I come to the end of this exploration. Somehow I expect I will continue to niggle at it now and then as our societal mores ebb and flow over time. We have seen these passages across generations though perhaps never so forthright, so in our face as today. Perhaps I am just showing my age when I say I am offended by the acceptance of degrading language and the flagrant sexualization of our young women.
Since 1968 and my brutal awakening to what the loss of virginity meant I have spent the greater portion of my life defining my personal ethos. How my peers viewed and treated me, how my female role models treated with me and most important how males responded and reacted to me was critical to how I defined my value. Not values, not morals, not ethics but VALUE. Despite the times; Free Love and early definitions of Feminism did not extend to the underlying social characterization of “Good Girl” versus “Bad Girl”; you were one or the other nothing in-between, there was no gray area of moderation.
|Archetype Good Girl – Sandy||Archetype Bad Girl – Rizzo|
I begin to understand my own version of what the truth of Chastity within the context of Virtue might be.
Women were caught up in our early success. We forgot perhaps that winning our entrance to full social membership did not change our fundamental humanity or our femaleness. What is different today is the images women have become more sexualized and the lines less firmly divided. We happily watch the antics of the beautiful and wealthy, even forgive their walks on the wild side. Those of us on more common ground are claiming the definitions are hollow while still attaching values to the central themes. Young girls laugh as men shout in song and even on the street the words of their dishonor, trying even to claim it for themselves in the mistaken belief it will take the sting out. Perhaps create honor where there is none.
Young women emulate the dress and behavior of their role models albeit on a smaller scale, as their resources allow. These fantasy lives of their heroines played out in magazines and reality television fuel imaginations and hallway conversations. Young girls imitate the dances seen on videos, meant to demean and entice, without understanding either. We applaud the antics of Toddlers in Tiaras as three year olds dance to music and imitate the dance moves of ‘Video Vixens’; have we lost our minds?
|Madonna in her version 1990||Two-year old Mia with her mother 2011|
Women of great wealth and beauty, women who might be our sisters, our mentors and our champions yet have few accomplishments beyond their ability to charm agree by their silence our only value is the imagery of sexuality, including simulating masturbation and sex acts as forms of entertainment. This then is the reality of our diminished value . We have accepted the image and our young girls imitate it gleefully, all too often with parental consent. Go to any High School sporting event and watch as cheerleaders dance to music with moves themed to entice and emulate the sex act, to what end?
What do our young girls find to model? It isn’t the woman of distinction in arts or science, in math or literature. It isn’t the women who stood up for their rights, who distinguish themselves with their contributions to our history or our present day, these are not who are lifted up in media, not the women our daughters emulate in the classrooms of America, not the women spoken of in song.
|Stephanie Wilson – Astronaut||Gabrielle Giffords – Congresswoman||Maya Angelou – Poet & Civil Rights Activist|
My conclusion is we should value Chastity not because it is demanded of us by standards that would see us less than our potential. Chastity itself is greater than the mere attachment of a hymen certainly and its loss does not devalue us as women. There is duplicity in the idea that women are not free to choose partners outside of the social contract of marriage without being labeled “less than”.
There is a reason we should value our own Chastity, to me it is the simplest reason of all, because we value ourselves. When we invite another into the inner sanctum of our lives we are bestowing something upon them sacred. Not sacred in religious terms but rather in fundamental female terms, this is our core this is who we are as our most secret and exposed selves. As women we are vessels of life, of compassion and empathy; we are that place of peace and succor. Our invitation is not to be taken lightly or diminished in the light of day.
The idea that Chastity as a Virtue can be socially defined and thus our bodies and souls become the battleground for our future psychosis is ultimately what has been central to my exploration. Have I been successful at solving the problem? No, certainly not but perhaps in my exploration I have in some small part begun to find some recurring themes for my own life.