Like a Virgin…

I can believe I’m sympathising with Britney Spears, and I’ll try not to make a habit of it, but here goes:

I am appalled by the way the media treated her when she went back on her word to remain a virgin until she married. Here with have someone who, in her early-mid teens, proclaimed her Christian values and that she would remain a virgin until her wedding night; in her late teens or early twenties she changed her mind. Because, like, no girl has ever done that before. Unless you count me. And all my female friends. And I assume a fair percentage of women in the western world. At one point, we were all damn proud to be virgins, until hormones and temptation kicked in and we decided it was a bit unrealistic.

In other words, I would say Spears’ change of heart is fairly common and, dare I say, has happened to a majority of young women in the western world. And yet she was publicly chastised by the media, and almost everyone I know took the viewpoint that she was a hypocrite and a poor role model.

Interestingly enough, whenever this came up with someone and I pointed out that Spears did nothing that most women haven’t done at some point in their lives, I had far better luck making women see my perspective than men. The women, probably thinking of their own experiences, would say something like “˜I never thought of it that way’ but the men would continue to denounce her as a hypocrite and poor role model.

Even more interestingly, the most vocal men were the ones who were well into their twenties and still virgins, not from choice but from lack of opportunity, usually caused by a major personality flaw. Maybe it was a mentality of “˜well, at least someone ELSE on the planet isn’t getting laid’ combined with this sense of entitlement that men seem to have that women have little or no sexual experience – all the less to realise how much you suck in bed, perhaps?

What the hell gives anyone the right to crucify Spears for changing her mind? In no other situation would a teenager be expected to maintain the same values as they become adults. I assume her gender has something to do with it. I can’t imagine the press taking to task a male in the same situation.

And how, exactly, did the media find out about this? Because boyfriend Justin Timberlake had blabbed it to anyone who would listen. To me, that’s a far greater breach of basic human decency then Spears going back on an earlier decision to remain a virgin.

This is how it played out to me: she’s in a longterm relationship with a childhood sweetheart who she believes she’ll marry eventually, making him the one and only man she’ll sleep with, so as temptation (and dare I saw pressure from Timberlake?) starts to kick in, she thinks, well, since I’ll sleep with him eventually, why not now? Then the relationship goes sour and Timberlake decides to announce, on national broadcast, that yes, they slept together; he deflowered the world’s most famous virgin. Really, the way he did it, well bragging would be putting it mildly. He made it out to be the biggest accomplishment a man could have. I could just imagine him in a conversation with a bunch of equally Neanderthal men; I fucked two dozen women. Yeah, well I fucked Britney Spears. I was absolutely disgusted, and thought Spears’ greatest crime was dating someone who was such an absolute asshole.

And did anyone take Timberlake to task for being such a rotten, tasteless human being as to tell such details to anyone who would listen? No, they were too busy judging Spears for being a poor role model.

I hate the way we have such double standards when it comes to men and women and their sexuality. I believe there was a similar campaign about Brooke Shields a while back, although a) I was too young to witness it and b) apparently Dean Cain was far more a gentleman than Timberlake. But the point is, why the hell should women be exposed to such campaigns? Why should women past the age of consent be branded poor role models for having sex? More important, why should women past the age of consent be branded poor role models for having sex when men aren’t?

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    I agree with you.

    What I found appalling about the whole thing was… well, it was a shining example of Pop Christianity hypocrisy, wasn’t it? As a teen, Spears was pimped around like a sex doll cash cow by her Super!Christian mom, then heralded as a Christian role model, despite the fact that her, uh, talent was based entirely on titillation. By contrast, Catholics had enough sense to denounce Madonna as a poor representative of their faith as she paraded herself around selling sex, and Madonna cashed in on their indignation. Apparently when a Southern Baptist girl is pimped like a ‘ho, that’s something Jesus would have wanted…?
    But let that same Southern Baptist girl decide to have sex, and oh goodness – that’s just wrong. Keep in mind, Southern Baptists have had summer Bible camps where they encourage kids to have every kind of sex but coitus, because apparently only coitus makes you cease to be a virgin, thereby causing baby Jesus to cry. (Interestingly, they’re not in favor of masturbation.)

    At least some of the other denominations are more consistent in applying their beliefs.  Southern Baptists are so concerned with popularizing their religion that they frequently turn a blind eye when their more popular representatives betray it, so long as they’re putting the brand name “Southern Baptist” out there and selling it.  This is not a criticism of every individual Southern Baptist (although I do think the sincere ones ought to consider Jimmy Carter’s reasons for leaving that church after a lifetime in it), but yes, it is a criticism of the church as an organized entity.

    One could be tempted to congratulate the church for continuing to proffer Spears as a role model despite her, uh, fall from grace.  Except if one looks at the bigger picture and realizes she’s about 50% of the reason why teenage girls are getting breast implants nowadays, and is furthering the notion that it’s not talent but rather the willingness to fetishize her body into a sex object that makes women successful.

  2. scarlett says

    Actually, Madonna was one of the few Catholics I ever identifed with – her and Sinhead O’Conner. But kudos to the Catholic church for recognising they weren’r what the church wanted representing them, which is more then san be said for the Southern Baptists flogging Britney Spears. I thought she was a piss-poor example of Christianity and most churches would have had the good sense to, if not go as far as DENOUNCE her like the Catolic Church did with Madonna and O’Conner, then certainly not IDENTIFY with her. (Look, kiddies, getting drunk, swearing your head off and dressing in clothes that would get an ordinary person arrested is the epitomy of Christian decencey.)
    But I still thought it was appaling that she got so much flak for going back on her word to remain a virgin. I mean, of all the things I was passionate about when I was fifteen, well, I think I’m still passionate about ONE of those things, which I’d say puts me one passion ahead of a lot of people :p

  3. SunlessNick says

    I have to agree. Particularly unfair to her is the now-common assumption that her choice to remain a virgin was never sincerely meant.

  4. scarlett says

    exactly! When I think of all the vaules I had at thirteen, at fifteen etc – nearly none of them I had maintained when I was nineteen or twenty-one (including the value about remaining a virgin for my husband). I have no doubt she honestly meant it at the time, but as she got older, it was a value that wasn’t working for her anymore.
    I think the only people who have the right to judge Britney for changing her mind are those who maintained the same values from when they were thirteen for the rest of their lives. Oh, that’s no-one? That’s kind of my point.

  5. SunlessNick says

    Apparently when a Southern Baptist girl is pimped like a ‘ho, that’s something Jesus would have wanted…?
    But let that same Southern Baptist girl decide to have sex, and oh goodness – that’s just wrong. Keep in mind, Southern Baptists have had summer Bible camps where they encourage kids to have every kind of sex but coitus, because apparently only coitus makes you cease to be a virgin, thereby causing baby Jesus to cry.

    Isn’t it the southern Baptists that have the “Whores for Jesus” – ie girls and young women encouraged to behave according to every connotation (bar actual sex) of “like a whore” in order to titilate young men into the fold?

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