I have been reading Time Magazine for almost 27 years. Sure the format has dumbed down in the past 10 years making more room for bite size news à la USA Today but it’s still my main source of long form written information. Every issue brings something surprising and thought provoking. I have loved the recent profiles of Bill Gates, Mark Twain and Nelson Mandela.
I just got around to reading The Pursuit of Putity (July 17th.) On the Time.com website the article is titled The Pursuit Of Teen Girl Purity. Maybe Time.com employs CNN’s sex keyword combination SEO expert.
This article is very interesting and my favorite quote is from one of the fathers at a ball covered by the reporter, his name is David Diefenderfer.
“I never planned to have nine children by seven women”
This phrase opens a huge can of WTF!?!1! How can you not plan to have 9 children by 7 women. While it’s certainly not as hard to get 7 women pregnant 9 times as birthing and raising 9 children, it still takes some involvement. Thirty eight years ago, this man had sex with a virgin who immediately got pregnant. This unplanned event produced his oldest daughter, Juliet, who is also quoted in the article. Juliet and I have much in common being the result of unplanned parenthood 38 years ago.
I truly feel that if teenagers got comprehensive education on sex AND sexuality AND adulthood they would most likely make the right choices for themselves. Sex is an unfair burden for teenagers and young adults so making a purity pledge is not a bad idea in itself but it falls into this proven inefficient system of “abstinence”. It’s like saying “promise me you wont have sex until marriage so I don’t have to go through the uncomfortable step of teaching you about life”.
If I can divulge a big secret about sex here is that it pretty much sucks until you get good at it or find someone decent to do it with. This will most likely not happen until you are in your twenties or later.
Sex is a long term investment however it has a lot of risks attached to it making it a bad use of your time, espescially when you are a teen. Sex is an important part of life and my recommendation to abstain from having sex when you are a teen has absolutely no relation to religion or morality and everything to do with long term life strategy.
The other secret is that not everyone is doing it. I have had sex with virgin guys (from late teens to early thirties) over the past 20 years. What I have noticed is that the longer a guy waits to have sex, the better his satisfaction is with the resulting “sex life” (and I draw from my conversations with guys in general because I do like to ask those kinds of questions!) I have also chatted with guys who are around 20 and think it is scandalous that they are still a virgin. What they think is unusual is actually quite normal. Plus it only means that once they find that awesome person to have sex with it will likely be much more satisfying.
I have also known someone who was promiscuous as a teen and developed a huge amount of guilt and hang ups about sex. It was as if he did not understand sexuality beyond the use of his genitals. He never talked about sex other than to criticize or judge and would be too self-conscious or ashamed to dare plan sex in the future. Then he would suddenly want to have sex at the most inopportune time completely unprepared! This is how he got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 17. I wonder if he will have 9 children by 7 women.
And because I quote a guy out of context above, I am reprinting the whole passage from the article so you can enjoy it as well.
Out on the terrace under an almost moon, the black swans have vanished into the lake. David Diefenderfer has slipped outside for a cigarette; he’s a leathery South Dakotan in a big black cowboy hat, and he hands over his card. HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL: BREEDER SERVICE, it says, with a picture of a syringe. He’s in the cattle-reproduction business. He’s also the father of nine children by seven women.
Three of his daughters are with him tonight, including 10-year-old Taylor. I asked what purity means to her. “I don’t really know,” she says, and she’s shy about talking about all this. “But it means you make a promise to your dad to be a virgin until you are married and not have a lot of boyfriends.”
That’s what her oldest half sister Juliet was taught as well; she remembers hearing how her mother got pregnant the very first time she had sex. Juliet is now 37 and has come from Reno, Nev., where she works for Microsoft Licensing. She has watched the evening unfold with some skepticism. “I think I’m finding I’m more of a feminist than I thought,” she says with a sly smile. “I had a hard time there hearing about ‘rescuing’ our girls. I was brought up to be a strong woman. Why would I need rescuing?” It’s the boys who she thinks need help these days. “It’s great for girls to have a Cinderella night with Dad, but families still need a good strong father role model,” she says. The role-model question is tender for her. “I didn’t have that–no offense, Dad,” she says, and then she looks hard at him. “But my siblings do. He really stepped up to the plate. He’s a great dad now. I say that with a tinge of jealousy. I’m not afraid to admit it.”
Her father hopes his kids will learn from his mistakes. “I never planned to have nine children by seven women,” he says. “I believe it’s necessary to instill a set of values, give them tools to make good decisions.” But he won’t be there to help. Juliet explains when he goes back inside the ballroom to catch up to the younger girls: “We’re sort of here on borrowed time,” she says. David Diefenderfer has Stage 4 inoperable lung cancer; they figure tonight is something of a gift. “He won’t be at their wedding,” Juliet says, looking into the glowing room, “but they can look back and remember the dance they had tonight.”
From The Pursuit of Teen Girl Purity, Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine, July 17, 2008.