The Key To Her Vagina

This story has been making its way around the blogs the last couple of days, from World O’Crap to Digby to Pandagon, but I figured I’d put my own spin on it, since I’ve got a daughter of the age being discussed here.

Here’s the deal. We all know that the real push against abortion is just the first step toward getting rid of all sexual freedom for women. The leaders of the most extreme anti-abortion groups—predominantly men—have said that birth control is next on the agenda. My guess is they can’t abide the idea that a woman might not want to be the receptor of their blessed gooey gift. It’s a matter of control, and it stems from the misogynists I mentioned in the post below, the men who made sure that Christian men knew their women were supposed to be fucked and not heard.

I pity psycho-christian fathers a bit. They’re faced with a world where their daughters are told 1) that they have brains and damn well ought to be using them, 2) that they don’t necessarily have to listen to what men tell them, and 3) that they are sexual beings who control the when, where, how, and with whom of their sexual lives. This could not be left to stand unchallenged, of course.

Enter, one of the creepier purveyors of the new movement toward father-daughter bonding. Here’s a sample of their philosophy.

First, the “key to her heart.” This beautiful heart has a smaller heart in the front. Behind that heart is a keyhole. When making the covenant with your daughter, you explain that the covenant is between her, you and God. Since God has placed her in your care as a parent, you and only you can hold the “key to her heart.” You then explain to the child that you will hold the key to her precious heart until the day of her wedding. On that day, you will give her away like at all weddings, BUT in doing so you will also “give away” the key to her heart to her now husband. The key and lock are actually functional and your son-in-law will place the key in the heart to open it. Inside will be a small note that had been placed in the heart on the day you made the covenant. That note can say something like, “I do not know your name or what you even look like, but this is my promise to save myself for you this day. Love, Melanie.”

I’ll admit, it wasn’t until recently that I really thought about the symbolism behind the tradition of the father giving away his daughter at a wedding, that it’s an obvious transfer of ownership. But this is even worse, in my mind, because while the wedding symbolism can be muted or transformed into a scene where the partnership of husband and wife is accentuated, the symbolism of the purityvow people is unquestionably that of ownership. The father is telling his daughter, “That pussy is mine until I give it up,” and that it’s a good thing he’s there to protect her until another man comes along because she’s too stupid to survive without a man to tell her when to breathe.

How do you do that to your kid? How do you so completely insult her in that way? Monkey is 15 now, and while she’ll undoubtedly make errors in judgment about who she sleeps with and when (and if her parents’ experiences are any indication, she’ll make plenty), I’d never consider dropping that kind of bomb on her. It’s inhumane. It’s insulting. And the locket is just the beginning. From World O’Crap:
Aspiring Women endorses Joe's Heart to Heart program, and gives you some tips on how to present the locket to your daughter:

One couple took their daughter to a restaurant. When they got to the restaurant they said they had reservations for four. The child of course asked who was joining them. "The extra place setting is for your future husband, our future son-in-law," her parents replied. They proceeded from there, but it really drove home the point that this evening was to be special and that the implications of this covenant had very practical implications beyond what they could see or imagine at that particular moment.

What’s really special is the way these parents just told their daughter that she’s destined for a lifetime of servitude, and are couching it in terms that show they would be extraordinarily disappointed if she doesn’t come through. Amy read me a quote from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a couple of nights ago. It was something on the order of “men died because they were embarrassed not to,” and that struck me because when I think back about why I stayed a virgin until my wedding day, it was for that very reason. It would have disappointed my parents. It would have cost my dad his position in the congregation, so I submerged my urges, and stayed a Witness for longer than I would have otherwise, because I was embarrassed not to be a Witness.

Those sorts of mind games are dangerous to play on kids, especially in concert with a belief system that doesn’t hold up under any sort of scrutiny. Fundamentalist Christianity is dependent on an insular, “the whole world’s against us, I swear to God” mentality, because if it’s ever challenged with any sort of rigor, it falls apart. And let me tell you from personal experience, when you look back at your parents with the attitude that they’ve led you astray on something that important, on the way you view the universe itself, there’s a lot of resentment that comes gushing up. The ugliest squabbles I’ve ever seen have been those that involve the idea that parents have lied, wittingly or no, to their kids.

In the long run, I think—I hope—that fundamentalism will eat itself and the numbers will fall down to where they’re background noise. The recent fights over Intelligent Design and creationism, as well as the attacks on privacy through abortion and the Terry Schiavo fiasco have shown the general public that fundies aren’t just backwoods nutjobs that can be ignored with impunity. But while the fundies need to remain isolated to maintain their hold on their kids, the fact is that it’s getting harder and harder for them to hide from the outside world, because it’s harder to make a living without a college degree, and college is kryptonite to fundamentalists.

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