Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The ticking teenage timebomb:Time to have that sex talk emotional apocalypse


Few trends symbolize Indian society in a state of flux as this. Senior citizens in urban areas are slowly warming to the idea of live-in relationships, driven by a need for companionship, yet daunted by the legal implications of marriage.
Shortly after an NGO named Vina Mulya Amulya Seva organized a meet-up of this kind, the Dignity Foundation is planning a similar event at Tejpal Hall on Saturday. Participants will start the day with games like ‘lagori’, ‘sankli’ and ‘gilli-danda’, and end the evening with a candlelight dinner.
Documentary filmmaker Siddharth Kak, actress Renuka Shahane Rana and theatre artiste Dolly Thakore will debate the pros and cons of a live-in relationship. Dignity’s lawyer Kalyani Shah is expected to advise couples on the legal implications of informal conjugal arrangements.
Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder-president of Dignity Foundation, said, “We receive scores of calls on our helpline from elders who are tormented by loneliness. We urge them to make friends among both sexes, and often publish stories of those who have pledged to look after one another in our magazine.”
Marriage is often a happy outcome of such meet-ups but live-ins are not uncommon either. “Formal marriage ties people to legal complications involving property rights, something both elders and their children are uncomfortable with. An informal arrangement for companionship is better,” said Sreenivasan, who interestingly avoided the term ‘live-in’ through the conversation.
Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria said, “Loneliness is one of the major causes of depression among senior citizens. Yet they fear marriage as they wonder if they will be able to deal with another heartbreak should the commitment collapse. However, live-in relationships are also fraught with problems and may contribute to the insecurity of an already insecure person.”
Teenage girls are under growing pressure to look like porn stars because of online pornography, according to a disturbing warning yesterday.
Pupils as young as 13 are being pushed to conform to an ‘extreme’ porn-star aesthetic, it was claimed.
The alarming comments echo concerns raised by MPs, children’s charities and the Daily Mail over the damaging effects of easily accessible web porn.
Girls feel pressured to look like porn stars due to the widespread availability of adult material online which is accessed by teenage boysGirls feel pressured to look like porn stars due to the widespread availability of adult material online which is accessed by teenage boys (file picture)
Helen Porter, a science teacher at an independent girls’ school, said: ‘The desirable body image has become more extreme.
‘They are all trying to have a narrow waist, long, slim legs and big boobs.
‘That’s the desirable thing. Girls and boys are viewing more pornographic images.
Young men are developing unrealistic expectations thanks to pornography, it has been claimedYoung men are developing unrealistic expectations thanks to pornography, it has been claimed (file picture)
‘The boys are seeing these porn stars and saying, “I’d like to have a girlfriend who looks like that”.
 Girls ‘feel under pressure to look like porn stars’: Teacher urges MPs to tackle online filth
  • Teacher at girls school said desirable body image has become ‘extreme’
  • Young girls are rated on looks and given scores out of ten by peers, she said
  • Policies needed on sexual activity between pupils and sex acts in school
Today’s 15-year-old girls appear to be heading for an emotional apocalypse, with figures suggesting that 43 per cent feel depressed or anxious, while 27 per cent are suffering from a full-scale mental illness. Pressures to be thin, become sexually active and excel academically are just a few of the factors being blamed.Anna Moore finds out why today’s teens are at crisis point
Horny girlfriend role playing the part of the naughty schoolgirl and get fucked up her ass. Just to fulfill her boyfriend’s fantasy of pulling off the school uniform of a cute little schoolgirl and long dong thrusting into her tight holes. How sweet was that of her? The pigtails really do complete the look.

Flo Woods, 15, from OxfordshireFlo Woods, 15, from Oxfordshire
Flo Woods, 15, from Oxfordshire
It has got a lot harder for girls because there are a lot more people looking at you. Everyone’s on Facebook – everywhere you go, it’s all about the image.
Every girl wants to be skinny, have a nice bum, nice legs, good skin. Walking into school, if you don’t look right, you feel that people are looking at you. When I’m in town and I see someone I know, I’ll think, ‘What am I wearing? Is my top tucked into my jeans the wrong way?’
Girls don’t just want to look pretty, though – they also want to be popular and have good grades. They want to get everything right, tick everything on the list.
They feel they have to try harder than boys in every way.
I’m lucky because I ride: I do eventing and it’s such a relief, a complete escape. I feel as if I have a secret language with my horse. She puts her nose on my shoulder and breathes into me and I know she understands.
I’m a very happy person, but every other night I cry myself to sleep and don’t know why or what I’m crying about. I know it’s not a big issue and I know it’ll never be solved.
I don’t want anyone to pity me. I just blame hormones and stress. I mentioned it to Mum the other day and she was horrified and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I thought everybody did it!

