Little girls who recently pledged their abstinence until marriage: I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. The bad news is that some study just came out saying those pledges don’t work. As it turns out, girls who pledge to stay chaste—-even those who ensure their virginity through collectible tween-sized silvercrafts or ornate pre-prom daddy-daughter purity balls—-are having sex anyway (that’s the good news).
Conservatives are up in arms about the implications this study has on the sex lives of you girls—-oh no, they’re totally doing it, and not to have babies! But what of the deeper psychological compulsion this study has exposed in daddies and daughters alike: The need to pledge?
Sure, I’ve pledged. I’ve pledged plenty. And some of those pledges I’ve even kept! In high school, I put on a pair of Beer Goggles and pledged not to drink and drive to Prom in hopes of winning a raffle for a $100 Fashion Square mall gift certificate. These are the best types of pledges—-ones with time limits and cash prizes. For the most part, though, pledges will expire—-usually when your life changes, rendering them irrelevant. Some pledges still last a long time: when I was in the fifth grade, I pledged never to do drugs, and I kept that pledge until I became an adult (now-ironic D.A.R.E. sweatshirt still fits!) Other pledges expire with gym memberships, or the consumption of simple carbohydrates, or when you stop being so hard on yourself, or, you know, when your wife divorces you.
So listen up, little girls: These long-term, lifelong, idealistic pledges made in adolescence (or, let’s face it, throughout adulthood) aren’t a promise—-they’re a gamble. Whether or not you break a pledge has less to do with saying the words or signing the contract, and more to do with the weird, crazy, messed-up, tragic, wonderful shit that’s going to happen to you in your lifetime that you have no possible control over or way of predicting.
And yet, pledging is really kind of a fun activity, and you don’t want to feel left out when your youth group/classroom/siblings all promise never to have sex/drugs/multiple marriages ever and you have to twiddle your thumbs acting like a self-important jerk who knows so much more about life than everybody else. So instead of pledging, why not make something of your superior life knowledge, and place bets against your friend’s pledges for large sums of money? If Peggy has sex, you get to pawn her chastity ring; if Bobby snorts coke, you win the miniature telescope that represents the future career he’s throwing away; whatever. That way, you can encourage your friends to keep their promises to themselves, while you have sex and experiment with drugs when it feels right for you. Plus, you can use the money you earned from Peggy and Bobby’s broken promises to buy weed! Everybody wins!
Photo by SassyPanda.