Tag Archives: Repressed

What Happens To Men Who Stay Abstinent Until Marriage?


by Sarah Diefendorf

Russell Wilson and his girlfriend Ciara

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his girlfriend Ciara arrive at a White House State Dinner in April.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his girlfriend, the singer Ciara, recently announced plans to remain sexually abstinent until marriage.

It was a vow that came as a surprise to many. After all, sexual purity is a commitment that is historically expected of, associated with – even demanded of – women. However, sexual abstinence is not something assumed of men, especially men like Russell Wilson.

Wilson, an accomplished, attractive athlete, embodies contemporary ideals of masculinity, which include style, wealth and, yes, sexual prowess.

So how does a man like Russell Wilson navigate a commitment to abstinence while upholding ideals of masculinity? Wilson’s status as an athlete and heartthrob is likely giving him what sociologist CJ Pascoe calls “jock insurance.” In other words, due to his celebrity status, he can make traditionally nonmasculine choices without having his masculinity questioned.

But what does it mean for a man who isn’t in the limelight, who makes a similar type of commitment to abstinence? And what does it mean for the women they date, and might eventually marry?

I’ve been researching men who pledge sexual abstinence since 2008, work that comes out of a larger scholarly interest in masculinities, religion and sex education.

While men make this commitment with the good intentions for a fulfilling marriage and sex life, my research indicates that the beliefs about sexuality and gender that come hand in hand with these pledges of abstinence do not necessarily make for an easy transition to a married sexual life.

Who’s Pledging “Purity?”

Comedian Joy Behar recently joked that abstinence is what you do after you’ve been married for a long time. Here, Behar makes two assumptions. One is that sexual activity declines both with age and the time spent in a relationship. This is true.

The second is that abstinence is not something you do before marriage. For the most part, this is true as well: by age 21, 85% of men and 81% of women in the United States have engaged in sexual intercourse.

purity ringIf we compare these numbers to the average age of first marriage in the United States – 27 for women, and 29 for men – we get the picture: most people are having sex before marriage.

Still, some in the United States are making “virginity pledges,” and commit to abstinence until marriage. Most of the data that exist on this practice show that those who make the pledges will do so in high school, often by either signing a pledge card or donning a purity ring.

Research on this population tells us a few things: that those who pledge are more likely to be young women, and that – regardless of gender – an abstinence pledge delays the onset of sexual activity by only 18 months. Furthermore, taking a virginity pledge will often encourage other types of sexual behavior.

Virgins In Guyland

But little is known about men who pledge and navigate this commitment to abstinence.

I was curious about how men maintain pledges in light of these statistics, and also balance them with expectations about masculinity. So in 2008, I began researching a support group of 15 men at an Evangelical church in the Southwest. All members were white, in their early to mid-20’s, single or casually dating – and supporting each other in their decisions to remain abstinent until marriage.

The group, called The River, met once a week, where, sitting on couches, eating pizza or talking about video games, they’d eventually gravitate toward the topic that brought them all together in the first place: sex.

On the surface, it would seem impossible for these men to participate in what sociologist Michael Kimmel calls “Guyland” – a developmental and social stage driven by a “guy code” that demands, among other things, sexual conquest and detached intimacy.

Rather, the men of The River approach sex as something sacred, a gift from God meant to be enjoyed in the confines of the marriage bed. At the same time, these men struggle with what they describe as the “beastly elements” – or temptations – of sexuality. And it is precisely because of these so-called beastly elements that these men find each other in the same space every week.

The men of The River grappled with pornography use, masturbation, lust and same-sex desire, all of which can potentially derail these men from their pledge.

It raises an interesting dilemma: to these men, sex is both sacred and beastly. Yet the way they navigate this seeming contradiction actually allows them to exert their masculinity in line with the demands of Guyland.

Group members had an elaborate network of accountability partners to help them resist temptations. For example, one had an accountability partner who viewed his weekly online browsing history to make sure he wasn’t looking at pornography. Another accountability partner texted him each night to make sure that he and his girlfriend were “behaving.”

While these behaviors may seem unusual, they work in ways that allow men to actually assert their masculinity. Through what sociologist Amy Wilkins calls “collective performances of temptation,” these men are able to discuss just how difficult it is to refrain from the beastly urges; in this way, they reinforce the norm that they are highly sexual men, even in the absence of sexual activity.