‘Riding is such a relief, a complete escape. I feel as if I have a secret language with my horse’
The expert opinion
‘School can become a living nightmare’
Oliver James, clinical psychologist
There has been a horrifying rise in anxiety and depression among 15-year-old girls, and the evidence points to four good reasons. First, day-to-day school performance; second, exams.
The first recorded rise happened in the period when girls accelerated academically and flew ahead of boys. For some girls, school has turned into a living nightmare — if you come second in geography, your world falls apart.
The third reason is [obsession with] body shape: not prettiness, but thinness. The fourth is family problems: divorcing parents, family rows.
For boys, it’s more ‘water off a duck’s back’; girls feel more involved.
At 15, they’ve been through puberty and can easily make themselves look 17 or 18, but they’re still very young, not that confident and not sure of the rules. It’s too much, too young, too many things going on.
A few years later, if they’ve had a happy childhood, they can opt out of that toxic experience and be free.
They’re more in charge, not so pressured by peers or boys to do things they don’t want to do. I think 15 is a watershed year.
Oliver James is author of Love Bombing: Reset Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat (Karnac Books, £9.99) To order copies at a discounted price with free p&p, contact the YOU Bookshop, tel: 0844 472 4157,

The expert opinion
‘At the heart of all this is anxiety’
Steve Biddulph, parenting educator
A worrying percentage of British girls are in trouble. Eating disorders affect about 12 per cent; there’s been a 68 per cent increase in self-harm in the past ten years — and girls are now drinking more than boys.
At the heart of all of this is anxiety, driven by a culture where everyone feels in competition to be impossibly good-looking, and also perhaps a lack of calmness and steadiness in parents who are caught up with consumerism as well.
The danger time usually starts around 14; typically, a girl vulnerable to these pressures has a dad who is critical or cold; a mum who is stressed and busy; has had fairly unlimited exposure to TV (such as in her bedroom) from early childhood, and now digital media — texting Facebook — with no time restrictions.
Special attention is needed from ten to 14, when a girl starts to become her own person. She needs adults who have soul, who ask her about her beliefs, values and what she stands for, what she wants her life to be about. She needs to develop an interest or an activity that really makes her feel alive.
Research shows that girls whose mothers talk positively and intelligently about sex have daughters who are much more choosy and careful about early sexual behaviour: the more they know, the slower they go.
Fathers are essential too, as they carry a strong unconscious message that their daughters are interesting and worthwhile, safe from any sexual connotation. Having an involved dad can delay a daughter’s sexual activity by up to two years, and increases school achievement.
My book opens with the story of Kaycee, a 14-year-old who finds an older boy showing interest in her at a party.
They end up having sex after a few drinks, but she finds out that he has done it for a bet with his mates.
She can’t tell her parents and her life goes off the rails. Her situation arises partly because of a cruel boy, but also because of expectations that girls should and must be sexy, that it’s the way to belong and to be loved.
The trashing of young love by porn, pressures and expectations is a tragedy of our time.
Steve Biddulph is the author of Raising Girls (HarperCollins, £12.99) To order copies at a discounted price with free p&p, contact the YOU Bookshop, tel: 0844 472 4157,

