email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshZen Sex
In Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns, Christine J. Gardner focuses on three evangelical campaigns, True Love Waits, the Silver Ring Things, and Pure Freedom to demonstrate how evangelicals frame the issue of abstinence. In doing so, Gardner also turns her attention to abstinence campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa and the way that these campaigns differ from those in America.
According to Gardner, the message of the abstinence campaigns is in reaction to a hypersexualized culture and a response to the prevailing "condom culture". Gardner describes how the abstinence campaigns focus on personal choice and agency by reframing the abstinence message from a negative and limiting "just say no to sex" to "just say yes to have great sex within marriage". At the same time, the word purity is becoming increasingly popular, relating to more than just sexual purity, but also purity in mind and actions. Another important feature of the abstinence campaign is the issue of second virginity or renewed virginity in which youth that have been sexually active can pledge to remain abstinent until marriage. Abstinence is also frequently framed as a health choice for young women and men who wish to avoid pregnancy and STDs. As abortion and condom use are frequently condemned, abstinence is viewed as the only righteous option for avoiding pregnancy.
According to Gardner, abstinence campaigns have renewed themselves while playing on popular culture. Public testimony by Christian celebrities who have pledged their commitment to abstinence is common. Purity rings are used to signal a person's commitment to abstinence, purity and marriage. The main theme of the abstinence campaign is that true love and great sex within marriage becomes the reward for those who wait to engage in sex. A fairy-tale narrative is then adopted to spread the message of abstinence. Pure girls and women are described as princesses, while pure boys and men are described as the heroic prince. Since females are viewed as more passive, and males as more active, boys and men who try to pressure females into sexual activity are often described as frogs in the fairy-tale narrative. This narrative supports romantic love, traditional marriage, and traditional gender roles.
Even though abstinence campaigns condemn intercourse, grey zones of accepted sexual behavior exist. For some youth only holding hands are deemed acceptable, while others only engage in kissing. Some youth engage in sexual behavior that excludes intercourse. The primary reason why youth decide not to engage in intercourse is because they believe that they are worth waiting for, that they respect their partner, and for women, the fear of becoming pregnant. Not all females and males find their true love and experience the fairy-tale narrative, and not all remain virgins until their wedding night. Those who do not often grapple with the burden of their sexual pasts, forgiving a partner who previously had sex, forgiving themselves, as well as psychological issues that arise.
Gardner dedicates the next two chapters to discussing the messages of the abstinence campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS is a tremendous issue. The focus of the abstinence campaign is on AIDS avoidance, more so than pregnancy even though abstinence ensures that unwanted or premarital pregnancy will not take place. AIDS is incredibly widespread in these countries, especially since there is little fear of contracting AIDS, particularly in light of more "severe" issues such as poverty, other diseases and starvation. Therefore, the natives often fear God more than they fear AIDS. As such, abstinence becomes the prevention of AIDS, which can optimally bring hope for the future and the choice to live.
As mentioned, evangelical Christians believe that the "the condom culture" and use of condoms help dilute the message of abstinence while acting as a tool for promiscuity. In Africa, however, the condom is seen as a necessary tool in the abstinence campaign. In the ABC (abstinence, be faithful, and use condoms) strategy used in Africa condoms are viewed as the last resort, but are still important in curbing the spread of AIDS. The construction of the condom is used primarily in four different ways. First, as a tool for marital fidelity, mostly in cases where one spouse is already inflicted with AIDS. Second, as a tool for saving lives, through the prevention of disease. Third, as part of holistic development in cases where abstinence is not enough, such as among commercial sex workers who need to financially take care of their family. Lastly, the condom is seen as a tool for female empowerment in the sense that women can save their own lives by insisting on the use of condoms.
In the final chapter, Gardner discusses the message that the abstinence campaign becomes all about sex. As such, false expectations about sex are common. Sex may be more complicated and complex than discussed by the abstinence campaigns. Sex might not be what a person thought it would be like. At the same time, Gardner states that due to the framed risks and rewards concerning sex, people might end up pleasing God in order to please themselves. When focusing on sex within marriage, the abstinence campaigns also tend to promote marriage at a young age, before males and females may be ready for the commitment. This may be a reason as to why the divorce rates of evangelical Christians are the same as those who do not identify as evangelical.
Gardner writes in a manner that is easily understood and matter of fact. The ways in which she incorporates interviews with men and women makes the book more interesting and makes it easier to understand the messages of the abstinence campaign. The intended audience therefore ranges from evangelical Christians to those who are simply interested in, or fascinated with the messages of the abstinence campaigns. Students and teachers in gender studies, sociology, psychology, and religious studies may also find this book highly valuable.
© 2012 Hennie Weiss
Hennie Weiss is a graduate student in Sociology at California State University, Sacramento. Her academic interests include women's studies, gender, sexuality and feminism.