to, and if you're assuming that, excuse me, but there's not enough room in here for me, you, the entire Internet, AND your ego. One (preferably two, if you persist in pressuring me to do something that I have a desire to NOT do) of these needs to go. Seeing as this is MY blog in MY corner of the Internets, and our world would implode like we divided by zero if the Internets were to disappear, it looks like you and your ego are voted off the island, Bub.
No, purity rings don't always work. My hijab doesn't always keep me mindful of God, or my voice and gaze lowered, or my actions and words kind, like it's meant to. But it IS a reminder of those things, and the more often I'm forgetful of them, the more guilty I feel when I realise my lapses, and the more mindful I try to be in the future. I presume that the case is true for purity rings.
We should be encouraging young adults to make wise decisions regarding their chastity. I haven't been a virgin since I was 17. I'm not ashamed of not being a virgin, but I wish that I'd waited, wish I hadn't let myself be pressured into sex. My only regret is that I wasn't assertive enough with any of my partners, and therefore let my own feelings go unheard, which resulted in me feeling disgusted by not only the act, but by myself and my body for letting it happen. It's taken me years to heal the confidence issues that I let happen. If I'd made wise decisions, if I'd had a steady support system, I'd still be a virgin today, at one month shy of 26.
I'm not ashamed of not having sex. It's no big deal to me, but I know it's hard to resist temptation, especially when it seems like everyone's doing it, whatever "it" happens to be, and when it's presented as the norm.
So instead of giving teenagers crap about wearing purity rings, instead of scoffing at them and assuming that they're all having orgies every night, how about we try giving them encouragement? A friendly word? Letting teenagers know that we adults know that they're under a lot of pressure, and we respect and admire them for trying to stay true to themselves? And when they mess up, because some inevitably will, rather than scolding and censuring them, why don't we understand that we're all fallible, especially to our baser desires, and cut teenagers a whole lot more slack?
Because I don't know about you, but I'm about all out of stones to throw.
Welcome to my blog!
This blog is an honest look at what life is like for this particular American convert to Islam. We're taught in Islam to cover our sins, to not air them, for fear of lessening the severity of sinning. In this blog, I may relate past indiscretions from time to time. This isn't to make light of them, but in the interest of educating Muslims and non-Muslims alike as to the realities of life as an American convert, I present my mistakes honestly. I make no excuses for them, nor do I claim that they were okay to make. I am not perfect, and I make no pretenses as to that. If others can learn from my past, know that Islam, and religion in general, is open for people no matter what mistakes they've made, then I will gladly air my sins when needed.