Cultural Secret #3: Girls Should Stay Pure

Having such strong male role models made me embrace my sexuality even more.

BEVERLY HILLS—My mother once said, “When you keep your heart and thoughts pure, God will protect you from temptation.” She was right. Some might criticize her parenting as harsh, strict, or even inhumane, but this was part of my cultural conditioning. Without these lessons, experiences, and boundaries, I wouldn’t be as secure as I am with my sexuality.

It started on a sunny afternoon in our Los Angeles home when I was four. My dad, brother and I went outside to play basketball. Mid-game, my dad took off his shirt. My brother, copying my dad to be as cool as him, took off his. Finally, to act cool like both of them, I took off mine. My mother quickly appeared in a panic, “What are you doing? What is wrong with you? Put your shirt back on!”My father, as usual, calmly said, “Relax Leilah, she’s just a wee child. Let her be.” With that, my mother was silenced by my protective father’s shield. He told me to carry on, but it was too late. Her reaction scared me into putting my shirt back on. I was embarrassed of my behavior and somewhat of my body. That was the first and last time I showed my body without shame.
Later that year and a month before my 5th birthday, I was cast as the “Virgin Mary” in a children’s Christmas play. I was the youngest in the show. They gave me a heavy, realistic doll that weighed almost as much as I did. I had to hold it for hours every rehearsal. Continually losing him, the directors instilled the “fear of Jesus” in me. In an attempt to teach me how to “get into character,” they wanted me to treat the doll as I would a real baby Jesus. I tried very hard to be a good participant. I was sitting centerstage in the middle of a scene at the first dress rehearsal. The heavy doll was too much to burden. Trying to find ways to relieve the weight, I spread my legs and rested the feet of the doll between my legs on the chair. This move prompted my mother to rush from the back of the theater towards the foot of the stage, where she whispered and motioned to me to sit like a lady and close my legs. It was disrespectful and intolerable to talk back to my parents, something I rarely did, but she didn’t understand how heavy the doll was so I tried to explain. It quickly became a big ordeal and the producer came on the stage, halting the rehearsal as I found myself in the midst of humiliation with fifty-plus onlookers. At that age, I couldn’t wrap my head around anything more than everyone witnessing my mother scolding me for sitting like a prostitute. She wouldn’t even listen to me, and once again I felt jilted by her insisting I was acting out of some sort of evil, sinful nature.The following year, some friends were over for a swim. We had a substitute nanny who didn’t want wet kids running through the house, so we had to all change in the cabana. I tried to go into the bathroom and she told me I couldn’t because there were too many of us and it wouldn’t be fair to the others. I was terrified to change in public. Luckily, my father arrived home. He carried me into the house and told me this is my house, I can do as I please, saving me from the commandeering, nincompoop nanny. Over the years, as my body developed, I welcomed my blossoming chest, defining waist line, and curvy hips with excitement. I found it to be beautiful and sexy, contrary to any reasonable person’s anticipated consequence of my first exposure to sexuality. As men started seeing me as more than a kid, I noticed how powerful, and almost dangerous having these assets were. I enjoyed receiving the attention of a more mature person. And yet, I was uncomfortable with the way the opposite sex became almost afraid of me. However, saying or showing that I loved my new body was wrong, so again, a secret was kept. With the exception of a few rebellious teenage years, I maintained my cultural identity by covering my skin and minimizing my curves as a way of preserving my bodily innocence. This cultural behavior is a way of respecting my body, not only for myself, but also for my future husband, allowing one person to enjoy my sacred gift and not minimizing my value by giving it freely or flaunting it in front of others.Some mistake this requirement as shame. I only felt embarrassment in my childhood, but now, I feel a wholesome relationship with my values. Without my primary experiences and warnings about display of skin or sexuality, I wouldn’t have been prepared for the adult world.
I credit my feminine confidence to a combination of strict cultural secrets along with a strong father figure.
I developed my confidence as a strong independent woman through a combination of strict cultural secrets along with a strong father figure.

