This morning I found this fascinating article entitled “Is Jesus’ birth worth celebrating?” In it Valarie Talerico takes us beneath the surface of the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth and looks at the inherent messages about female sexuality.
“A woman used is a woman soiled. A woman raped is a woman ruined. A girl who explores her body with a boy is a licked lollypop. A divorced woman shouldn’t get married in white. Only an unbedded and so unsullied female—a virgin—could be pure enough to birth a perfect child, the son of God.”
The article goes into depth into the cultural and religious history behind these ideas that a woman who has never been sexually touched is superior to all other females.
Looking deeper than the article does, I must point out that these same cultures and religions often employ rape as a sort of weapon: once used by the rapist, a woman is considered wholly unsuitable for marriage.
Though rape is a traumatic experience for the girl or woman, in societies and religious traditions where female conduct reflects on her male owners, the intent of the rapist is revealed to be more an attack on the men in her life, a way of dishonouring them through her.
That is, in fact, the primary reason why Roman soldiers raped Queen Boudicca’s daughters: they were sending a terrorist message that just as they ruined and shamed the Iceni (to rape their princesses is to shame the entire tribe), they were perfectly prepared to shame and terrorize any Briton daring to stand up to them.
And so we must examine in our own hearts what our values are and what we really want them to be. Do we want to continue to measure a woman’s worth based on how many male genitals have touched her body and in what fashion? Do we want to continue to weigh a person’s worth based on another person’s behaviour or experiences? Do we still want to confuse service/nurturing with subservience and demand women treat themselves as inferiors to men?
Or do we want something better for ourselves, our families, and our societies? Do we truly believe in the equality of all people and the rights of every person to act according to her or his own conscience and convictions or will we persist on judging and condemning others for choices and circumstances that differ from our own?
Will we take the dark road of hate and judgement or will we take the harder road of love, acceptance, and peace?
I cannot answer that question for you; only for myself. I choose love and peace. I choose to accept you just the way you are — free of judgement. You are wonderful just because you are you.
–Laurel A. Rockefeller