Jump to content
IGNORED

Amish and Virginity


chiccy
 Share

Recommended Posts

It seems the Amish are allowed to have sex during Rumspringa. Does that mean they don't ultimately care about the whole purity/saving-yourself-for-marriage thing? Or is it assumed that anyone who wants to stay in the community after Rumspringa will not have sex?

Edited by OnceUponATime
adding tags
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems the Amish are allowed to have sex during Rumspringa. Does that mean they don't ultimately care about the whole purity/saving-yourself-for-marriage thing? Or is it assumed that anyone who wants to stay in the community after Rumspringa will not have sex?

From what i've heard rumspringa is a YMMV situation. Some kids might participate by just drinking a beer and smoking some cigarettes, and others go off and "go English"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a documentary I watched once, it seemed like the boys were more likely to "go English" than the girls. A majority of the boys would wear non-Amish clothes, drink, do drugs, have sex etc. while a majority of the girls just wore slightly more liberal versions of Amish gowns and kept on their kapps etc. The majority would attend parties dressed Amish-ly. From the documentary it seemed there was still an expectation that the Amish girls should return from Rumspringa still virginal, but it's been a while since I saw it. I can't remember it in exact detail.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was this The Devil's Playground? I've seen a few Amish docs so they all kind of blur together. But basically I think there is a double standard. I would imagine if a young woman did have sex she would be very secretive about it for fear of being treated like "damaged goods" upon returning, and statistically speaking the vast majority of teens do return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was this The Devil's Playground? I've seen a few Amish docs so they all kind of blur together. But basically I think there is a double standard. I would imagine if a young woman did have sex she would be very secretive about it for fear of being treated like "damaged goods" upon returning, and statistically speaking the vast majority of teens do return.

I think it might have been, but I can't remember. I've heard about that documentary though. I agree, there's a huge double standard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think they are allowed to have sex - from what I have heard the parents turn the other way during this period yet hope that their children will retain what they have been taught. I would think in that community even those who do have sex they are top secret about it because since most do choose to be baptized in the church they don't wish to be outcasts - not have prospects for marriage.

Either way the lack of education for things like sex, alcohol, drugs etc seems really dangerous for these kids. Not knowing the dangers and risks. Amish parties around here have the reputation for being insane because the kids go all out.

As for the double standard - isn't it that way in most religious communities - more pressure on the girl to remain virgin or pure while boys are ignored or it's like it's understood boys will fail. Yet it's always seen as less bad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wish I could remember where I read this, but I read about something called Bed Courtship, in which Amish parents allow their children to sleep in the same bed with someone they are in a courtship with. I don't think they flat out acknowledge that they are allowing sex before marriage - and even encouraging it - but that's clearly what they are doing with Bed Courtship.

I also read that there is a fairly large percentage of Amish first babies born less than 9 months after the wedding.

I'm going to go see if I can figure out where I read that.

Here's a link about bed courtship, but I guess I was wrong about it being totally accepted. Apparently it's controversial in the Amish community, but still practiced: http://aboutamish.blogspot.com/2009/12/ ... tices.html

Still searching for a link about the babies born less than 9 months after the wedding. . .

ETA: links

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've read that it's very common for Amish firstborns to be born big and healthy a few months early. I'm sure it varies by community, but whatever I was reading said over 50% of firstborns were born in the first 8 months or so of marriage. Sex is going to happen, like it does everywhere, and I imagine Amish teens are very uneducated about contraception and safe sex. They would be heavily shamed for having a baby out of marriage and they think abortion is evil (though I'd be surprised if it didn't still happen), so they have to rush into marriage.

I can't remember where I read this, though, and I'm wondering about it. Don't Amish marriages usually happen at a certain time of year, like November? I don't know how common it is to marry at other times of the year, or if you can do it at all.

Edit: Maybe we read the same thing, MarciaBrady. I don't think the bed courtship is practiced much anymore, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw a BBC documentary series about Amish teens from Pennsylvania that go around England living with different families to see the diversity of the English (Well, both British and non-Amish!).

From what they showed, the girls were very hesitant about trying new things and weren't as likely to drink, smoke, dance, and all of the girls stayed in conservative Amish clothing with head coverings.

I wish I could remember the name of this because it was the best Amish documentary show I have seen.

As for Amish and abortions, I would be shocked if young Amish women even know what an abortion is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched that documentary too. Although one of the girls had left [with her family] the most strict form of Amish and was wearing long jean skirts not the typical Amish dress. I watched it in parts on youtube.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw a BBC documentary series about Amish teens from Pennsylvania that go around England living with different families to see the diversity of the English (Well, both British and non-Amish!).