Eleanor Barrett, 15, from LondonEleanor Barrett, 15, from London
Eleanor Barrett, 15, from London
It was weird. Up until years nine and ten – that’s age 13 to 15 – boys weren’t talked about. Then suddenly people started getting boyfriends, having their first kiss, having sex.
People ask if I have a boyfriend and I say no, then they’ll ask ‘Why?’ I say, ‘Because the boys my age are immature, they’re not that nice…’ ‘Oh, you must be a lesbian then!’
There’s so much pressure.
On TV, in movies, you see 15-year-olds conducting relationships. Twenty years ago, they were much older – even in Grease, they were adults, not children.
And boys then seem more courteous and gentleman-like. They’re not looking for a relationship now; they’re after one thing.
If you’re a girl who sleeps with a lot of boys, you’re a slut. If you’re a guy who sleeps with a lot of girls, you’re a king.
‘You’ve got to keep your teachers happy, your parents happy, yourself happy’
My idea of a birthday party is having the girls round for a sleepover, staying up until really early in the morning, watching a movie.
For everyone else it’s, ‘Let’s have a house party, my parents are out!’ There’s drugs, smoking, binge drinking. I’ve been to one and it was the worst experience of my life.
I used to go on Facebook. It makes you feel very pressured to get nice photos of yourself and get lots of ‘likes’ and good comments.
I got so obsessed. It’s really addictive – you’re constantly at the screen. If someone made a nasty comment, it really upset me, and a good friend was bullied quite badly.
People wrote mean comments about her on Facebook and loads of people ‘liked’ them. I’d had it – I deleted my account. I’ve been two years without it and have never gone back.
Exams are another pressure. You’ve got to keep your teachers happy, your parents happy, yourself happy.
You’ve got to try to fit in socially, and at the same time, look after your body, regulate your intake of food and get enough exercise.
It’s overwhelming. It’s like you’re trying to keep up a very wobbly wall.

Nina, 15, from Manchester
I was diagnosed with depression last November after I’d taken an overdose of  co-codamol. I’d had a chest infection so I’d been at home.
It sounds so stupid and irrational, but the thing that set off my suicide attempt was the fact that even though I’d been away from school for two weeks, not one friend had been in touch to ask if I was OK. Fifteen minutes after taking the pills, I told my parents and they took me to A&E.
I’d been feeling depressed for about six months, since around my 15th birthday. The symptoms were physical as well as mental.
I felt tired and ill and I wasn’t eating – not for any particular reason, but my appetite just disappeared. I was self-harming too. I told my mum but she dismissed it and if I ever brought it up, she’d get agitated and change the subject.
After the overdose, I was taken more seriously and saw a psychiatrist, who wasn’t helpful. She told me the self-harming was ‘attention seeking’.
‘I was diagnosed with depression after I’d taken an overdose’
She did prescribe antidepressants but Mum wants me to see a psychologist instead for another evaluation. My first appointment is next week.
Although I still find life hard, and even going to school is a struggle at the moment, going out for long walks seems to help. It gives me time to think and get some fresh air. I’ve learnt breathing exercises too.
I think academic and social pressures were probably triggers. I’m doing my GCSEs and I’ve never been able to cope well with pressure.
I go to a private girls’ school and teachers don’t understand that there are more important things in life than doing well academically – like mental stability!
The pressure from teachers is less than half of it though. The girls at my school want to be the best of the best. I recently overheard someone say, ‘I can’t believe I only got 92 per cent. I know it’s an A*, but I could have done better.’
There’s also too much pressure on girls to look and act a certain way. If a girl isn’t stick-thin, tall and drop-dead gorgeous, she has no place here.
My relationship with my dad is another problem. We’ve always clashed – and since my overdose, he’s always busy working and hardly speaks to me. Maybe that’s just his way of dealing with it.

The expert opinion
‘The teenage brain becomes hard-wired to seek risk’
Stephanie Davies-Arai, parenting expert at
Fifteen is when the ‘teenage brain’ kicks in and becomes hard-wired to seek novelty, risk, excitement and the company of peers.
All teenagers at this age are relentlessly comparing themselves to members of their own sex, and finding where they are in the pecking order in terms of attracting the opposite sex.
Girls tend to want to please, and have the added pressure of a culture that values them mainly for their ‘hotness’.
As a mother, you should avoid lecturing and disapproval. The way you are as a woman — your own attitude to your weight, appearance and self-esteem — will have more impact than anything you say. Have light day-to-day chats; let your daughter know your opinions, but in a conversational way.
She’s more likely to listen if she finds you interesting. Tell her something you’ve read in the paper and ask for her view. Listen, be interested. Don’t force your opinion — state it and let it go.

