George Bush’s Virgin Brides

Purity rings are all the rage.

The wearer of a purity ring vows to remain a virgin until marriage—at which time the ring is replaced with a wedding ring. Church groups and organizations like True Love Waits promote these virginity pledges and reasonably priced purity rings are available for single or bulk internet purchase.

Though men are welcome to don the ring, women are the main target audience. Among the many women’s rings one popular vendor sells is the Miss Faith a pink ring billed as “perfect for the lady who is focusing on purity and holiness” and Your Precious Jewel (“Treasure your precious purity as you would treasure a jewel”).

In ancient times fathers jealously guarded their daughters’ virginity because virgin brides commanded a higher price. (They still do in some places.) Today, fathers buy purity rings for their daughters and bestow them in a chastity ceremony. One such lord of the rings, Jack McLemore, gave his thirteen year-old daughter, Carrie, a ring with two bright red sapphires. The sapphires were meant to represent Jack’s eyes watching always over Carrie’s virginity.

Mothers support daughters using their father’s retinas for contraception. Judi Hayes of California said of the purity ring husband Mike gave daughter Annabelle: “As a mother, I was very touched by this token of my husband’s love for our child. Mike was Annabelle’s protector, her hero, her first Prince Charming. That ring was a gift from a father’s heart designed to advocate his daughter’s modesty and virtue.”

George Bush is a strong supporter of virginity pledges and purity rings. Though the Administration has had trouble getting body armor to soldiers and medical supplies to hurricane victims, it funds the distribution of purity rings through millions of dollars in grants to evangelical organizations like Silver Ring Thing.

Special rings are available for “secondary virgins,” women who have had sex but who promise not to indulge again until marriage.

In ancient times, restoring one’s virginity was complicated. According to the medieval Hebrew Book of Women’s Love, in order to restore her lost virginity, a woman had to “take myrtle leaves and boil them well with water until only a third part remains; then, take nettles without prickles and boil them in this water until a third remains. She must wash her secret parts with this water in the morning and at bedtime, up to nine days.” If that was going to “take too long” a woman could “take nutmeg and grind it to a powder; put it in that place” and her virginity would be “restored immediately.”

Today, the prospective secondary virgin can get her grant from the federal government and purchase the Miss Grace ring for $19.95. The ring’s two bright white stones will make her “as white as snow” again.

Mission accomplished.

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12 Responses

  1. Kaimi says:

    Nice post, Jason. (You seem to have, um, _unique_ web-surfing habits.)

    The secondary-virgin stuff is great, though. It reminds me of my undergrad Spanish lit class. (No, not for _that_!) We discussed a famous old Spanish play, La Celestina. The main character, Celestina, is an old woman whose job is matchmaker, madam, prostitute, sorceress, and “remaker of women’s virginity.” Celestina was paid well for her services — she got a gold chain for matchmaking, though she eventually was killed for it.

    And nowadays, rings sell for $20. Either way, there’s money to be had in restoring virginity.

  2. Liz L says:

    I can think of many legal and public policy issues that sprout from the taboo and silence that surround sex, which is evidenced by an unrealistic attempt to end premarital sex. These include: unplanned pregnancy and abortion, birth control access and distribution, gender inequality in the workplace (and generally), the FDA’s handling of the morning-after pill and HPV vaccination, etc. Obviously this list is not exhaustive.

    That’s great if someone wants to wait until they are married to have sex. I am all for personal choice. But I surely would rather have my family members, and the general public, fully and correctly informed of the potential consequences of their sexual decisions and not denied that opportunity before they make that choice.

  3. MJ says:

    Nice. Just delete the posts of anyone who expresses disagreement with you.

  4. Paul Gowder says:

    I suppose promiscuity rings wouldn’t sell too well, because of the extreme potential for street harassment. Such a shame.

