Dear Brad Seng, My Vagina is Nothing Like a Cup of Backwash.

Via on Apr 19, 2012

Apparently, abstinence-only educator Brad Seng has been using a unique analogy to illustrate the evils of premarital sex.

Seng has been presenting his program at Boulder Valley schools this month. He begins with a “water glass” experiment in which the students chew a mouth-full of food, spit it into a cup of water and then are asked whether they would like to drink a glass of water with their neighbor’s bits of chewed up food, or a clean glass of water. It is then explained that having sex with a non-virgin is like choosing to drink the dirty glass of water.

Understandably, parents are unhappy about this.

Seng denies that this is meant to portray sex as dirty in any way, or that it specifically targets young women. Good back pedaling, Brad, but personally, I don’t buy it. So let me just say this to you, Brad, and to any young men and women who might have heard your message:

There is no correlation whatsoever between my vagina and a dirty glass full of chewed up food and water.

I have had sex with more than one man.

I have had sex with more than five men.

I have had sex with…well…it’s actually none of your business how many men I’ve had sex with, but no matter what a woman’s number is, she’s not a cup of chewed up leftovers.

If you don’t want people to think this is targeting young women, perhaps you should choose something other than a cup to illustrate your point. How about poking around in the dirt with hot dogs and asking the teens whether they want a dirty one or a clean one?

Maybe if you stopped this bullshit about premarital sex making you “dirty,” teens would feel less afraid and ashamed to buy themselves condoms and we’d have fewer teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Maybe if we truly educated teens about their sexuality instead of wasting time on misinformation designed to shame them, they’d be able to talk to each other and make healthy decisions instead of just awkward fumblings in the backs of cars.

Sex isn’t dirty, virginity isn’t a prize and teaching children and teenagers that it is is irresponsible.

In fact, all the time and energy abstinence-only groups spend on pushing kids to stay virgins often results in riskier behaviors like unprotected anal sex so that they can stay “virgins.”

So Brad, in case you are still confused, it isn’t called a “hoo-hoo,” or a “flower,” or “down there” or any number of words that I both love and hate depending on who’s using them and how, it’s a vagina.

It’s nothing like a cup of chewed up food and water.

In fact, it’s pretty f*cking awesome.

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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94 Responses to “Dear Brad Seng, My Vagina is Nothing Like a Cup of Backwash.”

  1. gaylynn says:

    I dated my husband for 6 years we were still virgins when we were married. I dated lots before him. I personally think virginity is a prize. I love knowing that my husband is my one and only. I also love that I am his only one also. We have a wonderful bond. I love what we have. I only pray that my children son and daughters feel the same. I believe sex is a wonderful to share between a husband and wife. What a wonderful gift to share together for the first time. I also think that sex education is important. I also feel that parents should be more a part of this education.

  2. myriamsofialluria says:

    Intimacy is a beautiful physical expression of love, married or not. I don't know what sex is to you.

  3. j madison says:

    Your opinions are valid, and you're welcome to them, but I disagree. I think that virginity is a prize, and it is something that a women should be very proud of. I personally would not marry a girl who was not a virgin. I am handsome, well educated, have a job that I both love and pays me very well, come from a great family, have good manners and respect for all people, and I desire a large and loving family. If marring a guy like me is a priority for a women then perhaps they should consider the fact that their actions, fair or not, have consequences.

    I have also seen too many girls who try to use sex as a way to lure the guy of their dreams to them. It will work for a night, a week, maybe even a few months, but soon another girl will offer the same thing and the guy will jump ship. On the other hand, relationships that wait six months, a year, or like the above poster six years and marriage, almost always last.

    • Dani Harrison says:

      Your opinion and preferences are uniquely your own and valid in their own right. I would like to draw attention back to the article, which main point was that abstinence only sex education and specifically a course that posits a woman that has had sex is now a dirty glass of chewed bits is pretty disturbing.

      That's fine that you wish to marry a woman who is a virgin. We all have our sexual and relationship preferences and we are entitled to them. However, women marrying virgin men and men marrying virgin women is not exactly the trend I have observed in our society.

      Perhaps virginity is a prize, perhaps not, it really depends upon personal opinion and preference, doesn't it? And do any of us really enjoy someone pressing their personal opinion and preference upon us? Why should this man be able to teach children to value his own type of sexual preference (virginity)? Should he not perhaps present all sides and choices one may make regarding their sexual lives and health, give all known positives and negatives, offer alternative choices to various concerns, and all around give a thorough and well thought out lesson?

      • Thanks Dani! Love it!

        I don't have a problem with encouraging mindful choices—one of which would definitely be waiting until one is emotionally ready for sex and all the possible consequences. What I mind are the tactics being used here.

    • Muks says:

      j, you have an interesting way of defining your worth. Don't you think you can be loved for who you are, no matter what you do?

      let me ask you another question. Are you a virgin?

    • Siri says:

      So….The first thing you ask every girl you date is if she's a virgin right? Talk about creepy. I don't see you landing the big fish any time soon, because if you found a wonderful woman, perfect for you in every single way fathomable and at some point you found out she wasn't "squeaky clean" you would jump ship by your own admission.

      • Yogateacher says:

        Yeah, super creepy. This is just one more reason I like chics. We never have these kinds of conversations because we are allowed to be multidimensional human beings not judged by bs patriarchal standards. I suppose that may also be possible if you get yourself a groovy guy who isn't stuck in the last century.

