Remember when I said I'd give up a sizeable fraction of my minis collection to know how many people kept their virginity pledges? Well, it turns out maybe I will not have to give up any of my D&D minis, because the good folks at Harvard University have just published a study. While the study doesn't give hard data about who kept their word, it does have findings which shed some light on whether these things are effective.
First of all, the pledges are often repudiated by the youth themselves:
The analysis also found that 52 percent of adolescent virginity pledgers in the 1995 survey disavowed the virginity pledge at the next survey a year later. Additionally, 73 percent of virginity pledgers from the first survey who subsequently reported sexual intercourse denied in the second survey that they had ever pledged.Second, people who take these pledges tend to "recant" (i.e. presumably lie about) past sexual experience:
Almost one-third of non-virgins in the first survey who later took a virginity pledge recanted their experience with sexual intercourse in the second survey. Adolescents who took virginity pledges or who later became born-again Christians were more likely to repudiate their earlier reports of having been sexually active. Of teens who reported a sexual experience at the first survey, those who later took a virginity pledge were four times as likely to retract reports of sexual experience as those who still had not taken a pledge at the second survey.(Of course, there's the possibility that they were lying before they took the pledge, reporting sex they hadn't had.) The author also notes:
On average the retractors had more than two sexual partners.That's a lot of sex to be either inventing or retracting. So, it seems that there's a heckuva lot of lying going on with these pledges.
Why, why must we tell ourselves and each other lies about sex? Why this pressure to try to become non-sexual beings? Who benefits? Naturally, the puritans are up in arms about this study.