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When Did It Become Prudish to Have Morals?

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, “prude” means: “a person who is excessively or priggishly attentive to propriety or decorum; especially :  a woman who shows or affects extreme modesty.”  It meant people like the old unmarried aunt who was scandalized at the idea of her niece holding hands with a man she wasn’t betrothed to.

That’s what it used to mean, anyway.

Now it means something rather different.

It basically means anyone who has anything approaching morals when it comes to matters of sexuality.  Even Urban dictionary admits it:  “A girl with high moral standards and has respect for her body.”

Here are some examples of things that are supposedly “prudish”:

  • Thinking that full-frontal nudity is not appropriate for a made-for-t.v.-movie
  • Being upset with your friend for using your computer to look at porn, subjecting you to pornadoes and computer viruses
  • Not wanting to listen to your coworker brag about her affairs, the latest one with a married man
  • Thinking that topless Halloween costumes are inappropriate.

Yes, I really did see the word “prude” used in all of those contexts.

The very idea of someone having morals seems to stir absolute outrage in the hearts of the immoral.  Suggest something as radical as “abstinence” in a sex ed class, and you will be treated with nothing but scorn, by teacher and classmates alike.  (I know that one from personal experience.)

People who seek to be morally clean are treated like they’re some sort of aliens, or science experiments gone horribly, horribly, wrong.  Like sexual morality is anything but a reasonable stance.

Why should we teach teenagers to wait for marriage, or, at least, until something resembling a committed relationship and emotional maturity?  Oh, teenagers are just going to experiment anyway, so let’s teach them to be safe.

Bull crap.

The sex drive is a very powerful instinct.  It is unreasoning passion.

We have other instincts and passions, as well, all of which we expect children to learn to control.  We expect them to still be in control of themselves when they are very hungry, tired, or frustrated.   We expect them to go find an adult when someone is bullying them, rather than defending themselves.

Why then, do we just throw our hands up in the air when it comes to teenagers and sex?

Why do we treat abstinence like some kind of disease, when in fact it prevents the spread of disease?

Why, if we are so very “tolerant,” do we treat the morally clean as outcasts?

I used to really enjoy watching the show Glee.  You know, the obnoxious one about the high school show choir.  I kept watching even as it became more and more offensive towards Christian conservatives.  I stopped watching, however, during the episode with Gwyneth Paltrow as the substitute teacher, who actually encouraged high school students to experiment sexually.  She even openly mocked the students who said they were abstaining from sex, saying that women who wait for marriage are “frigid.”  I turned off the show then and there, and have not turned it on since.

Sexual purity is being treated with contempt.  And we are just letting it happen.  We who live by a higher moral standard are being told that tolerance is the new standard.  We can choose whatever we want, but can’t say anything bad about the promiscuous, even while they insult us and destroy the integrity of our youth.

We need to do more than live by a higher standard.  I’m not saying we need to preach repentance on the street corners or from the rooftops, but we need to stand firm in our convictions, and never seem to tolerate or condone sexual immorality.

Above all, we need to reach out to young people, who have been taught that abstinence is unnatural, and teach them the truth: that abstinence, until you find the right person, is so much better.

Related Articles:

Confessions of a “Prude” on relevantmagazine.com

Of Prudes and Libertines on thecatholicthing.org

How to Be Happy (Hint: It’s All in Your Attitude)

There’s a great meme about the difference between dogs and cats, describing how we think they see the world through fake diary entries.  To me, they aren’t just about the difference between dogs and cats, but the difference between people who are happy and people who are not.  Here I quote the meme in full:

The Dog’s Diary

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

The Cat’s Diary

Day 983 of My Captivity

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now …

Me Again

The dog is representative of a happy person, while the cat is representative of an unhappy person.  The dog views every experience positively and joyfully, declaring that every thing that happens is his favorite thing.  The dog is an optimist.  The cat, on the other hand, views every event negatively and imagines that everyone is out to get him.

Now, the dog in this story does not seem very bright, but you don’t actually have to be stupid to be happy.

We can choose to act like the dog or the cat.

When we have to do something we don’t want to do, we can find some way to make it more positive.  Commuting to work is not my favorite thing, so I listen to scriptures, books on tape, or my favorite music, so I feel I’m getting something out of my commute.

When something bad happens, we can just accept that bad things happen sometimes, rather than assuming that someone, or even the universe, is out to get us.  For example, I hate getting lost.  And, since I have zero sense of direction, it happens fairly predictably.  Usually, this is a very stressful experience for me, but I try to look at it positively.  I tell myself well, at least I’m getting to know the area better, or, well, I’m having an adventure!

So that’s where happiness is really found.  It’s found in what we tell ourselves.  We can be optimistic or pessimistic.  The important thing to note is that we choose it for ourselves.