Minnie Cullen Close, 15, from LondonMinnie Cullen Close, 15, from London
Minnie Cullen Close, 15, from London
Boys are under a different kind of pressure – maybe to be a little bit naughty, a bit cool. Girls are under more pressure to be academic, pretty, popular, skinny, with nicely brushed hair and painted nails.
A boy once said to me, ‘You should paint your nails more often. Girls look more attractive with painted nails!’ I have friends who are boys, but I haven’t had a boyfriend for a year or two. When I did, there was loads of pressure to do stuff that I didn’t really want to do.
‘Girls are under more pressure to be academic, pretty, popular, skinny, with nicely brushed hair’
I know people who’ve been bullied online. One girl in the year below me went out with a boy, had sex with him, then dumped him for someone else.
Everyone felt sorry for him and started posting BBM [BlackBerry Messenger] statuses calling her a slut. She was really upset. I don’t think she deserved it.
The pressure to meet your academic targets is too much. I’ll have done 14 GCSEs by August and I’m supposed to get all As and A*s.
I had to retake an English exam because I got a low A – and it meant I wouldn’t have been able to get an A* in my final grade.
There’s pressure from teachers and parents, but I put loads of pressure on myself to do well. I don’t know why. It’s a bit of a pride thing. If you know you can do it, you want to.

The Expert opinion
‘A surgically enhanced, Photoshopped image is “normal”’
Dr Richard Graham, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Capio Nightingale Hospital and specialist in technology addiction
The ‘transformations of puberty’ are fraught with confusion, to the point where you don’t quite know who you are or what you’ve become. You want to be attractive and desirable; at the same time you’re anxious that you’ve turned into something terrible.
At this stage, the responses from peers, more than family, can make a huge difference. At the same time, the image these girls are held up to — skinny, surgically enhanced, hair-extended — is impossible.
This generation of 15-year-olds is growing up not just with TV, magazines and billboards, but with Facebook, the internet and Tumblr. Photoshopping is ‘normal’. It’s agonising to hear how desperate a girl is to get the right image of herself, to get enough ‘likes’.
When she’s so absorbed in appearance, it makes her less connected, less interested in others in a deeper, meaningful way.
One way of trying to lose anxious feelings is to bully others, to make someone else feel bad so you don’t — which explains a lot of the brutal sexting, ‘slut shaming’ and online bullying that is so prevalent. In a Lord of the Flies world, no one wants to be bottom of the food chain.


Rosie Whitaker, 15, a talented ballet dancer who struggled with bulimia and the compulsion to self-harm, died in front of a train in Southeast London last June. Her family issued a statement that said, ‘She was a well-balanced and well-loved young lady who had everything to live for. However, during a period of stress brought on by the pressures of conforming to her peer group and studying hard for GCSE exams, it appears she was, unfortunately, heavily influenced by websites and online communities promoting self-harm and suicide.’

Tallulah Wilson, 15, who attended a private school in London, had posted suicidal messages on Twitter, before being found dead on the train tracks at St Pancras station in October last year. She struggled with anorexia and claimed she had been bullied at her previous school.


The father of Helena Farrell, 15, a gifted cellist and singer, says his bright daughter had been plagued by ‘dark thoughts’. Her body was discovered in woodland near her home in Kendal in January this year. It is thought that she killed herself.


The body of Anna Johnson, 15, was found on the M9 motorway near Stirling in January this year after she apparently fell from a bridge. The bright teenager attended a leading private school. Internet users suggest she may have taken her life after being bullied, but it’s unclear whether there is any foundation to the claims.


