I’m going to apologize in advance that this post is quite lengthy. I do not feel like making several posts to make up all of my thoughts on this topic, so if this is a problem I am sorry. I just have a lot to say. If the title of this blog post is offensive, maybe you should back away from the computer now before I start throwing out pages of information and beliefs your way.
The other day I had managed to find myself sucked into the vortex that is YouTubeland, once again. I was enjoying myself watching strange documentaries about people who have interesting medical problems, until I stumbled upon this documentary:
After the first three minutes I felt sick. But I couldn’t stop watching because I wanted to understand, to try to comprehend such indoctrination. I, too, was raised in a home that strongly believed in the value of saving yourself before marriage. The point of this post is not to bash those who have made the personal decision to wait until their wedding day (or those who have successfully waited). I find them to be admirable to be so committed to a choice they personally have made. What bothers me most about this documentary is the disturbing fact that the highest age of girls interviewed were in their early twenties. And the choice of abstinence and virginity until marriage does not feel like the decision of those interviewed, but rather the choice their parents forced them to make, pressing them into the act of confessing their purity to the father of the house every year.
In my opinion, I had hoped that society had evolved enough to not require the force of parents to determine their child’s entire life. I guess I had forgotten that every where I look I see travesties like this one happening all around. As the media has altered perceptions all around, parents have begun working on over time to prevent their children from becoming corrupted. As Christians, we are called to be different from the world. There is nothing wrong with setting some boundaries on what our children are exposed to, ensuring that they are aware of the problems around them. However, at a certain point, as adults, we need to simply allow our children to experience the consequences of their actions first hand.
I firmly believe that my role as a parent (or adult) is to set my children up to live life to the fullest. To show them the hurting world around them and give them the tools to not only grow themselves amidst the turmoil, but to successfully help carry those who really just need a helping hand. Yes, there is a lot of evil in the world, but I do not believe that in order to properly raise children than I should feel entitled to put them in a glass bubble and ensure they do not leave it. Our children need to be built up, to know they are important. We need them to feel as though they are the most special people in the whole world, and lovingly correct them when they need some guidance in life. I successfully consider parents to be like bumper railings. There are many bowling pins that children can consider targets. They don’t have to bowl a strike every time, there is some leniency allowed, but when things start to get out of hand, we are there to guide them back into the correct realm of things.
The problem I have with the parents of this documentary is that, unlike the bumper railings, they have set a strict guideline on their children and expect them to follow it to the T. However, one cannot be expected to never make a mistake, and not allowing for any error only allows forever-wounds to be created, for craters to be formed where they are not wanted. We cannot know the damage we bring to our children when we refuse to love them or accept them for veering off to the side a little in the path of life. For not bowling a strike every time they set a target.
Growing up, I was given a purity ring on my sixteen birthday. I had no plans of rushing out and losing my virginity to the first man I met, but I felt uncomfortable upon receiving the gift because I have always believed that you can guide a child to believe what you think is right, but after a certain point it is just time to let them run with the values you have hoped to instill in them. Obviously I don’t believe that children at age thirteen should be having sex. They are far too young to comprehend and understand the consequences if something goes wrong. But giving our children the tools of abstinence and not allowing them to understand what could happen if they fail to follow through only sets our nation up for rising rates of teenage pregnancy. Whether a teenager of consenting age decides they want to have sex or not is their choice, not the choice of the parent. Am I grateful that I waited until I met my husband to embark on this journey? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that is the ideal image for every teenager.
What I’m saying is, that if we fail to teach our children better methods of protected sex, we are failing to give them the tools to make the right decisions. We can tell them that we believe they should save themselves for marriage, providing good, solid reasons as to why of course, but we cannot make them follow through. They are bound to make mistakes. Are we going to follow them everywhere they go and remind them not to kiss, or hold hands or whatever we believe that stopping point should be? It’s simply insanity. Like I’m sure I have said a hundred times, our job is to set boundaries and to hope they understand what will happen if they make the personal choice other than the one I have told them I prefer. We are set to be guiders, not commanders. Our children will not effectively listen if we force them to follow a certain path of behavior, they are more likely to either rebel or to only do it because “they were told so”. We cannot give them the proper background to stand up for what THEY believe and allow them to accept these beliefs as their own if we ensure that they know nothing other than what we tell them. The world will throw a lot of garbage at our children, it is our job to give them the tools to sort through that garbage, to make decisions accordingly, and hope they turn out the beautiful people we believe the to be.