  5. Simon says:

    I continue to be frustrated by the seeming fact that folks on the right are unwilling to supplement abstinence education, and folks on the left are unwilling to teach abstinence. Is it really so weird or unreasonable to want a sensible sex education program that stresses the importance of abstinence while still teaching that if you fail to abstain, here’s how to avoid getting pregnant and catching STDs. The dogmatic nature of the debate is highly frustrating to me; this isn’t being a squishy moderate, it’s being practical. Abstinence is 100% effective, and it should be given primacy, but in the real world, some kids will continue to not abstain, and as someone who regards abortion as a serious problem, every teenage fumble that uses contraception properly is a teenage fumble that cannot lead to pressure to get an abortion, which in turn reduces the number of abortions.

  6. Racer X says:

    Ground nutmeg for a rush job? I was going to say that whole nutmeg would take even less time, but then realized that nutmegs are round and smooth and … perhaps too evocative of the opposite for use in restoring virginity in a (hetero) girl!

  7. Anono says:

    This is so “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” Isn’t it getting obvious that this obsession with “purity” is meant to distract people from more genuine, important moral obligations?

    The right wing’s obsession with sex is getting absurd. But we can be thankful for at least one aspect of fundamentalism. If the Pharisees behind the purity pledges were willing to compromise a little with Islamic fundamentalists on the degree of importance of Jesus’s prophecies, perhaps they’d launch WWIII to take over Europe and Asia.

  8. Nate Oman says:

    While, there is there is definitely something comic about this particular instance of commercialized chastity, the idea of abstinence and chastity certainly don’t strike me as comic. I agree with Simon’s comments above. Furthermore, while I fully agree that it is unrealistic to suppose that premarital sex can be eliminated, the notion that a norm against premarital sex ought to be favored hardly seems unrealistic. The point of having norms is not to transform them into descriptions of society. Rather, the point of having norms is to try to get more people to internalize certain behaviors than they would otherwise internalize.

  9. the dogger says:

    I dated a girl in college who wore a purity ring when we first met. I didn’t know what it was until she told me about three months into the relationship — when she decided not to wear it anymore… As always, talk is cheap.

  10. Liv Marie Gustavson says:

    The light is on, but nobody’s home….

    Why doesn’t anyone ever give their SONS a virginity ring? Ok, I know what you’re going to say; I’m just picking at the details, but I’m NOT, I’m NOT! Will society never stop taking for granted that girls are easier to handle, that they are more responsible, that THEY should be the symbol of some pre-historical purity? If we dress “provocatively”, and get raped, is it supposed to be our fault? Just because a doctor couldn’t certify a boy’s virginity just by a quick poke up you-know-where, does that mean the boy should be excused, while the girl, always the girl, takes the hit? It drives me crazy to see the way you guys are trying to handle the so-called problem of premarital sex. Because when it comes down to it, it is a problem that society has constructed; we don’t feel guilt about how WE choose to live our lives because of some guilty gene, we feel guilt because society teaches us that we are not supposed to feel good about it. The problem starts when parents do not have the guts to talk to their children about sex from a very early age. My mother discussed sex with me, in a very detailed an balanced manner, at many different times during my childhood and youth. This gave me a gift much more precious than any stupid ring in the world, because instead of just telling me that I should wait until I was ready, she actually made me capable of determinig exactly WHEN that moment came. Thus I escaped all the regret and guilt which you claim resides in the troubled souls of teenagers. And even though I did not wait for marriage, I am all the happier for it, because I was able to make an informed desicion, and I did what I knew would make me happy. Frankly, the only chip in my happiness is having to take the constant judgment of you people. Please go away; my moral system condemns you.

  11. Rhonda Orobko says:

    Thank you Liv. It’s about time that this notion of “premarital sex” being the ideal is extinguished. What year is it anyway? If we live in a society that is capable of sending paying customers into space, cloning animals and starting wars for profit, then maybe we could also be capable of deciding for ourselves when we want to have sex. It is a completely natural human experience which has been demoralized to death already. We need to teach our children (and adults), just as your mother did for you, the real issues around sex and sexuality, and how to choose when is the right time for them. Marriage may well be the right time for some people but those ideals cannot be enforced on everyone.

  12. Hai Vu says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    I came across your name here on the internet and I lost contact with you.

    If you are Rhonda who worked at Rockies Mountain before in MIR, email me: Thanks!