‘We need to educate them to realise that, for most people, this is not achievable.’
Mrs Porter called on MPs to tackle the problem of ‘readily available pornography’ seen by children on the internet.
The Daily Mail has been calling for tough restrictions to protect youngsters. David Cameron has promised that new computers will automatically be fitted with web filters unless parents specifically lift them – but has not said when this will happen.
The ease of access to online pornography has been blamed for a huge rise in the number of under-18s reported to the police for sex offences.
In the past three years, the total topped 5,000.
This month, the NSPCC revealed that some as young as five have been questioned. The charity blamed online images for warping their ideas about sex and relationships.
This year, a 15-year-old boy was jailed for three years for raping a 14-year-old girl while trying to re-enact scenes from sadistic porn films he watched on the internet for hours every day.
Mrs Porter said it was ‘deplorable’ that teenagers were increasingly obsessed with body image and comparing themselves to celebrities.
The Mail has campaigned for strict regulation on adult material onlineThe Mail has campaigned for strict regulation on adult material online
Girls begin to feel pressure at around 13 or 14, when they show an interest in boys and worry about what they ‘like and expect’, she said.
Mrs Porter is putting forward  resolutions at the annual meeting of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers next week.
She wants its leaders to investigate pupils’ easy access to porn and give guidance on ‘sexting’ –where explicit texts or pictures are sent on mobile phones.
Mrs Porter, from St Gabriel’s School in Newbury, Berkshire, is also urging colleagues to promote healthy body images among pupils.
Some girls ‘mark each other out of ten each day on how they look’, she said.
‘They need to be able to accept themselves for who they are,’ added Mrs Porter.
This month, former children’s TV presenter Floella Benjamin, a Liberal Democrat peer in the Lords, said girls were becoming increasingly sexualised.
More and more boys were treating them as little more than ‘sexual objects’, she added.
Teacher leaders also want new official policies to combat the problem of increasing sexual activity among pupils.
About 1.5 million adult Britons have stumbled across child porn while browsing online, said the Internet Watch Foundation, but 40 per cent do not know how to report the problem.


The Damage of Overvaluing Virginity Both Christians, very involved in the church and on the outside seemed happy. I was not shocked when they broke up though, because she had confessed to me their biggest problem: He would not let go of the fact that she was not a virgin. Over and over he brought up that he needed to “mourn what was lost,” even though these conversations would often end with her in tears. His fixation on the fact that she had previously had sex, even though she was repentant about this, clouded their relationship. He was devastated when she broke up with him, and could never admit anything he’d done wrong.

There is something seriously wrong with how much he, and so many other Christians, value virginity.
In college, hanging out in my dorm, my Campus Crusade for Christ leader was telling us about how terrified she was on her wedding night. Despite the months she’d spent daily working out and eating next to nothing, she was so petrified of her husband seeing her naked, it’d taken her two glasses of champagne and a bubble bath before she relaxed enough to consummate their marriage. I’ve heard similar stories of good Christian girls, who’d waited their entire lives to have sex, spend the days and hours leading up to their wedding in a state of panic.
Somehow, I doubt that this is the attitude God wishes us to have about marital sex.
Unlike those girls above, I lost my virginity when I was 19. Despite growing up in a loving Christian home, turning into a young woman who led Bible studies and attended Christian conferences, I messed up and had sex in college. My (worship-leading) then-fiance had convinced me that “in God’s eyes, we were already married.” Afterwards, when he left to take a shower, I cried for a solid hour, watching from my window as the sun came up. When he unceremoniously broke up me with two months later, I felt both the pain of rejection and the terror that I had ruined my chances of ever marrying a Christian man.
Seven years later, I’m married to an amazing man who has never once made me feel bad about my past. His gracious love led to me see something important; that the most damaging thing from my past was not the sexual sins I’ve long been forgiven of, but the lies I believed told to me by other Christians.
“Your virginity is your most important gift brought to marriage.”
“It’s better to get married quickly than risk falling into the temptation of premarital sex.”
“If you’re not both virgins when you’re married, your marriage will suffer for years.”
If you are a young man or woman raised in the church, you are told from very early on how important purity is. There is truth in this. 1 Corinthains 6:8 is clear when it commands us to flee sexual immorality, and that is hardly the only verse written on the topic. Personally, I do believe that sex is something that was designed by God for two people in a committed, monogamous marriage-like* relationship. Young Christians who want to follow God’s design should wait until they are married. But the fact is that 80 percent of unmarried evangelical adults admit to having had pre-marital sex. Even if that number is flawed or inflated, it’s safe to say it’s close, and that at the very least more than half of all Christian men and women don’t wait until marriage to have sex.Almost every couple has suffered from the occasional not-so-sexy moves which end up turning off the respective partners in bed. But what about the accidental bummers which often happen in the midst of your steamiest sex sessions? From suddenly being compelled to answering nature’s call or moaning your past lover’s name, these sex shockers are irksome distractions that do not allow you to enjoy the act of passion whole-heartedly.