From what they showed, the girls were very hesitant about trying new things and weren't as likely to drink, smoke, dance, and all of the girls stayed in conservative Amish clothing with head coverings.

I wish I could remember the name of this because it was the best Amish documentary show I have seen.

Is that the World's Squarest Teens one?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is that the World's Squarest Teens one?

That's it! I saw it too and was just searching my poor tired brain for the name.

The class differences in the UK were an interesting side story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Either way the lack of education for things like sex, alcohol, drugs etc seems really dangerous for these kids. Not knowing the dangers and risks. Amish parties around here have the reputation for being insane because the kids go all out.

I think this part is yet another manifestation of the naive "either you're religious and On The One True Path, or you're fallen and a sex-crazed druggie" thing, the "outsiders are all living depraved materialistic lives of sin" thing.

Parents seem okay with kids straying into THAT kind of dangerous territory because they know that odds are it won't prove ultimately satisfying, and yes, the kids will return, because a life of nothing but wild partying with no guidance and no goals is pretty meaningless. It reinforces the community message.

What the parents DO get very upset about is when the kids make any sort of moves on the "Rumspringa" that would lead to a sane secular life, most notably going on in school or possibly joining another church. You want to go to high school? HELL NO THAT'S A PROBLEM. Visit the Baptist church? Ditto. Those things are actually threatening, because the kids might find a satisfying secular English life and actually leave.

In a completely different area, you find the same kind of language and "what is the most dangerous" among ultraorthodox Jewish teens or young people leaving - partying or whatever is scandalous, but still falling in the "see, you just left for the wild sex and bacon" thing. Moving in ways that show you have intellectual issues or heaven forbid might want to just join a different stripe of (orthodox even!) Judaism, or even go secular but have a normal productive sane life, and oh, that's threatening because it goes against the "the outside is all just depraved materialistic sex-crazed drug addicts" thing.

One of my city council members grew up Amish and left (never baptized, so not shunned, though obviously he not "part" of his original community now). The most threatening thing? Wanting to go to high school. He's a lawyer now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's it! I saw it too and was just searching my poor tired brain for the name.

The class differences in the UK were an interesting side story.

I've been wanting to watch it, which is probably the only reason I remembered the name, haha.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Call me crazy, but I think the "bed courtship" thing is wicked cool. The only problem I can see with it is that it might cause kids to marry the wrong person because they're so excited (sexually and otherwise) to be with them in bed. But at least this, unlike so many arranged marriage/courtship models, allows couples to sense and/or develop some semblance of sexual chemistry before choosing a lifetime mate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the Amish are a lot more sensible than modern first-generation fundies in a lot of ways. They probably expect youth to abstain from sex, but it's not really so much about the weird concept of purity. Every group is different, but I can see a lot of them accepting that young people like to have sex and not really having a problem with it happening when the couple is definitely going to get married anyway. I think there would be a big problem if a girl came back pregnant from Rumspringa, but I don't think it would be so much about "damaged goods" and having the taint of sex. I also highly doubt that they think hand-holding, kissing, or frontal hugs somehow cause lose if purity. I think their rules are more practical and their goal is to prevent single parents, which couldn't really thrive in a culture that is so based on interdependence. And if someone did break the rules, the Amish tend to be more forgiving, at least if the person repents. They're not like modern fundies that will kick kids out or send them to re-education camps for minor infractions. Don't get me wrong; the Amish can be plenty harsh, especially with shunning. But they are also very accepting and forgiving of a lot of things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the Amish are a lot more sensible than modern first-generation fundies in a lot of ways. They probably expect youth to abstain from sex, but it's not really so much about the weird concept of purity.

the Amish can be plenty harsh, especially with shunning. But they are also very accepting and forgiving of a lot of things.

My mother was a foster-child off and on with an Amish family from age 8 to 16. According to her, they expect both boys and girls to be virgins at marriage, but they haven't made virginity into the idol the Gothardy people worship. They have a don't ask, don't tell mentality.

As for girls being considered damaged goods and boys not if they're unvirginal, it's not like that at all in general. Most if not all of those boys went through rumspringer and if they find out their fiancee/wife isn't a virgin, there's a more modern tolerance/acceptance/don't care attitude since they understand the wildness that goes on during that time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mother was a foster-child off and on with an Amish family from age 8 to 16. According to her, they expect both boys and girls to be virgins at marriage, but they haven't made virginity into the idol the Gothardy people worship. They have a don't ask, don't tell mentality.