    • Heather says:

      Are YOU a virgin? If not – your prize theory is RIGHT out the window

  4. yogasamurai says:

    To Kate and Myriam, especially —

    Aha, but intimacy and sex aren't the same thing, are they? A lot of people reach for sex for the wrong reasons. And not just kids, either.

    There's a helluva lot more to this issue than just figuring out whether to throw sermons or condoms at it.

    Kids, especially need "tough" love, and that often means, and should mean, FEWER choices, until they can understand and accept the consequences of what they are doing.

    A lot of this politicking on either side, though, is people trying to get the government to do what parents can't or wont – or will, but not well.

    We do need to listen to and trust our deeper-most selves, to maintain stronger boundaries, to resist undue peer pressure, and to truly cherish our bodies as the sacred vessels they can be.

    Otherwise, we'll be having more loveless sex and more unwanted babies than any of us want – or that society really needs.

    Does that necessarily mean abstinence? Not for everybody, obviously, but there does seem to be a powerful principle in life that applies here also: "less is more."

    • I think the biggest issue is not what is being taught, but how. Abstinence is part of our sexuality, and it would be much healthier to educate teens about why they might choose not to have sex—at various times in life—as part of a larger discussion. Telling them that they are dirty if they choose to have sex, not helpful. And it seems that it is also unhelpful in meeting the abstinence-only groups goals as well.

      Teens that take an abstinence pledge are reporting higher incidences of risky sexual behavior, disease and unwanted pregnancy than their peers who have not made that type of pledge (one link is in the article, but I've seen others).

      When the only education is a "do it or you're bad" approach, hormones are going to win out much of the time and they will be too embarrassed or convinced that they won't make that choice to have protection available. There needs to be education on sexuality for teens that is somewhere in between "Just say no," and "Here's a condom."

      • yogasamurai says:

        It depends. There is a very large and burgeoning "Chastity" movement that you are completely ignoring here. It's not for everybody, but it's certainly refreshing. Mylie Cyrus and the Jonas Bothers showing off their "Purity Rings" doesn't appeal to the liberal media, much less to feminists, but they are powerful role models and have millions of followers. On balance, they are probably doing a lot more for youngsters these days than Madonna – who, in retrospect, might have benefited from a little more "Papa Preaching" – the mentally ill Britney Spears, or Lindsey Ho-han, who's been "giving it up" for another shot of coke since she was 13 – and on a bad day, looks 40.

        • oz_ says:

          Not only is Kate not 'completely ignoring' this movement, she in fact included a link in her article that specifically notes research showing that members of these movements are in fact at higher risk – to quote:

          "Although teenagers who take "virginity pledges" begin engaging in vaginal intercourse later than teens who have not committed to remain abstinent until marriage, they also are more likely to engage in oral or anal sex than nonpledging virgin teens and less likely to use condoms once they become sexually active"

          So it could be argued – based on research – that what these 'powerful role models' are doing for kids is to encourage higher risk behavior.

          Life just isn't this simple….

          • yogasamurai says:

            It's just the one study that she chose to cite. There are other major studies, including the RAND study, that suggest otherwise. Here it is —
            http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-06-10-vi

            As you may know – or perhaps not – there is a lot of "special pleading" in academic or think-tank research that is designed in advance to validate one point of view or another. People often cherry pick a study or studies whose findings they agree with.

            It's also true, by the way, in the yoga world, as William Broad does a good job of exposing in his new book, The Science of Yoga. Which is why we need better science – but we don't often get it.

            I was simply trying to suggest that there are a lot of people out there – and the number's still growing – who support what the first commenter on Kate's article suggested – that abstinence really worked for her, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise.

            You know both could be true? It really works for some people and it really doesn't for others? Welcome to Blue state/Red State America, where one size – in policy prescriptions as well as Trojans – surely does NOT fit all.

          • Exactly, Oz. I think there's a big gap here in the information teens are given. "Just say no" isn't enough. "Here's a condom, go for it" isn't helpful either. I think when the motivation for the choice to wait is an external fear of disappointing adults (or not meeting a religious expectation) it's not likely to be successful long term.

            Someone who has made the choice to wait because she's been introspective, considered possible outcomes and doesn't feel ready—awesome. But we need to find a way to help educate that isn't based on fear and shame.

          • oz_ says:

            Yogasamurai, I could be wrong, but you seem to be closing in on Kate's position, which has consistently been that teens are best served if we provide a more comprehensive education in this area than simply 'just say no' – you note, quite correctly, IMO, that "one size …surely does NOT fit all" – i.e. different approaches are likely to work for different individuals. Which is, if I am correct, Kate's argument.

            Worth noting that not only UN guidelines, but also international law, mandate that all human beings have a basic right to accurate health information and that to withhold such info is a violation of basic human rights.E.g.: Committee on the Rights of the Child. General Comment No. 3 (2003a) HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child, 32nd Sess. (2003), para. 13. 2003, also: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted December 16, 1966, entered into force March 23, 1976, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. No. 16 at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), article 19. 1966.

            Which begs the question: could a child denied access to info about birth control sue their school for violation of human rights? Interesting…

        • integralhack says:

          If Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Bros. are virgins then so am I. Well, okay, maybe the Jonas Bros. are virgins . . . except for Joe, he's obviously very naughty.

          Kate suggests that abstinence is fine–it just isn't for everybody and more importantly it isn't *compelling* for everyone. You have to offer alternative suggestions to kids in the wake of serious STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

          Kate is criticizing the statements of extremist Mr. Seng, not abstinence in general.

