What would you rather be — sexually pure or a person of integrity?
The purity balls are back, but this time for boys. And since they’re for boys, “purity” isn’t the issue, since apparently that requires having a hymen. No, boys are supposed to have integrity. Which apparently means looking at women as objects to be bought — and when you’re buying something, you want the newest model. They do a better job at explaining this than I can:
After the meal, Jackie Detweiller spoke to the gathering about her experiences. Detweiller is an attractive 19-year-old young woman who is practicing abstinence. She told the tale of a person who had waited a long time to buy the car of their dreams, but when the day arrived to drive it home, the dealer told them that the steering had problems, that it had a lot of mileage on it, and had been in a few wrecks. She likened this word picture to sexual purity and the hopes for a future spouse.
Feminists use words like “objectify” a lot, but damn if this doesn’t illustrate the concept. Of course, it’s not just “purity” advocates who think that the best women are the ones who have the lowest mileage — particularly misogynist pornographers take this tack, too.
Detweiller told another story about a man and woman coming to the altar, about to be married, when another guy comes up from the audience and holds the bride’s hand as the ceremony is performed. More guys come forward, until six are holding onto the bride. When the groom asks her what is going on, she replies, “These are guys from my past. They don’t matter to me now, but I gave them a piece of my heart. What’s left of my heart is yours.”
Notice how it’s only the bride who “gave” a piece of her heart to her past sexual partners?
The way that women are discussed in this article is entirely possessory. Nowhere in the article are women represented as autonomous human beings; they’re always described according to their relationship with a man. To wit:
Baker told the young men that the women they had come with, their mothers, were somebody’s daughters, and they meant the world to those parents. He further told them that when they date a girl, she is somebody’s daughter, and they care deeply for her.
Baker also told them that while they might not believe it at the time, the girl they may date in high school is probably not going to be the one they will marry. “So you’re dating someone else’s future wife,” he told them. He also told them that someone else may be dating their future wife.
“If you knew somebody was with your future wife,” Baker asked them, “touching her in ways you wouldn’t like, pressuring her, how would that make you feel?”
This is pretty illustrative of the “pro-chastity” view of women: They’re possessions that have no right to their own bodies. Their “purity” — in other words, their vaginas — are the property of their fathers until they get married, and then the property rights get transferred to the husband. Men shouldn’t respect women because women are human beings. Men should respect women because that woman belongs to a man, and will belong to another man in the future. You don’t want to damage another guy’s goods. Amanda provides a great illustration of how this mentality applies to reproductive rights. But this extends beyond reproductive freedom. It’s an all-encompassing mentality that handicaps girls by defining them as perpetual children who need protection and guidance, and situates them as lacking autonomy and defining themselves according to which male figure they’re subordinate to. And as Amanda points out, a central theme is that sex is icky:
Speaking of self-control and the meaning of sex, Baker told the young men, “Having sex doesn’t make you a man. Dogs have sex, but it doesn’t make them a man. Guys, separate yourselves from the animal kingdom.”
Agreed that sex doesn’t make the man. By it’s also not for the dogs.
At the end of Baker’s speech, the young men were encouraged to sign pledges of abstinence, but it was stressed that they should only do so if they were firmly committed to carrying out that pledge.
The pledge said the following:
I, _________________________, choose before God to remain pure in my lifestyle, as I grow toward the goal of manhood, and until such a time that I marry.
I will be a young man of integrity and accountability as I strive to be an example to those around me. I will be bold and courageous, no matter what.
Today, I choose to seek after the high calling of God in every area of my life.
The active voice. I marry. I choose. I will be. I strive. Bold. Courageous.
Compare to the pledge that girls make at purity balls:
I pledge to remain sexually pure…until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. … I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.
I give myself as a gift. God requires of me. He loves me. He will reward me. Subject, verb, object.
Naturally, at the father-daughter purity balls, the father also get to talk. As far as I can tell, mothers at the mother-son integrity balls know their place, and they stay silent. Here’s what the hymen-owners tell their wards:
I, (daughter’s name)’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.
Welcome back, active voice and dynamic word choice! Authority. Protection. Integrity. Accountability. Lead, guide, pray. Highest priest.
Well this is a change.
This is why the abstinence-only, “chastity” movement is deeply problematic. There’s nothing wrong with abstinence or chastity itself; those are valid sexual choices. But it is wrong to structure our sexual choices on an ideology of gender dominance in which men are the actors and subjects, and women are the subjugated objects. And that is central to anti-choice, anti-sex, pro-abstinence, pro-chastity ideology. As long as we live in a culture which values that ideology, and yet is made up of people who will not remain “pure” until marriage, we’re going to have some serious sexual issues.
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