Monday, May 19, 2008

Purity: The Plight of the Teenage Girl??

With all of the recent talk about fallen teenage idols: Miley, Lindsay, Paris, and Britney (and have you seen this new teen on the scene?), today's NYT article about girls pledging purity should put my concerns as a mother-of-a-rapidly-developing-pre-teen at ease.

It doesn't. Instead, I feel like running to the nearest open field, blasting Grateful Dead on my boom box, burning all of my bras and shaking my naked boobies with abandon.

Watch this video. The actual pledge is at 4:53 and a sad and frightening quote which illustrates my problem with the purity pledge is at 6:20.

I'm all for preserving our girls' virtue as long as possible but having a daughter promise her affections will belong to her father until the day she's married?? Ick. We're not just talking about sexual intercourse, we're talking first kisses and everything in between. Did you hear the girl in the video? She says, "I'm hoping I'll never kiss...but if I do, I'll ask for forgiveness and hope that I get it."

Sing-a-long with me:

??? and ??? sitting in a tree.
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes ?? in a baby carriage.


Should we burn all those songbooks in the fire pit along with my bras? They'll be in good company with other U.S. banned books: Twains', Huckleberry Finn, The American Heritage Dictionary (I kid you not), Salinger's, Catcher In the Rye, Forever by Judy Blume (OMG!), Daddy's Roommate, Wilhoite's novel about gay couples and Herron's, Nappy Hair. (Just to name a few.)

I would love for my daughter to remain a virgin as long as possible. I would love for her and her father to have a close, trusting relationship. But I do not want the chastity belt chained so tight that it suffocates ALL of her God-given sexual impulses. I want her to take it slow, to develop confidence and common sense before giving up the big "V". Guiding her with THAT is how I see my parental responsibility - NOT imprisoning her until she reaches the proper, parentally-determined, age and then throwing her, ready or not, into the lion's mouth.

My sweetest memories are 0f my first kisses and my first love. I wouldn't give them up for anything. The boy was sweet, the love was mutual and intense, and while I ultimately got my heart broken, those hurts were life lessons, useful in future relationships.

Teens and sexual awakening are a natural part of life. I don't believe that those who use God as the reason for pledging purity understand teenage sexuality is included as part of His creation. We should be educating our children, listening to them, helping them deal with the changes and the urges; not re-interpreting nature and shifting it to fit our own fearful needs.
It reminds me of the fairy tales, Snow White and Rapunzel, where beautiful, young women were killed or trapped in order to keep their burgeoning sexual powers at bay.

Prohibiting your child from dating or kissing until marriage, telling them to forge their most intimate relationship with their father until they are deemed a woman, seems unnatural, backward, and a prescription for a future with a whole different kind of misery.

I empathize but I think this extreme approach is a dangerous disservice to our children.


slouching mom said...

i agree.

i'm leery of extremism in any form.

moderation is the more realistic approach in practically every situation, IMO.

Lori | BetweenUsGirls said...

I recently posted on this at BetweenUsGirls..."The Trouble With Sex in America." Our Puritanical approach to sex is backfiring. Girls who take these purity pledges and receive abstinence-only sex education delay sex, on average, about 18 months. They will likely have pre-marital sex, just a little later. Meanwhile, they are more likely to engage in risky and unprotected sex because they just don't know any better. See my post for more on this, but I agree with you whole-heartedly...this oppressive, repressive approach to sex isn't doing anyone any good. We polish the apple, shove it in their faces at every turn and then tell them not to eat it. Then we fail to tell them how to protect themselves from getting sick if they bite into a bad one. What are we...imbeciles?

Librarian Lee said...

Fabulous post! I'll provide the Grateful Dead (but it's all on my Zune) and we can pass round all the banned books (I have them all). How sad to take one of life's most wonderful moments and make them dirty - and how especially sad to tie that all to Daddy...just gross! Have you read Raising Ophelia? You might like it. ~LeeA

Manic Mommy said...

Totally with you and Slouching Mom. Extremism in any form is never good.

My sister and BIL are pretty religious and believe in waiting until marriage. The hypocritical part is that they did not.

I want to talk to 14yo niece and let her know if she needs another less church-centric opinion, I'm here for her. I have a very strong moral compass but want her to experience all of life.

But is it my place to go against what her parents feel is right?

Dawn said...

Amen, Sister!

And I second Lee's suggestion of Raising Ophelia.

InTheFastLane said...

Good post! Although, I would like to lock my daughter up for at least the next 10 years (8th grade, 4 years of H.S., 5 years of college) I hope that she makes good choices and that I have taught her all that I can. After that, it is up to her.

merlotmom said...

If you guys liked the post, would one of you care to digg it? stumble it? whichever? shameless plea but i needs some more traffic. thanks.

ByJane said...

the ick factor is huge for me. I can't help but conflate these dads with the pious preachers who are caught with their hands in parishioners pants.

~noel~ said...

You have traffic that you don't even know about, as I've been reading and not yet commented. I enjoy your thoughts and would love to hear anything you have to say about A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I've read it and completed the web classes...I absolutely love it!

Sonia said...

BRAVA! I just about leaped out of my chair and cheered you on this one. I had a very similar conversation with my composition class last night (don't ask how this is relevant to a composition class, please! :-))--we read part of the NYT article together, and everyone was just horrified. You did a really terrific job of capturing EXACTLY how I feel about this creepy, creepy thing...

Thank you!

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