          BTW, I think Lindsey Lohan benefits all by serving as a warning to others. It's certainly been a while since I've pulled a "Lohan!"

          • Exactly. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that abstinence in high school is a great choice, but basic human psychology will support that choices made out of fear of punishment aren't all that sustainable. And if they are sustained…how will that affect the person's attitudes towards sex longterm? If someone is in that mindset of sex as dirty/naughty/bad, how does that magically switch off when they are married or a certain age?

            If it's made out of motivation of self respect or mindfully considering the possible outcomes, I'm all for it.

    • myriamsofialluria says:

      The word sex carries a negative connotation, for me. I have daughters, and have advised them to wait for love (to not have sex). To honor themselves and to treat intimacy as something sacred being two people that love and care for one another.
      I don't believe intimacy and sex are the same.

  5. suri_k says:

    Sex , bonding , finding a partner , they are all part of our human nature ….marriage is a cultural thing , a contract ….Also the virginity issue has a lot to do with a macho mentality found in traditional cultrures and religious environments and really has no place in this day and age…loosing your virginity is like your first kiss , sooner or later it happens …Women own their body and ..they can do with it watever they want . …The more educated kids are about sex the less likely it is they will get a std or an unwanted pregnancy… The dirty glass analogy doesnt apply literaly if your partner wears a condom right?
    ;-D … and what about divorced women , are they dirty if they find a new partner or partners???

    • I laughed out loud at the dirty glass with condom comment. Maybe Seng should offer them a glass of water with plastic wrap over the top—ha! I agree completely, more education and better education will help kids make better choices.

      • yogasamurai says:

        You picked a straw man Kate. He's very easy to make fun of, but like the Christian dude who beat up Sardini, not very representative of his own philosophy. It's pretty easy to win such a contrived showdown? "Chastity Bob" versus "Chlamydia Jane" shooting it out at the "Not-Okay Corral."

        This issue of sexual activity should be a real challenge for spiritual-minded yogis and yoginis who prattle on endlessly about how sacred and Divine the body is — unlike their secular liberal feminist sisters — but who, in practice, are just as likely to drop the ball – and their panties – when it comes to sexual "freedom" – including, apparently, their God-given right to be "healed" by their favorite gurus.

        If women have this "absolute right" to control their bodies – no such "right" for anyone exists, actually – then men obviously do too? So please please please don't complain when we fuck everything that moves, including our students or anyone else we want, as long as they are consenting? Which means back off John Friend, and anyone else like him, because otherwise, you're total hypocrites?

        Now, if you want to talk about moral or ethical constraints on sexual behavior, then we need to bring both genders to the table.

        It's not so easy to be a mainstream feminist AND a yogi – not if you really believe in the life of the Spirit and its incarnation in the body – which frankly, for most yogis, doesn't seem to be a serious commitment, their rhetoric notwithstanding. Cherishing the body has become showing off their "wares" in their favorite "postures" – physical and moral – in front of their yoga class, in fashion photography, or on their favorite social media soapbox.

        My advice to yogis for some time has been: just drop your spiritual arguments around yoga because you don't have the spiritual formation or the personal discipline and moral clarity in your own life to sustain them? Just stick to yoga as health and beauty and "wellness"? And leave the the spiritual dimension to others, priests, rabbis, or trained lay ministers of some kind who specialize in pastoral care?

        • Hmm, well I think you added a lot to my argument that I didn't include. I think the chastity movement (when it's a thoughtful choice rather than portrayed as the only option) is wonderful. I think it's great for teens to wait until they are ready—emotionally ready in addition to just being physically ready. But I'd rather see them informed and empowered (both genders) to make that choice rather than told "do it this way or you are dirty." That's not a healthy attitude for men or women to have.

          I think you've moved on to a different discussion altogether…but not a bad one to have!

          • yogasamurai says:

            Yes, indeed, you're right. I would love to set out a debate. I may even try – but it would be far more powerful coming from some powerful women I know. And the debate would be this.

            "Yoga's Not a Feminist Movement. It's a People's Movement."

            We would proceed to discuss how celebrating the Shakti "female" energy can't be separated from celebrating the Shiva "male" energy. The dance of life isn't performed alone. The yoking of opposites means fully integrating the two genders into the theology and daily practice of yoga. What then are the consequences of building such a gyno-centric Women's yoga movement?

            What have we gained – and what have we lost – by developing yoga beyond its old male-dominated priesthood? And how can we achieve a stronger, more integrated holism – and return, perhaps, to an earlier "Holy-ism"?

            Should we even try? Here's my provocative conclusion: It can't be done without the men and women sharing in the leadership at all levels, especially the teacher corps.

            Isn't it funny – though disturbing – that a movement that preaches "balance" – whose very name suggests balance – is so completely OUT of balance, gender-wise?

            Oh yes, I know many women who think they are perfectly capable of balancing themselves, thank you very much, because as one told me, "We don't hold up HALF the sky, we ARE the sky."

            Heady talk – much like the way men used to talk. Too bad for women it just ain't so. But the good news, we're here to help! :o)))

        • suri_k says:

          your argument is a little bit on the extreme ..the fact that women have the right to control their bodies doesnt automatically make them sluts …women have the exact same right to enjoy their sexuality as men , now how one decides to exercise that right …well , its personal and no one elses bussiness ….

