Monday, June 24, 2013

Re: The Belle Jar's discussion on a (humourous?) shirt and the rape culture implications

Okay, first of all, the blog post that got me thinking was this one. So read that first, I think.

Honestly, I'm going to skip over most of what was said regarding rape culture, because I don't want to get into that right now. Suffice it to say that I have seen evidence of rape culture, I'm not denying that. But it wasn't the shirt (though it's pretty terrible) or the discussion on rape culture that got under my skin. It was this paragraph:

The problem is that the real, underlying sentiment here is that the daughter is a man’s possession, not a person. She’s either her father’s “princess” or her boyfriend’s “conquest.” It’s clear that the daughter’s wants and desires mean nothing to her father – he says that he will dislike anyone that she dates simply because they are dating his daughter. It doesn’t matter whether this boyfriend (since the shirt is operating off the assumption that the daughter is cisgender and heterosexual) is a nice guy, whether he treats the daughter well, or even whether the daughter loves him – the father will still dislike him, based on the simple fact that this teenage boy wants to be physically close to his daughter.

Immediately I thought "WHAAAAAT?" I felt offended. I felt sad. I felt a surge of affection for my dad!

The thing is: My dad was super protective of me. Not in a stupid way, like that dumb T-shirt. No, his form of protection was to raise me as an independent thinker. He taught me to be a strong person (a strong woman, no less), he exemplified the Christian values he talked about (yes, part of the rest of the discussion will be from my Christian worldview), and... he taught me to wait.

The kicker is... I'm still waiting. At the ripe old age of 25, I'm still a virgin. And I'm proud of that. Even when this supposedly sexually liberated culture expects me to feel shame or humiliation over it. (I've read articles about losing your virginity where the idea was presented: "Just go out and do it. Get it over with. Then find someone good later.")

I'm not a princess. I've never felt need for the protection of a man or fear that I would lose my relationship with my father if I became sexually active.

I've had the "desires and wants" described in The Belle Jar's blog. I know and understand those tingly feelings.

I've had opportunity.

So why do I retain my status of "waiting?" Because my daddy taught me that I am worth something. That I didn't have to give into to the ridiculous sex drives of teenage boys to feel worth, that I can express my affection in ways that are not physical, and that I am strong enough to wait for a guy who will love and respect me (even if I ask him to wait).

My dad understood the drive of teenage (and twenty-something) guys, and taught me that I could decide for myself. He also did me the favor of talking to me when he didn't like a boy I was seeing. Because sometimes, even if "the daughter loves him," he's still not the right guy. Sometimes, fathers DO know best- especially when teenagers are involved.

I will forever be thankful for the gifts my dad has given me (the strength, the self-respect, the independence).I think it would have done a lot of girls some good to have a dad like mine. And the great thing about my protective dad is that when I meet that guy (the one who loves and respects me), my dad will love and respect him, too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I tried to explain this to someone somewhat recently, but I couldn't have said it quite like this. Anyways, here's an interesting quote about young adult women, from Courtney Martin in her book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters:,

We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers. We carry the world of guilt — center of families, keeper of relationships, caretaker of friends — with a new world of control/ambition — rich, independent, powerful. We are the daughters of feminists who said, "You can be anything" and we heard "You have to be everything."

We must get A's. We must make money. We must save the world. We must be thin. We must be unflappable. We must be beautiful. We are the anorectics, the bulimics, the overexercisers, the overeaters. We must be perfect. We must make it look effortless.

I have to admit, I feel this so strongly somedays. And I hope by recognizing it, I can see how to defeat this prevailing attitude in my own life.