Updated: DECEMBER 12, 2023
Reviewed by Dr. Sunny Rodgers
on December 11, 2023

Chastity is the state of being chaste or pure. People originally used this term to describe how someone’s sexual behavior conformed to their religion or culture’s moral standards. However, in the wider community, the term now refers to sexual abstinence, particularly before marriage. People who practice chastity usually try to abstain from sex, and even aim to keep sex out of their thoughts and words.

The words chaste and chastity both come from the Latin word castus meaning "pure." When these words became part of the English language in the mid-13th century, chaste meant pure from unlawful sexual intercourse (or extramarital sex), and chastity referred to a woman's virginity. However, by the end of the 16th century, the difference between the two terms became less distinct. Because of its modern definition, sexual abstinence is often used as a synonym for chastity.

Chastity and Religion

Members of Christian churches often take a vow of chastity. Early church fathers felt that chastity had three grades. The first, virginity, describes the point when someone has no experience of sexual activity. The second, continence, describes a state when people control their sexual activity. They could do this through abstaining from ejaculation, for example. Matrimony is the final stage of chastity. During this stage, people are only sexually active with their spouse. Buddhism, Daoism, Jainism, and Hinduism are some examples of other religions that celebrate chastity.

Chastity and BDSM

Chastity can be an element of power exchange play within BDSM relationships. During chastity play, a dominant may prevent their submissive from having sex or masturbating. The submissive may wear chastity devices to prevent sexual gratification. The dominant could also restrain the submissive using bondage techniques or simply tell them they are not allowed to pleasure themselves. Chastity play lasts for as long as the dominant determines and the submissive consents to the arrangement. It is usually a more short-term arrangement than chastity on religious grounds. Some vanilla couples may also similarly play with chastity to spice up their sex lives.

Why People Practice Chastity

People practice chastity for many reasons, depending on their religion, cultural beliefs and community. People often practice chastity to test their willpower and show their devotion to a partner, whether they are in a relationship or yet to meet them. They may also believe they can focus more on other aspects of their life, like studying or serving the church, if they take sex out of the equation.

Religious people may practice chastity to show their devotion to their faith. Some non-religious people also practice chastity because they believe it can help them form deeper, more meaningful relationships. Some people who feel they’ve had too many casual relationships choose to reset with a period of chastity before diving into dating and sex again. They may also want to reduce their risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

In the BDSM community, a dominant may start a chastity play scene to remind their submissive that they are in control of their sexual pleasure. They may deny their submissive sex to punish them or enjoy chastity play as part of any scene. Chastity play may also be part of a long-term relationship arrangement between a dominant and submissive. Chastity play in BDSM reinforces the power exchange relationship. The dominant enjoys exercising their power over their submissive while the submissive enjoys feeling vulnerable and powerless. Abstaining from sex can build anticipation and may make sexual play - and orgasms - more intense when they do occur.

More About Chastity

Male vs Female Chastity

Chastity has historically been associated with women, as people have been putting their wives in chastity belts since medieval times. These belts ensured women could not have sex with anyone else while their husbands were away fighting wars. By the 18th century, the practice of using chastity belts to preserve a woman’s virtue had long since fallen out of favor. However, a woman’s social standing was still largely determined by how chastely she behaved. While more sex-positive attitudes have allowed women to have sex with anyone they want, whenever they want, female chastity remains a more socially acceptable choice.

Male chastity is outside social norms and largely considered considered a fetish or kink. That said, a movement referred to as NoFap is largely based around abstinence, although typically only for a short period of time.

"I do think we often culturally see men's sexuality as more 'acceptable' and historically they didn't always suffer the same social (or sometimes physical) impacts from engaging in sex, whether casually or not," explained Amy Julia Cheyfitz, an AASECT certified sex therapist and BDSM educator. "Because of this, many cultural narratives may label a man's 'natural' state as consistently desirous of sex, so the choice to engage in chastity may be seen as kinky because it is seemingly against the 'default.'"

As chastity has been traditionally linked with women, male chastity play may be a part of forced feminization scenes. During forced feminization or sissification, a dominant encourages a male submissive to dress and act as a girl or woman.

Chastity Devices and Their Use

Chastity devices provide a physical barrier that stops people from having sex and masturbating. Chastity belts are the most common chastity devices. Inspired by the medieval chastity devices that share their name, there are modern chastity belts for all genders. All chastity belts feature a belt that sits above the hips and a section that sits between the legs. Some chastity belts also feature a tube or sleeve which covers the penis and forces it into a downward position. Some chastity belts integrate with genital piercings for extra security. Most chastity belts are lockable to prevent the submissive from removing them. Dominants often keep the keys for their submissives’ chastity belts to ensure their submissives can’t access their genitals until they have permission.

There are leather chastity belts for short-term use and metal ones for longer play sessions. Many metal belts also have holes for urinating through. Some chastity belts also have holders for other sex toys, including butt plugs and dildos. These belts can enhance the feelings of sexual frustration for the wearer, who is sexually stimulated but unable to get any sexual release.

Chastity harnesses and straps also restrict sexual pleasure like chastity belts, but they allow for more stimulation. They may feature straps or rings that encircle the penis, so the wearer can experience a little skin-on-skin contact without being fully stimulated. Chastity harnesses prevent penetration.

Cock cages are another chastity device that imprisons the penis and prevents it from becoming erect. They feature a cock ring, which sits behind the testicles, and a sleeve with an open end for urinating. Leather cock cages are ideal for short-term use. More durable silicone and metal cock cages are better for long-term use, as they won’t degrade from accidental contact with urine. As with chastity belts, there are some cock cages that can attach to piercings for extra security.

"There are some additional variations on chastity devices for people with penises (like a FuFu Clip or inverted cages that push the penis flat or inside the body) or devices that incorporate electrical shocks, digital keys (although there have been instances of those being hacked!), timers, etc." Cheyfitz added. "Some people also use cock rings with spikes or nubs on the inside that cause pain when the person begins to get an erection, and there are always people who use the honor system."

All chastity devices should be secure but safe. The dominant should monitor their submissive and make sure they maintain good blood flow and hygiene. Good chastity devices can be easily removed if the dominant notices their submissive is in pain or their skin is changing color due to poor blood flow. Chastity devices made from soft materials, like silicone and leather, are better for people starting on their chastity journey. As these devices are less bulky, they’re also less obvious when they’re worn under clothes. People more experienced with chastity may prefer rigid devices made out of metal, which makes them feel more restrained.

Playing with Chastity

Simple chastity play involves delaying sexual gratification, so it’s more intense when the period of chastity is over. Someone might lock their partner’s genitals away or refuse to touch them, perhaps while teasing other erogenous zones.

Some men may enjoy playing with chastity as part of forced feminization scenes. Locking the penis away can be a natural part of this play, as a sissy does not need one. Silicone and leather chastity devices may be best for this kind of play, as they sit neater under lingerie and dresses. Humiliation play can also become a facet of these kinds of scenes, with a dominant declaring that the submissive is not a real man.

Chastity lifestylers avoid sexual gratification for extended periods. They typically wear durable devices which let them go about their daily life without masturbating or having sex, waiting until a predetermined period of chastity ends.

Solo play with chastity is possible, with many people wearing chastity devices without a dominant partner. They must rely on personal willpower to remain chaste and resist the urge to pleasure themselves. They may use apps to control their lock or alert them that the time they set for wearing the device has elapsed.


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