I’d like to know where we got the idea that a woman’s value is directly tied to her modesty, virginity, and chastity. I mean, I know where we got the idea–there was a time when it was important for men to sell their daughters off to high bidders because something-something-economics and this-is-how-we-do, and the buyers only wanted girls they could poke holes in themselves (which is its own sadness), so fathers (and mothers) worked to keep their daughters covered up from would be hole-pokers, thus keeping the girl’s fiscal value in tact.
But it’s 2016, and we’ve still got these memes going around, garnering likes, and praise, and emoticons for love and delight wherein girls are told that no one will find them valuable unless they are pure for their wedding night.
Right now, there’s one picking up steam, with a father comparing his daughter’s body and value to an iPad. Asking her to cover her modesty (i.e., any flesh meat that a man might find alluring) and protect her chastity like she does the fragile workings of her tablet.
I dropped my son’s tablet face down on tile, last week. The screen shattered and was useless after that. Is that really the message you want to send your daughter? Oh, you’ve been immodest and/or had sex. Been nice knowing you. You’re tainted now, and I’ll never love you again. Well, I’ll still love you, but I’ll love you less because you’re dirty now.* No one else will love you, or want you. Well, maybe someone will, but you will need to feel very grateful to him because he’s been willing to take on your damaged goods.
Being a girl is like being trapped in a game of pac-man. You’re stuck in an endless maze of tasks to perform, and as you go about your business, you’ve got all these ghosts of ideology chasing after you. You turn left, trying to go on about your day, and there’s someone telling you your skirt is too short, and you’re a whore. You turn right, and there’s someone in your face about how you need to try harder to be attractive because no one likes an ugly woman.
You might get a bump up now and then, and you can vanquish those ghosts, but it is temporary, and pretty soon they are back to chasing you while you’re trying to shop for groceries, or feed your baby, or get a promotion at work. Your lipstick is too red. You don’t do enough with your hair. You don’t smile enough. You’re a flirt. Worse, you’re a tease. Worse, you’re a slut. You’re a prude. You’re too manly. You’re too soft.**
You can be a presidential candidate, and those ghosts are still chasing you. You didn’t stay home with your kids. You didn’t keep your husband on a leash. You didn’t leave your husband when he strayed. You spend too much on your appearance. Your appearance still isn’t pleasing. If you’d been a better wife, your husband wouldn’t have cheated, which means you are a terrible woman.
Little girls are headed to school every day, just trying to get through social studies and art, being chased by ghosts. You’re a pretty princess. Don’t enjoy being a pretty princess because that means you are egotistical. Look fancy. Don’t look so fancy that the boys like you. Be nice to boys. Don’t smile too much, or the boys will think you like them. Smile more, you need to smile. Don’t lead boys on. Be pretty. Be virginal.
It is endless.
I’m going to tell you a secret: I have never met a woman whose value as a human being decreased when she had sex.
I have never met a woman, looked at her and thought, “Well, she looks like someone who has had a hole poked in her, so she’s clearly trash. I can’t have coffee with her.”
I have never looked at a girl and thought, “Oh, she was going to be so successful in life…too bad she slept with that boy. Now she’s useless.”
Because–and I know this will shock some people–women don’t use their hymens to do math, learn medicine, write code, paint, bake bread, raise children, build foreign policy, engineer roads, become astronauts, or any other thing.
If you want your daughter to feel and be valuable, protect her brain. Enlarge her world through education. Read to her from books about science, and poetry. Take her to museums, and landmarks. Talk to her like she is more than a vagina. Because when you build her brain, you build her self confidence, you build her self esteem, and you build in her a desire for better, and more.
And when your daughter sees herself as someone with the potential for success, when she sees herself as a worthwhile being, with your guidance to get through those pac-man days, she will be able to make better choices about what does, and does not go into her body, whether that involve boys, or drugs, or carrot sticks, and pie.
One more thing: Let’s stop comparing girls to inanimate objects. Girls aren’t iPads, or chewing gum, or earrings, or priceless works of art. Girls are human beings. Girls, like boys, have complicated thoughts, feelings, and desires. You can’t tell a girl she is like a piece of gum, or a canvas, or a machine because she isn’t. She is a living, breathing, THINKING person and rather than telling her, “Never do this, or you’ve ruined your life,” start teaching her to reason her way through situations.
Sex does not equal ruin. Not knowing how to get past a problem can equal ruin.
I’ve got a new meme for you.
A girl bought an iPad, when her father saw it, He asked her “What was the 1st thing you did when you bought it?
“I put an anti-scratch sticker on the screen and bought a cover for the iPad” she replied.
“Did someone force you to do so?”
“Don’t you think it’s an insult to the manufacturer?”
“No dad! In fact they even recommend using a cover for the iPad”
“Did you cover it because it was cheap & ugly?”
“Actually, I covered it because I didn’t want it to get damage and decrease in value.”
“When you put the cover on, didn’t it reduce the iPad’s beauty?”
“You are such a weirdo, Dad. I think it looks better and it is worth it for the protection it gives my iPad.”
The father looked lovingly at his daughter and said, “I really like the Think Geek sticker. You are one smart cookie. Speaking of cookies, I baked some while you were at school today. Want one?”
“Yeah! Thanks, Dad! Hey, can I show you what I built in robotics?”
Teaching your children to take care of their belongings is nice.
*If that is the message you want to send your child, please get help.
**I haven’t even touched on how girls are told to wad up their own desires in balls of angst, or how girls are told that sex is dirty, but are then expected to be freaks in the sheets the moment a ring goes on the finger. You’re told to subsume your desires for decades, and to hide what makes you attractive, then in the blink of an eye you’re supposed to flip a switch and become the Mayflower Madam behind closed doors, and bake cookies the next morning.