Fri, Sep 18, 2009, 2:00 PM | From My Journal
Why is it before marriage, we’re either whores or virgins? Is the label of ‘bad girl’ always going to be associated with sexual activity? And how sexually pure is a ‘good girl?’
These are questions I’ve never asked myself while raising boys for the past 16 years. Why? Because my sons don’t have a stigma attached to their virginity status.
Ever tell your son he looked promiscuous because the length of his shorts was too short?
Ever have a well-meaning teacher tell him he’s way too manly and better layoff the weightlifting, wear long-sleeve shirts and make sure his biceps weren’t prominently showing? Really, we wouldn’t want his reputation ruined.
If I said something like that to my 16-year-old son, he’d think I was joking – or off my rocker.
But what if I said something similar to my daughter? How would she react?
Already, at six months, I’ve learned raising a girl is different. She holds herself and interacts differently. When she babbles, she wants to be more than noticed – she wants a conversation. Already we have girl talk. Not only that, she’s softer, gentler and sweeter than my sons were.
I dream of her growing up to be intelligent, dedicated to her passions, have strong morals, be kind, honest, independent and successful in whatever she endeavors. Which is the same thing I want for my boys too.
So why is society going to place my daughter’s worth on virginity status or sexual experiences?
Sure you could argue this affects males too, but if you called a guy a ‘slut’ chances are he’d grin with some pride. I’ve never seen a man cry after such a remark or have his social status knocked into the mud. Ever.
So please explain to me how abstinence rings, purity balls and virginity pledges became such a big deal in the last decade? These weren’t around when I was growing up – they’re a fairly new phenomenon and aimed at girls. Some are as young as four attending their first purity dance. Frankly, I think they’re creepy.
That being said, I’m not clueless. I found the recent rash paparazzi on ‘crotch watch’ with young celebrities offensive and ridiculous. I get peeved when I walk into department stores and see inappropriate attire for girls hanging on racks. I hate how teenagers are exposing themselves and posing very intimate photos on MySpace or texting them to a boyfriend.
It’s disgusting how their self-worth is based on sexuality. Now, I’m not saying females can’t enjoy their attractiveness and appreciate the details of being a woman. It just needs to happen in a healthy, balanced manner.
Girls are more than their breasts and vaginas. My daughter is more than her future sex life. So. Much. More.
So why don’t I view purity pledges, dances and rings as a solution? Because it’s still placing a girl’s value on her sexuality. It’s still the focus of her self-worth and relationship to the world. That, and I’m sorry, it’s outright weird and psychologically wrong to associate a girl’s thoughts of abstinence and sex with her father.
Recently, a friend explained his understanding of a purity pledge – which was wholly unlike the documentaries, Wikipedia definitions and publications I’ve seen. I really respected his taking the time to explain and we had a great conversation. I appreciate the soul-felt religious connection he had to the symbol.
While I could respect his viewpoint, I still find it wrong. A daughter shouldn’t have to pledge her virginity to her father regardless of how it’s worded. It is hers, and hers alone.
I don’t consider it a ‘gift’ she gives a man, but rather a gift to herself once she’s made the decision. A person’s sexuality isn’t something you can give your father, husband or partner. It’s simply something that’s shared.
Of course, I absolutely believe fathers, and mothers, are incredibly important in helping establish healthy and moral sexual behaviors. I think the biggest impact is keeping the door open for honest communication.
Also, how they see spouses, partners, mothers, sisters, and other women treated is equally important.
If religion is important to the family, it should absolutely be used as a foundation and reference. But a public display of a purity ring and a promise from my daughter? No. The only promise that’s going to happen in my house if from me to her.
I promise to do my best to raise you to have confidence, feel loved, develop healthy and strong morals, support your interests, provide a path to great education, and always have an open door and heart when you need to talk.
I am your mother and I will always be here for you.
Eve Reiland (US)
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