Tuesday, June 19, 2012

101 Reasons to Be Abstinent

On facebook, I found a reference to a pamphlet entitled "101 reasons to be abstinent" and I managed to track it down and find an online copy of the majority of the pamphlet. It was... interesting to say the least.

I felt like it deserved a thorough response (OK, rant...), so here we go.

60 is a LOT of reasons, though. I didn't even realise. Thank fuck I don't have the full 101 to contend with. So my coverage gets a lot less in-depth as time goes on, since my other option was to break it down into posts with sets of 10, or organise them by category, and I'm not sure if people are actually all that concerned about these things.

01. Won't get HIV from sex
Mitigated with protection; regular testing and early detection can make a big difference; HIV itself is fortunately going the way of diabetes to become a chronic disease that's a pain in the arse, but not a death sentence. Unfortunately, we're not quite there yet.

Added to that, HIV is quite rare compared with other STIs - why single it out, especially having it the first reason listed? It reeks of scaremongering to me.

Not to say that HIV is not a concern and is not a serious disease - it certainly is both of these things. But it's not the #1 on the reasons not to have sex.

02. Less Stress
Sex can be stressful (the main source of stress for me has been ensuring I have adequate supplies of condoms and some worrying about whether I will be accepted or rejected by a potential amour), but I have experienced more stress at university by quite a large factor, and I don't see anyone crying that university is too stressful for our youth and we shouldn't bother studying.

I really wish they'd told us what we're meant to be stressing about. They could have gotten another two or three entries on their list out of it. (Less stressing about birth control! Less stressing about finding a place to have sex! Less stressing about finding time to have sex! and so on...)

Besides, the stress is well worth it.

03. No birth control side effects
The side effect I get from my birth control is no babies and no periods. It's a pretty sweet deal.

Of course, side effects can be a bitch for other people - that's why God gave us the copper IUD and condoms, or, dare I say it, natural family planning. I hear that if done properly you can get pretty good success, but "done properly" usually means "only have sex for one week out of the month". Still, for some that might be a far sight better than being celibate.

Yes, the copper IUD is painful; condoms are unreliable; natural family planning may be playing Russian roulette with your uterus; but the implication that birth control inevitably results in side effects is dishonest.

04. Makes relationship less confusing
I don't even - how does sex make a relationship confusing?

If anything, I'd think sex makes things simpler. Before you have sex, you're worrying about whether you will, how it will go, if it will be any good, if he'll laugh at the way you look naked.

Admittedly, I guess if you're a virgin and your partner is also a virgin it can be a bit confusing at first?

Sometimes during sex there can be confusion/miscommunication about positions to go into?

Really, I'm baffled by this. Anyone have thoughts?

05.  Have time to build a strong friendship.
First of all, I want to say that you can build a strong friendship after you've had sex.

Secondly, nobody's saying you either have to put out on the first date or save yourself for marriage. There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting to know somebody as a friend and partner for several weeks, months or years before you have sex. I built a strong friendship and relationship with Mr Wrong before we slept together, which has only gotten stronger in the intervening 4+ years.

06. Easier to be independent.
I actually feel more independent and empowered ever since I started having more sex with more people - I guess I'm very into and proud of my sexuality and it's something I take seriously. It makes me feel powerful, I don't know?

And what does this even mean? Does having sex somehow stop you from dumping them if you don't want to be around them anymore? Does it make you consider their thoughts and feelings as a human being more than you would have before you had sex?

I guess people often have sex at a time when their relationship gets more serious. This is about the same time you become less independent. Correlation doesn't imply causation.

Is being independent even all that great? I like having Mr Wrong and Mr Oldman to depend on. I like knowing that if I go to work and ask Mr Wrong to mop the floor, he'll do it. I like knowing that if I got sick, they'd come visit me in hospital with flowers and plushies and hugs and kisses.

07. Feel proud of doing what's right for you
I can actually see this - I drink extremely rarely, and I'm pretty proud of that. If I'd decided that abstinence was right for me, I'd be proud of it.