The River, as a support group, works largely in the same way. These men are able to confirm their sexual desires in a homosocial space – similar to Kimmel’s research in Guyland – from which Kimmel notes that the “actual experience of sex pales in comparison to the experience of talking about sex.”

A ‘Sacred Gift’ – With Mixed Returns

The men of The River believed that the time and work required to maintain these pledges would pay off in the form of a happy and healthy marriage.

Ciara, in discussing her commitment to abstinence with Russell Wilson, similarly added that she believes such a promise is important for creating a foundation of love and friendship. She stated that, “if we have that [base] that strong, we can conquer anything with our love.”

So what happened once after the men of The River got married? In 2011, I followed up with them.

All but one had gotten married. But while the transition to married life brought promises of enjoying their “sacred gift from God,” this gift was fraught.

Respondents reported that they still struggled with the beastly elements of sexuality. They also had the added concern of extramarital affairs. Furthermore – and perhaps most importantly – men no longer had the support to work through these temptations.

There were two reasons behind this development.

First, respondents had been told, since they were young, that women were nonsexual. At the same time, these men had also been taught that their wives would be available for their pleasure.

It’s a double standard that’s in line with longstanding cultural ideals of the relationship between femininity and purity. But it’s a contradiction that leaves men unwilling to open up to the very women they’re having sex with.

These married men and women were not talking to each other about sex. Rather than freely discussing sex or temptation with their wives (as they had done with their accountability partners), the men simply tried to suppress temptation by imagining the devastation any sexual deviations might cause their wives.

after marriage

After marriage, the men felt left to their own devices.

Second, these men could no longer reach out to their support networks due to their own ideals of masculinity. They had been promised a sacred gift: a sexually active, happy marriage. Yet many weren’t fully satisfied, as evidenced by the continued tension between the sacred and beastly. However, to open up about these continued struggles would be to admit failure as masculine, Christian man.

In the end, the research indicates that a pledge of sexual abstinence works to uphold an ideal of masculinity that disadvantages both men and women.

After 25 years of being told that sex is something dangerous that needs to be controlled, the transition to married (and sexual) life is difficult, at best, while leaving men without the support they need. Women, meanwhile, are often left out of the conversation entirely.

So when we urge abstinence in place of healthy conversations about sex and sexuality, we may be undermining the relationships that are the driving goal of these commitments in the first place.

Complete Article HERE!

When did sex become shameful?

By Hanna G Ruby

Once upon a time sex was enjoyed without shame, as a gift of God, Goddess, the Great Spirit – an act of joy, of devotion, something perfectly natural and wholly divine – all at the same time.  Once upon a time the goddesses were venerated as the embodiment of love, passion, and sex, which were considered holy when performed in reverence for and in service of the female divinity.

But the mindset of patriarchy killed off the Goddess more than five thousand years ago. She was constrained to submission at worst, or virginal purity and celibacy at best; her divinity denied. With that, the idea of sexuality as spirituality, as something inherently divine, was eradicated for all women – young and old. Indeed, for all men as well!  Sexuality was severed from spirituality and became its extreme opposite; sex was dirty, primitive, and instinctual (and feminine in nature), while spirituality was pure and clean and transcendent (and masculine in nature).

In the West, however, it was only from our Bible onward that sexuality became a sin, the means by which the devil could tempt mankind into damnation, a shameful necessity of physical gratification that was obscene and dirty. Only from our Bible onward, were women considered inherently sinful and destined for eternal punishment.

Even before Eve bit that apple, there was poor, feisty Lilith (born initially as one with Adam – “male and female created He them” says the first Biblical reference), who, according to legend, preferred to have sex on top. Lilith represents lunar consciousness (waxing and waning, death and rebirth), sexuality, body, and intuitive wisdom – all of which patriarchy degraded and denied. She got a terribly bad press.

Previously, the Goddess had ruled the mysteries of sexuality, birth, life, and death. Now the patriarchal God took control of life and death, and split procreation and motherhood from sexuality and “magic and mystery”. Lilith refused to submit and flew off in a rage. Until recent decades, she has been universally demonized as seductive, witch, outcast – the enraged, avenging goddess, wife of Satan.

Solar was split from lunar; psyche from soma or physical, corresponding to a general disassociation from the body. Mind and body, spirit and body, soul and body were split entities, and unequal. The body was inferior, an unfortunate necessity – together with its most basic of functions, sex; and it was associated with the feminine. (I once read an old text that described women as “bags of filth”. The males’ organs of excretion were not referred to.)

