However, hope comes in the form of education. The more we openly discuss the barriers to pleasure and enjoyment the closer we can move to an empowered reality. Green also stated:
“I think that the purity culture from 10 - 15 years ago made people think that sexual experimentation is sinful. So, it would never be a topic of communication in the relationship. These days, men and women call me on speaker phone together and asking for advice. Couples are more open to trying toys and new positions, it's like the taboo is dissipating. I think communication has a major role in this attitude shift. Couples are more comfortable discussing sex together and thinking of things they want to try - then pursuing some new ideas in the bedroom. Before, sex wasn't even a topic that would be discussed. Equality between the couple is also more prevalent because women have a say in what they want in bed. Sex has become more interactive and an activity to share (and actually enjoy) together.”
“I think that the purity culture from 10 - 15 years ago made people think that sexual experimentation is sinful. So, it would never be a topic of communication in the relationship."
Physiological Effects from Purity Culture
I have talked to follow sex educators and counselors who, like myself, have even noticed physiological effects in clients who grew up in purity culture. Many women experience vaginismus (or an extreme tightening of the vaginal muscles) on their wedding night and sometimes for years beyond. Men may have regular erectile dysfunction. Orgasms can become elusive for both partners. To enjoy sex mentally, physically, and emotionally requires permission to know and expresses what is natural.
Read: From Baby Orgasms to Big Badass Ones: How I Learned to Become Orgasmic
Sexual empowerment does not mean you need to have sex outside of marriage, or be kinky, or like things outside of the most simplistic vanilla interests. It means you make informed and affirmative decisions, free from pressures or anyone’s agenda.
Sex Is Natural
Sex is as natural as eating or sleeping. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it is placed as a survival need. So why do we shame sexual needs whereas we don’t shame the need for shelter or water? Sex education is not a luxury. It is our birthright. It is the path to healing from sexual shame is found in this knowledge. It is my hope that everyone harmed by purity culture or abstinence education finds healing and that we fight to make sure future generations do not have to go through the same struggles we did.
[Spurred on by the importance of this topic, since originally writing this article, Dr. McGuire has enrolled in a Masters of Divinity program with planned study at rabbinical school to follow.]