As for girls being considered damaged goods and boys not if they're unvirginal, it's not like that at all in general. Most if not all of those boys went through rumspringer and if they find out their fiancee/wife isn't a virgin, there's a more modern tolerance/acceptance/don't care attitude since they understand the wildness that goes on during that time.

My mother was raised Amish (I was raised Amish-Mennonite which meant we wore the weird clothes, and TV and radios were banned, but we had cars, electricity and phones) so I grew up around/in the culture. From my perspective, CustardTart and Bananacat are more or less correct in their assessment. The only thing I would say is that it's less about a modern tolerance (or their loving acceptance) than it is about their very old view of sexuality/purity. In other words, the fundie obsession with virginity has been taken to new levels and made more explicit/rigid than it has been in many traditional cultures (as they do with plenty of other traditional practices as well). For example, my grandparents were from a community that practiced bed courtship (a carryover from colonial times) and--no surprise--my mother's oldest brother was born before they were married. They took their time getting married (don't know if there was any shunning involved or not), then a few years after my mother was born, they moved to a New Order Amish community that was adamantly opposed to bed courtship (among other things like smoking, rumspringa-ala-Devil's-Playground, etc.).

My grandmother experienced a deep sense of guilt for years afterward, but _to my knowledge_ they didn't loose any social status for having a child out of wedlock. I only learned about this when I was an older teen after which I observed that the family had never celebrated my grandparent's anniversary--I suppose there was too great a risk someone would start calculating dates. :) So based on my observation of this particular situation years later, it would appear that while sex outside of marriage was certainly a source of shame and something to be hid, it wasn't something that was necessarily seen as dooming you to a life of misery.

So many factors enter into whether a person in that situation will be ostracized/shunned or not, but one of the major factors is how persistently the individual seeks to integrate with the community. My sense is that repeated breaking of the dress code, leaving an abusive spouse, or leaving the Amish altogether would have been far, far more likely to result in shunning than "merely" having sex outside marriage. It's all about conformity to the group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It wouldn't surprise me if the Amish had retained old customs that would allow sex before marriage, at lest somewhat secretly, because it has been the customs in many parts of Europe that the "simple" people allowed their girls to have contact with the boys they were to marry eventually (Fernsterln is one name for it, Probenaechte another).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know that in Scandinavia commoners, especially those that lived in the country and were less influenced by city customs, had no problem with couples having sex before marriage. In some cases women could have up to two children before marrying the same guy who'd fathered them. I also remember reading once that the average age of marrying amongst commoner women was 26 and this was in the middle of the 19th century. I'm pretty sure that it would be the same in most of Northern/Central Europe and had been so for a very long time but my sources are all Scandinavian (for obvs reasons).

There are also some very complicated Scandinavian courtship methods involving ladders and wooden sticks showing whether a girl was getting busy or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm watching The World's Squarest Teenagers on youtube right now, and I agree with whoever said that if you're thrown into the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what you've been indoctrinated is right, of course you won't like it and will decide the world is evil and you want to go back to your Amish community.

But what about those of us who live pretty boring middle class lives in boring neighborhoods, or farms, or small towns. We may still have the spacious fields of the Amish, and be modest, and not like to dance that much, and don't drink that much (or at all, without religious reasons!). It is entirely possible to live a really safe, clean life without being Amish. Why don't these kids get thrown into more moderate homes? It seems like they are being shown things that people know will be scandalous to them.

They also insist that in the Amish world there is no crime, which is hard to believe. First of all, they are closed off to the world and they avoid technology. I have a feeling that even when crime does happen, it's not likely to be reported.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a feeling that even when crime does happen, it's not likely to be reported.

Yes and yes. I don't have time to post examples right now, but you're totally correct.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm watching The World's Squarest Teenagers on youtube right now, and I agree with whoever said that if you're thrown into the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what you've been indoctrinated is right, of course you won't like it and will decide the world is evil and you want to go back to your Amish community.

But what about those of us who live pretty boring middle class lives in boring neighborhoods, or farms, or small towns. We may still have the spacious fields of the Amish, and be modest, and not like to dance that much, and don't drink that much (or at all, without religious reasons!). It is entirely possible to live a really safe, clean life without being Amish. Why don't these kids get thrown into more moderate homes? It seems like they are being shown things that people know will be scandalous to them.

There's another documentary called Amish on Break that had young people visiting the UK. IIRC, most of the families they visited were quite moderate.

zBoeXP1q_nU

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.