          Are you suggesting that those who are not well behaved sexually should drop their spiritual arguments? Morality can thrive outside the religious-spiritual domain ….morality is based on altruism and reciprocity and they are both intrinsical qualities of humans …also a morality based on reason and compassion is posible without belief in religious or spiritual concepts . …

          Ignoring human nature is a big mistake …

  6. yogasamurai says:

    I have a couple of reactions, but would be interested in what others think actually.

    First, it's a most interesting issue you've raised I think – the relationship between spirituality and morality?

    Some would say that spirituality comes from the Divine and knows no boundaries, while morality, by contrast, emanates from society. The former is deemed to be formless, and inherently radical, perhaps — the latter, almost conformist by nature.

    In the traditional view, it is RELIGION that joins the two together. That is, our faith is also deemed to offer some moral principles and guidelines – the 10 Commandments, or the Yamas and Niyamas.

    It makes sense, or it used to, at least, because spiritual practitioners need community and can't be constantly warring with each other over sex, status and security, and killing each other off because each has such a different point of view about the moral implications, or lack thereof, of their common faith?

    It's one thing, though, to say the spirituality and morality aren't the SAME – as you suggest – but another to say that they have NO relationship to each other at all? Which you also imply.

    The real question, in fact, seems to be how exactly do they relate to each other in a way that makes sense for individuals and for the communities they may comprise?

    If they are not related, then all critical talk of someone's sexual behavior – for example the Friend scandal – is out of bounds. It's no one else's business, as he and others say.

    For others, the Anusara community, explicitly or not, was inherently bound by moral as well as spiritual principles, and apparently he transgressed these; therefore, he is to be judged and shunned.

    As for the nature issue, I think it's interesting that you pose it that way: nature versus spirituality. That's your construction, as if one has longings or desires and may deal with them within the bounds of one's own moral system – quite apart from one's spiritual beliefs.

    Again, it probably comes down to whether you think your spirituality is amoral or not, at least on some questions? I do think it's hilarious that many people think yoga does have a morality that means fight Wall Street or stop war, but not: don't bonk my neighbor's wife, or have sex with the bad ass guru at the Yoga Journal conference.

    Why, because it's my body dammit.

    But of course it's always easier to be against larger issues that don't really impinge on you directly. Just bracket those as inherently moral AND spiritual, but leave the sex to personal taste?

    How very convenient – but let's face it, today's yoga is very much about what's convenient, and above all fun and pleasurable. It's not like the yoga studios are set up to produce spiritual warriors, and very few women especially have much stomach for it?

    There's a tension here, but the sacrifice of one's sensual desires not through repression but through sublimation is entirely possible, and desirable most of the time, especially as you get older and wiser (stick around)?

    It's also easier than you think to achieve if you're truly committed to it — and if you're supported by strong communities with that commitment. And yoga historically has indeed extolled sublimation, seeing erotic energy as serving the highest creative and social purposes – as well as the highest personal ones – not just leading to release through actual sexual intercourse.

    But sublimation – and "advanced" spiritual yoga practice, generally – isn't for Hedonists, that's for sure.

    • suri_k says:

      Well, morality definitely doesn't emanate from society the latest studies in evolutionary biology have shown that empathy , reciprocity and altruism which are defined as moral behaviors are intrinsic in human beings, ,they represented an advantage in our evolution. They existed long before the 10 commandments and the Yamas and Niyamas…

      Culture and religion have taken this further in the form of strict moral codes …. But that doesn't mean you will always find morality where there is religion or spirituality , examples , the witch hunts , crusades , inquisitions , pederast priests , Taliban terrorists , religious fundamentalists , slutty yogis and yoginnis and your favorite john friend .

      I do think there is morality without spirituality , morality doesn't have a supernatural origin like I briefly explained above … Unless you believe so , I personally don't believe there is an entity called spirt or soul , i am not a believer .

      About someone else's sexual behavior , it is no one else's business until it is , meaning you can do whatever you want but if you harm others then you are in trouble , if you break the rules , you will pay .. By going to jail if you break the law or by being judged, ridiculed and shunned if you act immorally …. In the end morality is not only about being a good person , it is also about behaving in ways that make it easier for everyone to get along nicely regardless of your religion or ideology.

      Finally , i totally get where you are coming from , the extreme sexualization of our culture is disgusting and annoying …i mean sex is a natural thing but so is taking a dump and you don't see people taking a dump in posters , tv shows , bars ,magazines …the extreme preoccupation of our modern culture and of people with sex is weird and i have no idea why or where is it coming from…

      • yogasamurai says:

        from your reply —

        "the extreme sexualization of our culture is disgusting and annoying …i mean sex is a natural thing but so is taking a dump and you don't see people taking a dump in posters , tv shows , bars ,magazines …the extreme preoccupation of our modern culture and of people with sex is weird and i have no idea why or where is it coming from.."

        You're very funny! It could be an extra-terrestrial invasion designed to to destroy our culture from within? Most yoginis seem to think it represents the height of feminine self-expression.

        Maybe we could start a new website, Yoga Scat – that would certainly be a new form of bodily display. What about Yoga Watersports?

        THE FOUNTAIN POSE! (Remember: "It's ALLLLLLLL yoga").

  7. Heather Dawn heather says:

    GREAT article Kate! AMEN.

  8. Sue says:

    Was with you up until the anal sex is riskier statement, can you clarify what you mean by this please, anal sex is a valid sexual option for many.

    • Muks says:

      Unprotected anal sex is riskier than protected vaginal sex. In the case of young people it irritates me, because the girl is staying virgin and the boys not, or did I get this wrong? Personally I find that anal sex is not the most suitable and pleasurable introduction into sex and intimacy for me. I rather wait a few more years. But this is just my personal preference ;)

    • Sue, the key word in my comment about it being riskier was "unprotected."

