Week 40 of #TWmemorymondays!
Today I'm going to write about a memory have that's woven into the fabric of my life, and that memory is being told: "stay pure for your husband." That phrase has many variations like "save yourself for your husband." I'm not specifically throwing shade to my parents, because it's much much bigger than that. Growing up, sex wasn't talked about explicitly, but there were many things that were implied when key words like "pure" and "marriage" were being said. My upbringing was conservative, and while my parents were for the most part pretty open minded - like most conservative christian households - many problematic things were there under good intentions. Not only were these ideas in my christian background, but the underlining idea was and is EVERYWHERE.
Those 5 words "stay pure for your husband" have some heavy implications. Let's dive into the first two words: "stay pure." What does that mean? It means to definitely not have sex before marriage and better yet engage or think about anything sexual. Which also equates to the idea of virginity. VIRGINITY: the patriarchal social heteronormative construct of seeing women's body as property. If you're not familiar with this, look into it please. Also how do you even define sex? What if you're not straight?
This is serious because in that kind of thinking - if you've been sexually assaulted, you've somehow have to bear the burden of not being "pure". In different contexts and cultures you will be killed for not being a "virgin" before marriage.
OK next three words "for your husband" - not only is it heteronormative, the reason to abstain from sexual activity is FOR my husband?? Like I already owe something to my future theoretical husband? So his sexual experience is expected and actually held in esteem, but mine would steal something away from him and our future?? Right?? It doesn't make sense.
This past week the hearings with Dr. Ford has really brought up a lot of things for me - especially the power of shame. I was just talking with friends how as single women, you can't win. You are shamed whatever you decide to do when it comes to sex: if you decide to engage in certain sexual activities, you're impure and probably taking something away from your husband. And if you decide to abstain from certain sexual activities, you're a prude and naive.
That kind of thinking strips me away from the dignity of seeing myself as a holistic being and that I have agency for making decisions for MY OWN health and wellbeing. The issue isn't whether I (or any woman) should or shouldn't do xyz - but am I being empowered to make decisions that prioritize my own holistic (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, etc) health?
Shame should NEVER be part of that process. It doesn't matter what you have done or are or will do, you and I are whole, deserving of love, and deserve to love. That's it!
Alright, that's a lot and there are so many more I want to say.
#TWmemorymondays: A painting inspired by a memory every Monday of 2018. Connecting abstract art to real life. Week 40/53. 'Pure' / 8x8 in / mixed media on paper
Week 40 of #TWmemorymondays!