The purity movement told young people that ‘you are not your own,’ and the harm from that message persists

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell of Squirrel Hill, on Aug. 31, 2022, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

Misogyny, AIDS and moral panic resulted in “purity rings,” chastity pledges and a madness that continues today, writes a Pittsburgh resident who did not emerge unscathed.


by Atiya Irvin-Mitchell, Public Source

Looking back, I suppose there is some humor in realizing that I signed a virginity pledge on a holiday revolving around a virgin birth. 

On Christmas morning of 2008, I was 15 years old and received a little silver ring with the words “True Love Waits” etched into it in black letters. The ring was a gift from my mother, and the words on it represented a promise to myself and – most importantly – to God. It promised that I would stay pure until marriage. At my wedding, the ring would be replaced with a wedding band. 

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” For an idealist like me, at the time, those words represented safety. Now, nearly 14 years later, they make me unbelievably sad.

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