Male and female were unequal; spirit and nature were unequal. Man headed the chain of command – after God. As women, and as a culture, we have paid dearly for this division. The misogyny of the patriarchy affected all cultures in the last 2000 years, one way or another.

The fierce, sexual, independent-spirited wise dark goddess aspect of Lilith was replaced by submissive Eve, who was yet blamed for the whole messy business anyway. She was the sinful one, secondary to Adam, and cursed forever to give birth in pain. (Medieval midwives were sinning when they alleviated the pain of childbirth.)

As long as Eve is sinful and physical matter corrupt in any way whatsoever, our sexuality is compromised – and our liberation incomplete. This split must be healed.

I am proposing that sexuality and spirituality are aspects of the same thing; that the split between psyche and soma (the physical) is resolved in the energetic unity of a higher order. “We have lost contact with what unites them,” says Alexander Lowen in The Spirituality of the Body.  Sexuality is psychosomatic – and by that I mean, not that it’s some kind of illness, in the more common meaning of the word, but that it overtly operates on both the physical and the psychic level.

Where science and religion are finding rapprochement in the infinite wave world of quantum physics, we find fresh metaphors for the lost unifying element. Waves of sexual sensations that emanate from the body can be visualized as cosmic, psychic energy, high-frequency vibrations that bridge us to higher consciousness.

These metaphors indicate possibilities that have profound implications generally, and more so for aging women today.

Complete Article HERE!

I’m just along for the ride

Dear Dr Dick,
My husband (34) and I (31) are coming up of ten years of marriage, and for the most part our sex life has been what I would consider average. He’s pretty much been the aggressor in our relationship, which has worked out fine until now. I guess after ten years my husband would like it if I occasionally expressed interest and initiated and told him what I like/don’t like etc. I really have no idea how to do that! I told him that and his comment was that maybe I wasn’t even sure what I liked/don’t like and that I’ve pretty much just been going along for the ride all these years. He’s probably right.
We used to kiss and cuddle etc. to work up to sex and now it’s, “hey, you wanna have sex?” which completely turns me off (which he knows). I’m sure this is partly due to his work schedule and having a four year old so by the time we get to bed we’re wiped out most of the time, but I’m so not into the, “hey, you wanna…” approach.
Anyway, I guess my question is how do I get started in figuring out what I like and don’t like, how do I work up to feeling comfortable enough to verbalize it and especially verbalize or show him that I’m in the mood, and then how do I tell him I don’t like something without shutting him down. There are times, I know I don’t like something but I go along with it because I don’t want to shut him down.
I should preface by saying I’m not a very confident person and tend to be a people pleaser?

You’re husband’s right. It is fuckin’ time you started lifting your share of the sexual initiation load. I mean come on! Most women would kill for a man in their life that would show an interest in what they like and don’t like. This going along for the ride stuff has got to end, darling.

female nude159How do you get started in figuring out what you like and don’t like? Masturbation! That’s the shortest and most to the point answer I can think of. Once you discover what turns your crank through masturbation you will have loads of very important information to share with you man. And hey, don’t forget toys, vibrators in particular.

How do you work up to feeling comfortable enough to verbalize what turns you on and verbalizing or showing him that you are in the mood? The answer to this question is as simple as the previous question. You masturbate for him.

Now I know that a lot of people, and that includes most women, have been socialized to think that masturbation is wrong, or at least it’s a private affair that one should keep to herself. But I’m her to tell you that’s just bull-hockey. And this is true for both women and men, gay and straight and everyone in between.

How do you tell him you don’t like something without shutting him down? Well, it’s probably much easier to tell him what you like and how you like it rather than approaching the tutorial from the negative. If he’s not completely brain dead, he WILL get the message. If, however, he starts to do something that is rubbing you the wrong way, so to speak, simply tell him as calmly as possible that he will get a much bigger and better rise out of you if he did it THIS way. And then show him…again.masturbation001

That fact that you sometimes don’t like something but that you often if not always go along with it tells me that you’ve socialized your man into thinking he’s an adequate lover when he perhaps isn’t. Its time for a confession, girlfriend! Be as gentle as you can, but for god sake, it’s time to come clean.

Take responsibility for keeping him in the dark about his lack of sexual prowess. Then tell him that there’s a very easy and fun fix for the problem and show him what you need and how you need it.

