Writing Lost Girls Into NeverLand Story

19 05 2008

Sir J.M. Barrie was something of a Lost Boy himself and had no daughters, which may explain why the power of story in “Peter Pan” is Lost Boys afraid of growing up to be independent, not Lost Girls whose daddies are afraid they might do the same thing if allowed to flower outside the hot house, even in their imagination.

But it seems in this century, Lost Girls too are a looming concern for civilized humankind. Not just their technical, physical purity as in ancient cultures, but also their relationship rituals and stories and dreams and knowledge and attitudes all must be carefully climate-controlled now — if not hermetically sealed.

Conservative men protect girls and women from our coarse culture, fighting for female purity and passing it from man to man throughout a daughter’s life. Purity balls are back in the news this week — just in time to juxtapose with liberal moms sounding much too much like those conservative dads, fearing Hillary Clinton’s flower of womanhood hasn’t been similarly protected and that they and their daughters will suffer for it, that it shows our coarse culture to be hostile to the Feminine.

Oh, but for the sake of today’s argument, just IGNORE this story about using the modern world’s coarseness to lure kids to church, or tell yourself it applies only to boys. 👿

“Teens are our ‘fish,” he wrote. “So we’ve become creative in baiting
our hooks.”
. . .The alliance of popular culture and evangelism is challenging churches much as bingo games did in the 1960s. And the question fits into a rich debate about how far churches should go to reach young people.

Where were we then, before antisocial church-sponsored video games as proper patriarch training distracted us? Oh yes. . .

Is this rare agreement across the political (and sexual) spectrum, that the best answer is an elaborate separate-but-equal system of special social protections for female flowers, shielding them from a culture hostile to womanhood?

Daryl discusses the online feminist vitriol here, and the NYT Sunday Magazine takes it very seriously in “The Hillary Factor.”

I really need to think more about this.

First, the power of story that never-never leaves my own mind, is the cultural ravaging of Terri Schiavo, that eerily media-perfect symbol of helpless, infantalized girl-womanhood. Men — her father and husband and some exceedingly creepy spokesmonk in a rope-belted robe and sandals — fought publicly and pretty coarsely against each other and the paternalistic courts (and Governor) to control her very life and death, all while her mother wept bitter tears that helped no one and saved nothing, and while her grown and married daughter never said a word, just smiled that passive, vacant smile.

Another way to tell this Lost Girl story is to remember the culture’s real disservice to Terri Schiavo started by distorting her self-image as a girl and woman who had to physically conform to public standards of girlish beauty to be loved, leading to her bulimia-inspired “ice tea diet” that caused her own story to (mercifully?) end long before the Men’s protracted battle to write her epilogue-epitaph.

Second, Hillary Clinton married a Lost Boy and did have a daughter, now well-educated and self-possessed yet still unmarried and under Momma Clinton’s fierce purity protection program in word and deed, prohibited from choosing even to speak for herself while making political speeches, even to cute little girls in public much less Men with Pens Phallic or Otherwise, and even though she’s pushing 30!

Is it still paternalism when Mom (rather than Dad) Avenger wields the sword to keep the culture and public from your daughter’s purity, or is it the same old paternalistic pantsuit just cut way wider in the hips?

The former first daughter always has been off-limits to the media, especially while she was growing up in the White House. But pressure to burst this protective bubble is likely to grow as the soon-to-be 28-year-old campaigns across the country. . .
Even a fourth-grader apparently can’t get through to the press-shy Chelsea Clinton.

And we all know what coarse public reality Chelsea needs to be protected from facing — sex!

And here’s the question Mom and Dad are likely protecting her from not being able to answer: Monica Lewinsky was someone’s daughter too and many years younger — still college-aged — but was publicly called “that woman” in the same sentence with the word “sex” by Chelsea’s dad (God knows what Chelsea’s mom called young Monica!) Daddy Clinton wasn’t too worried back then, about staying pure for his daughter, when she actually was a young girl who arguably needed her dad’s example and focus on his family, his stalwart commitment to moral purity, not just for her but for himself.

“Fathers, our daughters are waiting for us,” Mr. Wilson, 49, told the men. “They are desperately waiting for us in a culture that lures them into the murky waters of exploitation. They need to be rescued by you, their dad.”

. . .“I promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry,” said Katie Swindler, 16.

(Wait — why would her thoughts and actions stop being pure when she marries? Is this a young girl’s lack of worldly understanding and ability to reason, or more a revealing reflection of the true message being received by these girls, about knowledge and sex and thinking for themselves, about their worth and purpose as females at any age?)

Every half-hour, Mr. Wilson stopped the dancing so that fathers could bless their daughters before everyone.

I know the feeling. I’m tempted to stop every half-hour and bless Favorite Daughter before everyone! She is both pure and worldly, flowering in abundance, young and fresh even as she is wise and very grown-up, feminine and unfettered, strong and beautiful, knowledgeable and whimsical, happy and unafraid. Her perspectives on power of story at 18 leave me in awe. 🙂

Except my parenting really is about HER and not me, about who she’s become and how she’s already grown up enough to understand and embrace all the stories. It seems to me the only thing Parents of Daughters have to fear about NeverLand is the Never-Never part itself. Truly, daughters aren’t Lost Girls at any age unless that’s the story we write them into.

