The number one reason for not having sex among 16- to 21-year-olds is fear of disease (shortly followed by the "not ready" reason — a dangerous rationale that can reverse itself in a matter of seconds).
Physical boundaries for chaste dating
For starters, it must be said that a healthy ethic of fear has its place.
But if the fear tactic is to be employed at all, the emphasis ought to shift to the bad impact that premarital sex, sometimes even with the fiancee, has on marriages.
Some things in life that are better defined by examples than formulas. Whenever I've attempted a dictionary-precise definition of masculinity, I've always tripped myself up in endless qualifications and asides.
So now instead I collect little anecdotes to illustrate the concept to my liking. One weekend last year I was at a well-known dance club in New York's Village with a girl friend from college.
For instance, I had a conversation this past summer with my little brother, who is actually only little to me in terms of age — otherwise he's about a foot taller than I am.
Our conversation was about the two most important topics in the world, religion and sex.
My brother was telling me that he insists on practicing the first now, but planned to save the latter for marriage. Then he mentioned that he was kind of amazed that his friends didn't feel the same way.
After all, he said, there's such a high risk of pregnancy and disease. The thing of it is, I have known an awful lot of guys who have long since traded in the V card (so to speak) and no such horrible fate has descended upon them.
His fear was of the destructive, not instructive, kind, and he deserves better.
So for his sake and my brother's I have been trying, a little paradoxically as a woman, to work my way through the "problem" (some might say ) of male virginity.
An ethic based on the fear of traumatic physical consequences will not last very long in the face of a few countervailing examples.