Kiss the Girl!

TBM Topic 22: The Virgin Diaries on TLC

“Kiss the Girl!” by Julie Robison
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Virgin” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Chastity Carnal-val” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!



There’s a new reality series in town, and… well, it’s no different than any of the others out there. It’s extremely personal. It’s humiliating. It focuses on the exterior of people rather than the interior. It makes everyone feels awkward. It portrays its subject matter poorly. It makes people and their belief target practice for everyone else, which does not lead to toleration and understanding of others.

The show is called “The Virgin Diaries.” It is on TLC (which should change its name to TMI). A headline from ABC News says TLC is celebrating virgins because losing one’s virginity is a big deal. The show is getting a lot of press, though, with the exploitation of a video clip of the couple whom had never kissed each other before their wedding. It was, to say the least, disturbing. If I had never kissed a person and I knew the cameras would be on me, I would certainly have been more timid.

To write this piece, I’ll make the following three disclosures:
A) I couldn’t bring myself to watch the show, so my critique is general motifs rather than serving as a review;
B) I think losing one’s virginity is a big deal, and TLC has hurt rather than helped hold such a belief;
C) I’m an adult virgin.

That last one felt weird to type since I’m only 23. I hardly feel like an adult, minus the paying for self, school and taxes part of my life. My sex education came from being the oldest of six kids, religious ed. discussions about sex in the 5th and 6th grade, my biology courses in high school and college, and devouring Theology of the Body resources in college. I’ve had my heart broken, but never more than that.

For most, though, that’s enough.

The romance people are looking for in their life is not sex. The companionship people are looking for is not sex. The intimacy people are looking for is not sex. These are, to be sure, all aspects of sex. But sex is an outward sign of something deeper, which is why girls are annoying and want to cuddle after: they want to be held and know they are wanted, and that their feelings are reciprocated. Sex is reassurance for men that they are wanted and needed, but that does not mean that are emotionally (and chemically!) bonded like the girl.

Virgins used to be more revered. In mythology, virgins goddesses like Athena held power because they did not need to sway men by luring them to bed, like most other women in the stories. The vestal virgins in Rome watched over the sacred fire and, freed from an obligation to marry and have children through their pledge of chastity, were considered important and needed members of society.

Beatrice catching Hero from fainting at her wedding.

In Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, Hero, a female protagonist, is wrongly accused of unchaste behavior. As a result, her marriage is called off, and she dies. Not literally, as the audience finds out later, but her staged death makes her betrothed realize the severe consequences his false accusation (based on false information given to him by a seemingly trust-worthy person).

Even in these sophisticated modern times, sexually promiscuity stays shameful. It may be justified, it may be more acceptable, but it is still something people get a twinge when mentioning, even if flaunting it. People are quick to say, “Don’t judge me!” and yes, no person should be judged by another person. But actions can and should be judged, because they determine a person’s character.

A man who seeks sexual relations with a woman he does not intend to marry is not honoring or loving that woman. A woman who allows herself to be thus wooed by a man is not guarding her heart or her body. There are logical consequences to these nights of passion too, like a rise in abortions, single-parenthood, absent fathers, STDs and other health predicaments, and poverty.

B. et me

What people actually want is someone who loves them for who they are; to love, and to be loved in return. When B. and I were working through a marriage book, we had to talk a lot about our selves, our beliefs, our families, and what we want. It was a very emotionally exhausting exercise, but the fruit produced was worth it: to know that someone wholly loves me for exactly who I am, and to thus love him in the same way in return.

And when the time comes for us to be married and consummate our relationship, there will be nothing more wonderful than knowing we waited to share our bodies only with our future spouse. Perhaps we will both need a lot of help, perhaps we will both be awkward, perhaps we will make the usual rookie mistakes: no matter! We will learn together, we will laugh together, we will love together, and we will share in the experience together.

Melinda Selmys at Sexual Authenticity wrote an awesome post called “Just Sex” on how it isn’t always going to be mind-blowing. But then again, neither is life:

There are two sides to the modern North American hysteria about sex. One is the side that we get to hear about all the time in the Catholic press: the hysteria about how sex is so great, so much fun, so liberating, so all-pervasively important to human life, etc. etc. That is, the hysteria that fueled the sexual revolution. 

The other side of the coin, however, is the Catholic over-sanctification of sex. A problem that I’ve encountered enough times to think that it’s probably a quiet, underground endemic within the Catholic community, is the problems of Catholics – especially Catholic women – feeling that sex is somehow wrong, dirty, or dehumanizing if it is anything less than the scintillatingly personalistic vision of fleshly union that appears in the writings of John Paul II and Christopher West. 

It’s just sex. If you don’t have it, it’s not the end of the world. If you do have it, and it’s rushed, mediocre, and half-asleep, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of the time, you end up with a situation where there is a strong biological imperative to make love on the part of one spouse, and a total lack of interest on the part of the other. This isn’t reductionistic and selfish, it’s just biology.

The Virgin Diaries misses the point about those who hold out: it’s not that we don’t want to have sex, it’s that we don’t want to have sex with someone we are not deeply in love with and committed to for life. All the smooth moves, fancy words and romantic settings in the world cannot make up for a lack of real connection with another person.