Not to say I’m some sort of expert on happiness.  I think of myself as an optimist with a (large) pessimistic streak.  Sometimes it seems I can’t help but expect the worst!  But I’m trying to tell myself positive things.  Life is better that way.

Be the dog.  Not the cat.

Modesty Does Not Mean Wearing a Burka

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I am always fashionably attired!

I’ve been thinking a lot about modesty lately, specifically, modest dress.  As a Mormon, I follow fairly strict standards of modesty: shorts and skirts come to the knee (or pretty close), tops must have at least cap sleeves, no cleavage, and no bare midriff.  (I do still wear a bathing suit, but nothing too skimpy.)  I grew up with those standards, so they don’t seem weird to me.

I also still want to dress attractively.

Needless to say, shopping for modest and attractive clothing can be lengthy and aggravating.  Many times I have tried something on and thought it was really cute, but didn’t buy it because it didn’t fit my standards of modesty.  Long tank tops are a staple of my wardrobe to make up for tops that are too short or too low cut, or pants that are too low-rise.

Fashion does not have to focus on baring as much skin as possible, but that is the direction a lot of it is going.  Clothes are either skimpy or frumpy.  Society associates modesty with frumpiness and the oppression of women.

My religion does not force me to dress modestly.  I choose to follow these standards because I believe they are right.

I also recognize the rights of others to dress the way they want to.  For the most part, I don’t really care about what other people are wearing.

However, whenever I comment about modesty on an online forum, I get sarcastic responses that claim I think all women should be forced to wear burkas.  On the contrary, there is in fact middle ground between looking like a streetwalker and being completely covered head to toe.

Before I go any further, I want to say my piece on so-called “slut shaming.”  If a woman is dressed like a hooker, I see no issue with calling it like it is.  That is not the same thing as saying she “deserves it” if she is sexually harassed and/or assaulted.  A woman’s dress, however scanty, never excuses such behavior.  However, wearing such clothing makes unwanted sexual attention more likely.  To ignore this is irresponsible.  If you insist on exposing yourself, take measures to protect yourself.

If you expose it, men will look at it.  If your boobs are hanging out, men will look at them.  In saying this, I’m not saying men are naturally lecherous or misogynist or anything else like that.  It’s biological.  It’s the same reason traffic gets super slow when there’s an accident on the other side of the median and there is no actual necessity to slow down.  People look.  People will always look.  If you don’t want that kind of attention, cover up.

The purpose of modesty is not limited to guarding against the impure thoughts of men.  In fact, that’s not even the important part.

If you care about the impression you make on others, you will show that in the way you dress.  We do this in the professional world: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Wearing your pajamas when out running errands is just as odious as wearing skimpy clothes.  If you want others to show you respect, how about you show them respect by dressing as if you actually care about something besides your own comfort?

How you dress reflects your self-respect.

I want others to look at me and see someone they can respect.  I don’t want the negative attention from wearing skimpy clothes.  I want to be judged for who I am inside and not just on the way I dress.

I don’t dress modestly because my body is “bad” or that sexuality is “bad.”  The human body is beautiful, made in God’s image.  That said, just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it should be available for everyone to see.  Our bodies are also sacred.  Christ referred to His body as a temple.  Is it really much of a stretch to say that our bodies are temples, too?

I value my body more highly than women who put theirs on display.  My body is not for public consumption.  I know who I am and don’t need the world’s approval.

Awesome video:

The Evolution of the Swimsuit by Jessica Rey

Is Chivalry Sexist?

That is a ridiculous question.  That people even ask it shows how little regard our society has for respect and courtesy.

I’ll admit, I used to consider myself a feminist.

I’d get all offended if a guy opened a door for me.

I finally realized some years ago that I’m really not a feminist, just an opportunist.  I had this realization (okay, someone said it to me) when I was honest enough to admit that I would totally play the damsel in distress in order to get what I wanted (i.e. getting a guy to do stuff for me).

From there I started to gain a more mature understanding of chivalry.  (Just goes to show, that truth must begin with being honest with oneself.)

The idea that chivalry is sexism towards women is based on pride, and not the good kind.  Some people (see link below) assert that these small acts of kindness, like carrying a bag for a woman, somehow implies that she can’t do it.  So feminist women want to do it just to prove they can.  That is just plain stubbornness, and there is no virtue in that.  It can even be rude.  If someone does something nice for you, why rebuff and/or berate them?

If anything, chivalry is sexist toward men!  It is them, after all, who must go out of their way to show courtesy.  They are the ones who open the doors, carry the bags, and are left standing when there are no more chairs.  True gentlemen are self-sacrificing.  They sacrifice their own comfort for the comfort of others.  Imagine how much nicer the world would be if more people were like that.

