Culturally, America's attitude toward women and sex is pretty screwed up (no pun intended). Society tells us that it's dirty, filthy, and wrong, and women who have it are sinners who have to pretend that they don't know what a dick looks like. Then, on that magical day at some point in their adulthood, those formerly dirty women get married (if any guy will still have them and their tattered hymens) and the sex act, a thing they've been doing in a dirty way for years, suddenly transforms into an amazing and blessed experience. Sex, you see, is a very bad, dirty thing that you should only do with someone you love very, very much.
This is ridiculous. It's untenable. In fact, premarital sex is a morally good thing. It's time we stopped seeing it as something wrong and started seeing it as something that, for most of us, is totally right. That scarlet "A" you've been wearing on your soul should actually stand for AWESOME (or ASSPLAY).
At The Guardian, the incomparable Jill Filipovic explains, in one of the most comprehensive, straightforward, and difficult-to-counter ways I've ever seen, why American society's attitude about sex before marriage is hindering happiness, and how embracing sex as something that can and should be shame-free. We've broken down some of her most AMEN-worthy points into easily digestible listicle form for your perusing pleasure. Bedazzle these onto some throw pillows, shave them into the side of your head when you make that ill-advised decision to get that post-breakup Skrillex/Miley Cyrus haircut, doodle them in the margins of your meeting notes alongside (YOUR NAME) + JAMES FRANCO CIRCA 2002 4 EVER heart drawings. But most importantly, tuck them away into the folds of your brain.
Fact! Having sex once a week is the happiness equivalent of an extra $50,000 in the bank. Especially if you're having sex with a rich dude. (Kidding. Rich dudes don't try in bed.)
Human beings reproduce sexually, which means that each of us is almost certainly the result of a sexual union — you might even say we're fucklings. It is natural and normal for most mature human animals to want and to pursue sex, and our bodies reward us when we do — we get some exercise, endorphins, orgasms. Imagine what all that would feel like if we didn't also attach unnecessary guilty baggage to it.
SPIT TAKE MONOCLE POP OUT RECORD SCRATCH SOUND. Sex, as in having it before you get married, is associated with longer, more stable marriages. Why? Because feminism. SOUND OF A PLATE BREAKING BECAUSE SOMEONE DROPPED IT OUT OF SURPRISE.
A society that encourages women to prioritize participation outside of the home leads to more women choosing to go to college, to build a stable career before they focus on partnering up and settling down. Because sexuality is a human need, it stands to reason that during that time they're focused on being things other than wives and mothers, they'd be enjoying several feet (or miles — no judgment!) of cock. Which is fine! Because after they get married, women who got their ya-ya's out earlier in life tend to stay married, tend to raise more successful children, and tend to be happier.
One of the most compelling pieces of Filipovic's argument is her emphasis on ethical sexuality — sex that "(takes) precautions to protect the physical and mental health of yourself and your partner [...] that is fully consensual and focused on mutual pleasure." So, you know, using sex as a positive way to interact with someone who is totally into it rather than a self-destructive way to get back at your dad who didn't hug you enough or your ex who cheated on you. This means doing it with a willing partner, this means making sure your partner has a good time, this means protecting yourself using condoms or body sized sandwich bags or whatever is sufficient for the two of you to have the best time possible in the safest way possible. I'd argue that this means pursuing sex only with someone who isn't violating the agreed-upon terms of any existing sexual relationships s/he is having and being honest with your partner, but Filipovic doesn't delve too deeply into issues of monogamy or fidelity.
4. A wedding isn't a magic spell that transforms sex from something that is "bad" to something that can't ever be bad.
Especially if you've lived your life up to your wedding believing that you had a sin-hole between your legs.
Sex is good whether you're married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot. But waiting until marriage often means both early marriage and conservative views on marriage and gender – and people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages.
Antiquated views that lead people to believe that there is such a thing as sexual "purity" can also lead to a messed up postmarital relationship with sex.
Focusing too much on the guilt we're supposed to feel about being dirty for wanting things that we naturally want is giving all of us a complex. It is making our lives worse.
Sexual compatibility matters in relationships, and bad sex, for many people, is a dealbreaker. Take the car out for a test drive, and if the stick shift feels awkward to you or the airbags frighten you, move along. Someone else will be happy to drive that car.
(This was a dick and balls joke.)
1. Discouraging people from having premarital sex has never, not once, not at any point in human history, succeeded in getting people to actually stop having sex.
95% of Americans have sex before they get married. Even in previous generations, the vast majority of Americans got busy before they tied the knot. So pretending that abstinence is a viable option for any meaningful segment of the population is at best obtuse and at worst really, really, really fucking dumb. Filipovic mentions that the federal government has spent a dizzying amount of money on programs designed to discourage people from having sex before they're married, which demonstrably doesn't work. Instead, our resources would be better spent on things that aren't the educational equivalent of digging a big hole in the ground and dumping piles of cash into it. Things like proper use of birth control, self-respect, and respect for others. The Puritans are dead. It's about time we stopped letting them dictate our attitudes toward sex.
Image by Jim Cooke, photos via Seanika and ilker canikligil/Shutterstock