    • Yoyoyogi says:

      Anal sex is riskier not for any so-called "moral" reason but simply because the tissue of the anus is not as self- lubricating or stretchy as a vagina, and is therefore more vulnerable to injury including the kind of micro- tears that can give HIV an easier way to enter the body. Anal IS a fine choice – just lube up first & take your time (condoms are great too)!

  9. ashley says:

    Love the hot dog analogy!

  10. KristinSLuce says:

    Virginity is a prize? I am stunned that people still believe this (of course, that usually only goes for women). Wowza. I am open to people choosing to stay virginal until marriage or forever, no problem here. But, a "prize"? Yikes. Thanks for exposing an archaic and offensive bit of "education." I would say that the opposite is true; the more real intimacy and connection one has, the more profound one's life and the ability to connect deeply. When women are seen as prizes like new, shiny objects then perhaps virginity is indeed valued. When depth, equality and intimacy are wanted, then genuine experience with love is honored, as it is in all other areas of life.

    • I agree Kristen, it's is upsetting.

      "When depth, equality and intimacy are wanted, then genuine experience with love is honored, as it is in all other areas of life." ~ and that is what I hope to convey to my children about it.

  11. j madison says:

    I can see how a "prize" could be offensive, virginity is not something for guys to try to collect on a Saturday night. Perhaps a better term would be that it is the ultimate gift. You have it only to give away once. I believe that a women who truly loves the man that she is going to be with for her entire life will wait to give it to him.

    Of course most people most people reading this will be insulted (not my intent). They will think I'm some sort of religious nut (I'm not religious at all). They'll demand to know if I'm a virgin (no I'm not, I understand that is hypocritical but life has double standards). They'll want to know if I ever date (all the time, and I think you'd be shocked how many amazing women are still virgins till marriage).

    The fact is I was raised in a Leave It To Beaver type home. My father made money, my mother raised a large family. Neither was more important than the other. She taught us manners, made sure we learned and did our homework, fed us healthy food. People can laugh and call this a 1950s family if they like, but the fact is my parents just had their 40th anniversary when more than 50% of marriages fail. None of my siblings are on drugs or in jail, many have families of there own. It's a system that seems to work. You're free to live your live however you like, but I think laughing at or dismissing a the traditional family system is quite foolish.

    • Sarah says:

      The biggest problem with your argument that the "leave it to Beaver" type of family works, is that it doesn't always. The reality is that there is very little job security out there. Let say you are a one income family like you described and the bread winner, loses his(or her) job, gets injured, or dies…what then? What if you are a "good girl" who saves herself for mr right and then you can't have kids together?
      Years ago women put up with husbands that had affairs, were alcoholics or were abusive because they had much fewer options then they do today. Years ago men often missed out on the joys of parenting because they were away so often. The biggest problem with this senario as far as I can see is that it is really easy to lose touch with your partner when the two of you have such different lives.
      Of course there are problems with double income families (who is doing the cooking, cleaning and parenting?). In my opinion…the ideal situation is when both parents work, not entirely full time. ie maybe one parent workes 4 days a week and the other 2 days. That way both get to spend time with thier kids, both get the satisfaction of working out side the house, and both get to have a bit of time for themselves/each other.
      Of course, it doesn't matter if they were both virgins or not to begin with.

  12. Cyn Bermudez says:

    Mr. Seng perpetuates a construct of a male dominated society, i.e. female virginity is a prize/gift. That is what offends me. Thanks Kate for a great post.

  13. Yogateacher says:

    I spy a troll.

  14. Yogateacher says:

    Your family structure, if it's real and you are not just saying that to enlame the conversation, is a dehumanizing construct built to keep a sister down. Keep wishing it could still be like that and you too can be an irrelevant relic. And p.s …the party doesn't even begin to get started until you're 40. And yes, your views are super creepy. And no, lesbians don't want you.

    The fun part is that no matter what offensive analogies creepy dudes come up with to shame us and our vajayjays, we still have all of them and can do what we want….ahhhh yeah!!! That just really pisses them off. Sweet.

    • Yogateacher says:

      **enflame the conversation that is…though I kind of like "enlame". Ha! I just made that up.

    • j madison says:

      You seem very angry. Of course my family is real, as is everything that I have said. I'm sorry that you don't like it, enjoy your party.

  15. muks says:

    Thanks for your answers. With the 200 people society I mean some thought experiment like this: An equal number of girls and boys grow up in one place, no-one leaves, no-one new mingles with them. The boys sleep with girls and later want to marry only virgins. What now?

    Personally I am drawn to this article because I consider myself some kind of feminist and because I find other cultures interesting. I am European btw.

    I am a bit irritated by the nice-guy-good-girl language you use. I used to be a girl with glasses, braces and no money for clothes. I grew up in a rather problematic family with divorce due to sickness which tore the family apart after many years. I could certainly not date who I wanted, but it changed gradually in my 20s. I never considered myself a price (see the passivity in the expression?) and don't want to be with guys who say they can date any girl they want. I am still with my first relationship, which developed after a long friendship, and want to marry this man. Thanks Yoga I am changing my thinking, letting go of "I am so good because…" and "He is so good because…". I love him, no matter what.