However, I don't like the implication that it's right for everyone - just like I know that not drinking isn't right for everyone and I don't make a big deal of it. But this reason doesn't make me angry.

08. Less obligation
I find it fascinating that up with things about building a strong friendship and showing your love, they talk about sex causing too much obligation.

I would think that one might be obligated to stay with the person they lost their virginity to if they were told sex is some sacred, husband and wife sacrement and thus the first person they did it with should be treasured and looked after.

However, in my mind there's no special obligation you have to someone you've had sex with, just the normal human decency that comes with being in any sort of relationship with them.

09. No worry about pregnancy
Can't really argue about this, only to say: what about teh gay? And what about that birth control? And, goodness me, if that birth control does fail, what about those pesky abortions?

10.  Can practice self-control
There are other ways to practice self-control than not having sex. And you should still practice self-control with regards to sex anyway - I get plenty of opportunities to do so. Situations such as not having condoms on hand, being too sore from too much sex previously, being in the middle of a church picnic, and so on give me plenty of opportunities to successfully practice self control.

11.  Good example for younger brothers and sisters
This is assuming that the other 100 reasons in this list are any good.

We can assume that if abstinence is good, then being abstinent is a good example.

Given the list seems to be operating under the premise that being abstinent is good, then this is basically a tautology.

12. Don't have to think about birth control
Honestly, I think abstinent people should think about birth control anyway. If you were at a party, got drunk, and decided to break your vow of abstinence in the heat of the moment (it happens, and shouldn't be confused with date rape, which also happens)  it would be good to have a condom on hand. It'd also be good if one of your friends went up to you and said that they'd found an attractive person they could seduce, but for the lack of condoms, and you could provide them with one. There's really no reason not to have one on hand.

13. Can explore other ways to show your love.
Did you know that once you have sex with somebody, you are not allowed to explore any other ways to show your love other than progressively kinkier and kinkier sexual acts? It's true.

14. Shows maturity
The dictionary defines "mature" as: "fully developed in body or mind, as a person". Abstinence can show maturity if you arrive at the decision under your own terms and with informed knowledge of the situation. However, choosing to have sex can show maturity under the same conditions.

15. Relationship may last longer
I love how they put the 'may' weasel word in there. I did an extremely cursory google search and was unable to find any sources for either side.

16. No worry that relationship is just based on sex
Relationships can be based on lots of shallow things. I started my relationship with Mr Wrong in part because he lived a 5 minute drive away from me. That is, in my opinion, a worse thing to base your relationship on than sex. Just sayin'.

17. Don't have to explain to parents
Are parents such lumbering baffoons they need sex explained to them? First of all, you don't need to tell them - they'll probably figure it out (mine and Mr Wrong's did). Secondly, there's not much explanation warranted beyond "yes, we are having sex; yes, we are taking precautions". If you have parents who want you to be abstinent, then that's a problem; but it's their problem, provided you take your decision to have sex seriously.

18. More time to spend online
I don't know about the authors of this pamhlet, but I spend maybe 30 minutes a day having sex. I don't know what sort of sex marathons they engage in that it cuts into their internet time, but I want in!

19. Easier to concentrate on career
This seems to be aimed at teenagers (what with references to parents, younger brothers and sisters, etc) - what the hell sort of career does a teenager have? And does sex really interfere with their dream of getting the lowest drive-thru time ever recorded?

20. Won't be a mom or dad before you're ready
I've covered this before. Protection is your friend.

21. Less to worry about
Things you worry about in a relationship:
- do they like me as much as I like them
- did I just say something really stupid
- we're holding hands in public are people watching and feeling uncomfortable oh god
- shit do i have any condoms in my bag?
- oh god, I hate his best friend, is this going to make him dump me
- does this shirt make me look undesireable
- oh god I smell so awful
- my parents are home will we be able to have sex today
- shit will her parents like me
- she's spending a lot of time with her friend max, is that normal?
- is now the right time to go in for a kiss???

And that's just for STARTERS. I think removing the sexy ones really isn't going to add that much peace of mind.