Sure, there are some people who may have missed their chance to have sex “that one time” in college. Then there are those crazy religious folks who apparently bring up being virgins on first dates (really, TLC?). But to be chaste by choice? Maybe even wearing chastity rings as a sign of their outward commitment to themselves and their body? Inconceivable! If you don’t have sex in high school, this show says, you’re going to get married a virgin and end up awkwardly sucking face in front of the entire congregation. And when I say awkward, I mean viral-on-the-internet awkward.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Cortona Annunciation” by Fra Angelico

TLC, in an effort to celebrate chastity in an overly pre-marital sexualized culture, gave people another reason to laugh. This Christmas, we remember the birth of our Savior by the Virgin Mary, the most revered woman in Christendom. Hers was not an easy life: she conceived a child before she was married; she lived in total chastity with her husband; she bore a child while a virgin.

Who is laughing now?

Bright Maidens: The Absolutely True Diary of a Virgin

 
 
The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Topic:TLC’s “Virgin Diaries”

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Check out our Facebook page for guest posts!
The Absolutely True Diary of a Virgin
The channel that brought us little people, super breeders, polygamists, and prancing toddlers has recently introduced a new rarity…late-in-life virgins!  It is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but I’m not surprised an over-sexed culture is shocked by those who decide to abstain, whether for religious or other personal reasons.  Nor am I surprised that the people it’s chosen to highlight are not the average virgins.  Normal doesn’t boost ratings.
Photo found here.
As I’m still on a blogging break, here are some links to past posts on virginity, sex, and chastity.  Enjoy! 

Chastity Carnal-val

Review: The Virgin Diaries on TLC
“Chastity Carnal-val” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

The greatest on-screen defense of chastity I’ve seen was in episode 12, season 4 of House, MD. The episode featured a Hasidic Jewish bride who collapsed at her wedding. The Hasidic duo were unable to consummate the marriage due to medical tests and certainly had not touched prior to their wedding day.

At one point, the bride was in shorts and a tank top for a medical test and her new husband said he needed to respect her and look away while she was in such a state. He said he imagines his wife thought the first time he would see her “bare” would be in the bedroom, “celebrating their marriage.”

A doctor politely said, “Given the circumstances, I’m sure Roz would sacrifice her modesty to have you with her.” To which the new groom replied:

“Please, don’t do that…You think it’s sweet that I care for her modesty, but that it’s archaic and ultimately irrelevant. Our traditions aren’t just blind rituals. They mean something, they have purpose. I respect my wife. And I respect her body.

I’d much rather see more bows in respect for those values in secular television shows than the spectacle of “Virgin Diaries,” which looks like a carnival for unsexed folks.

Let’s be honest, because I’m a virgin who hopes more people might find fulfillment in chastity, I’m going to be defensive about a “reality show” on a cable network showcasing virgins.

Another showcase: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding show

I admit, as I’ve never been all of the way on the other side of the “aisle” on this topic, my opinion is tainted. However, if we can rely on statistics as a guide, the opinions of the producers, feature reporters and much of the laughing audience are also tainted.

To clarify: I’m not condemning those who don’t choose a chaste lifestyle. Believe me, I don’t always get it right, and it would be wrong to think I could ever know anyone else’s mindset or situation.

How easy it is to get fired up over this television show. Watching the commentary and talk show hosts banter on about it makes it obvious that this country, and probably the world, seems to think the people in this show are to be giggled at.

“If it’s half as good as the promo, I think they have a very big hit on their hands,” said Jimmy Kimmel.

Bingo. It’s a hit. The unbearably uncomfortable few seconds of first kiss footage were a producer’s dream!

Just like the iPad solved the chunky laptop problem for a moment and Blueray raises the standard for home movies, someone came along with an idea for a new television show to attract audiences.

Why do people like to watch the Jersey Shore? Because they are outliers to the rest of us who don’t know what that world is like. The concept of choosing (or not successfully pursuing) a premarital sex life is as bizarre to most Americans as the frosted-tip-orange-skin-rude-behavior lifestyle is to me.

We could be the virgin version of these fine people

Being a virgin after the first semester of college is a mythical lifestyle.

I have not seen an episode of the show all the way through, but I’ve watched the TLC-made promotional videos and the episode teasers. In one, we see the couple walking hand-in-hand, discussing the process of their wedding night, from wedding attire, step-by-step until they consummate their marriage, intermittently cut between scenes of them on a see-saw.

Please, TLC. I know you’ve hit network gold with this foreign concept, but handle it with a little professionalism and intelligence. See-saw?

If I put myself in the shoes of those who find the concept laughable, I can understand their grinning quips about how the newlyweds “can’t keep their hands off each other” after the exchange of vows. However, if I may put my cynicism hat on, this reaction shows that it is hard to believe this show can ever be a helpful tool for those who want to share about the benefits of chastity.

