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Wild Constraint: The Case for Chastity

Author(s): Jenny Taylor

ISBN13: 9780826487124

ISBN10: 0826487122


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  • Sex is no longer edgy; chastity is the real subversive option. A Wild Constraint: The Case for Chastity denounces the ideological destruction of personal virtue, and remakes the link, unfashionable since the 1960s, between sex and society. Largely considered an exclusively religious option, chastity is now being reclaimed as a radical new lifestyle choice.

    What after all is liberating about behaviour that results in massive hidden pain and exploitation? But Jenny Taylor goes further and argues that in the context of promiscuity, sex trafficking and social chaos, chastity can herald a different sexual freedom, a recovery of community and hope for women in cultures that offer no choice. She draws on personal experience and a wide secular and spiritual literature, as well as interviews with men and women of all ages to help restore the dignity and point of chastity.

    She also challenges the church to recover its conviction: We need more of a counter-culture that values the struggle; that helps us survive the ideologically-driven sex-conformity; the singles supplements that penalise us for being economically inconvenient, the pop logic that makes virtue a vice.
  • Jenny Taylor

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    Ready for Sex
    Made in the Image of Dog: Freud and His Disciples
    Sex and the Destruction of Childhood
    Virtue and the Vamp: Women as Culture Carriers
    The Churchs Turn Against Chastity
    Alone Again , Naturally
    Sexuality for Society
    Surviving Chastity


    My old boyfriends will no doubt hoot and jeer when they discover Im writing a book about chastity. Of course it provokes mirth and scepticism - and curiosity. Such a quaint notion. Ever since I became a Christian two decades ago, in part through the writings of St Paul on the body, I have found myself responding, albeit reluctantly, to requests particularly from the secular media to talk about why I turned my back on sex. I am not embarrassed to do so in public if it will encourage others.

    The book came about as the result of an invitation to develop an article I had published in Third Way magazine (1). The Daily Telegraph Review had published a piece by Catherine von Ruhland about her intention, aged 40, to renounce her virginity to which I had responded robustly (2). Catherines piece went around the globe and was followed up by TV appearances, and then a BBC Womans Hour interview with both of us. I talked about how the degradation of the personality can start innocently enough with ones first unsanctioned sexual encounter, and end in dark and increasingly wretched places. What is lost in terms of trust, self-esteem and integrity and the knock-on effects on the family and wider world is profound.

    Once I began research for the book, I became aware of a curious phenomenon: there is almost nothing written for any market, be it sacred or secular, about the emotional and social costs of sexual licence. Rarely is a connection ever overtly made between the healthy sex that sells cars, holidays and just about anything else, and the sex that ends in teen pregnancies, child custody battles and a destructive binge drinking culture. That would be to stray into the realm of morality. You can moralize about smoking, smacking and fox hunting, but not something as significant as sex which affects the core of our identities and is the locus of what Alan Bloom calls the souls energy Emotionally unprotected sex needs a health warning of its own. The horrifying reality of sexual pain and its social cost is quite simply not discussed - beyond the dismal recitation of statistics that show the true fall-out of the sexual revolution.

    On the other hand, in one bookshop, there were shelves groaning with well-written, passionate volumes of opinion and advice that indicated almost panic about the very real religious crisis that confronts the Wests sexuality. As the church re-evaluates its traditional stance on chastity and homosexuality, evangelical Christians particularly in America are deeply concerned about how to save their children from a sexually profligate culture around them. In January 2005, 1 counted 15 American titles published within the last two years alone with titles like Why Women Lose when they Give In and Every Womans Battle. The books were loud, righteous and directive - but none of them talked about sex in terms of social responsibility. The British contribution, though less strident - the tone being weve all failed, but there could be an alternative - was nonetheless also carried on in a vaccuum, as if individuals had sex lives, but society did not.

    What struck me also was that, barring Kristin Aunes interesting piece of research, Single Women: Challenge to the Church?, no book looked at sexual abstinence as a coherent stance on its own terms; as a sociological phenomenon unconnected with marriage. Singleness for unvowed Christians classically implies sexual abstinence - but only until marriage. It has come to have meaning only by reference to un-singleness. The Silver Ring Thing had hit Britain as a clarion call for young people to wait Chapter 8 of J. Johns book on sex is actually called Single and Waiting! (3)

    I wanted to write a book about single and not waiting - or `living fully as if I might never have sex; I wanted to advocate a viable way of living that is an important social option, not a negation of something considered better but out of reach. I wanted to write it for thinking people, whether Christian or not, who find themselves completely bamboozled by the media; by pressure to be sexy, have sex, have it all, and are uneasy about it. I wanted to offer something to parents who watch anxious and bemused as their children get sucked into the sexual rapids. And I wanted to help single people to be an encouragement rather than a wretched warning.