Another reason why I become sickeningly irritated by the parents in this documentary is because this type of teaching is so blatantly patriarchal it’s disturbing. As far as I am concerned, yes there are differences in the way that males and females GENERALLY are made, but most of those differences deal with the way we prefer things, and are very stereotypical. Maybe a general mass may think one way, but that does not apply to everyone. That’s why I think that gender standards are too rigid, and I think that maybe they should be more fluid so as to allow for the people who don’t exactly line up to the ways the world thinks they should run the ability to be accepted, too.
Women and men are more equal than so many people like to believe. If we teach our children that one gender is inferior, we allow the slanted view that women belong in the kitchen and men belong in the work force to be perpetuated. And this is not only a disgrace to the fact that many women are born with brains and domestic capabilities, and to the men that feel they cannot show any type of quality that might resemble anything feminine. It’s not black and white.
This documentary disturbed me because these girls (one who was interviewed began going to these purity balls at age seven. Seven!! That’s extremely young to make sure they know about sexuality and exactly what purity entails.) attend the ball with their fathers. They dress up like princesses, are served dinner, watch a little performance put on by other girls, and do a little dancing. All of that is not disturbing. I believe it is sweet that the fathers would want to spend time with their daughters, to make sure they understand that they are valued, in every way. We all should make sure that our children feel that way. After the dinner, however, it gets freaky. There are forms passed out, and the fathers agree with their daughters that their daughters will remain pure until their wedding night. It’s not like these daughters have a choice. And the fact that the fathers seem to take their daughters purity into their own hands only sounds perverted and disgusting to me. My father does not need to ensure that I am pure by regularly having discussions with me about it. I felt as though some of the dads appeared to have too much interest in their daughter’s sex lives. It’s really not their business.
The film tried to state that the fathers simply don’t want their daughters hearts to be broken, for them to experience heartache because they found the wrong person to date. They shared that before a boy even was able to hang out with a girl he was interested in, the father would have to sit down with the man, hang out with him a few times, and then decide if he was a perfect match. In my opinion, that means that the father would be selecting a mate based on what he WANTS his daughter to date, that HE thinks would work, but that gives no room for the daughter to make her mind up about what she likes or wants. It allows no room for decision making on the girl’s part. In my head it sounds more like arranged marriage then courting. I believe parents should be able to suggest to their child who the right pick is, and hope for the best, but demanding that they can’t see certain people only allows them to want to see that person more. (Trust me, I know from personal experience). But also, it feels like some of the girls in the video got married quite soon after dating the first person they met. I’m not suggesting that we should all go around dating everyone in sight to decide our personal preferences. It’s such a beautiful thing when we allow our God into our lives to help us decide our potential future mate. And I’m lucky that I only dated one other person before I met my husband. When you know you know. I just feel as though there should be a little more leniency on the part of the parents for deciding who their children are interested in. We cannot prevent our children from heartache. It is inevitable. Even we give our children heartache sometimes. These parent’s goals are absurd.
Also, are the boys of these families taken to another ball and asked to pledge their virginity to their mothers? Do their mothers attend, desperately attempting to ensure that their sons are as pure as they desire their daughters to be? Or as much of society believes, are they men allowed a “free pass”, able to engage in sexual activity before their wedding day? I cannot even explain the level of irritation I have at a society that claims that men are allowed to have whatever amount of sex they want with as many girls as they want and that is “normal” but if a woman does the same thing, she is automatically considered a whore. I’m sorry, but where do we get off explaining to women that they are worth less than men? That men can do whatever they want but women should automatically be held to a higher standard. Pathetic. That’s what it is. It makes it seem that women are irresistible, but that women can find some means of self control. This only makes rape acceptable, only excuses it when a man cannot control his instincts but blames the victim when she “cannot find the grace to act like a lady and keep him from thinking of her in that way.” Ya know what I say to that line of thinking? Fuck you. Fuck society for thinking that way.
The biggest reason that this documentary made me sick is the fact that it makes it seems as though a girl’s only worth is in her ability to give her gift of virginity to her husband on her wedding day. This does not take in to account victims of sexual assault or rape. Girls who “mess up”. Those who do not find pleasure in those of the opposite sex. None of these things are taken into account. It is automatically assumed that a girl will naturally like a boy, will keep herself in good grace and not bring sexual violence towards her upon herself, and she will remain pure by staying away from any and all temptations.
As far as I am concerned, putting so much worth on a woman’s sexuality takes so much away from her potential as a smart individual, as a contributing member of society, as a brilliant being all her own, different from all of those around her. It places worth on artificial things like beauty, the ability to perform simple household duties, the ability to maintain the principles of motherhood. It assumes that all women desire to be married, therefore they should not deviate from the given path. I call bullshit.
I’m sick of the indoctrination we call America. I’m sick of the lies. I’m going to speak out now. I am going to stand up for what I believe. Always.