A shocking insight into the sexual health of young women was recently revealed by a kidnapping survivor named Elizabeth Smart. Speaking at a summit into human trafficking, held at Johns Hopkins University, the young survivor claimed that young women may not try to escape from their captor if they have been raped, because they have been brought up in such a strong culture where premarital sex is taboo. Many cultures cite a woman’s worth in her sexual purity, and so when they are robbed of that through rape, they may feel worthless. Smart, a Mormon, told the audience that a teacher in her past had once described a woman who has had sex as being like a piece of chewed gum. She said that the rape affected her mental and physical wellness and wellbeing, as she thought to herself ‘who could want me now?’ and so she can understand why young women do not try to escape from captors.


Speaking out against the conservative nature of her religion’ s sexual ethos, Elizabeth Smart is one of the most famous people to air their views on this important topic, but other voices are also joining the fight. In recent weeks, prominent evangelical bloggers and writers from all walks of life have been speaking out against the emphasis that is often placed on sexual purity within conservative Christian religions. Criticisms of this culture are not new, but this is the first time that the criticism is starting to emerge from within the religions rather than from the outside.


This new wave of criticism speaks out against the metaphor of women as being ‘damaged goods’ once they have had sex. One such voice is Sarah Bessey, an author of a forthcoming book called Jesus Feminist, which speaks out against the ‘true love waits’ rhetoric of her own church, and says that this sentiment conveys the idea that as a non-virgin, you are disqualified from experiencing true love.