    Self-knowledge is imperative in the day-by-day business of remaining sane and honest in ones living, and one must give an account that accommodates the sceptics. Sexuality is never without issues - and psychotherapists get fat on them. As a wild child who ran to religion I will no doubt be criticized by both sides in the battle for truth. I learned wisdom only through experience. I wish it had been otherwise. It is only because I know what I lost and what by the grace of God has been restored to me that I agreed to write this book. The biblical guidance on sex pulled me through a dark time - and if it is good enough to save ones life, it is good enough to go on living by.

    Care of our sexuality has traditionally been hedged about by taboos. Everyone is unpredictably susceptible to the power and intensity that sexual activity unleashes within them. No amount of sociological and psychological revisionism will change that fact. My conversations with women and men of all ages and backgrounds - for which I am profoundly in their debt - showed me that there is a world of pain caused by capitulation to cultural mores. I wanted to show that such pain has a more than personal cost; and that redeemed and used, there is more to sexless singledom than mere endurance. It is not merely an absence of partnership, but can become a life-saving presence of freedom, order and sanity; and more than that - a source of strength for society at large. I long for this to be affirmed and modelled attractively so that young women do not waste so much of their lives capitulating to men, waiting to capitulate or regretting that they did! So often they marry, and spend the rest of their lives regretting that too - or waiting for something else: a child that never comes; a bigger house, more freedom for creativity - or even for their oppressive spouse to die.

    But there is more to chastity than just sexual abstinence. It is the opposite of the old credit card slogan: Access takes the waiting out of wanting The grab it now culture is a direct attack on chastity. Chastity properly understood is an attitude that anticipates grace; that accepts there is a time and a place for all things. Learning how to wait well is the secret of maturity and satisfaction, even if it is for a lifetime. In Ronald Rolheisers words: Irreverance or prematurity are what violate chastity. By that token marrying because it promises compensation is unchaste. When it assures us of security, status and sex - and most likely a rest from the burden of ourselves - it is unchaste. Yet we opt for it because the alternative as it has been presented, seems so awful. Without outspoken advocates for chastity, women will only go on trying harder to numb themselves to the pain of emotionally unprotected sex. And all that results in is a hardening of the heart and a greater insensitivity to what really matters for society as a whole. Chastity is deeply political.

    I have also been intrigued to understand what lies behind the changed attitudes of a country once a byword for reticence about sex, from where chaste women led the world in sexual and social reform. What is the link between chastity and creativity? My own experience led me to want to know more about pioneers like Florence Nightingale and Jane Austen who responded with their bodies to the needs and constraints of their time. They chose something other than marriage - and it surely was not lack of interest in men (4).

    I had inspiring role models among the missionary spinsters Id worked with who spent decades in hard places in India and Nepal and Africa, often on their own, founding healthcare and educational opportunities especially for other women. Ordinary, unmarried and chaste, they often achieved something beautiful for God completely unsung. This book is dedicated to them.

    Blessed are those who, going through the vale of misery use it for a well: and the pools are filled with water. (Psalm 84.6)



    Carla Weller is 16 and lost her virginity three months ago. A tall girl with a long, rather sad and watchful face - she has agreed to come to my house to talk. She arrives alone, brave, feigning indifference; obliging the mother of a friend who is helping me find informants. Carla is trying to find her way in a life circumscribed by state school and the public houses of Wood Green. Her mother is a barrister in Chancery Lane; her father, who is a Polish Catholic, is an artist. She loves her family very much, and would hate to upset them. She refers to her older sisters guidance, more than to her parents. Her answers to my questions reveal the habituated sophistication of a teenager suddenly, painfully, aware that her stock patter - the patter she used to use to shield her naivety - is false and inadequate. She is confused, hurt - and proud. She knows shes been made a fool of by a weak boy she did not love but with whom she had grown up. Curiosity got the better of her; she had sex when she was told it was OK to do so, i.e. when she felt ready - yet now she feels, in some obscure way, she has demeaned herself.