Today, I treasure my body’s curves and value my sexuality even more than my American counterparts. My peers were losing their virginity as early as thirteen. They have experienced multiple sexual partners, suffering emotional turmoil in empty attempts to fulfill their erratic moods with a sexual partner’s presence. They seem to rely on their boyfriends to create happiness. Their relentless worries included trips to Planned Parenthood, birth control and its side effects, STD’s, yeast and bladder infections, missed periods, and sleepless nights of pregnancy scares. Meanwhile, they continue a game of Russian roulette for a few minutes of fun with a person who has no interest in spending their life with them, often a girl’s biggest complaint about the men they date. I have had none of the above and I have had multiple people willing to commit their lives to me.

My mother’s loving but strict examples of cultural expectations helped me make the right choices. She explained that people will try to persuade me, but if I remained confident and patient, I would be preserved by God’s shield. She warned me about indulging in impure thoughts, because once you allow your mind to go there, your body will follow.

Her advice manifested my adult secret of achieving a fulfilling life without sex, keeping my heart and mind pure. Sometimes, I can kiss a guy for days and not get them. Other guys, I can’t give a kiss on the cheek without feeling the lust and desire enter my heart. I can sleep next to someone but not permit my thoughts to go there. Sometimes, its the way a guy touches me that starts to make me feel ziggy, but then I simply remove myself from the situation.

I don’t engage in any sort of visual stimulation. I don’t allow myself to go there in the mind. I have never watched pornographic material and if a movie has too much ziggy, I close my eyes or look away, or simply shut it off. I don’t allow myself to get caught up in the moment. It’s a certain feeling, and I know well where to draw the line.

I love touching my body. The feeling of my soft skin and the curves of my body relaxes me and makes me feel at peace, but its not of sexual desire. I immediately stop anything that leads me to impure thoughts.

I honored all of this until recently, when I indulged in being physically close to a man. I found myself almost unable to resist. I mistook lust for magic. By savoring impure thoughts, you go to a place of sinful temptation that takes-on a mind of its own.

It was difficult to step back, but once I did, I could see how meaningless it was. What I believed was magic was simply rubbish. He was but a selfish guy who tried to take advantage of a situation. Had I been obedient, I would have been able to easily resist before it became a struggle. Thank God I was strong enough to end it before going all the way.

In the midst of temptation, I felt lost and out of control. What brought me back to reality enough to put a stop to it was an innocent bystander who was being used and taken advantage of. I couldn’t stand to be guilty

Staying pure and being true to my cultural secret allows me to be more conscientious of lust which can hurt an innocent person.
Staying pure and being true to my cultural secret allows me to be more conscientious of lust which can hurt an innocent person.

party in hurting her. You see, I was more concerned about the woman he called his girlfriend, and was having sex with, more than he was concerned about her while he had his mouth on my lips and his eyes flooded with lust. She was the reason I ended it more so than my own cultural beliefs. This is the result of sinful thought. There is no explanation.

This experience reinforced the purpose of my lifestyle and keeping thoughts pure because bad choices happen quickly when you indulge in sinful thoughts. This is a typical example of how American cultured girls get hurt because they do not protect their own virtues. He was more worried about bedding me then he was of a girl that already freely gave her sacred gift to him. Luckily, I’m not her!

Prior to recent months I have stayed ignorant on details of sex, and many questions have gone unanswered. I don’t read about it and I don’t study it. Once I started allowing my curiosity to get the best of me, I lost discipline and control over my boundaries.

Some might think my ignorance is unacceptable, but I think it is bliss. I have an obligation to be pure for my husband, and I know one day, I will be rewarded for these sacrifices by having a loving person that will walk me through what i need to know. I know our commitment and patience will result in magical and pure love-making, filled with more than sex and lust.

I am no longer held to parental control. These have become my choices and my beliefs.


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