Monday, October 5, 2009

What I learned in College

Today is a momentous day! I FINALLY finsihed building a corner bookcase for my room that I started, quite probably, over a year ago. It was one of those projects that you get really excited about, but don't get done fast enough so it sits in the garage half built until you're tired of having stacks of books in your room. My dad had been helping me build it but he and i were never home at the same time so finally I decided to finish it myself. It has it's flaws, but at this point, I'm just glad to get all my books off my bedroom floor!\

As I was sitting here looking at my bookcase I wondered what a stranger would think of me if they only looked at my books. They would definatly know that I was a christian, or at least interested in christianity due to my shelf of christian books. They would know that I enjoy a good series, becaus all of my books in a series are on one shelf too. Mostly they would see lots of novels that have to do with family or friendship of love stories.

As I continued to look I wondered if one book in particular would stand out to someone who was judging me by my books. That book is this:

This is not the type of book that I think any of my friends or family would think of if they thought of me. I was required to read Full Frontal Feminism in one of my history classes.

While I am all for equal voting rights and equal pay for women, for not having my husband chosen for me, for laws that protect me from being abused, and the freedom to wear clothing that reveals my ankles and face there were things in this book that troubled me deeply.

Being a christian my worldview is different than those who are not. I have a different moral standard and law that I abide (or at least, am supposed to, I don't do such a great job a lot of the times) by. A lot of this book challenged, and even made fun of, those ideals and values that I am rooted in.

These were some of the things that really bothered me.

1. Full Frontal Feminism tells me to have sex whenever I want, with whoever I want, however I want.

"So have sex with whoever you like, and as many people as you like, but I think we can all afford to be a bit discriminating. -Don't have sex with someone who won't use protection. -Don't have sex with someone who is anti-choice-they have no respect for your body or your ability to make decision for yourself. -Don't have sex with someone who doesn't respect your physical and emotional boundaries. -Don't have sex with Republicans. (Okay, that one is just mine. (pg 32)

The Bible tells me that sex is a sacred gift that should be saved for marriage.

Proverbs 5:18-19 – “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

1 Corinthians 7:2-3 – “... each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

2. Full Frontal Feminsim tells us that abortion is a from of birth control. A woman is in charge of her own body and if she wants that "mass of tissue" gone it's her right to get rid of it.

"All that I can say is that I think there's nothing wrong with abortion, that the right to control our bodies is one of the most important there is, and that those who are seeking to end that right are concerned not about 'life,' but about control." (pg 93)

The Bible tells me that "that mass of tissue" is a human being, no matter how small, and is being lovingly knit together by my Creator.

“For YOU created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;"

3. Full Frontal Feminism tells me that homosexuals should be allowed to get married and adopt.

"In one of the cruelest moves ever, the anti sex, anti gay crowd (they tend to go hand in hand) is trying to keep anyone who isn't straight or married from being parents.

The Bible tells me that homosexuality is a sin, and yes, while homosexuals are people in need of Jesus just as much as I am, their sin should not be accepted as the new status quo.

Lev. 18:22 "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

Romans 1:26-28 "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

4. (Ok, so this one isn't anti christian, just a little to weird for me). "You may not like me for saying this...but engagement rings piss me the hell off. It's a friggen dowry! Now, I like me some jewelry. And I like gifts. But the only purpose of an engagement ring is to show that you 'belong' to someone, and that your man makes bank. ...While at the end of the day I'm not going to fault someone for wanting a ring, there are certain things (and maybe because they don't have to do with jewelry) I can't get over. Fro teh life of me, I will never understand why a woman today would change her last name. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. You want future kids to have the same last name as you and your hubby? Hyphenate, b****! Or do something, anything but change your last name. It's the ultimate buy-in sexist bulls***. It epitomizes the idea that you are not your own person. (pg 147)

Personally, Elizabeth speaking now, the idea of changing your last name, for me, is a not a sign of giving yourself up as a person but of joining yourself to the person that you are committing to for the rest of your life. That's just me.

5. Full Frontal Feminism tells me that if I don't want to have kids and choose never to have children that's fine. If I do want to be a mother that's fine too. Unless you want to be apart of the quiverfull movement. "The wackiest example I've seen of this idea lately is this movement of religious women who call themselves Quiverfull Mothers (like keeping your "quiver" full of babies-ick) and think that women should have as many kids as they can in order to build an army for god. And (naturally), they think that women should be submissive, and that 'woman's atemps to control their own bodies- the Lord's temple- are a seizure of divine power.'"

The book is not all bad, although I won't be sharing it with any young women, however here were the pros.

1) The book speaks strongly against porn and the damage that it does to those who watch it and then expect their sexual encounters to be like it. She emphasizes that porn is FAKE and that no woman should have to try to recreate that scene for thier partner. Hurrah for that! Porn is aweful, and it does ruin lives. However, sex should still only be for your spouse!!!

2) I do like how she talks about the fact that our culture emphasizes the wedding more than the commitment that is being made at the wedding. "A 2006 study showed that the average amount spent on U.S. weddings is almost $28,000. For a party. I'm sorry, but that'a down payment on a house...again, I'm all for a good party, but do we really have to spend this kind of money to prove to our friends and family how in love we are? ... Call me a hopeless romantic, but it seems to me that geting married should be about how much you love someone- not about how hot you look in a $5,000 dress. Just saying."

3) She sheds light on the way that our culture allows men to be the exact opposite, little boys. "Something new in American masculinity- at least in terms of pop culture- is the resurgence of boyhood as the cool standard. Like, back in the day, being a man meant taking care of your family and having a good job and all that. Now, at least if you look at commercials and television shows and the like, it seems that the ultimate way to be a man is to stay a boy." (pg 186)

4) She talks about how aweful the pressure that society on women to look perfect is, and, how unrealistic. "Whether we're puking or not eating or cutting ourselves (or letting doctors do it), young women are at the center of the beauty cult. ...When people talk about youg women having eating disorders or getting plastic surgery, they often assume that we don't know the consequences- health or otherwise. The sad truth is, young women do know. We just don't care." (pg 197)

I was a lone voice in my class. My teacher would ask us what we thought about the book and nobody else but myself said that they didn't agree with everything. I don't think that out of a class of 30 or so I was the only one that disagreed with parts of the book, but it saddens me to think that I was the only one that stood up for my beliefs.

So, after all of that. Why do I still have the book? My class was over with a long time ago. It's simple. I keep it to remember. When I worked with junior high girlsat my church I had to be aware of what they are being fed through television, at school, and through their teachers. I need to remember that I am in the world, but not of this world. I need to remember to pray for women like Jessica Valenti, who, while doing some good, is causing a lot of harm as well. If anything, reading this book did the exact opposite of what the author hoped for. This book anchored me even deeper in my relationship with Christ, opened my eyes up wide to the world that is out there, and made me resolve to stand up for the things that Valenti bashes, like saving sex for marriage, same sex marriage, and abortion.

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