virginity2 - Jennifer Carl March 5, 2008 Midterm Paper...

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Jennifer Carl March 5, 2008 Midterm Paper Medieval Misogyny Female Body as a Virginal Sanctuary or Vessel A father stands with his pre-teen or teenage daughter at what is known as a “Purity Ball.” He pledges, according to the About website, “I, (daughter's name)'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity… I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home…”[1] It sounds like a ritual that could have been preformed a couple hundred years ago, but actually a Purity Ball is a modern invention, recently popularized and performed in many heavily conservative Christian communities. [2] While the concept of sexual virginity as a state of purity closer to godliness is nothing new; it is interesting to look at the parallels between early Christian writings on the subject, and the modern abstinence movement. Virginity for a woman, from the Fall to the birth of Christ, seems to have been merely a transition period between birth and marriage. According to Genesis, one of the consequences of the fall was the husband’s role as ruler over his wife. [Genesis, 15] Woman’s only purpose was to marry, serve her husband, and bear children for him. Though this purpose remained after the birth of Christ , there came a new place for virgins through the Virgin Mary. As St. Jerome says, “…the gift of virginity was bestowed most richly upon women…” [Women Defamed, 76] Virginity thusly found its place among women, whereas before, they were indentured to men as a price for the Fall. This idea of virginity being bestowed upon women (and virginity as a source of purity) suggests that before Christ there simply were no women virgins, implying that
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women had no purity to begin with; they were already Adam’s defiled, seduced brides when they first came out of the womb. However, as Eve brought sin into the world, Mary brought the savior and redeemer from that sin, in this way making virginity a staple for women. According to St Paul, giving birth can save a woman from her original sin. [Timothy 3.14-15] So in the way that a single woman could be saved through childbirth, thus Mary saved all women through giving birth to the savior of all. Before the birth of Christ, male virgins (those who were strong enough to resist temptation) were the only ones with the “gift of virginity”, the argument for which being that women served as a
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2008 for the course GENDER & S 0481 taught by Professor Dinshaw during the Spring '08 term at NYU.

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virginity2 - Jennifer Carl March 5, 2008 Midterm Paper...

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