Doing something nice for someone else doesn’t imply that you think they can’t do it themselves.  Helping someone shows that you care.  It might be a general feeling of goodwill or consideration for that particular person.  Either way, a kind gesture should be received in the spirit in which it is given.  Life is more pleasant that way.

I know several men who deserve the title of “gentleman.”  They are respectful, helpful, and considerate.  If I needed something, they would help.  It feels really good to be around them.  I feel valued and cared for.  Why wouldn’t I want to be treated that way?

There are plenty of real grievances in the world.  We don’t need to add more strife and contention by manufacturing petty ones.

I was partly inspired by this ridiculous article:

Is Chivalry Sexist? – The Cambridge Student newsletter

What do you think of chivalry?  Is is dead?  Is it sexist?  Does it matter?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Father’s Day!

My Dad

I am my dad’s favorite daughter.  I know this because he told me so, many times.  I’m also his only daughter, but that’s beside the point.

I have been blessed with a wonderful dad.  He was very much a part of my life growing up, and continues to be an important part of life.  He worked hard to support his family, treats my mom with love and respect, and regularly shows his children that he loves them.

My dad taught me one of the most important skills I use in my adult life: how to drive.  My first driving lesson was with my mom, and was less than successful.  I crashed.  Into a bush.  After that, my parents decided it would be better if Dad taught me how to drive.  Those lessons went much more smoothly, and had the desired result of me learning how to drive.

From my dad I learned a love of all things science fiction.  When the Star Wars original prequel was re-released in theaters, he was so excited.  I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but I knew my dad wanted my brothers and I to have the same kind of experience he did when he saw Star Wars for the first time in theaters.  I got into Star Trek in spite of myself.  While my parents watched it on our only T.V., it wasn’t going to be tuned to anything but Star Trek.  If I wanted to watch T.V., it was going to be Star Trek.

I also learned to love oldies music.  When a Beatles song played on the radio, Dad would ask “Who sings this song?”  Since he only ever asked us that question about Beatles songs, eventually we just answered “The Beatles” whether or not we had any clue what the song was.

My dad is very punny.  From him I learned a love of puns.  That’s probably why I think Shakespeare was hilarious, while my husband generally only finds him mildly humorous.  If I ever I say to my dad, “I’m hungry,” he responds with, “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad.  It’s nice to meet you.”  The joke in the picture, while not an actual conversation with my dad, is exactly like what he would say.  He’s also very proud that I’ve taught this joke to my second graders.  If my students say, “I’m hot,” I say to them, “Hi Hot, it’s nice to meet you.”  One day I even overheard my student explaining this joke to a student from another class.  My father’s legacy lives on.

But there’s a lot more than interests and mannerisms that I learned from my dad.  I also learned life lessons.

I learned to be frugal.  As a kid, I only got clothes two times a year: before the school year started, and when I really needed them (and then, only what I needed).  I didn’t get a cell phone until I was halfway done with high school.  We were frequently told to turn the lights off when we left a room.  We mostly only went out to eat for special occasions.  I was by no means deprived.  I always had what I needed, and I learned that that was good enough.

I don’t have a fancy phone or a lot of other gadgets, I don’t generally buy fancy clothes, and, while I go out to eat a lot more often than I went as a kid, I’ll probably be much happier at Applebee’s than at some fancy restaurant.  I don’t feel the need to have the latest and greatest.  I don’t need expensive things to be happy.  I am blessed to feel gratitude for what I have.

When we went on trips as a family, to museums, or Disneyland, or wherever, Dad would spend what felt like forever examining every minute detail and reading every last placard of every display.  It drove the rest of us crazy to wait for him when everyone else was ready to move on.  But from his example, I learned to savor the details of life.  Disneyland is huge and exciting, but running from ride to ride isn’t what it’s about.  It’s about enjoying the experience and spending time with family.

My dad worked hard at his job for many years.  It was not a glamorous or even, from what I’ve gathered, a very interesting job.  His career was not what he had hoped it would be.  He was often unappreciated at work, and his boss didn’t particularly like him.  But he kept going, day after day.  He did that because he needed to support his family.  He needed stability and security for his wife and children.

When I was young, Dad getting home was a big deal.  He would be rushed by small children yelling “Daddy!” and all trying to hug him at once.  When we all got older, that didn’t happen anymore.  Some days, he was barely acknowledged by the children he was working so hard to support.

From my dad, I learned perseverance.  I learned to continue to work hard even when it seems I’m not getting anywhere, when I’m not being appreciated, and when there is no external reward forthcoming.  I learned it from my dad’s example of working hard at sometimes thankless jobs, like a dull career and raising teenagers.

When I started dating I knew that I was worth a man who would treat me right.  I was worth a man who would respect and never abuse me.  I learned this from my father.  He didn’t tell me this in so many words.  He showed me by his actions.  My mom was and is his beloved companion, and I was and am his princess.

