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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing


Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun


Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Ideas
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry


2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Myths
Graduation


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Jail-Baiting
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Retro-Shame
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido


Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

All Worked Up About Purity

by J.T. Benjamin

 

J.T. Benjamin

When my Lovely Wife was carrying our first child, whenever anyone asked whether I’d prefer the baby to be a boy or girl, I always punted and said that I didn’t care; I just wanted a healthy baby. It wasn’t until we were in the delivery room and the Big Moment was at hand that my Lovely Wife wormed out my little secret. (It’s amazing how watching your Lovely Wife go through excruciating labor to bring your offspring into the world can make you bend to her will. If she’d have demanded a vasectomy at that moment, [she almost did] I’d have booked the adjacent room right then and there. I still owe her a Mercedes from the birth of our son. Oh, those shoulders. But I digress).

“Be honest,” she said between contractions. “You want a little girl, don’t you?”

“Yes I do,” I admitted. Yes, I know us manly men all want manly little men to carry on the family name and teach how to throw a football and drink beer and tip topless dancers and all that manly stuff, but in my heart of hearts when I thought about being a father, I’d always wanted a little girl of my own.

And I got my wish. And it was great. I loved being a Daddy’s Girl’s Daddy so much that I had two more daughters, all of whom have their mother’s beauty and their father’s smart-aleck attitude, and I was in paternal bliss. At least, for a while.

You see, the problem with having beautiful baby girls is that they become beautiful little ladies, on their way to becoming beautiful young women, who then attract the attention of ugly young men, with only one ugly impulse on their ugly minds. Actually, those ugly impulses aren’t going on in their minds, but in a much lower region of their ugly bodies.

Which creates a whole mess of problems for Dear Old Dad.

My oldest daughter, now seventeen, went to her first high school prom a couple of months ago. While my Lovely Wife did a spectacular job of helping her shop for a dress, choose her corsage, prepare her hair and makeup, and otherwise ensure she’d be the Belle Of the Ball, I was pretty much reduced to sitting on the couch with the lyrics to “Sunrise, Sunset” echoing in my head.

“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?”

Excuse me a moment. I’m not dabbing away a tear. Just a speck of dust in the eye.

Anyway, as the big day approached and my daughter’s impending maturity loomed, I found myself more and more aware of one more issue to make this Daddy’s Girl’s Daddy’s hair either turn gray, fall out, or both. (Sadly, it’s usually both).

I’m talking about “purity.” Specifically, the “purity” of young women in our society. With the advent of prom season came several media campaigns, from several fronts, (mostly from community churches and religious organizations) emphasizing how important it was for young women to protect their “purity” with regard to sexual matters.

Of course, the alarming rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S., are valid concerns. But it’s about more than just teenagers having safe sex that has me All Worked Up this month. It’s about the attitude being driven home about teenagers (especially girls) and sex in general. It’s not simply health or pregnancy issues about which I’m alarmed; it’s about their very self esteem as women, and as people.

Jessica Valenti, founder and editor of the Feministing.com blog, has authored a new book called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women. Ms. Valenti thoroughly documents the actions of the so-called “Purity Movement,” a cabal of well-funded, neo-conservative, Holy Terror/fundamentalist Christian organizations which collectively advocate the belief that for young women, their only concerns should be preserving their virginity, their “purity,” come Hell or High Water, for the men they intend to marry, and only after said men have placed wedding bands on the fingers of the aforementioned young women. These activities include “Purity Balls,” vaguely incestuous Federally funded father-daughter ceremonies wherein daughters promise their daddies to save themselves for their eventual husbands. Other activities include seminars where girls are fed misinformation about sex education, (e.g., that condoms fail up to 50% of the time), and caveman-like stereotypes such as that men can’t be expected to control their sexual impulses, while women are made of stronger stuff, less interested in sex for pleasure and more interested in sex as a means to an end.

Of course, this is not news. As I’ve exhaustively documented in this column, the Holy Terrors have long engaged in a “War On Whoopie,” a campaign to eradicate all forms of sex other than that in which the specific goal is for married people to bear children. All else (homosexuality, pornography, sex toys, sex games, kinky sex, casual sex, any kind of sex for pleasure, etc.) must be banned. So the “purity movement” is only part of a larger campaign. So what?

And anyway, what’s so bad about asking (pressuring, badgering), young women to save themselves for marriage? A woman’s preservation of her virginity is a habit to be admired, a goal to be aspired, is it not?

