Wednesday, September 5, 2007

GUEST POST: "Sex Does Not Define Us!"


I'm so pleased to start off the day with a guest post from Melinda Parrish, a 22-year old instructor in the English Department at the US Naval Academy. Melinda is based in the Writing Center. Here she is! -GWP


Wendy Shalit's new book, Girls Gone Mild, is the second in her legacy of literature, which includes numerous articles and online publications that preach abstinence to young girls as the best way to reclaim their feminine identity from the hedonistic, post-sexual revolution culture that currently holds it hostage. She claims that, "the plain fact is that girls today have to be 'bad' to fit in, just as the baby boomers needed to be good. And we are finding that this new script may be more oppressive than the old one ever was."

But, Wendy, by countering the sexual revolution with another sexual argument, are you not just perpetuating the cycle? Whether you're pro-abstinence or, well, easy, aren't you still allowing what happens to your “good girl” (wink) define the entire girl? Isn't THAT the biggest threat to the feminine identity of a young girl in modern society?

It makes me furious to think since the dawn of time, women have been defined primarily by their sex lives. I concede that in recent decades the values table has flip-flopped because of the sexual revolution and some young women may feel pressure towards promiscuity for social acceptance. But I don't regard Shalit's counter-argument as an enlightened or relevant one because it leads us back to where the feminists of the late sixties and early seventies started. Aren't we a sophisticated enough society to progress beyond this issue? Can't we find SOMETHING to focus on that doesn't reside between our thighs?

My plea to my fellow young women: stop making your vagina your defining characteristic! Don't let someone pigeon-hole you as a Madonna or a whore, or allow your life's happiness to rest solely on the success you achieve in bed; rather, devote your energy into developing your (other) physical, intellectual and artistic abilities to such a degree that your worth as a human being is undisputed, regardless of who you go to bed with!

(If you're interested in more of Shalit's work, check out her blog entitled, "Modestly Yours.")

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Encouraging women today to view women of the 1890's-1920's doesn't sound like the type of activity that works to increase the self respect of feminism.

But those women had it going on!

Dressed to the nines, and sporting both broad shoulders, bustles, and erect posture, they were not the cowering ladies of today half naked, and suitably dominated.

Nor did they attempt to dominate their men, at least in public.

Reviewing the Gay Nineties would do women good, as it was a period that led directly to women's suffrage, and if any woman symbolizes the height of femininity and prominence, it is the married and well cared for ladies of that period, which probably gave them the empowerment required to advance toward women's suffrage, and the self confidence to work in America's factories when their men went to WWI.

With so many illustrious examples, how could American women be so far behind their former contemporaries?

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