A ‘Strong Pro-Abstinence Message’ … for Women

I heard about this on the radio yesterday and nearly drove off the road. I’ve never called in to a radio show before, and I’ve pretty much given up on the local teeny-bopper station since they replaced my favorite host anyway, but I spent 20 minutes on hold trying to give this entire idea what for:

Sharyn Alfonsi’s insightful interview with Harvey who has found success with his down-to-earth advice found in his book. “A guy that’s really serious about you, he’s gotta be talking to you,” Harvey told Alfonsi. “He’s gotta wanna have one-on-one, in your face interaction. That’s how we are! The guy that’s just texting you, that’s no effort. He doesn’t have to get in the car, he doesn’t have to remember your number, he can just text you. And you sit there and you see all these wonderful things he’s texting you. Well, guess what, he could be ccing that same text to six other women. And you think you’re special? … Please.”

But it is Harvey’s stance on sex in a dating relationship that is not typically represented on ABC. “And to that end, Harvey says no woman should quote give up the cookie for 90 days,” Alfonsi said. Harvey likened sex to a benefit package.

“I worked at Ford motor company. They have a probation period. You have to be on the job 90 days in order for Ford motor company to release their benefit package to you. Why do women, who possess the greatest benefit of them all, why you passing out your benefits to a guy who has not been on the job for 90 days and has not proven to you that he’s worthy of a benefit package?”

Various points in no particular order:

1. WOMEN ARE NOT CARS. Neither are men for that matter.

2. Sex is not a reward for good behavior. At best, it should be a mutually enjoyable activity. It is not something a woman “gives” a man for showing up on time and meeting quota. How many orgasms are included in the benefit package, anyway? Is it pro-rated?

3. OH MY FUCKING GOD. Okay, look, if you want to give abstinence advice, how about this:Nobody have sex with anybody for the first 90 days of dating.

I would still think it was kind of bullshit, because life is short and if you want to bang on day 36 or even day 1 and as long as you’re all of age who am I to tell you no? But at least then we’d be focused on the timeline and the idea of waiting to make sure somebody isn’t a douchebag, rather than the tired old idea that men are predators who have to be prevented from obtaining sex from women, who are prey.

At least then we’d be focused on the idea of waiting as something both of you do, rather than making women out to be teases who hold sex back, which is supposed to, what, titillate men or something? I hear this a lot, this idea that tempting a dude, making him “work for it,” is some kind of epic level of hotness, and I just don’t get it. Here’s why:

It’s day 90. You give him the “cookie” (eww). Then what?

Then you have, in the very scenario you have created, ended the conversation. He’s achieved the objective. He’s won the game, stolen the idol, and put it on a shelf in his house. He’s done. You’ve made sex a prize and allowed him to win it. So even if the sex is mind-blowing, you’ve still set it up as a finish line. Which implies an end.

You’ve also done what all these abstinence freaks do, which is to set sex up as some otherworldly thing, some epic moment of all-consuming love. (A hell of a lot of Purity Ball girls are going to be bitterly disappointed in a few years when they discover that their first times aren’t always the stars exploding and then going dark or whatever the hell romance novels tell women these days.) Can it be? Sure. Is it always, instantly, especially between a couple of fumbling virgins? Hell no.

So then when it’s not, after you’ve spent three months making it out to be the ultimate golden ticket, where do you go from there?


7 thoughts on “A ‘Strong Pro-Abstinence Message’ … for Women

  1. Another example of the social divide not being conservative/liberal or left/right, but adult/juvenile.

  2. Well…It’s Steve Harvey, who thinks his 5 divorces (or however many he has), makes him an expert on all things women. He used to be a little funny, but basically he’s a d-bag, telling women how they should act, because he knows himself, and therefore every man on the planet.

  3. I’m a product of abstinence-only Catholic school education. Hi!
    In fifth grade, we were divided up by sex and ushered into different classrooms for the generic tab-A-slot-B mechanics discussion. (I asked my “yup she’s gonna be a dyke” question, “WHAT HAPPENS IF HE PEES IN YOU THAT’S SO GROSS”.) We were given tampons and deodorant and a “Your Changing Body” pamphlet of some sort; I don’t really remember. I hadn’t hit menarche yet, so I gave no fucks. This is the only sex-ed I talked to my parents about.
    In seventh grade, however, there had been rumors about kids making out, so they shipped us off to a tiny church in the middle of nowhere and we spent the day learning how condoms have holes in them and penises are weapons that hurt women and if you have sex without a wedding ring to protect you, you’re like an already-sucked-on lollipop.
    From then on, the narrative was exclusively “men have the power to ruin women with their penises except if it’s your husband, and then you’ll owe him sex whenever he wants it.” The only literature I received on the birth control pill before I went on it at 21 (at the urging of a friend – my menstrual cramps are flat-on-back-screaming awful) was a pamphlet shaped like Ortho-tri-cyclen with dead fetuses in the blisters (I didn’t keep it, unfortuantely, and google isn’t turning up anything similar). Sex was painted as this absolutely fucking terrifying thing from well before I was even vaguely interested in it, so of course I was a virgin until 19 but didn’t have sex with someone I was actively dating at the time until like two years ago (I’m 28).
    What abstinence-only education does (since we all know it doesn’t actually keep people from sexing) is poison young people’s relationship with sex. It can even get people raped, because it sets up a very skewed power differential so one party doesn’t feel like they can say “no”, and the other party doesn’t know how to ask for “yes”.

  4. It can even get people raped, because it sets up a very skewed power differential so one party doesn’t feel like they can say “no”, and the other party doesn’t know how to ask for “yes”.
    Because men are always the purchasers and women the providers of sex, and when a store won’t give you what you paid for, what do you do?
    And WORD to the thing about sex being something you owe your husband (or something he earns) because is it me or is that the plot of every third episode of every third “family” sitcom? “Oooh, he’s sleeping on the couch tonight!” I spend every minute I accidentally watch those things screaming GET SOME FUCKING COUNSELING OR BETTER YET A DIVORCE at the television. Our entire society is deeply stupid about these things.
    Except Buffy. Buffy got this right.

  5. WORD. Amen.
    And I’m also glad that you linked to a tumblr post … not too many of us oldsters are into Tumblr. Now I know that there are at least *two* people over the age of 30 on tumblr!

  6. @Hobbes, while not your central point, thank you for pointing out a fact that gets missed all too often in the attempts to outlaw “birth control” pills. Namely that these pills are also used to treat medical / physiologic disorders.
    I’d readily agree with advice to take your time in deciding. But to compare this to some sort of warranty period? Or a 90-day waiting to obtain insurance?
    Proof again that sometimes a dumb person agreeing with you can be detrimental to your cause.

  7. I loved rhat aspect of buffy! I considered that a revolutionary moment in tv and in attitudes about womens sexuality.

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