A woman has gone viral on TikTok for highlighting the differences in how girls are taught about sex and their bodies, versus the sex education that boys are given.
TikToker Zoë Tyler’s series showcases the stark contrast in sex education by acting out a lesson on “purity culture” that women are taught at a young age, but flips it to the male perspective.
“If we taught boys about the way we teach girls,” Tyler wrote purity in the video. She begins the scenario by addressing an imaginary classroom of boys, and holds up two differently sized pencils. “Which pencil would you rather be?” she said, adding that the correct answer is the long, unsharpened pencil. “And what do we like about this pencil? That’s right, it hasn’t been used.” The short pencil, on the other hand, has been used a lot, “and probably by sharpeners that didn’t even care about it,” Tyler said. The pencils are meant to represent a person and their value of her, and that having sex means you are losing your value. “Every time you let a woman have sex with you, even if she says she loves you, you are giving pieces of yourself away that you can never get back,” she said.”
“Purity culture” is a movement among evangelical Christian households, that peaked in the 1990s against the rise of Aids, teen pregnancy, and cohabitation. The subculture promotes abstinence for women by wearing things like purity rings, and forbids sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. According to nbcnewspurity culture places the responsibility on women to manage men’s sexual desires by dressing modestly and not tempting them.
Tyler’s first video on purity culture gained almost five million views on TikTok, prompting her to post a part two of the series. “Hey Daniel,” she begins the scenario. “Some of the brothers saw you playing outside and are a little concerned about your sweatpants.” She pretends to give the child three sweatshirts to cover up their entire body from her, and suggests that he throws the sweatpants out from her in order to protect the purity of his mom and sister from her. “I know middle school is hard, but you don’t want to devalue yourself with this kind of attention.”
More than half of public schools in America enforce a “strict dress code,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Many students have challenged their schools’ dress codes for discriminating against female students. In 2021, two students tested their school’s “sexist” dress code by wearing similar outfits, and only the girl got in trouble for violating the rules. In 2019, a North Carolina high school student launched a petition to change her school’s dress code that banned girls from wearing trousers to their graduation ceremony. “As a young woman in 2019, the students expect freedom of dress and choice for their body, but instead, their bodies are over-sexualized and objectified,” she wrote in the petition.
Commenters on TikTok praised Tyler’s series and shared their own experiences of purity culture. “People will think this is an exaggeration but it’s spot on,” said @rachaelakemp. “It’s sad how accurate this is,” said @georgiaproductionstiktok. “The role reversal makes it all seem even creepier,” said @margaretthurber8. “How on earth did the adults in our lives think it was ok to talk to us this way.”
The Independent has reached out to Zoë Tyler for comment.