    As she talks, occasional gleams of girlish mischief twinkle in her eyes. They alternate with darker, petulant self assertions that reflect an evident dawning awareness that sex is not just another childish prank. Sex leaves an emotional residue; there are social repercussions she had not anticipated, and for which no one seems to have prepared her. Pompous phrases straight from the teaching manuals thud into the space between us and lie like unexploded shells. The detonator is her dawning awareness that the system has let her down. Childhood friends who become sex partners - or whatever the government calls them now - do not remain friends or partners for very long, it seems.

    Carla: We have people come in and do talks about underage sex and that kind of thing. The whole awareness thing - they say, "If you are not ready for it dont do it"; wait until you feel comfortable. I wont put an age on it. You could feel ready and confident enough at a young age, but you should probably save it until you are slightly older because if you do get involved it could be a disappointment. Its hyped up so much by the media and by friends. It would feel a big deal - mainly to girls. Girls have a habit of talking more about their emotions. Boys are more, "Come on - get it over and done with" or "Oh, I would love to bang that!"

    I lost my virginity three months ago [clicking her fingernail]. In myself I was ready. I was ready for a while. It was more about making sure Jo was comfortable. I wouldnt do it unless it was a boyfriend. I would feel like a slut. Theres not a real difference; its more about myself. You need to feel a connection with someone. The one night stand appeals if you are drunk, in a club. To me it would have to have meaning to it rather than just wham bam thank you mam.

    I havent seen Jo since it happened. Its probably a lot to do with his friends. Maybe he wasnt ready for the whole relationship thing. Thats whats upset me. He is easily influenced, Jo is. He follows a lot of what his friends say, whereas I am the opposite. That was more curiosity for me. I was like, thats something I havent done before. I just want to get it over with - see what its like. Wed get onto the subject, me and my friends.. . . At school they teach us that we have to feel ready. They tell us dont feel pressure. It isnt a need. If you want to do it, its because you want to. Condoms. That was our biggest worry.

    To be honest? Because it was so hyped up, after the first time it didnt really. . . . it was really over-rated. I expected it to be amazing, oh wow ... the medias always sex sex sex - something really massive in my life - but afterwards, I thought, well, thats done. My friends went the opposite way and went sex crazed, but its not like I suddenly feel like Im a woman note. The first time was during the day, the second time in the evening. I think Jo was curious as well. I didnt want to have sex with someone who had lost their virginity. I didnt want it to be a big deal to me but not to them.

    My feelings? I was nervous, there was excitement. Love? Well yeah, love has a lot to do with it but I wouldnt say at the time I was in love with Jo. I wouldnt say actual love, but I care for someone. I am more likely to call a girl a slag if she doesnt give a damn about his background. It must be a mutual decision to explore things you have never been involved in before. I dont think it has as much meaning when you are younger as when you are older. I dont know why that is. When you are young, you dont show the same affection: when you are a child you still have the whole do-you-fancy-him-thing. I think its a type of love, but I dont think its the same kind of love as when you are older. If you really are in love with someone, they will take you for what you are. Its not so much what you can give them - the whole virginity thing - it doesnt really matter to them. As long as you dont go around mentioning you have slept with someone already. What I have learnt from my sister, the guys dont like you bringing up past relationships.

    I would like to think of myself as not the kind of person who would have sex with any old Tom, Dick or Harry. With Jo, I really do care about him a lot - I wont say I am in love with him. He was more my friend, I had that sort of friendship, care for him. At school, they should go into the emotional thing. But it can scare you. It is going to affect you for the rest of your life. I think it would be good if they gave you emotional awareness rather than just "You can get an STD or get pregnant". I do think the emotions behind it are more important - because of how you feel after you have done it. I dont think I am a changed person. I am aware people might perceive me differently. "Shes easy, shes the kind of girl that would have sex straight away". But I am really not.

    I dont regret that. If you are going to regret that, you are going to end up regretting it for the rest of your life. Having sex with Jo - it was OK. This is new for me and at first, I was a bit - do I regret this? and then I was - I would rather it was Jo who I have known rather than someone I met ten minutes ago.

    I cant tell you what love is because I dont know what love is. I am not sure what I have with Jo is.

    [Long pause]

    At the moment I am really angry with Jo. I feel like he has pushed me out of his life and he hasnt given me a reason. Thats what I wish they would have told me: "you will feel paranoid about whether the boy wants to be with you because he wants sex, or because he loves you." I wish they had warned us. My sister did try and tell me.