These circumstantial occurrences during sex may not be very common, but these can happen to you as well. So the next time you find yourself in these embarassing situations, just take a count of the following points…
Sex with my ex
Imagine screaming your ex’s name, or your secret lover’s pet name, just when your partner is about to climax. Damn! It can’t get worse than this. “I had an arranged marriage and it was a blunder that I did on my honeymoon. I yelled my ex’s name in pleasure and my hubby was very frustrated hearing another man’s name. Believe me, we didn’t have sex for months, until I convinced him that there’s nothing between me and my ex now,” shares Deepti Shah (31), who got married last year.
Such an occurence is likely to make your partner feel estranged, besides injecting a feeling of suspicion in your love life.
Hot tip: Though fantasies are an essential part of a gratifying sex life, expressing fantasies in such unexpected ways can often put end to your relationship. “A lot of women fantasise about their idol or a past lover while having sex as it turns them on. But it’s important to remember that sex is an emotional experience too, so don’t appear to be emotionally weak and let your past lover/fantasy hover in your mind space while becoming intimate with your present beau. This causes a discord in your relationship. A combination of prayanam, gym and a job (PGJ) is the best way to keep away from a fertile imagination,” suggests Dr. Aruna Broota, clinical psychologist.
Nature’s call
This blooper is the mother of all sex bummers faced by couples. Often confused with a squirting orgasm, it is related to the pressure applied on the bladder due to sexual stimulation. A problem commonly faced by women, this often leaves the male partner feeling half pleasured. Recalls housewife Pratibha Trivedi, “I often feel like urinating half way through the act and this creates a problem for my man, besides being unhealthy.”
Hot tip: Never force yourself to reach a climax if you’re feeling like relieving yourself. “The nerves that are stimulated during an erection are quite close to those of the urinal bladder and sometimes an overlapping can result in urinating during sex. So make sure you have attended nature’s call before you gear up for the act of sex. In case there are any other organic problems, certain medications can help deal with them,” elucidates Dr. Prakash Kothari, a leading sexologist.
Oops! I farted
It may sound like a marginal interruption, but if it comes in the way of pleasure, it’s sure to marr the excitement. “It was a horrifying nightmare. I knew my wife had medical implications due to which she suffered gastritis, but it was a highly disturbing when we were sexually engaged and I stopped enjoying sex with her anymore,” recalls Ravi Mehra.
Hot tip: Make sure your digestive system is in place before you indulge in a make out session. “Avoid potatoes, pulses, peas, and bakery items that enhance gas formation (gastritis). Also, we recommend you to consume a digestive pill or opt for a brisk walk after the meal to make the food settle down completely,” recommends Dr. Kothari.
The problem lies in the churches, and many Christians, reaction to this news. Instead of changing the way they address premarital sex, and treating young people with the understanding and forgiveness needed, too many church leaders focus on trying instead to simply get young people to stop having sex. That’s been the method for decades, and obviously, it isn’t working.
It’s not just the people who chose to have sex that these messages fail to help. There is also the large number of women (and some men) who had no choice in losing their virginity. One out of every six women will be the victim or an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime. That’s just in the United States. In the Congo alone, 48 women are raped every hour. Every hour. Imagine being one of these women, who made their way into a church service only to have to listen to the pastor give an hour long sermon on sexual purity. Or being a college-aged woman, having endured a sexual assault the year before, listening through countless Bible studies given on why waiting to have sex is the most important thing she can do for her faith. Even the media is obsessed with maintaining the lie that virginity is a Christian’s greatest virtue. The hoopla over Olympic athlete Lolo Jones is a perfect example.
While there isn’t anything wrong with encouraging young people to wait, there is something wrong when that encouragement is done by telling them how ruined their lives will be, and how much they’ve “lost” if (and most likely when) they do mess up. Maybe, instead of raising young people to be terrified of sex and the repercussions they’ll face if they do mess up, Christian leaders should spend time talking about how amazing it can be when it’s within the relationship for which it was intended. I have been on both sides of it, and I can say that sex with my husband is something incredibly different than anything I’d ever experienced before. Sex is both physical and spiritual, and when there is commitment, trust, deep love and intimacy, it becomes something vastly different (and better) than a quick, emotionless encounter. Sharing this truth with young Christians involves a level of transparency and honesty that is desperately needed within the church. Its a lot easier to convince people to wait for something that is wonderful, than warn them against something dangerous and sordid.