22. A chance to learn about committment
What? How does abstinence deal with committment? Is it about learning to committ to smoeone before you have sex, so you're ready for the greater committment that sex brings? That sounds fine. Abstain for a few weeks or months or years if it makes you comfortable. But it's not a reason to abstain until marriage, which is what their goal is.

23. Get practise in standing up for your decisions
Sex gives you more opportunity to practise standing up for yourself. Once you're actually having sex you really have to think seriously about what you want and don't want, make these decisions, and stand up for them to your partners.

That said, if you need to do some serious standing up for your decisions, your partners probably don't respect you that much.

24. Don't have to get STD checkups
Depends on how abstinent you are. If you go the whole "oral/anal all the time but I'm still a virgin" route, you should definitely be getting checkups. And to be honest, once a year for a simple blood test really isn't that big a deal to have peace of mind.

And you should be getting STD tests even in a long-term, monogamous relationship, since you can never trust anybody 100% . The internet is littered with people who trusted their spouse 100% and was betrayed. It could be you, and that would suck.

25. Can learn more about your partner
I don't know. When I first had sex with Mr Wonderful, I learned the way his penis felt inside me and the best positions to use (for the record: missionary, with my legs over his shoulders! *drool*). I don't know how you can learn THAT particular factoid without having sex with someone.

26. Easier to tell future partner about your past
I have a photo album on facebook with headshots, names, and dates. That makes things super easy.

27. Sticking with it can give you confidence
So can having sex. So can sticking with your decision to wait until the third date for sex.

28. Have time to find the right person
There are definitely people who you're better off not having sex with (e.g. people you're incompatible with, coworkers it gets awkward with afterwards), but if you have sex with one of them it's really not the end of the world. The only true wrong person to have sex with is someone who forces you to, whether physically or emotionally.

29. Fewer visits to health care provider
Can't really argue with that, but it's kind of a duplicate for the "no STD tests" one in a way.

30. Get respect for doing what's right for you
And if sex is what's right for you, you'll get respect for doing that, too. Or you should.

31. Good role model for friends
And for your younger brothers and sisters!

32. Can focus on future goals
Like your career in fast food. Like I said, what sort of sex are these people having that it's taking all this internet and goal-focusing time away from them?

33. You won't get an STD
You still can. Oral herpes from kissing. Genital herpes from oral sex. Heck, you can get HIV from blood to blood contact that's non-sexual in nature.

34. You won't give an STD to anyone
See above. They like recycling their reasons, don't they?

35. Can make sure you love the person
I really want to know how long this pamphlet actually advocates people abstain for. I'm assuming they're "no sex before marriage" types, but if you've been together four years and are engaged then you probably are pretty sure you love each other.

Plus, sex with people you don't love is pretty great but for different reasons. I will say I've had some AMAZING sex where I was thinking about the way the guy made me feel, so it certainly helps.

36. You'll learn to talk about tough subjects
And discussing what you'll do in the case of an accidental pregnancy isn't tough? Telling your partner to squeeze your boobies isn't tough? I think not having sex is easy by comparison. You just need to say, "I don't want to have sex for quite a while", perhaps give an explanation, and your partner should respect that.

37. Easier to make decisions - no worry about someone else
The thought that you should only worry about your boyfriend/girlfriend in making decisions if you're having sex with them is kind of offensive.

38. Surest way to prevent pregnancy
They've said this before in this list.

39. No hurt feelings from one-night stands

You can have one night stands without hurt feelings.

You can have sex without having one night stands.

40. Fewer things to disagree about
Relationships are about trying to avoid disagreements, rather than discussing them and deciding to either work through them or to agree to disagree.

41. No guilt if you have religious beliefs about sex
Turns out the religious institutions' obsessive guilt-tripping is a reason YOU shouldn't have sex.

42. No need to use a condom
I really should do a tally of how many times they've repeated the whole "no need to use birth control or have babies" shtick.

43. Can pay closer attention to your partner's feelings
I like paying attention to my partners' feelings (note where I put my apostrophe!). The look on their face while we're having sex. The noises they make during blowjobs. I mean, seriously, give a blowjob and then tell me that you can do that without paying attention.