    You dont get taught about marriage as something for sex. They teach you that marriage is the final way to say I love you - not sex, which is interesting. Part of me wishes they had taught me that.

    He did tell quite a lot of his friends, which did upset me. They said, "Ah youve banged her now. Do it again. Do it again."

    Carla is a product of the national state school system. Her answers reveal a faux scientific attitude of moral neutrality in matters of sexuality. The education system and the research establishment operate a statistically based discourse that, while conveying authority, emerges from an ideologically closed circle of mutually reinforcing prejudice. Sex education is carried out within a framework of quantifiable data on health and hygiene. In itself, this can only incorporate risk behaviour and undesired outcomes rather than daring to break more metaphysical ground. Science, it seems, cannot guard the heart.

    Society and its discontents
    Seven million people in Britain now live alone, and lump it. According to the Office of National Statistics, this figure from a 2005 survey compares with three million in 1971 (1). More people than ever are living alone younger. The largest increase in single households over the past 20 years has been among those aged 25-44 years, more than doubling in the case of men, from 7 to 15 per cent. A further 58 per cent of 21-24-year-old males still live unwed, with their parents. The number of marriages has fallen from 408,000 in 1950 to 283,700 in 2005 - the lowest level this century. With marriage proving increasingly unpopular, it is assumed that most of these unwed people are permanently on the lookout for a sexual partner, or at least, for sex. If a woman goes to the doctor for her annual smear test, the first question she will be asked is not Are you married? but What contraception are you using?

    For the post-Pill world, shame - the old way society maintained its boundaries - has been decoupled from sexuality. Shame has been deconstructed, and sex is no longer perceived to compromise social order but is as much subject to rational consciousness as any other appetite or human attribute. The Pill ended the infamous double standard and freed women from unwanted childbirth, male domination and domestic incarceration to enjoy the pleasures of sex in the way men always had. Personal completeness now means sex. The famous City blogger Abby Lee exclaims: I feel like a woman again. Finally got some sex! (2) For researchers and policy makers, sex is about safety and hygiene. Even the Girl Guides new Guide for Living for Modern Girls has a chapter entitled: How to practise safe sex (3). For educators sex is a matter of biological maturity; just one way a person relates to another - and there is a menu of predilections. In 2005, 160,000 civil marriage ceremonies (marriages performed by a government official rather than by a clergyman) took place and accounted for more than two-thirds (65 per cent) of all marriages. Cohabitation before marriage is increasingly the norm. Whereas around 1 in 20 women marrying in the late 1960s had cohabited before their wedding day, by the end of the 1990s the figure was nearly eight in ten (4). The liberation of female sexuality has helped the liberation of all forms of sexual expression including buggery, once regarded as demeaning and unmentionable (5). Thirty years ago, there were just two venereal diseases - as they were known: gonorrhoea and syphilis. Today there are 23.

    For the church, faithfulness and commitment still matter - but less so. Many in the church see their job as responding as sensitively as possible to peoples needs, and affirming their chosen lifestyle. Believers do not respond to Gods calling; instead they choose their identity Clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church is increasingly discussed as optional; the individuals choice rather than a calling. Cohabitation is now regarded by influential churchmen as an option that should have its own liturgies (7). Pleasure in sex is, for the first time in 2,000 years of history, a serious theological and ethical issue, not a mere footnote in the age-long discourse on procreation. The Anglican Report Marriage and the Churchs Task, published in 1978, speaks of a polyphony of love that can be comprehended as, among other things, two individuals experience of ecstatic pleasure .

    According to Duncan Dormor, Dean of St Johns College, Cambridge, the Pill heralded the greatest social change since the ending of feudal society and the shift to a capitalist economy (8). For Anthony Giddens, Tony Blairs adviser on marriage policy, this is a welcome sign of autonomous development, an aspect of a society where almost everyone has the chance to become sexually accomplished (9). Sexual morality has been replaced by sexual competence, defined by social scientists and statisticians as sex without regret or adverse consequences such as unwanted pregnancy or disease. The less regret there is, the more mature, socialized or autonomous the individual is.