Ay, there’s the rub. According to Ms. Valenti, there are problems with such an attitude. As she’s documented in her book, “Purity Movement” advocates tend to be so strident in their emphases of how important it is for young women to keep their legs closed that they’re inflicting damage upon the self-esteem of those very same young women they claim to want to protect.

In the eyes of the “Purity Movement,” the most pristine example of femininity is that of a woman who’s a virgin on her wedding night. From one perspective, that’s all fine and good. But conversely, any woman who doesn’t fit that mold is irreparably tainted or weak or “damaged goods.” Any woman who’s not looking for a husband or children, or who’s interested in sex for pleasure, or who’s even simply curious is persona non grata.

Even more disturbingly, as Ms. Valenti documents, the “Purity Movement” has managed to soil the images of women young and old who don’t fit their “only-a-virgin-can-wear-a-white-wedding-gown” template in other ways. In the Movement, rape victims tend to be treated as having “asked for it” by being so weak or sensuous as to have allowed their inherently sexual nature to come to the surface, especially in front of men who naturally have no self-control. This is especially, but not necessarily true if the victims happened to have been provocatively dressed or have had a few drinks in a bar. Lesbians are simply non-entities. As for women of color? Ms. Valenti says, “Young women of color, who are so hypersexualized in American culture that they’re rarely positioned as ‘the virgin’ in the virginity movement or elsewhere, are largely absent from discourse concerning chastity…(author bell hooks) points out that since the time of U.S. slavery, men have benefited from positioning black women as naturally promiscuous because it absolves them of guilt when they sexually assault and rape women of color. ‘[I]t was impossible to ruin that which was received as inherently unworthy, tainted, and soiled…” (p. 45).

Ultimately, as eloquently set forth by Thomas Macaulay Millar in Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, the modern model of female sexuality in the U.S. is that of a commodity. “Sex is like a ticket; women have it and men try to get it…(T)he commodity model assumes that when a woman has sex, she loses something of value. If she engages in too much sex, she will be left with nothing of value. It further assumes that sex earlier in her history is more valuable than sex later. If she has a lot of sex early on, what she has left will not be something people will esteem highly,” (p. 38).

While the “Purity Movement” advocates claim to be concerned with preventing the treatment of women as sex objects, according to Ms. Valenti the ultimate result is that “Any way you slice it, women’s identities are so tied up with whether or not we’ve had sex, or how sexual or abstinent we are, that it’s become almost impossible to think of ourselves as women outside of that framework. And really, while it’s pop culture that gets the most attention in this regard, it’s the virginity movement that’s reinforcing the notion.” (p. 79).

Did you get that? Either treat women as the sexual beings they are (and therefore becoming sex objects), or treat women as pristine examples of purity whose identity and value is completely wrapped up in that pristine ideal, thereby making them sex objects in a different way.

So where does that leave me? I’ll tell you. Faced with the dual problems of treating my daughter as a pristine, pure, non-sexual being (which I KNOW she’s not), or treating her as someone who’s thought about sex a lot, (which I KNOW she has), I decided to ignore all that “Purity Movement” bullshit and do the good liberal “Dad” thing. Before she left for the prom, I took my little girl aside and said, “I can’t stop you from having sex tonight, but if you do, please, please, please PLEASE don’t engage in unprotected sex. I’m not ready to be a grandpa yet.”

She turned four shades of red and said, “Don’t worry, Dad. I won’t.”

And when she got home that night, I collared her and asked in my best “Stern Dad” voice, “You didn’t have unprotected sex, did you?”

She blushed again and said, “No, Dad! I didn’t have sex at all!” Then she paused for dramatic effect. “Although I really, really, really REALLY WANTED to!!!”

Which creates another problem for me.

J.T. Benjamin
July 2009


If you have comments or insights to share about this column, please drop by J.T. Benjamin's blog or send an email to: J.T. Benjamin

Get All Worked Up with J.T. Benjamin in ERWA 2009 Archive.

______
"All Worked Up" © 2009 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  J.T.Benjamin says, "I'm a generalist. I write about what interests me, which is just about everything." His resume reflects the diversity of his interests. He's been a disk jockey, insurance salesman, private investigator, journalist, college professor, child advocate, political activist, truckdriver, thief,...doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief. He's currently trying to start a hippie commune in the Denver/Boulder area.
Email:  J.T. Benjamin



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