Cosmopolitan considers itself to be the pinnacle of “contemporary women”, featuring “beauty, fashion, career, and sex advice”, according to their mission statement.
I consider myself to be a contemporary woman, very in tune with my career goals and achievements. At the same time, however, I am very oriented on familial values, moral standings, and religious viewpoints. That said, I am not a frequent visitor to Cosmopolitan.com.
Yesterday, however, I stumbled upon an article a friend posted on Facebook (which, yes, I still use–make fun of me all you want). It bore the title “Bride receives negative comments for purity certificate”. Being a Christian women with a purity ring and a commitment to myself and God, I clicked on the article, expecting to read a story about how women should be able to celebrate their values without hate.
Brelyn Freeman celebrated her wedding day in part by presenting her father, a pastor, with a certificate of her purity. This was symbolic of a promise she made when she was 13 (the same age I was when I made the decision to put a purity ring on my finger). She had a doctor sign off on the certificate to verify that her hymen was still intact, and yes, I’ll admit, that may be a bit over the top, but it was her own decision. She was proud of the fact that she is committing herself to one man, respecting herself, her husband, and God.
I was shocked to read the tweets condemning her for succumbing to a sexist notion that females should remain pure prior to their marriage. First of all, a couple’s wedding day should be among the happiest days of their lives. They should be able to celebrate it in any way they want; it’s about them, not anyone else. If a bride wants to present her father with a purity certificate, fine. Good for her. That in no way affects any person viewing this glowing picture on the Internet.
Furthermore, these tweets appeared to be vicious. I expected the author to condemn these hateful comments and protect the bride’s right to own sexual activity, but the article took a turn for the worst. It morphed from a factual chronicle of this chain of events to a biased rant.
“The point is ‘purity pledges’ are absolute sexist bulls*** garbage, period. They are a disturbing relic of an archaic past in which a woman’s worth was measured solely by the state of her vagina.
They are a symbol of a system that specifically vilifies women as ‘impure’ or ‘soiled’ if she dares engage in the same kinds of sexual activities men are routinely glorified for. (Note that the groom wasn’t asked and didn’t feel obligated to present his parents with a certificate swearing to the purity of his penis. Not to mention that there is conveniently no medical examination or test that can prove male virginity.)
You can’t really be mad at or condemn the bride for what she did at her wedding, because it’s coming from a place of gender oppression and ignorance about female sexuality. The bride is not the bad guy here. It’s not her fault she believes so passionately in what she’s doing. It’s the fault of the patriarchal system that tricks women into thinking they’ve done something bad or evil if they allow themselves to be sexual. It’s the fault of a system that uses the fear or being labeled ‘impure’ or a ‘slut’ as a weapon in order to keep women more oppressed.
Healthy sexuality isn’t obtained by forcing women to stay pure so their fathers will be proud of them; it’s ensured by allowing women to openly explore by allowing women to openly explore their sexuality without condemning whatever choice they make…You don’t need a certificate for that.”
Wow. That’s a loaded couple of paragraphs so allow me to dissect this a bit.
First of all, purity pledges are not “sexist bulls***” as the author accused. Many Christian males choose to be celibate as well, not just females, it’s just that females tend to advertise it with outwardly signs a little more so than males. Women tend to bear the purity ring, because in addition to an outward commitment of their purity, it’s also a piece of jewelry. Typically, men don’t wear rings unless they are married. Advocates of breaking gender stereotypes may call this in and of itself sexist, but it’s common knowledge that jewelry marketing, stores, etc. is more oriented towards women.
Secondly, it is not “society’s fault” that there is no medical test of male virginity. It’s not “convenient” as the author sarcastically mentions; it’s an anatomical impossibility. There’s not a test of it not because females are held to different standards, but simply because there can’t be due to differing reproductive organs.
In addition, referencing purity as an “archaic” idea is inaccurate. A Christian, no matter gender, cannot pick and choose pieces of God’s word. Sure, concepts of the Bible are outdate (stoning, slavery, etc.), but these aspects were common during the time period that God never condones or states is morally upright or justified in anyway. The Bible does make it very apparent, however, that pre-martial sexual relations is against God’s wishes (see Hebrews 13:4, for example, or any of the linked Bible verses).
For those who are not Christian, however, it is common courtesy that people should not be judged or condemned for their beliefs or opinions. This author is presenting an extreme double standard. She works to break down the stigma’s attached to sexuality and being sexuality active, but at the same time she condemns those that don’t. If a female chooses to be sexually active, that does not make them a bad person the same way being pure prior to marriage doesn’t automatically make you a good person.
Cosmopolitan, which claims it is for female rights and social change, achieved just the opposite by slandering an entire group of females, calling them willingly oppressed victims of society. A human being should not be criticized for their choices about their body and sexual activity, religious or not.