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10 responses

19 05 2008
JJ

When I was the age Chelsea Clinton is now, I was like her in many ways except that I was the media spokesperson for a large school district and all its employees and officials both elected and appointed. They all were older than I was, usually by decades. But *I* protected *THEM* from the worldly, critical public and media — not the other way around.

We dealt with life and death, criminal and civil infractions, lies and lawsuits, nakedness, official wrong-doing and sex including rape, you name it and I knew how to handle it and went right on camera and did it. Not to have been treated as the professional I was by that time would have been unthinkably demeaning . . .

19 05 2008
JJ

How old was Elizabeth again, when she was crowned Queen of England?

19 05 2008
JJ

Wikipedia makes her 25 years old and just married then. Younger than Chelsea is now.

But maybe other notes about Princess Protection make the point better: she met her future husband when she was only 13 and began writing to him when he was in the Navy, and

In 1945, 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth convinced her father that she should be allowed to contribute directly to the war effort. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. . . as No 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, trained as a driver, and drove a military truck while she served. This training was the first time she had been taught together with other students. It is said that she greatly enjoyed this and that this experience led her to send her own children to school rather than have them educated at home.
She was the first, and so far only, female member of the royal family to actually serve in the armed forces . . .

19 05 2008
Sickened by the thought of it

Ugh. Those chastity dances/purity balls make my skin crawl. My brother-in-law used to take his daughter to those all the time with other daddy/daughter “couples” from their family’s church. He’s in prison now for possession of child you-know-what. He got into that “flavor”, after a secret 25 year habit of the usual stuff, when his daughter was about 15. Connection?

20 05 2008
JJ

The polygamist cults make an even creepier cultural example imo, of a Lost Girl cautionary tale. (Lost Boys too, of course, just not the storyline today.)

The main plot device always seems to be born-loser paternalists proclaiming themselves prophetic, chosen by the Divine to shelter women and girls under literal “cover” of supposedly scripture-inspired morals and mores — which just happen to define and control everything about feminine life in word, deed and dress, serving up man-indulgent sex as God’s Will and much too big a part of the story.

20 05 2008
Nance Confer

serving up man-indulgent sex as God’s Will

*********

Funny how that’s the way the religious story is often written. . .

Powerful stuff, JJ.

Nance

22 05 2008
JJ

“But It’s Not Fair” — frisky cock of the snook to Daryl and Nance for the find:

I’ve noticed a real sense of grievance take hold among many of Hillary Clinton’s most ardent supporters, particularly her female supporters. There’s a real sense, I think, that this outcome is somehow deeply unfair, that Clinton–the more experienced and accomplished female applicant–is being passed over for the job in lieu of the younger, less experienced, and more charismatic male. . .

22 05 2008
JJ

Check this out for a twisted perspective on who’s protecting whom of which sex (about sex!) and who has whose interests most at heart:

Aides believe he wants to win as much as his wife does, to cement his own legacy and secure a political obituary that is not dominated by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. . .

“Chelsea is the key to this. Everyone has always said that Bill will be the one to take her aside, but he is too emotionally involved. You’ve seen that throughout the campaign. He’s too close to it to make the best judgments sometimes.”

By contrast Chelsea, whose role as an advocate for her mother, or surrogate in the US political terminology, has grown dramatically in recent weeks, is seen as someone with political savvy, but not a personal investment in the campaign.

“She started out not saying a word and by the end she was Hillary’s best surrogate,” the friend said. “They have been through a lot together and Hillary respects her judgment.

“In the end it will be Hillary who makes the decision, but Chelsea may be even more important than Bill in helping her to come to terms with it.”

. . . she recalls how her mother was running for things long before she ran for president. . . She concludes: “I want to wish every mother out there a happy mother’s day and remember your little girls can be anything they want to be in America when they grow up, even if it’s to be the second woman president.”

It may soon be Chelsea’s task to persuade her mother that she cannot be the first, at least not this year.

25 05 2008
JJ

Ruth Marcus, WaPo Wednesday, calls Hillary Clinton a “flawed vessel for the feminist cause” and explains exactly why — and then today it is discussed in intelligent depth on Meet the Press today with Marcus, Maureen Dowd, Doris Kearns Goodwin and others:
“The Ground Clinton Broke”

11 05 2013
JJ

May 2013, all as the head of the Air Force sexual assault unit is himself arrested for sexual assault:

[Elizabeth] Smart’s speech is largely being interpreted as a critique of abstinence-only education, but she’s pointing to an entire culture that fetishizes purity. The more extreme versions of our collective obsession are seen in conservative Christian churches, which offer purity rings, purity balls and sermons that insist wives give their virginity as a “gift” to husbands. But purity culture is mainstream . . .

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