We virgins who choose to abstain before marriage aren’t simply “keeping our hands off each other” — it’s just too hard to do so blindly, especially in the twenty-first century. I know I’m trying to make a gift of myself in the most intimate way possible, to one man. Alice von Hildebrand calls it the “intimate sphere,” because the terms “sex” and “making Love” have lost impact.

When I think about how supremely personal the “intimate sphere” will be, I can’t imagine why these two virgins would volunteer a camera to document the final weeks and moments leading up to it, leaving the interpretation of an innocent jaunt on a see-saw to the editors.

I guess it’s still up to those in the trenches to spread the message, via grassroots.

Bright Maidens: Snow and Pastures

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Topic: “The Parable of the Lost Sheep.”
Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Check out our Facebook page for guest posts!

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?  

One winter when I was ten, my siblings and I were playing in the snow. Our littlest brother, not even a year old, was bundled up tightly, snug and secure in a sled.  He was a cute, wee little thing, and I had the genius idea of dumping a shovel of snow on his head.

I wish I could tell you exactly why I did it.  Did I not realize it might hurt him?  That the shock of a face full of snow would make him cry?  Was I still tinged with jealousy at the attention he received?  I can’t remember.

He began to cry and my mother turned from where she was playing with my sisters and brother.  Her mouth dropped open, and I saw something flash across her face.  “Trista!  Did you…?” she asked. 

Last winter

Suddenly ashamed and fearful, I bolted out of our yard.  I heard her call for me as I struggled through the piles of snow (there had been a blizzard), and I startled with fear when I noticed she was running after me.


The next half hour was a blur as I crouched behind cars, hid in bushes, and looped the block, hoping she would stop following me.  


All the while, my mom continued to call my name.


Finally, with tears and a runny nose, I let her catch me.  “I’m sorry,” I blubbered, crying into her puffy jacket.


“I know,” she replied, hugging me.  “C’mon, let’s go back to the house.  It’s cold out here.”


My mother is obviously not God, but in this instance she mirrored His Divine Love.  I had done something stupid and hurtful; I, like the lost sheep, had wandered from the path.  My mother never stopped chasing me, wanting to forgive me and bring me home.  Likewise, God desires the same thing for all His children: that they be safe and at peace, with Him.  How often do we not turn to Him or stop and listen to Him calling because we are fearful or anxious?  

This Advent, I pray we all pause.  Let Him catch us and bring us home again. 

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
“The Lord revealed at what cost these green pastures are purchased.  He was not the Good Shepherd because He Provided economic plenty, but because He would lay down His life for His sheep.  Once again the Cross appears under the symbol of the shepherd.  The shepherd-patriarch Jacob and the shepherd-kind David now pass into the Shepherd-Savior, as the staff becomes a crook, the crook a scepter, and the scepter a Cross.”  
Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

This Little Piggy

TBM Topic 21: “The Parable of the Lost Sheep.”

“This Little Piggy” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!



To answer the prompt of the Lost Sheep, I advert your attention a few verses down in Luke 15 from verses 1-7 to verses 11-31 and the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is an old favorite: the son came, went, strayed, repented, and came back. The older brother gets mad; the father shows how his love is even. The take-away message is, Even if you go away, God will welcome you back with open arms. But if you’re excited about God’s mercy, you’re only seeing the denouement and missing the best part: the turning point(s).

We Americans should be able to sympathetic to the younger son, going off to enjoy his youth in the city, sowing his wild oats. But perhaps we do not understand the kind of shame he feels upon becoming bankrupt. It’s the kind of shame which leads to repentance. It’s the kind of shame that aches, spiritually and physically. It’s the kind of shame that feels no shame in wanting to eat pig scraps. I’m not sure exactly what pigs eat. But you know life is hard-knock when you’re salivating over livestock grub.

This is God’s grace: it knocks sense into you. It’s the Holy Spirit saying, let me in! This life isn’t enough to satisfy you!

I could relate personal stories, but I’d like to try a different approach: I’m issuing a challenge. I think every life has one aspect of this story constantly on repeat.

Are you a lost son? Are you on the road to repentance but not quite craving pig scraps yet? Or are you the older brother with your righteous anger and resentment against another’s seemingly undeserved good fortune? Perhaps you are like the Father, waiting with open arms. Or could you see yourself as one of the pigs, giving someone else a wake-up call?

No part is too small is this great life. As my friend Gina so aptly reminded a few of us this weekend, one person’s “yes” can be a domino effect for more yeses. Faithfulness in small matters reaps great reward and trust, as the Gospel of Luke reminds us.

More over, when will your soul awake? When will you stop searching and realize that Christ is enough?

H/T Kortni

The Parable of the Lost Son is a closer look at the Lost Sheep parable; it gives that one sinner a face. It reminds us that we’re all sinners, and we all want God to search for us and rejoice upon having us back. Moreover, we all have need of repentance. Constantly. Hellooo sacrament of reconciliation.

Moreover, we need to be praying for the non-believers who do not desire our prayers as much as we should pray for those who ask. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and we must desire it to have it. Does that mean we’ll always get it? No. Does that excuse people for not believing? No.  But our desire for God’s pig scraps will lead to even great rewards. He gave us the will to desire it, now seek Him we must!