If you indeed lack the confidence you need to be honest with the one you love and who loves you back, then frankly Brandi, you deserve what little you get. But if you can muster up the gumption to throw off the tyranny of that whole people pleasing bullshit you’ve been laboring under all these years, then you have a real shot at some happiness and sexual fulfillment. It’s gonna be up to you to make this happen. If you need some support find a sex positive therapist who will help you grow some balls.

Good luck

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

I got email from a friend of mine that I haven’t had contact with for ages. We worked together on a couple projects in the past so I was delighted to hear from him. What follows is the exchange we had concerning his love interest. (All names have been changed.) I share all of this with you because I know other people, gay and straight, who have found themselves involved with someone they probably shouldn’t be involved with. Perhaps my friend’s dilemma will strike a chord with others in my audience.

Hello Dr. Dick
I think it’s been about 13 years now since we worked together. Ahhh the good ol’ days, and oh how I miss them.

I came across a recent post of yours on Google + and it reminded me I could use some of your professional guidance.hug in the butt

I don’t want to bias my story any or waste your time with unimportant details as to the nature of events. I would like you to hear (read) my situation word for word, exactly as it has been playing out.

I have about 50 pages of text messages compiled in PDF format over the past year or so between me and a guy I really like. I don’t want to walk away from him too soon, also don’t want to wait around for something that may never materialize (It’s been 3 years since we first started having sex).

Could I ask you to review these texts and give me your thoughts about it all?

Thanks for your time
(PS this 40y.o. guy I like identifies as being STR8, he is a total redneck, he is married to a younger 27-year-old female, he loves to fuck me and be fucked by me, he loves to suck cock and get his sucked too, he is hard from minute he walks in my door…it is the best sex of my life no question about it. And that’s sayin’ something.)

Hey YOU!
So nice to hear from you after such a long time. Yeah, I hear ya about the good old days. Unlike you, however, I don’t really miss them.

biker I would be happy to help you. Are you sure you just want me to read what you’ve compiled? Or do you want to talk about it?

Without prejudicing my appraisal of your document, what you tell me is very indicative of a problem that I have seen over and over throughout the years. And it sounds like you’ve got it bad.

Anyhow, how do you want to proceed? We can set up a Skype call, if you’d like. I do a lot of remote counseling these days, and Skype makes that possible.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Great to hear back from you. A quick note on ‘the past’, I think what I miss the most is the social life I used to have. I had a lot of friends and always made time to see them.

The last 7 or so years have been very stressful but it’s paid off in the end. My home was foreclosed on; I fought hard, went to court many times and it took over two years but I did manage to save it. In 2010 (About a year after getting my home out of foreclosure) the state began a road construction project literally right outside my back door. It caused major damage to my 100-year-old home during the 3+ years the project went on. I am still fighting the state in an effort to resolve the issues that the construction caused.

Lol, I am not all negative like everything is all bad, or I never get a break from the weird stuff, it’s just been very unusual for me to have such a string of bad luck.hot

So back to Kevin & I. Would it be all right if you just read one short recent conversation, and then you tell me if you feel you could help? I imagine it will only take a couple minutes. Basically we are at a point where we get along amazing well in person, sex is incredible, & he loves everything the way it is. (We see each other for sex, nothing more). I, on the other hand, want to hang out sometime besides sex. This text exchange comes after not seeing or talking to him in about 10 days, which is pretty common.

Let me know Dr. :)

[Attached to the above email was a lengthy document that contained the contained the transcription of this latest text exchange between Jackson and Kevin. I’ll spare you the gory details.]

There’s a lot goin’ on here…beside the fact that the last part reads like a porn script. 😉

Here’s what I see. I see two men who have a “hook” in one another. One is happy on the hook the other is tortured on the hook.

Kevin, despite, or even because, of the hot sex you guys are having, is at a crossroads. If things continue as they are going, he will have to make adjustments to his life and have to make some very painful admissions about who he is at least to himself. He doesn’t sound even remotely ready for that. And even if he wanted to make this life-altering decision, he is probably ill equipped to do so. I’m guessing that he has been running from facing his true identity for decades.

Jean CocteauYou, on the other hand, know exactly what you want and how to get it. For you falling in love with this guy and living happily ever after would be as easy as falling off a log. You’re in love and you know how to handle yourself when love happens. We both know this is not your first time at the rodeo.

It’s like you’re dating a Martian. He only knows how to be a Martian. Despite, or even because, you appeal to him to stop being what he is (straight) and be this other thing with you (gay), he is petrified. And he may actually hate the very thing that you love about him.