    Btw, I wonder if there are any statistics saying how virginity at the point of marriage and faithfulness relate. I can certainly imagine the way of thinking you describe, but I have seen people settling after wild years and people getting curious after a long relationship. You know what, I almost have the feeling that someone who values himself too much (like puts himself into a position higher than others, expects a lot from other and himself, has many entitlements), may not be happy in the long-term with a human being, seeing all the imperfections and the cracks in the picture. Regardless your values, I would be scared to date someone like you. That is my gut feeling. Wish you all the best :)

  16. Karen says:

    Well then I guess my fiance is getting the booby prize…and lucky for me he loves me," flawed" and all. <3 And I am far from a lucky exception, considering I don't know very many of my friends who were virgins on their wedding nights and Lo and Behold, they are STILL married and happy. Imagine that.

  17. I don't think of you as archaic or evil. I'm surprised to hear that when you place such importance on your spouse being a virgin, that you are sexually active. Just because society has double standards doesn't mean we have to adapt our standards to meet them. Good luck with your search!

    • Julian Walker yogijulian says:

      the hoopla about virginity is absolute nonsense. a hangover from a puritanical religious past – totally oppressive to women and rooted in the hypocritical double standard of men who want the joys of sex while labeling a woman who wants the same and has enjoyed the same to be tainted, used up or gross – bullshit!

      i forget the comedian who said this but commenting on the islamic jihadi fantasy of 72 virgins in paradise in return for blowing up infidels and oneself, he said: now 2 or 3 or even 10 virgins maybe that would be interesting, but after a while wouldn't you want a woman who knew what she was doing?! :)

      • Love that. The first time we do most anything is awkward at best, so I understand people wanting to wait for someone they care about…but the whole prize, true love waits, ad nauseum…yeah, time to move on from that mentality.

  18. My parents have been happily married for 40 years too. They weren't virgins when they got married. There is a wide range of what makes a family healthy and happy. Virginity of either partner is no guarantee of that.

    • muks says:

      My parents were virgins. It did not help ;)

      Kate, I think, j is creating his own ghosts. He is afraid of exactly those things he does to others. What goes around comes around….

  19. Kirsten says:

    As someone with many a man in my past, I do wish that there had been more talk about the sacredness of virginity. Not that I am ashamed of my past, but now as a woman married and with a child, I feel that I wish I WOULD HAVE WAITED. Unfortunately, I chose to give myself to other men and then feel that what I gave to my husband was something less special and more importantly, what I decided to give away, robbed me of the experience of having only my husband as my lover. It's not that virginity is a prize for someone else, but it is a special and sacred thing to a women when she chooses to be married – it's special and sacred to her.

    • Now see the big difference to me in what you are saying is that it is special and sacred "to her." If you value something, and it's sacred to you, that is a world of difference from feeling life you will somehow be dirty or unlovable if you choose to do things differently.

      Don't spend too much time on regret! Especially if you are with someone you love now.

  20. caroline says:

    i think I just barfed all over myself. Virginity is not a prize/gift. Every female has the right to , experience, experiment, and enjoy her own body, how ever she sees fit. i think there must be something wrong with anyone who would not love someone because they have had sex with another person before them., and has some "short comings", and inadequacy issues. I did marry the only man I'v had sex with and have been married for 17 years because it was the way worked out not because its a gift or prize.

  21. Rajeev Rawat says:

    These private values are justifiably highly controversial. The sanctity and purity of a single man and woman committed to each other are important to some and worthless to others. Intimacy with many makes women in some eyes, sluts that are incapable of self discipline and loyalty. Virginity on the other hand, unjustly deprives women of living a full life. While God-destiny-fate or chance may set the course, there are consequences of each. This a serious and complex debate which will not be settled any time soon. So let the spirited debate fling color and joyful insults.

  22. Reed says:

    Nice article. But why on earth was that image of the headless vagina added to it? It completely discredits the article imo.

    • Hi Reed, I used the picture to underscore the ridiculousness of exactly what Seng is talking about. Our value should never be reduced to our sexuality or our body parts.

  23. Kathy says:

    I can't help but wonder why the emphasis on virginity as such an important gift is so prevalent. We give those we love the gift of ourselves and cherish the gifts they give us in return every day. It seems like making the daily sharing of all ones gifts is more important and enduring and truthful than something you "sacrifice" just once in your life. Maybe that's just me, but after 22 years of marriage I find that the connection gets deeper with the intention to truly give of our heart and soul every day. For me, that's where the depth and truth of a relationship happens regardless of whether or not we have shared our bodies in the past or not.

  24. yogimamma says:

    and you feel very good about following them, I suppose. Just because there are double standards in the world doesn't mean you have to accept them otherwise we would still be living in the dark ages.

  25. Robin says:

    Personally, I was raised with the belief that sex is a big (but not quite ultimate) expression of love between two consenting parties. I was lucky and never denied a truthful answer to a question about sex that I felt compelled to ask. I did feel there was a specialness about my virginity because, or perhaps despite, the fact that I am a sexual abuse survivor and the daughter of one as well. Mom, tried to eliminate the perception of shame about sexuality as much as she could because we were already victimized enough! I was able to find some comfort and personal power in the fact that I was still a virgin; although, through no fault of her own, my mother was not at my age. Still, I wish I hadn't placed that much value on this state of virginity.

  26. Robin says:

    When I was 15 and very mature for my age, I fell in love deeply with a young man that wasn't as virtuous as I naively believed him to be. After dating him for almost a year, I decided that I would give him that gift because I loved him that much. During the event, I expressed my love and devotion and received a devastating reply, "hunh? yeah, me too". I was devastated in that moment understanding that not only did he not reciprocate the depth of my commitment, but that I was now worthless. I felt that I had nothing left to give to someone more worthy someday. I was suicidal through most of my teen years because I felt powerless and objectified.