I learned a lot from my dad.  When I try to think of wise words my father taught me, I can’t think of any.  My dad didn’t teach me through words. He taught me by example.

Every girl needs a dad.  It’s too bad they can’t all have dads like mine.

How Important Is It To Be “Smart”?

It’s really fun to be smart.  I love to read, go to museums, and learn new things.  I feel stagnant if I watch to much T.V. or spend to much time with pointless Internet surfing.

All my life, I have strived to be smart.  I always tried to learn a lot, get good grades in school, use big words, etc., not just for the intrinsic value of these things, but also to be perceived as smart.

A lot of people think being smart is really important.  After all, you need to be smart in order to get into a good college, and you need a degree from a fancy college to get a good job, right?

Maybe.

Despite being in the top 10% of my high school class, I went to community college, then finished my Bachelor’s degree at a state university.  Nothing fancy.  But I managed to find reasonably good jobs in my chosen field, and now I have a career.  My employers have cared very little about the grades I got in school.  I have coworkers who have fancier degrees from much fancier schools than mine, yet we all have the same job.

So…your life isn’t over if you don’t go to Harvard.

There’s also something else I’ve been thinking about lately.  It’s something I started realizing when I started making more friends outside of a school or work setting.  I started to become friends with people I never would have become friends with in high school, because we would have been part of different cliques.  That’s when I realized that being “smart” has nothing to do with whether or not you are a good person.

Just look at our president.  When President Obama was running for election the first time, my liberal friends gushed about “smart” he is.  So what?  Look at the dishonesty and corruption of his administration.  I don’t care how smart he is when I can’t trust his character and patriotism.

The rest of this post will be devoid of politics, I promise.

A couple weeks ago my sister-in-law shared a story about her son.  On his birthday, the substitute teacher invited my nephew’s classmates to share things they like about him.  One student said that he is a good friend to everyone.  The substitute remarked that, even though she had only met him that day, she could tell that he was indeed a good friend to everyone.

Being a good friend isn’t something my nephew learned in school.  He didn’t learn it by studying math and reading.  It’s part of who he is.  Whatever college he goes to or however smart people think he is doesn’t matter as much as being a good friend.

One of the things I like about my husband is that we are able to have intellectually stimulating conversations.  We like to talk about history, politics, literature, and whatnot.  But those conversations aren’t what keep our relationship strong.  How my husband shows me he loves me and that I’m his first priority are far more important to me than how smart he is.

When I think about the people I have most admired, it isn’t their intelligence that makes me want to emulate them.  It’s virtues, like kindness, patience, determination, and courage.

I have no idea how smart Mother Theresa was, yet everyone holds her up as an example.  Why?  Because of her great love and sacrifice for others.

I don’t think God cares about how smart we are, either.  After all, we all have far less knowledge and wisdom than He does.  What matters from an eternal perspective is how faithful and obedient we are.

I’m not saying that intelligence doesn’t matter.  Assuredly, I believe strongly in the necessity of getting a good education and in exercising the mind as we do the body.  Intelligence is, however, secondary in importance to character.

Don’t Be Cheeky!

I encountered a word the other day that I simply must start using.  It’s in The Story of Doctor Dolittle, which I’m reading with my second graders.  The word is: cheeky.

My students can be very cheeky.  Currently, I tell them to stop being smart alecs (my mom’s term), but “cheeky” sounds much better.

Examples of my students’ cheekiness:

  • My students love high chews (a fruit flavored chewy candy).  They like to save the wrappers and keep them in their desks.  They trade them like baseball cards.  I find them all over the place.  One day, feeling frustrated with the situation, I burst out, “Where are all these high chews coming from?”  One boy answers, “From the store.”
  • My students were labeling a map of Antarctica, and I had written what they should label on the board.  One girl came up to me, and said, “I can’t find the Transarctic Mountains.  I found the Transantarctic Mountains.”  I went up to the board and fixed my spelling error.

See what I mean?  They’re so cheeky!

Of course, if they are, it is entirely my fault.  They learned it from me.

  • Student: “When are we getting our book reports back?”     Me: “When I’m done grading them.”
  • Student: “When are we going outside?     Me: “When we’re done with our work.”
  • Student: “Can you sharpen my pencil?”     Me: “I can.”  (Pause)     Student: “Will you sharpen my pencil?”    Me: “Sure!”
  • Students: “Spider!” (totally freaking out).     Me: (Smoosh spider with foot.)  “What spider?”     Students: “You just stepped on it!”     Me: “What are you talking about?  There was no spider.  You’re imagining things.  Get back to work.”

So I guess I have no one to blame but myself. 

It’s just part of how I like to be playful with my students.  Sometimes I get annoyed when they give back to me what I dish out to them, but then I smile and marvel at how bright and witty they are.

My students are amazing.