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Sex Before Marriage: Everyone’s Doing It, and That’s a Good Thing

By Periscope @periscopepost
World's worst public proposal Wedding rings. Photo credit: Goran Ratković

The background

Speaking out against the abstinence-only sex education offered by many schools in her homeland, American writer and blogger Jill Filipovic of The Guardian  wrote about her reasons to celebrate premarital sex. The article has become one of the newspaper’s most-read pieces this week and has prompted many to wonder whether the traditional values of chastity continue to hold relevance for the modern world.

Everyone’s doing it – so why be ashamed?

A fundamental element of Filipovic’s argument was the idea that premarital sex was a good thing simply because so many of us engage in it. Indeed, “95% of Americans don’t wait until their wedding night … Even among folks in my grandparents’ generation, nine out of ten of them had sex before they wed.” Sex before marriage is – as it has long been – the norm, and heaping judgment on those who partake in this overwhelmingly common custom is an arguably archaic and irrelevant position.

Premarital sex: it’s good for you

Still, as our mothers always told us: just because something’s popular, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Filipovic argued that having sex before marriage is not merely extremely common, it also has a number of personal, and even moral, advantages. First off, sex in and of itself has been shown to hold benefits for individuals’ physical and mental well-being. As Filipovic wrote, “in terms of happiness, sex is better than money, and having sex once a week instead of once a month is the “happiness equivalent” of an extra $50,000 a year.”

There are also arguments that suggest that premarital sex, and the more modern concepts of gender and relationships that often accompany it, make for a better marriage or long-term partnership. In Filipovic’s words, “people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages,” while “couples who both work outside the home and also share housework duties have more sex” and independent, better-educated women who wait to marry later “have extremely low divorce rates.”

The response

Filipovic’s piece garnered a good deal of praise among commenters, many of whom agreed that premarital sex and a more modern approach to relationships was something to celebrate, not be ashamed of. One recalled her grandmother anxiously warning her to never have sex before marriage, “Of course not, I told her; I had no intention of ever getting married.”  Another commentator said that despite his or her own Catholicism, they “completely disagree with the church’s teachings on this subject (amongst a few) and have spoken out against them. I can’t imagine having a fulfilling relationship without intimacy.”  Still, a more traditional outlook has persisted, and one commenter insisted that “all the couples I know that wait until marriage are still married and doing very well.”

Others wondered if perhaps the question of waiting for the wedding night was both outdated and un-British; one declared that “this article has virtually no relevance to British culture.” Jen Doll of The Atlantic Wire agreed that even in America, where religion continues to hold much more sway than it does in Britain, things have changed: “”virginity” past a certain age is regarded with more confusion and possibly even concern than the opposite. The 40-Year-Old Virgin is perhaps the most obvious cinematic example.” Yet, in Doll’s opinion, sexual empowerment is still often accompanied by “judgements or criticisms,” especially for women. In short, America – and perhaps Britain too –   remains “conflicted about things Puritanical and things Titillating.”

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