How purity culture can affect adult sexuality, and how you can heal from it.
Over the past 10 years, Velvet Box has been helping thousands of people overcome sexual stigma and experience connection, education and excitement. And, as we continue this journey with you, we are excited to announce that we are diving into a new topic with the help of instructor Dr. Celeste Holbrook: today we’re talking about purity culture, and how it can affect adult sexuality.
So, what exactly is “purity culture”, how does it affect sexuality, and how can you heal from it?
What is purity culture?
Over on her blog and on a variety of podcasts, Dr. Holbrook has been discussing the modern purity culture and how it has affected the sexual education and sexuality of individuals since the “free love” movement of the 1960s. This propelled a counter era of the late ‘80’s and 90’s based on the evangelical Christian message of sexual “purity”. “Out of this need for control over Christian sex grew ‘purity culture,’ or the idea that one could be ‘pure’ in the eyes of God by refraining from sexual thought or action until the wedding night,” stated Holbrook in her blog.
How purity culture can affect sexuality?
Messages of purity can have a deep and long term effect on sexual thoughts, behaviors and confidence. After listening to more than 10,000 women, Holbrook studied Religious Trauma Syndrome and found significant connections between purity messaging in youth and sexuality as an adult. “I see many women in my practice who experience low libido and painful sex. Most of them have a background of messages that indicate sex is dangerous,” Holbrook states in her “Sex is dangerous, they said” post. Other messages include “You are responsible for arousing men sexually,” which can lead to “sex feels like a responsibility or a chore – something on the to-do list.” Sound familiar?
How to heal from purity culture?
While the modern “purity culture” has evolved over the past 40 years, the idea of social purity dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. How does one overcome an ideology ingrained in our culture for the past 220 years? We’ve outlined a few tips to help you begin your journey to pleasure, from education and classes to toys and intimacy advice.
- Take the time to dive into Dr. Celeste Holbrook’s research on the purity culture via the links below:
- Sign up for our new class “From Purity to Pleasure” with Dr. Celeste Holbrooke on Wednesday, October 21st at 8:00PM.
- Stop by one of our five Velvet Box locations to talk to one of our intimacy specialists.
- Check out the following communication tools and recommended toys.
Here are two great worksheets to help you communicate your desires and your comfort.
Ideal Toys for Getting Started
It is a myth that a woman’s natural lubrication will show up on cue (similar to the myth that a man can always achieve or maintain an erection when he wants to). So it’s handy to always keep a bottle of lube nearby for when you are ready for play. Lubricant can also help if you are experiencing pain or discomfort during sex because it creates a barrier between the skin and significantly reduces friction and micro-tearing. Think of it like oil for your engine; you want those pistons running smoothly. I suggest a hybrid lubricant – either the gels or the creams – because they are very wet, and they tend to last longer because of their thicker consistency. Also, they are compatible with silicone toys.
Society has always been harder on a woman’s personal sexual exploration than they are on a man’s. As a result, many women have never learned to masturbate. If you don’t know what works for you, then you’ll struggle to show your partner what you like and need. Fun fact: over 80% of women achieve orgasm from clitoral stimulation alone. If you are one of those women (and you likely are), then you need a bullet. A bullet is your best friend. They are small, discrete, and typically more powerful than they look. Plus, you can use it to explore pleasure points all over the body. Bullets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be used with your partner or on your own. We recommend that you use it on your own first, because knowing your body and what feels good for you is essential to communicating your needs to your partner. Plus, hey, we all deserve some quality alone-time, right? (The Femme Funn Booster Bullet pictured here is available in Velvet Box stores.)
As we mentioned before, over 80% of women achieve orgasm by clitoral stimulation alone. Unfortunately, the clitoris is on the outside of the body and doesn’t always get the attention it deserves during typical intercourse. Then some genius (probably a woman) strapped a vibrator to a penis, and the world was never the same. A vibrating c-ring provides hands-free clitoral stimulation during sex, suddenly making the missionary position a lot more fun. There are so many benefits to a vibrating c-ring. Firstly the ring itself acts as a tourniquet, locking blood into the penis for a firmer, harder, more engorged erection. Then the vibrator sends vibrations through the penis, which is very pleasurable for the wearer and the recipient. Lastly, the vibrator massages the clitoris during sex, giving the clitoris all the attention it deserves. Remember to keep the vibe in contact with the clitoris, so think more grinding, less humping and pumping.
If you want to start exploring the vast and exciting world of sexual pleasure, but you don’t know where to start, then try picking up a sex game. These games are designed to help you spice up your sex life. If you don’t know what to do, start at the literal square one of a board game. Or roll the dice; we promise someone will get lucky, and we are willing to bet it’s both of you. Sex games are also great conversation starters; not only should you talk about trying whatever the card told you to beforehand, we recommend that you talk about the experience after the fact, too. Aftercare is an essential and often overlooked part of healthy sex. Be honest and talk about it. Michael Jordan wasn’t born the best basketball player in the world; it took practice. So think of this as practice: huddle and discuss the next play, and maybe even make time for two-a-days.
BDSM gets a bad rep even though more than 40% of couples have experimented with some form of it at some point in their lives. Some people may think BDSM is about control or pain, and although that can exist, it’s mostly about exploring the limits of pleasure. Try something easy, like a blindfold and some velcro restraints, and think about it as relaxing into the experience rather than fighting it. Restraints are meant to ground you, not to be fought against like a victim in a Taken movie. (Although, that sort of role play can be explored as well. You do you, boo.) Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and have your partner pleasure you? The most important parts of this kind of play are clearly communicating your wants and needs, creating limits and boundaries, and setting a safe word. Then honor those boundaries. Don’t break your partner’s trust because you think it’s funny, or you’ll risk losing access to an entire world of fetishes that you can explore together.
We can’t talk about couples’ sex and not mention the number one couples toy in the world, the We-Vibe Chorus. Similar to the vibrating C-ring, the Chorus provides hands-free clitoral stimulation during sex. But, unlike the c-ring, the Chorus is worn by the woman, provides constant clitoral stimulation, and stimulates the g-spot while also gliding along the penis during intercourse. This toy does it all. It can be a panty vibe, a solo toy, and it is ideal for foreplay. It’s also submersible waterproof, remote-controlled, and it has an app! That’s right, it has a smartphone app that allows you to do all sorts of cool stuff, but most importantly, it allows you to play with your partner from anywhere in the world.