Am I a whore then?

I love the idea of protecting our children. We need to. Desperately. From rape and sexual assault. From trafficking. From child abuse and intimate violence. Never from their own bodies. That is some flipped upside down, turned inside out and got it all backwards kind of s*** that teaches “blame the victim” early on.

If the choices were to raise a daughter whom society had so deeply shamed that she rejected her own body or one who was so bold in her acceptance of self that she would willingly run down the street stark naked, I would choose the latter and pray I was bold enough to run alongside her.

The unfortunate, and sadly not original, recent story of a teenage girl being shamed at her own prom by grown male chaperones and subsequently kicked out is far too reminiscent of my own childhood. I had the misfortune of having a mother who wielded the dangerous combination of internalized misogyny and abusive tendencies. I remember standing in front of her as young as 13 in a simple pair of jeans and a tank top only to be told, not for the first time, that I looked like a “whore”. Do you remember buying your own clothes at 13? No? Well, neither do I but apparently my matured body had turned the outfit my mother bought me into something dirty and shame-worthy. So there was one lesson my mother and more than a few grown men (often while shouting from moving vehicles) taught me during my teen years… all it takes to be labeled a whore (whatever the hell that means) is DDD breasts and therefore expect to be treated as such.

This sort of body policing has carried over into adulthood and became really evident when I became a Christian in college. I internalized it and regurgitated it and feel as though I ought to do penance. This is me formally apologizing to any girl who sat in a bible study where I actually used the words, “You’re giving away pieces of yourself”. Please don’t ever repeat that phrase. It’s inaccurate and, quite frankly, gross. It implies that you can lose some of what you are worth. I can’t earn my worth. It just ‘IS” and no one can take it away from me; regardless of what the Church may tell me. I can’t be the only one thoroughly creeped out by the way the Church objectifies women and girls as much as the secular culture it claims to despise? Purity culture often comes across as nothing more than a virginity fetish that infantilizes men and criminalizes women.

My body is my body to do with as I please. Just as any young girls’ (or boy’s) body is theirs to do with as they please. That’s the beauty of autonomy and no one has the right to steal it from us or shame us for exercising it. Contrary to what the toxic purity culture has taught us, we are not empty alabaster jars who cheaply gave all our perfume away and we’re not used chewing gum that nobody wants (classy metaphor, right?). Nothing says, “I see you as a precious child of God” like comparing your daughters to a day-old stick of Big Red. The problem isn’t me, it isn’t the girl kicked out of her prom, and it isn’t even the girl who chooses to brazenly flaunt her sexuality. It’s the society, predominantly the men, who choose to make our sexuality about them. It isn’t about them, it will never be about them, and when they try to make it so it’s hard for my gut reaction not to simply be to say, “F*** off”.

F*** off with your shame, and your double standards, and your disturbing need to regulate the bodies of others. For a people who historically have celebrated their self-control and superior strength of mind, men spend a surprising amount of time and energy pointing out the many ways women can destroy them simply by existing; simply by daring to have a body. Our bodies aren’t weapons and their intent is not your destruction. Your words and actions on the other hand have been used to tear down far too many women and young girls. It is an assault on our identity that tells us that no part of us matters more greatly than our bodies and how you CHOOSE to respond to them.

I love that I’m still a virgin (I’d love myself just as much if I wasn’t). It’s a personal commitment I’ve made as a part of my own spiritual journey and, to be frank, I look back on my past relationships and my short-lived engagement and think, “Thank the Lord I didn’t share anymore of myself with those ‘winners’ than I already had.” But what if I had? What if I had crazy monkey sex with every last one of them and then went around flaunting my big boobs and refusing to see myself as a used bicycle? Am I a whore then? What if I didn’t have all that sex but just thought about having it a lot? Am I a whore then? What if I think of nothing but Church picnics and Purity Balls but still have these damn breasts? At what point am I allowed to look at myself and actually like what I see?

My purity and sexuality are between me, my God, and whoever I deem worthy enough to share it with. So this is me formally inviting you to stay the hell out of it.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I never understood the ‘Giving away pieces of yourself’ thing — blame the Aspergers, if you want, but my train of thought was always ‘Well, if I can give that away, isn’t that a GOOD thing? If you give away money or possessions, that’s thought of as charity, so giving away ‘pieces’ of yourself to someone who ostensibly lacks those things should be GOOD, right?’ or ‘If you cant give those things away, can’t you also get them back, again, the same way you can give and receive money or goods?’ Yeah, I was sorta a slow kid, but I guess it saved me some heartache.

    Now, the idea of someone TAKING a piece of you away — THAT I understand. You’re never happy when someone STEALS things from you, because you didn’t give them your permission. THAT’S the key, really, to happiness — the willingness to be parted with whatever it is you have. When someone steals from you, that’s not happiness, and they won’t really benefit from it, either.

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