44. Lets you find other ways to be together.
Like.... dry humping?

45. Peace of mind
Against what? Those pregnancies and STDs you say we should be so concerned about? Our careers?

46. Sex may mean more if you wait
There's that word again! "may"! 

47. Your parents will be happier

What the hell does this pamphlet know about somebody's parents? My mother was glad I'd had sex. She said to me from about the age of 16 that she would be cool with me getting laid (though not in so many words).

48. Waiting together can bring you closer
Having sex together can bring you closer, too!

49. Easier to stay physically and emotionally healthy
When I was dealing with stress at uni, sex was a pretty great way to deal with it. It's also good exercise. Endorphins. Etc.

50. Sex is important enough to think carefully about
Well, yes. And when you think about something you can decide either yes or no.

51. Have time to learn more about yourself
I've learned lots about myself from having sex. For example: I always thought I'd be super turned on by talking dirty during sex. Turns out, it's nice but it doesn't get me going like I expected it to.

52. Chance to learn the difference between love and sex
imo, the best way to learn this would be to have sex with someone you don't love, not to love someone you don't have sex with.

53. More time to study
Like the 'more time to spend online' thing, I don't know what kind of tantric four day orgies these guys are having, but I want in.

54. Fewer health risks
Health risks are part of life, you're in more danger driving to your sweetie pie's house than you are having protected sex with them.

55. You'll learn how to make careful choices about important things
And guess what, that choice could be to HAVE sex

56. Save money not buying birth control
Ever the frugal one I see. It doesn't have to be expensive though. Condoms are about 20c-$1 each. That's pretty good value compared with dinner and a movie.

57. Chance to learn how to be a good friend
You can learn to be a good friend after having sex. You can learn to be a good friend by, you know, being a good friend to your friends.

58. More time for family
They really think sex is some huge time waster. With or without sex I tend to spend the same amount of time with my partners.

59. Better control over your life
Because letting a pamphlet tell you what to do is better than doing what YOU want?

60. Won't resent doing something you don't want to.
And what makes you think that people don't want to have sex? Is it because you're TELLING them not to?


But seriously guys - in my admittedly over-sexed mind, there's really only one reason to be abstinent:

1. Because you want to

And that's enough.


  1. All very good points.

    18. More time to spend online
    I don't know about the authors of this pamhlet, but I spend maybe 30 minutes a day having sex. I don't know what sort of sex marathons they engage in that it cuts into their internet time, but I want in! That made me lol

    Also: 26. Easier to tell future partner about your past
    It's pretty easy to say "I've had sex in the past". And even non-sexual relationships can be complicated.

    47. Your parents will be happier: I don't know this for sure, but my mum was upset I'd "Settled down" so young. Either way, parents should respect the decisions of their adult children. (Assuming they are doing legal things, etc)

  2. Also, I recently came across this picture: http://verydemotivational.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/demotivational-posters-parenting.jpg

    It made me really really angry. They really aren't doing parenting right. Grounding children for wanting using protection is really dumb. If the child is mature enough to be using it, then they are probably mature enough to be having sex (Note: probably, clearly I don't have enough information about this case). That's their call. Obviously the age of the child is not specified (If they're like 12, then it's a different story, but let's assume they're closer to 16). If they've become sexually active then being grounded won't stop them, it will just slow them down. Maybe next time they won't use a condom just in case they get caught again. Instead of sending a witty text message, that mother should have sat down their child, had an adult conversation with them about sex. Even if they think they're too young, if they're having sex like an adult, they should be able to talk about it like one. The fact they've got a condom is great, and should be encouraged!

  3. You forgot the other good reason: 'because there's nobody willing to have sex with you.'

    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that abstinence is *probably* better than rape.

  4. My younger sisters and brother screw around more than I do.

    That anon post above mine looks like it was written by me.

  5. I made the decision to live in abstainance and always believed that one day I would be glad that I did. It didn't happen, l live with regret and dissapointment now. I waited too long, now it's too late I'm 58 years old
    I'm sure you mean well, but trying to influence our young people to refuse this natural gift of sex when you obviously have not done yourself is just wrong.