By Adriana Jaramillo
It was taboo in the 50s, all the rage in the 70s and now, in the new millennium, we find ourselves in a sex-frenzy like never before. But while some of us indulge in spicy TV shows and Kama Sutra books, others are turned off by the craze all around them and look to a life of sexual abstinence instead.
In fact, many teens are taking “virginity pledges,” through online commitment cards, signed contracts and oaths at youth rallies, as a way of expressing their decision to wait.
But like all binding agreements, this one came with a fine print that still has many trying to decipher the blurry definition of virginity.
Because the exact meaning of virginity is being redefined through loopholes like mutual masturbation and oral sex, it’s increasingly difficult to clarify what virginity and sex really are.
According to a poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which surveyed teens on their beliefs about sex, while more than half believed oral sex constituted sex, 91% viewed vaginal intercourse as the only way to seal the deal.
Nonetheless, the pledging aims to put a stop to or at least slow down the escalating promiscuity among young adults and promote abstinence until marriage.
Planned Parenthood’s www.teenwire.com illustrates just a few reasons why these pledging teens have put their adolescent urges on hold, ranging from fear of pregnancy and regret to religious beliefs and upbringings. AIDS awareness and STD prevention programs have also helped put the red flag on early sex.
Nineteen-year-old Diana Delgado, a student at Boston University, agrees: “Nowadays, people are getting it on because they’re pressured by everything around them,” she says. “I just think sex isn’t worth the risk of pregnancy and venereal diseases.”
Physical risks are just one aspect. Christian-oriented organizations such as True Love Waits and The Silver Ring Thing advocate a spiritual connection associated with sex and a commitment to purity.
The movement has in addition spurred fashion statements like “True Love Waits” t-shirts, sports watches, wristbands and purity rings that make the choice to abstain public.
And while the rings and belts may not be for him, Edilberto Alvarez is living proof that pledging isn’t just limited to the feminine sex: “I’m trying to wait until marriage because of the off chance that whomever I marry saved it for me. I would hate to not have done the same for them,” explained the 21-year-old University of Miami student.
Zevensuy Rodriguez, 19, says he also pledges to wait until marriage – or at least until he finds the right girl.
One way or the other, however, it’s not uncommon for virgins to take the plunge after they’ve pledged.
Recent studies by Peter S. Bearman, a Columbian University sociologist, reveal that pledging alone can delay a teenager from having sexual intercourse for about 18 months.
Yet only 12% of pledges make it to the altar with their promises firmly kept.
Despite concerns of earlier marriages and unprotected sex that are inevitably linked with no-sex pledges, the fact that a portion of the young adult population has voluntarily vowed to abstain from what some consider to be the basic desire for pleasure has left both younger and older generations applauding and debating.
Regardless of their different views on intimacy, pledges and non-pledges have this in common: they both exercise their free will – and nothing is sexier than that.