    The implications of these changes in how society perceives its sexuality are significant, both for social well-being and for the increasing numbers of people for whom their status has no social meaning. They live in limbo, seeking artificial ways to palliate an inchoate sense of disconnection. Those who face life alone - the uncomfortably named singles - have no status beyond a negative one: the not married, the uncommitted, the incomplete. They seek sex - and are assumed to be seeking sex - to make them complete. The historic option known as chastity is not just invalid as an ideal, but has effectively dropped out of the lexicon because few understand its wider social meaning. The supplementary role in parenting of the bachelor and the maiden aunt depended upon freedom and a notion of service. Now Aunt Jessie is likely to be too busy with her new toyboy. Respectability has withered on the vine since it is an attribute fostered by community activity.

    It has been replaced by individualistic acceptability or cool (10). The anthropologist Tim Jenkins defines respectability as status claimed by an individual and his or her family, subject always to acceptance by the neighbourhood. It is a business of matching self-regard and public regard. But the anonymity of the city renders pointless the social value of controlled or withdrawn sexuality.

    It is the contention of this book that the absence of a rationale and particularly a religious and social rationale - for the single state per se - is an issue for us all. Miserable books - and there have been a plethora of late - that merely point out the isolation and despair felt by single people, compound the problem. Perhaps the most miserable of all has been Phillip Wilsons Being Single published in 2005, which contains analysis of 15 interviews with single Christian men and women chosen at random, all of whom found their condition wretched and pointless. Chapters like Loneliness, Dating and Sexuality and The Challenge of Singleness; and subheads such as The Biggest Problem of All, Church-Pain and Church-Stress speak for themselves. It seems that no matter the personality, the age, the context, or the church, loneliness is a simply enormous issue amongst many single people (11).

    Wilson calls on the churches to do something for their singles as if it were a a disease or a disability. In fact, it is more a sign of disordered times - and a pointer to the need for social reconstruction. At key times in the past it was the religious connection between chastity and the vitality of communities that gave purpose and meaning to the lives of the unwed. A restoration of such a connection is the key both to happier people and restored communities. First, we turn to the contemporary social and emotional scene.

    Parental accomplices
    Were from the ghetto! smiles 18-year-old Nickie as I approach a group of teenage girls sitting smoking on the wall outside the St James Shopping Mall in downtown Edinburgh. We have a hard life, she says smiling vacantly, between puffs on her smoke. Ive explained - loosely - that Im researching for a book on young women and their life choices. I offer to buy them a drink if they will talk to me. They march me to the nearest Burger King and I buy them Cokes. Beckie explains straightaway: My boyfriend bullies me, tells me what to do and that. I dont want to get married.

    I hope to talk to all four of them, but its Nickie who sits down with me, while the others wait politely at another table, and giggle. Theyre not malicious; there is real prettiness in their faces and clothes, but they have an air of something slightly feral and disordered about them. Its what made me stop. Were they with the girl selling the Big Issue nearby, swaying slightly on her feet, losing her struggle to keep her eyes open enough to see the passing punters who might pay for the next fix? Perhaps they werent with her - but they could have been.

    I buy the Cokes - two politely refuse - and we stumble upstairs to find a quiet table. It is furnace-hot on this July heatwave day as I attempt to get my head around the presuppositions of a 16-year-old ghetto-child whos just been picked up by a middle-aged English woman and hasnt a clue what she wants. Pretty with a soft pink and white complexion, and the remains of a lurid pink hair dye an inch from the roots, she is guarded and almost totally lacking in self-awareness or sexuality. A child still - a naughty child - playing with dangerous toys.

    Her dad died when she was 6, in a fire, she tells me. Her parents had already split up by then. He had come home one night dog tired, and had fallen asleep in the chair, dropping his fag on the floor. He died of smoke inhalation, trying to put it out. She had moved to Edinburgh three years ago with her mum, who found a job in a bakery. She attended St Augustines Catholic school, although she was a Protestant. It didnt mean anything to her. She liked going on the Orange walks.

    I had a boyfriend for two years. Its someone to talk to, and spend time with and stuff. He moved to another school and it was too far to see him. Ive never slept with a boy. The last boyfriend I had I was too young. Sex doesnt bother me. Id sleep with him if I liked him. At school they just taught us about STDs and protection and peer pressure. If you dont want to do something dont get pushed into doing it, thats all they said. They didnt teach us it was wrong. It was in PSE - I cant remember what that means - it was guidance, all your work experience stuff, odd jobs, sex education.

    What are your hopes for the future?
    Getting money when I get older. Have a good job and be happy. I want to join the army. You have to be 17, so I will probably stay on at school another year.

