Hatred of Sexuality is Embedded in Our Language
It's normal for words to mean more than one thing in a language. However, when meanings are slanted towards a certain point of view, the culture's values become evident. For example, if there is a language in which a word means both "homosexual" and "pedophile", chances are the culture where this double meaning arose is not friendly towards homosexuals.
Below are some words and phrases that show how religious ethics have woven themselves into our language. Specifically, Christianity's negative attitude towards premarital sex and lust. Definitions were taken from the American Heritage Dictionary.
pure - adj. 1. Free of dirt, defilement, or pollution. 2. Chaste; virgin.
chaste - adj. 1. Morally pure in thought or conduct; decent and modest. 2. Not having experienced sexual intercourse.
virtue - n. 1. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness. 2. Chastity, especially in a girl or woman.
virgin - adj. 1. Not having experienced sexual intercourse. 2. Being in a pure or natural state; unsullied.
unclean - adj. 1. Foul or dirty. 2. Morally defiled; unchaste.
Note how all these definitions imply that virgins are clean, good, moral, and decent whereas non-virgins are dirty, immoral, filthy, and polluted.honor - n. 1. Principled uprightness of character; personal integrity. 2. A woman's chastity or reputation for chastity
Note that the definition is gender-specific: only a woman's chastity is mentioned. So apparently men can be man-whores and their honor and reputation will not suffer.
"losing one's virginity" - This phrase implies that something bad has happened. When we lose something, generally it's not a good thing. Losing a wallet, a purse, a bet, a race, a legal right, etc. is always bad because losing is bad. So apparently it's bad to lose one's virginity. But why? Why is virginity valued in the first place?
obscene - adj. 1. Inciting lustful feelings; lewd. 2. Offensive or repulsive to the senses; loathsome.
Supposedly, sexual desire (lust) is on par with things "offensive or repulsive to the senses". In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Sexual desire is the exact opposite of being repulsive; it is a naturally pleasurable sensation and it's experienced by all normal healthy adults. It takes a decade of religious brainwashing to turn an otherwise healthy young adult into one who associates immorality, dirtiness, sin, and wrongness with sex or lust.
slut & whore - These are derogatory terms for a woman whose only "crime" is being sexually promiscuous or even dressing in a sexually appealing way. The fact that there's no analogous offensive term for men betrays the words' misogynistic origins. There are a couple of words for sexually promiscuous men but they lack any negative connotations. On the contrary, the words "playboy" and "player" have some prestige and machismo attached to them. Yet when it comes to a woman's respect and honor, sexual promiscuity is seen as one of the worst sins she can commit.
a father giving his daughter away to the groom at a wedding - This comes from a time when women were seen as property, like cattle. The phrase "give away" is not a metaphor for something poetic or romantic. Since daughters were viewed as the personal property of the father, he could literally give his daughter away to the groom, much like one gives away a table or goat or some other personal possession. In return, the father expected money or some other form of compensation for parting with his "property". The bride was not asked whether she wanted to get married and she was, of course, expected to be a virgin on her wedding day. Not surprisingly, the groom's virginity was not even a subject of interest.
succubus - A female demon that descends upon a man and has sexual intercourse with him in his sleep.
Question: Why does this supernatural being have to be an evil one? Why don't female angels descend upon men and have sex with them? Why do only female demons have sex? Apparently it's because sex is dirty, evil, sinful, wrong, immoral, impure, wicked, and any other negative adjective you can think of.
The moral judgments embedded in our language keep hammering the same point over and over: Sex and lust are bad, virginity is good. But why? Why is there so much negativity associated with premarital intercourse? It has nothing to do with spreading STDs or having children out of wedlock. If a sexually promiscuous woman is disease free and avoids pregnancy, public opinion of her will still be in the gutter. It's the sex itself that is seen as dishonorable and wicked and sinful. But why? Why is sex so bad? Why are religious authorities and their imagined God so obsessed with the prohibition of sex?Some Christians will say "God created sex to increase intimacy between a man and his wife." Okay, so then the obvious question is "Why is it wrong for unmarried couples to increase their intimacy via sex?" Well... "Because it's a sin! Because God forbids it! Because they're not married! Because blah blah blah" and thanks to circular reasoning we're back to asking why it's a sin in the first place.
The premise in all this is that God actually exists. If we dispense with God and adopt an atheistic point of view, everything becomes clear: A person with a guilty conscience is easier to control than a person with a clear conscience. A person who is ashamed and thus has low self-esteem is easier to manipulate than one who is confident and has high self-esteem. People with feelings of guilt and low self-esteem are also more likely to donate generously in Church so as to "wash" their sins away. Religious authorities know this. So what's the easiest way to get people to lower their opinion of themselves? Tell them that their natural healthy sex drive is sinful and dirty and shameful, and that merely thinking about sex is reason enough to hang your head low and walk around in guilt and shame. Is it any wonder then, that the more religiously conservative someone is, the more sexually repressed they are?