The Virtue of Chastity, The End

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.

FanPop Image

FanPop Image

 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?

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 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.

Image Wikipedia

Image Wikipedia

Image Wikipedia

 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.

The Virtue of Chastity in the Modern Age

The other day I explored the Virtue of Chastity as it applied to my own life; this left me with open questions. Keeping in mind, I have not personally defined Chastity as Virtue, simply accepted the original seven Virtues as existing in our lexicon and as social standards from which to begin my exploration. (Part One).

How times have changed, or have they? There was a time when Virginity was sacrosanct, Chastity not a commodity to be traded for popularity or acceptance.

Today the gray areas young people draw cause me to cringe; oral sex is acceptable because it isn’t real sex. Sexting isn’t crossing that line into pornography, unless you are caught. Popularity is traded for the number of partners acquired without trading your Virginity, the only thing you save for True Love. Public displays of sexual favors are not off limits so long as it is between friends. The rules change to accommodate a new morality that places emphasis on Chastity only as it applies to Virginity itself, yet even this is flung to the wind in favor of the need for affection and acceptance.

Girls as young as twelve are giving birth to the next generation. One of the most popular

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shows on daytime television Maury, who has coined the phrase “you are not the Father” while “you the baby’s daddy” is sung viciously by the daily parade of witless women and clueless men who reproduce without restraint or regard. Another popular show is Teen Mom, which follows the misadventures of teenage mothers as they swim the turbulent water of motherhood, welfare and adult relationships with the teenage fathers of their children. We watch fascinated by these forays into other people’s lives, on the one hand publically condemning their choices while on the other making them celebrities by our puerile fascination.

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As I sit sipping my Latte at the local Starbucks, I watch a gaggle of young girls dressed as if they were heading over to the local stroll. I know, terribly judgmental nevertheless with short shorts, midriff tops and make-up plastered on with spatula this is the first impression. Their voices grate on the middle ear, fevered giggles over some boy or other as they call each other ‘slut’ and ‘ho’ affectionately, as if these names have no meaning or force. The persistent beat of music coming from their IPhone repeats the ugly undercurrents, the language of devaluation, ‘ho’, ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, while these future women bounce and titter.

As I watched these young girls, guessing their ages not more than fourteen, my responses were as follows:

  1. Do your mother / father know you are out in public dressed like that?
  2. Do you have the self-awareness to realize what you are agreeing to when you listen to that music and accept that language, those names?
  3. Do you know you cannot reclaim names and make them less or different from what they fundamentally are?

I wanted to snatch all of them wash their faces and take them to their homes; frankly I was afraid of what I would find.

Have we traded some fundamental self-awareness of our core being as women? Indeed, is Chastity an archaic and troublesome Virtue best left in the past now that we have discovered independence and been granted our liberties?

My personal exploration of this subject is leading me down a twisting path. I will finish Chastity as a Virtue in Part III.

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