  27. Robin says:

    I share this because what about the people who didn't have a choice, like my mother, in these commentaries about self-worth? Or what about accounting for a misjudgment in character? It took me years to realize that this one misjudgment didn't define my worth as a partner to someone.

    For a young woman, the concept of virginity is hard enough to understand. We were told it's "proven" by whether the hymen is still intact. Yet, we were told in our "going through changes" class with the school nurse that it could be broken by even athletic activity. No, they told us, virginity is really just not having had been penetrated in that case. What about speculums, tampons, and a doctor's fingers? There are all these exceptions and vagueness around something supposedly so important! In my late twenties I read a view that virginity was meant more as "complete unto herself". Meaning that when taken by force or circumstance without consent or understanding, one could still be a virgin. That was very consoling to me.

  28. Robin says:

    It seems to me that so much about sexuality in our society has nothing to do with biology or spirituality and everything to do with power and control over others. I believe it is downright cruel and inhumane to assign any shred of judgment based on something so uncertain and subjective. I truly see no positive outcome in the perpetuating of this kind of societal emphasis on "virginity" at all. I agree with Kate that presentation of the facts of healthy choices and full disclosure of information without bias is the safest, inclusive, and most responsible option for public education.

  29. Robin says:

    Thank you for reading, Kate! I'm sorry for spamming the thread.. I'm new to commenting and it wouldn't let me post it all at once. I'm a regular reader of your blog. I really enjoy your topics and your perspectives on them. Obviously, this one got me a tad riled! Lol!
    Blessings!

  30. Colin S says:

    If j madison walks like a troll and talks like a troll, then he's a troll. Don't feed the troll. Let the adults in the room have an intelligent discussion and please ignore him.

    Thank you for the article. The chewed up food in water analogy is a pretty lame one in any case, since even if spouses were virgins before they married, they'd be a glasses of chewed up food and water once they had sex with each other. The analogy might be slightly amusing if it were creative or interesting, but it's just dumb beyond belief. So Seng is just another troll, but unfortunately he's a troll in a position to warp kids' minds about sex and judgement, so we can't ignore him.

    • Agreed. I mentioned to another writer who was struggling with negative comments that it's sort of like a duck pond. If you keep feeding them, they keep sh*tting all over the place. I love mindful debate and j madison has managed to be respectful in his commenting—even if I can't quite wrap my head around his point of view.

      • Colin S says:

        It's his hypocrisy, refusing to consider a non-virgin as a partner even though he is not a virgin, that I find pretty annoying. He seems happy to "spoil" other women for marriage, at least to him and most of his friends, who he says feel the same way he does. And yet if these women do have sex with him, presumably because they find him attractive in some way, then that automatically rules them out as potential partners. So he has, in effect, used them for sex.

        He says he's seen women who use sex to lure men into a relationship, so basically using sex as a tool. But by his logic, "I personally would not marry a girl who was not a virgin", he's also using (the absolute lack of) sex as a tool, a litmus test.

        So let's think for a moment about the groups of women that his archaic, absolute, arbitrary, and unrealistic rule (I won't call it a standard. That implies quality, and virginity, intact or not, is a completely arbitrary and worthless judge of quality.) eliminates from his potential pool of mates: Widowers, single mothers, sexual assault survivors. Did I leave anyone out?

        Is it just intercourse he's talking about? Because I wouldn't exactly consider someone who's had oral and anal sex a virgin. How's he to judge virginity? He already doesn't trust women. Not all women have hymens anyway. And they can get hymen reconstructive surgery even if their hymen has been broken, which doesn't always happen through intercourse. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/world/europe/11virgin.html)

        There are still societies and cultures where virginity (only female of course) is an absolute rule, and the lack of it is still strongly frowned on, even punishable. He'd obviously be much more comfortable living in one of those areas where he can increase his chances of finding a mate who has obeyed his absolutist and sexist rule. His denigrating attitudes are archaic and unhelpful. I hope he's eventually more capable of love and open-mindedness.

        • Colin S says:

          sorry, your CMS really doesn't like the link when it's in parentheses :-) It's a good article, so let's see if this works:
          http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/world/europe/11

        • j madison says:

          I would date/marry a sexual assault survivor. That was not her choice or her fault.

          I never said I don't trust women, that is something your anger is making up.

          I do live in a society and culture where virginity in women is the rule not the exception, and it's a fairly large ares (pop 100,000) right here in America. NY, LA, and HBO do not make up the entire USA.

          • Colin S says:

            If you continue to believe in a double standard that you’ve taken advantage of (by having sex with women without being married to them), you’re a hypocrite. If you feel that being a hypocrite is an admirable thing, then there’s no reason for any self reflection. If you aren’t comfortable being a hypocrite, then some self reflection is in order.

            Sure, there are communities where virginity is an ideal (female only of course, see hypocrisy above), and maybe (*maybe*) even the norm, (such as the fundamentalist Islamic cultures mentioned in the article I linked to) but those are sub-subcultures in the US, and the VAST majority of people in world’s developed countries have evolved beyond that particular anachronism.

            Poetic justice would be that you find the girl of your dreams, who you get along beautifully with and fall deeply in love with, who has a great family, and a lot to offer, who will only marry a virgin. And obviously, you don’t qualify.