The truth is, I do wish I’d waited and “saved myself” for my husband. Every once in awhile I do feel a tinge of sadness that he was able to give himself to me in a way I couldn’t give myself to him. But that’s all it is, a “tinge.” Because I’ve already been forgiven, and our marriage is so much more than sex. And we’re in love for so many more reasons that have nothing to do with sex what so ever. Christian men and women are complex, amazing individuals who have been done a great disservice by being told that the most important thing they can bring to a marriage is virginity. Respect, maturity, integrity, a sense of humor, forgiveness, these are all traits that every happily married person needs. The church needs to be telling young men and women this, as frequently as they tell them how much better sex is within that committed, monogamous relationship.
* I say “marriage-like” since I believe this both for straight or gay Christians, and know that in many places in the world, gay Christians are legally not permitted to wed.
 How God most likely does not want people panicking about impending consummation in the days prior to their wedding day, though this happens to many as she pointed out, and 2) that too many people do not think about how a person who has been raped is likely to hear all the talk about the importance of “sexual purity.” The damage done in these two realms is nothing to take lightly.
Yes, I agree that there is something disturbingly wrong with the way so many Christians (and people of various faith traditions) place such a high value on virginity. But it seems to me that describing pre-marital sex with phrases such as “messing up” or failing to “save oneself” all serve to perpetuate the value placed on virginity.
Perhaps we need to look a bit deeper to name the source of the trouble here, which is actually much more than a concern about whether a female has an intact hymen on her wedding night. The source of the issue is, in my and many Christian theologians’ opinions, the view of bodies and sexuality in general. All the talk about purity — variously (un)defined — focuses predominantly upon females, and throughout faith traditions the main concern is with women’s virginity. Thus the main crux of this conversation is actually women’s bodies; they are seen as objects to be owned, controlled and adorned properly.
Understandably, many people do decide to turn to the Bible for guidance on this topic. As with most topics, however, one can find biblical passages and stories to back up multiple angles on the issue of sex and sexual encounters. In the New Testament, Paul does encourage sexual relations only within marriage; he simultaneously encourages people to abstain from marriage entirely if they can handle it. In 1 Corinthians 7 he states three or four times that singlehood is to be preferred to that of being married. By the way, this line of thinking lead to some early Christian groups believing that marriage itself is a sin, due to how sex was viewed (for more on this please consult April DeConick’s “Holy Misogyny: Why Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter”).
It also ought to be noted that in Matthew 19 Jesus apparently affirmed his disciples’ worried claim, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” In fact, if one can handle it, becoming a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom is even suggested by Jesus in that exchange.
I am not sure, then, how we are best to invoke Paul’s or Jesus’ advice in the discussion of sex at all. It does strike me as foolishness to quote from one of Paul’s letters on this topic, given his outright claim to be single: We do not ask a childless person for advice on parenting, do we?
If we turn to Genesis 2:24, the infamous passage that is foundational for all no-sex-before-marriage claims, what we see is a highly biased choice of wording. It might be more accurate if we read it, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his woman; and they shall become one flesh.” It is a choice on the part of the translators to translate ishshah as “woman” in 2:22-23 and as “wife” in verses 24 and 25 and. The only reason to make this shift is because their sexual union is implied, though there is no discussion of marriage. This is perhaps one of the most powerful “lost (or gained) in translation” moments in Scripture, given what it has allowed the Church to claim in terms of the sinfulness of premarital sex. Of course this is bolstered by passages such as Deuteronomy 22:13-21, which says that a marriage is only valid if the woman is a virgin. If she is not, she is to be executed. With this kind of consequence associated with a woman’s, but not a man’s, virginity, it is no wonder that traditions influenced by biblical ideals place such “value” on virginity, disproportionately more focused on females. Additionally, given the numerous times men in the bible have non-consensual sex with women, it becomes very difficult to suggest that there are biblical standards on this topic worth imitating today.
But all these dissections of biblical passages keep us from dealing with the deeper issues, still.