    She looks at me as if I am strange:
    No - I dont think sex is for marriage. I dont want to get married anyway. I dont want to have any children either. I dont want to be tied down. I just want to have fun.

    What is fun for you?
    My pals, having a drink, going to parties - I drink vodka or anything - alcopops, WPB - Ill have four big bottles. If I really want to get drunk, I will have a bottle of vodka to myself. I dont do that every night.

    Why do you get drunk?
    Because its fun.

    Where do you get the money from?
    From my mum.

    Schooled for sex
    Between a quarter and a third of children now have sex at puberty, and neither schools nor parents see it as their job to instil restraint. The Natsal Survey, reported in the Lancet (see footnote 5), reveals that 30 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women aged 16-19 years now reported their first heterosexual intercourse at younger than 16 years. The proportion of women reporting first intercourse before they were 16 had gone on increasing, it emerged, up to the mid-1990s, but had stabilised after that.

    The report also noted a sustained increase in condom use and a decline in the proportion of men and women reporting no contraceptive use at first intercourse with decreasing age at interview i.e. younger and younger children are heeding the lessons they are taught at school, and going into their first sexual encounters with protection. Only a small minority of teenagers have unprotected first intercourse.

    The report interprets the findings as showing that teachers are the most significant influence on risk behaviour, noting an increase in the importance of school in the sexual education of the young, particularly men. It also notes a striking increase in condom use at first intercourse, suggesting some impact from sexual health promotion messages, and concluding that [f]actors most strongly associated with risk behaviour and adverse outcomes have considerable potential for preventive intervention: Children now know they can have sex without sanction - so long as it is protected (and is therefore no financial burden on the State). Indeed, far from deterring them, they feel its expected of them. A 13-year-old Tyneside lad stuck up his hand after a sex education class I attended, and asked: Miss - when you see condoms everywhere in the toilets and shops and things, does that mean youve got to have sex? (12)

    Education, however, is not preparing children for the emotional rigours of the experience. Throughout the age range, there is a strikingly high level of regret - 42 per cent on average among females. Even among those whose first experience of first intercourse was 18 years and older, 19.3 per cent wished they had waited longer. `Women says the Natsal report, are twice as likely as men to regret their first experience of intercourse and three times as likely to report being the less willing partner. Regret is one of four criteria of sexual competence in the survey, but regret is an odd choice of word in the context of a subject that is treated scientifically, since it is usually applied to experiences that cause lasting harm. One does not regret ones first alcohol - one simply likes or dislikes it, unless one becomes an alcoholic. A schoolgirl may regret not revising harder for an exam - because the implications endure into adult life. So too, first sex. The language belies the studys own purported neutrality.

    The other criteria of sexual competence are willingness, autonomy and contraception at first intercourse A strikingly high proportion, 91 per cent of girls and 67 per cent of boys aged 13 to 14 years at first intercourse were not sexually competent. However,[a]nalysis by age group shows that sexual competence at first intercourse has increased during the past three decades, despite decreasing age at intercourse. Kids have sex younger, use condoms more and claim less to be doing so under pressure.

    There is an emotional and social cost to the relaxation of sexual mores in Britain that may be just as high as disease and pregnancy - but is harder to quantify. There is a clear correlation between sexual activity in young women, early school leaving age - and subsequent pregnancy. These data identify a vulnerable group of women in public-health terms; 29 per cent of sexually active young women in this study who left school at age 16 years with no qualifications had a child at age 17 years or younger For nearly a third of young sexually active women (29 per cent), future options are diminished.

    This survey shows, beyond much doubt, that girls are having sex as young as possible, and that while more of it is protected, young women still pay the highest price. The ghost in the machine is clearly the school. The researchers applaud the increase of condom use - risk reduction - and the association between school sex education and risk reduction - irrespective of the emotional and social harm thats being done. Unhappy children mean an unhappy society. There is a significant group of young people whose aspirations are being betrayed by actual experience, whether thanks to parents, school, media or peers. Given the indisputable influence others have on the timing and mechanics of first sexual experience - as the report indicates - there is a clear role to be played by the whole of society in helping children to imagine an alternative route through the rapids of puberty.

    Old singles: menopause, spinsterhood and the fear of dying
    Fewer than 1 per cent of people marrying today are virgins (13). The British Household Panel Surve

Wild Constraint: The Case for Chastity