Another thing that is really obvious is that Kevin’s sex with you is shame-based, not affection-based. He probably does get off on the hot monkey sex you guys have together, but he’s also probably crippled with guilt and shame afterward.

Stop and look over the document you sent me. Choose any one of those pages and count the words that you typed and then count the words that he typed. I’m sure that you will immediately see that you overwhelm him. You bare your soul; you write paragraphs of self-disclosure. He responds in monosyllables. I’m pretty sure he can barely stand the barrage. He’s trapped between what he wants and what he will allow himself to have and it is sheer torture.

Despite the fact that is wants, maybe even desperately wants, what you have to offer, and not just the sex, he can’t allow himself to have it. It would shake his world to its foundation. And since he can have the hot sex without the emotional attachment, he’s getting everything he (thinks) he wants. You, on the other hand, are living a life of non-to-quiet desperation. You’re at heaven’s door, but he won’t cross the threshold with you.

If I had to guess, I’d say there’s no future beyond the wham-bam-thank-you-sir part bumpin’ you’re already getting. And I also speculate that this arrangement has a half-life. I’d be willing to guess that ya’ll are already past the mid-point. Your dissatisfaction will grow and begin to manifest itself in the way you treat him. There will be an ultimatum. Then there will be an end. With a little luck it will end well, but there is also a big chance that it will end very poorly indeed. Violence is not unheard of in situations like this and I think you know this already.redneck

In his defense, I don’t think Kevin is holding out on you. He probably would if he could. But he simply can’t. And if I had to guess, he’s not ever gonna turn this around. You said he’s in his 40’s, right? That’s a lot of life lived falsely, no? I’d be willing to wager that you aren’t the first man he’s fooled around with over the years and I don’t think you’ll be the last. He’s gotta have his fix even if it compromises his perception of himself.

I don’t envy you this conundrum, my friend. You are in anguish; I hear that. This is not a happy place for you and all I can say is, I hope you don’t give up any more ground.

Let me know if you want to talk about this at some point. No need to walk through this on your own if you don’t want to.

Good luck.

That gave me chills… Its like you were here the whole time. You identified every detail exactly as I have been living it.

One part in particular, Kevin said pretty much word for word as you did. He said, “I’m not holding out on you. I would if I could, but I simply can’t.” I got to admit I don’t understand.

Tuesday I sent him this text:
“Why is this normal social shit so awkward in your mind? All I want to do is hang out sometime. Let me repeat, I want to do something other than hookup one time. That’s it, if you don’t like it I won’t ask again.

I know you like the other shit more, I likely do as well. But is it that big of a deal to just hang out like regular dudes as well?

I’m not asking for anything else whatsoever no emotional connection or expectations of any kind.”

redneck buttHis reply:
“I can’t. I’m sorry.”

His response blows my mind; it makes no sense. Sounds like an adult telling a child NO! I don’t have to explain, no means NO!

I think the truth is he just doesn’t WANT to do anything, even though he surely could. Ughhhh anyway.

I want to talk more with you about this Richard. I’ll hit you up later about the Skype thing. Thanks for being a sounding board for me.

Wow, that is interesting. Poor guy!

Again, in Kevin’s defense, he does have a wife. Maybe he thinks if he keeps his sex with you on the down low it’s not really infidelity. You know, guys doin’ guy things together. An emotional attachment to you would blow that delusion out of the water. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place. He can’t win for losing.

Anyhow, thanks for entrusting your woes with me. I look forward to connecting with you on Skype in the near future. All the best till then.

Early Summer 2014 Q&A Show— Podcast #423 — 06/30/14

Hey sex fans,

My inbox is overflowing, so it’s time to turn our attention to the sexually worrisome in our audience. I have another swell sweet crackQ&A show in store for you today. Each of my correspondents is eager to share his or her sex and relationship concerns with us. And I will do my level best to make my responses informative, enriching and maybe even a little entertaining.

  • Bluetail Man ain’t gettin’ any at home so he’s thinkin’ about takin’ his needs elsewhere.
  • Mike is saddled with a meth monkey and we have an exchange about that.
  • Hanson is into pain; he wants to know if that’s normal. He and I have an exchange about that.
  • Ted wants his GF to give up her booty; she doesn’t want to.  We have an exchange about that
  • Sean is afraid his kinks will get him in trouble. He and I have an exchange about that.
  • Anonymous is filled with fear, rage, and lust.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews.


Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

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