Friday, May 14, 2010

The Only Innocent People are the Ones who Don't Think

Purity rings are pretty high up there on the List O' Things that piss me off.

If you don't know, "purity rings" are pieces of jewelry that are meant to remind the wearer not to have sex before marriage. As far as I know, they originated in the Christian community and are primarily worn by Christians; I believe that they are technically non-secular, but they're definitely predominantly worn by Christian girls. *

God, even the name disgusts me. The product descriptions from them are so pretentious and holier-than-thou; one reads, "A beautiful reminder of a heart made pure by God."

Two issues with this: firstly, the implication that the only "pure" heart is a virginal one and that a heart remains "pure" unless it is scarred by the sin of pre-marital sex. Does that mean that if I kill somebody but remain a virgin, my purity will remain intact? Good to know. Secondly, the implication that sex is some vile and dirty act, when it is in fact nothing more than a way to procreate. I mean, I'm sorry, I know that it means a lot to people and I don't think you should screw everybody you meet, but that's the biological purpose of it. If "God" wants to carry on his oh-so-pure human race, s/he/it best not condemn people for making babies.

Anyhoo, I should refrain from discussing religion at the present time, so I'll move on to the more disturbing social aspects of the Almighty Purity Ring.

Right off the bat, there's a question of the practicality of them. I understand that some people (Christian or not) strongly believe in waiting until marriage. I'm not judging them for that; it's their decision and I'm in no position to say if it's a good or bad choice. However, if you have such a strongly held belief, you shouldn't need a ring to remind you of that. If the only thing that's stopping you from screwing somebody is a little piece of metal on your finger, there is something seriously wrong with your willpower.
Also, according to Google (Google is always right), most people who wear purity rings end up having premarital sex anyway. Again: practical? Apparently not.

Secondly, there's the ever present myth that marriage solves everything. Once you become legally (or religiously) bound to another person, that suddenly makes sex "clean," it means that all your problems are going to go away? Somehow, that doesn't seem too compatible with the fact that there is divorce rate over 50% in the US.
And what if you never get married? In some roundabout way, purity rings seem to be pressuring people into getting married. If you don't get married, are you supposed to feel guilty? If you're fifty and not married, are you still supposed to wear a purity ring? That seems like somewhat of a cruel expectation.

LASTLY, there is such a ridiculously large double standard around purity rings. True, they're available for men and women: but apart from the Jonas Brothers, do you know any males who wear a purity ring? I definitely don't. I don't have statistics on this (I doubt there are any statistics to share anyway), but let's take a realistic look at who wears purity rings:
- Preteen/teenage/young adult girls.
Pretty much. What does that say? "Hey, girls, if you have sex before marriage, you are a SLUT."
Okay? It is SO WRONG and SO UNFAIR to expect girls to have this high moral standard and then not hold boys to the same standard. It is SO patronizing to brainwash a young Christian girl into thinking, "hey, the only thing that is making me PURE is my VIRGINITY."
I won't get into double standards in everyday life (opinion in brief: they're there, but maybe not as much as you would think). It's just this specific thing that really pisses me off - why is there so much focus on this?

Alright, you don't want your fourteen year old daughter to get pregnant, I understand that. I'm not advocating for more teenagers to have sex. I just think that rather than trying to guilt somebody into believing that a) they are "pure" in the first place (what the hell does that even mean?) and b) that having sex is going to take away that "purity" is VERY VERY WRONG, not to mention ultimately counterproductive. If you want them to abstain, given them FACTUAL REASONS for doing so, not some bullshit excuse about fluffy white Gods who will Hate You Forever if You Do Something Wrong.

* Disclaimer for this whole paragraph: I understand that not all Christians wear these rings; in fact, I'd wager that the vast majority don't. I also understand that they're not endorsed by, say, the Catholic Pope. Nevertheless, they are a predominantly Christian idea.

PS, listen to this!
It's lovely and relaxing. As an added bonus, it's from the only Shakespeare play I've genuinely enjoyed thus far (Much Ado About Nothing)! (Do you guys prefer his comedies to his tragedies? I certainly do; I am not a fan of Romeo & Juliet AT ALL. I give Shakespeare tons of credit for inventing half our vocabulary, for writing so goddamn many plays and other pieces of work, for writing well on that sentence-by-sentence level, and for still being relevant five hundred years after the fact. That does not mean, however, that I automatically enjoy all his plays, especially when the characters are less than lovable; the only Rom&Jul death I mourned was Mercutio's. And he wasn't even the main character.)
Actually, most of the songs from the films of Shakespeare's plays are so pretty. I wish people still serenaded each other like that.
In general, I think Shakespeare's plays are much better when they're brought to life, whether it be on stage or in a movie. I understand why we have to analyze the text in English and everything, but in terms of pure enjoyability, it's best to go to the medium they were intended to be presented in.


Alex said...

I don't actually know one person that wears one of those... that I know of. I definitely don't.

And you're right, if a ring is the only thing keeping you from having sex, you have some issues.

Also, Shakespeare: havn't read enough to make a decision but I did prefer Midsummer Night's Dream and Taming of the Shrew to Romeo and Juliet.

Rena said...

I don't know anyone who wears one and I'm glad I don't. There comes a point religion and jewelry shouldn't mix. If you *really* wanted to save your sacred virgin soul by not having sex, fine. Good for you. It's a commitment and, while pointless, a nice gesture. The ring shouldn't bring guilt.


The tragedies have their own merit (swordfights! Why can't comedies have more swordfights?), and Shakespeare as a person was kind of badass, but I definitely prefer A Midsummer Night's Dream to Julius Caesar/R&J/Macbeth.