Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chastity Carnal-val

Review: The Virgin Diaries on TLC
"Chastity Carnal-val" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

The greatest on-screen defense of chastity I've seen was in episode 12, season 4 of House, MD. The episode featured a Hasidic Jewish bride who collapsed at her wedding. The Hasidic duo were unable to consummate the marriage due to medical tests and certainly had not touched prior to their wedding day.

At one point, the bride was in shorts and a tank top for a medical test and her new husband said he needed to respect her and look away while she was in such a state. He said he imagines his wife thought the first time he would see her "bare" would be in the bedroom, "celebrating their marriage."

A doctor politely said, "Given the circumstances, I'm sure Roz would sacrifice her modesty to have you with her." To which the new groom replied:

"Please, don't do that...You think it's sweet that I care for her modesty, but that it's archaic and ultimately irrelevant. Our traditions aren't just blind rituals. They mean something, they have purpose. I respect my wife. And I respect her body."

I'd much rather see more bows in respect for those values in secular television shows than the spectacle of "Virgin Diaries," which looks like a carnival for unsexed folks.

Let's be honest, because I'm a virgin who hopes more people might find fulfillment in chastity, I'm going to be defensive about a "reality show" on a cable network showcasing virgins.
Another showcase: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding show

I admit, as I've never been all of the way on the other side of the "aisle" on this topic, my opinion is tainted. However, if we can rely on statistics as a guide, the opinions of the producers, feature reporters and much of the laughing audience are also tainted.

To clarify: I'm not condemning those who don't choose a chaste lifestyle. Believe me, I don't always get it right, and it would be wrong to think I could ever know anyone else's mindset or situation.

How easy it is to get fired up over this television show. Watching the commentary and talk show hosts banter on about it makes it obvious that this country, and probably the world, seems to think the people in this show are to be giggled at.

"If it's half as good as the promo, I think they have a very big hit on their hands," said Jimmy Kimmel.

Bingo. It's a hit. The unbearably uncomfortable few seconds of first kiss footage were a producer’s dream!

Just like the iPad solved the chunky laptop problem for a moment and Blueray raises the standard for home movies, someone came along with an idea for a new television show to attract audiences.

Why do people like to watch the Jersey Shore? Because they are outliers to the rest of us who don't know what that world is like. The concept of choosing (or not successfully pursuing) a premarital sex life is as bizarre to most Americans as the frosted-tip-orange-skin-rude-behavior lifestyle is to me.
We could be the virgin version of these fine people

Being a virgin after the first semester of college is a mythical lifestyle.

I have not seen an episode of the show all the way through, but I've watched the TLC-made promotional videos and the episode teasers. In one, we see the couple walking hand-in-hand, discussing the process of their wedding night, from wedding attire, step-by-step until they consummate their marriage, intermittently cut between scenes of them on a see-saw.

Please, TLC. I know you've hit network gold with this foreign concept, but handle it with a little professionalism and intelligence. See-saw?

If I put myself in the shoes of those who find the concept laughable, I can understand their grinning quips about how the newlyweds “can't keep their hands off each other” after the exchange of vows. However, if I may put my cynicism hat on, this reaction shows that it is hard to believe this show can ever be a helpful tool for those who want to share about the benefits of chastity.

We virgins who choose to abstain before marriage aren’t simply “keeping our hands off each other” -- it’s just too hard to do so blindly, especially in the twenty-first century. I know I'm trying to make a gift of myself in the most intimate way possible, to one man. Alice von Hildebrand calls it the "intimate sphere," because the terms "sex" and "making Love" have lost impact.

When I think about how supremely personal the "intimate sphere" will be, I can't imagine why these two virgins would volunteer a camera to document the final weeks and moments leading up to it, leaving the interpretation of an innocent jaunt on a see-saw to the editors.

I guess it's still up to those in the trenches to spread the message, via grassroots.

7 comments:

Katie@NFP and Me said...

Love this! I've never seen that episode of House but I'm so glad they showed that.

I'm just getting sick of TLC because it isn't the The Learning Channel anymore. It's the "Find what we can make look the most ridiculous for ratings" channel.

Also, I'm glad someone else doesn't 'get' Jersey Shore.

Anthony S. Layne said...

You had it with the "outlier" comment: Virgin Diaries is supposed to be a freak show, inviting us to gawk at and make fun of the chaste. TLC isn't interested in helping people to understand the decision; they just want us to "look at the funny people who deliberately don't have sex".

Karianna@CaffeinatedCatholicMama said...

This was beautifully written! I haven't seen "The Virgin Diaries" either, but I think that your last paragraph is so spot-on. I will have to find that episode of House. From "Say Yes to the Dress" where brides are shown that spending thousands on their dresses is normal to "Toddlers and Tiaras," It is sad that TLC has become nothing but a place of voyeurism of the outliers of life. Kind of a modern day freak show. Ah, the price of fame.

Alicia Therese said...

Love this post! I definitely get what you're saying about the Jersey Shore. In college, everyone used to try their best to be just like those people. "Shore parties" were the norm. It's sad, too, because we've taken the intimacy away from the "intimacy sphere" (great term, by the way!). People use sex on those shows and that life like a drug.

You're right. It is up to us in the trenches! :D

Louise said...

Thanks for mentioning that episode of House! I have not seen it, but I'm glad that scene was part of it. I hope that the message in the young husband's words found its way into some of the viewers' hearts.
Also, love the title of this post!

Liesl said...

Wait, you mean you DON'T discuss your future sex life on a seesaw?! I thought everyone did...

Ryan Harty said...

Thanks for this! Well done!

Post a Comment

Considering commenting? Indulge the urge!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recommended