Consider looking at the topic from this perspective: sexuality is a part of being human. Sexuality is a component of love and intimacy. It is a part of what we are wired to engage in and enjoy. As with anything that can affect our health and wholeness I do not endorse abusing it, but when engaged in respectfully and responsibly it is a good thing. Silencing the conversation and communication about mutual, pleasurable, responsible sex is absolutely detrimental to people, and many will confirm that it is detrimental to intimate love relationships.
Consider how every time we talk about sex and sexuality in dualistic terms — as either right or wrong in whatever form — we are controlling others’ experience of it instead of being interested in their well-being. One might want to consult teenage pregnancy rates in this country, and note that the highest rates overlap with “Bible belt” regions. Coincidence?
When we label sex according to whether it is “pre-marital” or not we perpetuate the fallacy that “normal” sex only happens within a marriage and is the only form of “legitimate” sex. There is an affirmation that being married is best for all people because that is when a person is finally complete as a human, now able to have sex. Additionally, “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” has led to countless marriages between young people who have not been taught how to maturely handle their passions.
And suggesting that being “sexually pure” is the greatest thing a person brings to her or his partner in their marriage? This actually says that sexual intercourse is a form of ownership of the other person. It says that “purity” is about who gets to lay claim to you, which is the quintessential way of objectifying a person.
I think it is time to lose the shaming language too often used in this conversation, and to reframe how we think of, talk about and value sex altogether.
Here are five sex secrets that may help you understand and get even closer to your guy…
Men are full of surprises and bedroombehaviour is no exception. While it’s impossible to explain all male behaviours, here are five sex secrets that may help you understand and get even closer to your guy.
He’s nurses the fear that he’ll let you down
Men feel tremendous pressure to perform sexually. While women aren’t waiting formarriage to have sex, and that means they are far more relaxed in the bedroom. Sexually satisfied role models, like Madonna and the ‘Sex and the City’ sirens, encourage urban women to be open about their sexual desires and complaints. These liberated women to cause some trouble for their male partners. Suddenly, the pressure to perform is on, and he can’t help but feel like he has to please you. Even though you may not be so bothered about his performance and you might forgive him for a few poor performances, he has a hard time forgiving himself. It’s really tough on him.
If your man has a recurring problem of performance, he may start to blame you to protect his ego. Be prepared to handle this situation.
What you can do:
Don’t take it personally or, worse, insult him. And never laugh! Just pretend that it is no great deal for you.
Men need validation to get their groove on
Sex is a source of power from ages, and it gives proof that one is masculine. To a man, having sex means that he can move a woman, that he’s energetic, a provider and a lover. Basically, your guy wants to be a superhero, and he certainly wants you to see him in that light. When he satisfies you sexually, he feels like superman. If you’re enjoying yourself, let him know that. He’ll love you for your compliments.
No encouragement means no fun. Whether you are enjoying yourself or not, just be encouraging.
What you can do
A good rule of thumb: Don’t fake it but don’t fight it. Just look happy and satisfied and that would make your man feel super.
Men don’t like waiting too long
Women should never hold out to have sex simply because of the so called rules of dating. He is more likely to commit if there is a sexual component to the relationship, and it is important for him to know that you find him sexually desirable.
If your guy is offended when you initiate sex, get rid of him.
What you can do
We’re all sensual beings; we might as well be who we are. So don’t be afraid to make a move.
Men too are conscious about their bodies
Let’s face it: Men may not worry about weight nearly as much as women do, but they do have their own image issues.
Most men are quite concerned about their general physical condition, height and baldness. In other words, they are hoping for mood lighting in the bedroom just as much as women are.
What you can do
Help your man by telling him that you find him attractive and showing him affection.
Most men will not forgive a cheating girlfriend
Men who have been betrayed, especially in the bedroom, are far less likely to forgive their partners than women in the same situation.
Men want loyalty at all cost.
What you can do
Show your loyalty not only by remaining faithful when in a committed relationship, but also by supporting your man in front of colleagues and friends and defending him when necessary. This allegiance will make your man more secure and will give him the motivation to let loose in the bedroom with you. Men want commitment just as much as women do; they just want it packaged 

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