No ringy. No Dingy
By Ambra Nykol
At the rebellious age of 14, the age at which doing homework takes a back seat to shopping and the entire hemisphere hinges on being "liked," I made a very wise decision.
It was probably one of the better decisions of my formative years. Certainly a lot better than the time my friends and I decided to break into our neighbor's house to steal shampoo for kicks.
One day, I solemnly decided that sex and I wouldn't meet each other's countenance until I had two circular objects firmly planted on my left ring finger.
I think my mentor, Lakita Garth of Essence magazine said it best when she proclaimed, "No ringy. No dingy."
Not exactly revolutionary or noteworthy, but certainly not the norm in the halls of insecurity also known as high school.
Was this decision deserving of special recognition? Applause? A gold medal? A cookie? A special seat in heaven? No siree Bob.
Seeing as how sex was designed to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage, I always viewed abstinence as my reasonable service. You know, the least I could do with this here my one and only vessel on the earth.
Amidst a society that fed me the lies that I couldn't do it, I was stubborn enough to follow through with my word, even if it killed me.
And it did.
Curbing enthusiasm requires that some aspect of your own will be put to death. Any pious attitude or ego acquired by those who somehow feel morally superior for remaining abstinent will eventually have the crap beat out of it by the humility necessary to carry out the decision until the end (or rather, the beginning).
It ain't easy. The longer you wait, the more humble you become.
The odd thing is, today virginity is usually packaged as this unrealistic option we shouldn't be teaching and a reality for which most teenagers are ridiculed.
Yet the truth is, adults who've chosen not to test drive the car probably have to endure more naysayers than the average pimple-faced teenager.
Then again, high school is all about perspective so the small things become big and vice versa (read: everyone eventually grows up and realizes that high school was a joke).
As an adult, I've heard every defense in the book--everything from "How will you know you and your spouse will be sexually compatible?" to "But won't that make your wedding night awkward?" to threats that celibacy leads to geriatric ovaries.
At 24, it's safe to say that I'm willing to suffer whatever "consequences" there may be if it means being without the excess baggage.
You know, multiple partners, hurts, disappointments, soul ties, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, gonorrhea, and all that other fun stuff that accompanies having sex outside of marriage.
The unwritten rules of this modern-day dating game are advantageous to say least. And what a game it is.
William Raspberry's Valentine's Day column in the Washington Post posed a very important question: "What ever happened to courtship?"
"Maybe Valentine's Day is a good time to talk about something that's been on my mind for a while: the alarming decline of courtship.
Calling it alarming, of course, places me firmly on the old-fogy side of the discussion."
"The youngsters I talk to at Duke University don't seem particularly alarmed, though a few will acknowledge some discomfort, some disappointment that they find themselves in a world in which boys don't come courting. They are, willy-nilly, in a hookup culture that they (the girls, at least) don't remember asking for but feel powerless to change."
This "will-nilly" hook-up culture Raspberry alludes to is the antithesis to purity. These days, college dating relationships are messy. Raspberry goes on to narrate the account of a female college student from his "Family and Community" class at Duke.
The student recounts the many meanings of the phrase "hooking up" in the college world. The general "no-strings attached" nature of the hook-up culture is on a rapid decline. Sex has been cheapened and purity is a joke.
Amidst the debates about declining standards of morality on television and the seemingly incessant back and forth nature of conversations on abstinence education and propriety in media, we often fail to stop to examine the philosophy behind the criticisms of our racy culture.
Rarely do we make a case for purity. Instead, far too often, we get caught in the mire of partisan conversation about symptoms and fail to address the root issue.
The "they're going to do it anyway" philosophy is a cop-out. Contrary to what Darwin might assert, human beings are not animals. We don't copulate like rabbits. We have revelation; we have logic; and most importantly, we have self-control.
It's been said a thousand times over that "sex sells." Why does it sell?
Well, probably because it appeals to the weakest and most vulnerable aspects of humanity: our flesh. What troubles me the most is that in general, we accept the peddling of sex as a valid way to go about cultivating our society.
We dismiss its effects on children and young adults. We draw no connections between promiscuity, health, and the economy. Most tragically, those who wish to change this get labeled "fundamentalists," while most others argue counterpoints under the banner of over-romanticized concepts like a "free-society."
One of the definitions of the word "pure" is "free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes." One of the biggest paradigms in life is the fact that true freedom has boundaries.
Our perception of freedom is a crock. Behind the facade of freedom, we've bred some of the most bound-up, oppressed, and insecure young people in the world - mentally that is.
Don't let the fancy exterior fool you. From London to Brooklyn, New York, there are young people who are empty and lack identity. And when voids are present, there is counterfeit relief available to all. These days, you can fill up just about anywhere with just about anything.
And yet we wonder why we now see fifth graders having sex in the cafeteria elevators. It's a collective effort really.
Our "progressive" society has fostered an environment where love is awakened before its time. The case for purity is derailed by the need to convince a certain cross-section of our people that "love" even has "a time."
I mean, hey, if it feels good do it. Right? No consequences. No major ramifications.
The way we go about male-female relationships could use an overhaul.
The improper images consistently put before us have desensitized us to the sanctity of marriage, the power of purity, and male/female identity. Thrusting the younger generation into adult scenarios and the same cycle of hit and miss relationships dooms us to repeat the mistakes of our parents. Quite simply, we practice divorce.
Call me crazy, but I believe life as a teenager can be made easier and more purposeful without sex and complexly short-sighted relationships.
Purity isn't a destination, but it certainly is a direction. I think we should head that way. If not for my generation's sake, at least for those who come behind us.
Ambra Nykol is a columnist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com
Please e-mail comments about Ambra's article to email@example.com