          • j madison says:

            Colin, I don't see it as being a hypocrite, to me it simply is the way that the world is, but I obviously can understand how you could view it as hypocritical. I think that you have to understand that double standards in our society work both ways. I won't guess at a percentage, but the vast majority of women will not marry a man who does not provide them with a sense of both physical and financial security.

            The truth is if a man is physically weak, with an omega male personality to go along with it, he will probably not get girlfriends/dates/sex/wife etc. When these sort of weak men do find partners then it is usually with an unattractive/fat female. I'm not saying that she is a bad person, nor is he, but anyone who is honest knows that they originally would not have gone for each other had they had the ability to attract more physically desirable mates. Now on the other hand, meek girls will often be able to attract a wide variety of men to choose a partner from. This is a double standard in life that men have to deal with and women don't have to worry about. Is it hypocritical?

            A man's job, and his income, directly affect how desirable he is to women. A women who is in high demand, and knows it (think very attractive, educated, mid 20s) will almost never date a man who has a below average job, regardless of how good looking and nice he might be. If a women does decide to marry a man with a low income and low ranking job then I promise you her girlfriends and family will warn her not to. If they do get married, then 5 to ten years later they are living on the verge of poverty, do people blame him for marring a girl that doesn't make money, or do they blame her for marrying a bum? This is a huge double standard in our (and all) society that men have to deal with. Is it hypocritical, or is it just the way the world is?

          • Colin S says:

            Sorry for the late reply, I really need to join Elephant Journal so I can have better access.

            Madison, the textbook example of hypocrisy is “Do what I say, not what I do.” So yes, you are a hypocrite. If you’re demanding someone follow a code of conduct you refuse to believe applies to you, then you’re a hypocrite. It’s not a flattering label, is it?

            So, in the example you give, yes, society is still a bit hypocritical when it comes to family income expectations, but there are other forces at work, like expectations of motherhood and real income inequality (for now), that keep society from expecting that women make as much money. At the level of couples though, the expectation of contribution (versus income) is far more equal (and thus less hypocritical). Both partners need to contribute toward the family in a roughly equal share, though that doesn’t necessarily mean direct monetary contribution. It could mean raising children, taking care of parents, running the house, etc. – critical things for many functioning and thriving families. Thinking that women *can’t* make or *aren’t* making an equal contribution to the family is definitely a sexist attitude.

            So first, please understand the definition of hypocrisy and understand that if you expect a different code of conduct from others than you expect of yourself, you’re a hypocrite. Again, if you’re comfortable with being a hypocrite, then there’s no need for self reflection. If you’re not, reflect and evolve. In my own life, I’ve perceived my own (sex- and race-based) hypocritical attitudes or had them pointed out to me. My hypocrisy has made me uncomfortable, so I’ve worked to expunge it from my heart and from my mind. I think the perception, effort, and successes have made me a better person than what I was before.

          • j madison says:

            Colin, no need to define the word for me I understand it's meaning as well as you do. As stated in my previous reply to you, I do not see my viewpoints as hypocritical however I certainly understand why you do and I respect your opinion.

            As for your second paragraph, please take the time to read all of my posts. You have basically made the exact same point that I have been making all along. I agree with everything you said in paragraph two. You are correct that "Thinking that women can't make or aren't making an equal contribution to the family is definitely a sexist attitude", but it's not my attitude.

            I don't mind you, or anyone else disagreeing with me, but please disagree with things that I have actually said. I do have a problem with you making assumptions about me, especially when you're incorrect.

            PS: no worries at all on the late reply. I'm not a member either. I think it's good for the people here to hear an intelligent counter opinion, but I won't pay to support the views of this site.

          • Colin S says:

            Actually, you did call yourself a hypocrite, I didn’t need to do it for you. (April 23) “I understand that is hypocritical…” You seemed to know the definition of hypocrisy then, but for the sake of argument, you’ve forgotten it. So now you are just trolling.

            Fare thee well, may you go and troll no more.

          • j madison says:

            Very easy way to back out of an intelligent discussion is to call a person names, feel good about yourself, and sign off.

      • j madison says:

        I think the problem is that you're very very used to preaching only to your own choir. It's little surprise that 99% of the people on the board disagree with me. There are plenty of places in America where you would be booed off stage, but that wouldn't necessarily make you wrong.

        What are you having a hard time understanding? Happy to explain it to you.

  31. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    well done. fuck yea.

  32. rick allen says:

    I thought the article well thought out and presented very clearly that giving only one choice is wrong. His comparison of a non virginal vagina being like chewed up food in water was disgusting. I wonder how many young women this asshole has destroyed with thus analogy? I do believe that abstinence is best also, but I also know teenagers. Hormones rage…you do your best to guide them but be ready to support them. If a young woman has chosen to have sex…I don’t think its fair or very nice to now correlate her with used garbage. That guy deserves a huge punch in the face for the damage he is causing.
    On a funnier note. I would take falling in love with someone who is non virgin and everything I want over someone being a virgin and only partially what I desire any day. I’m 44 and divorced, so I don’t have much choice. Haha!
    Thanks again for a great article!

  33. [...] Judy Greer and Andrea Savage “spread” the message that the one thing women really want in their vagina is the government. The funniest line, in my opinion, referred to a women’s “right to [...]

  34. [...] that has taken the bold step to go beyond the fear/disease-based instruction model built on the abstinence training which dominates our schools and has allowed pornography to become the only readily available form [...]

  35. [...] Dear Brad Seng, My Vagina is Nothing Like a Cup of Backwash … Uncategorized by admin [...]

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