Monday, March 27, 2006

The Way of a Lady: Rule One

A Lady is Chaste.
Her accessibility is vow appropriate.

An unchaste woman is no Lady. It is easy enough to say but more of an issue to define. The private and more intimate aspects of a woman are increasingly more vulnerable and as such, need a greater degree of trust in promised protection. Let us try to explain.

Why is it not unchaste for a married woman to passionately kiss her husband? Would we smile on the exact same action being performed by a fifteen year old girl with a boy she just met at a party. The distinction is obviously not in the act but in the qualifications of the actors. Add to that information that it would be unchaste for the married woman to be passionate with her husband in public. Why? The public has not vowed anything to deserve such inclusion in their affections. A chaste woman ought not even regale her associates with the logistics of her intimate life. A woman's privacy, from her initial conversation to her intimate aspects, are obtained chastely when a vow appears that keeps the privacy and intimacy of her life from being extended to anyone who has not honored it sufficiently. A woman strikes up a conversation with a man to whom she has not been introduced. She is not asking directions. The man will naturally say to himself, "She's hitting on me." She has allowed access, albeit very shallow access, to someone who has vowed absolutely nothing, not even knowledge of his name. At a party, a girl can chastely allow a man to fetch her a drink because he has been introduced to her and has conversed with her and a tacit vow for her circumstantial wellbeing is assumed. If she allowed him to hold her hand merely because she had been introduced, she would be considered unchaste. She is not being immoral but merely demonstrating that she doesn't understand who gets what when. A man who has vowed before witnesses to protect, honor, cherish, etcetera is allowed to enjoy the extremes of privacy that a chaste woman has denied the rest of the world. A married woman is chaste in that she reserves her privacy for the man who has vowed to protect it. In fact,since chastity here is defined by the promise being matched with appropriate affection, a woman who fails to extend such to her husband is guilty of a perverse unchastity. She is violating the vow. This is the misapprehension of the monastic; the more exquisite the denial the more chaste it claims to be. The absolute vow ("till death do us part") deserves the absolute access. A woman who denies the debt is saying that her affections are a matter of her willfulness rather than her honor. The willfulness of the traditionally unchaste lets the unpaying customer take the goods home on credit (with a liberal return policy) and ends up robbing herself of the value of her own goods. As the stuff continues to be returned, she puts it back on the shelf used and will soon discover she manages a Second-Hand store. Unwise allowance is unladylike for its folly. Denial is unladylike for its lie. A man with integrity stops into the store, vows what ever is the correct amount (the manufacturer's list price), is rung up at the register, and then is sent away without anything at all. A chaste woman charges the appropriate price for her affections and meets the conditions of the contract.

4 comments:

Ibid said...

it is unchaste for a woman to strike up a conversation with a man to whom she has not been introduced? Uh, what? At a minumum, would this not depend on the subject, context and, for example, their age? A female teacher in a classroom has never been introduced to her students, and it is her job to talk to them, no matter what their gender. I would like to say more on this subject, but I don't have time.

The Oracle said...

Perhaps I was too vague. The classroom illustration is good as in it there is a circumstance existing under a social contract and that is a different one from a man and woman. Think of a bar. A woman starts up a conversation with a male patron. She is not asking directions to the nearest church. While not, I repeat, not immoral, it is considered "hitting on." She is demonstrating and offering access that he has not even come close to offering for.

Nuallain said...

A couple of questions, points and comments:

Your post stated "Why? The public has not vowed anything to deserve such inclusion in their affections." And if it had? Your post seems to allow the idea of so-called polyamorous relationships to be maintained so long as vows are made concerning this. I do not believe that this is intended therefore a treatment of what vows are legitimate to be made and by whom seems also to be in order for a complete treatment of this topic.

Also, you make the comment: " chaste woman ought not even regale her associates with the logistics of her intimate life" Is this true for men as well as women? I see no reason that it should be different and yet we have a rather detailed account of elements of Solomon and the Shulamite, or does this not meet the qualifications for the unchastity which you herein define for some reason which has escaped my attention?

The Oracle said...

Chastity requires a vow. Without a vow it cannot be chaste. That said, a vow made has to justify what access to the lady it deserves and by whose standard. I vow to wash her car, do I get to sleep with her? There are chapters that could be written on the extensions of this topic. I was only hoping to shift definitions away from monastic denial for denial's sake. Biblically it is easy to determine that marriage vows get marriage sex and is the chaste relationship between husband and wife. Other vows for other access is a more difficult proposition. Somehow, in antiquity a man and woman could be chaste in spite of other wives in the hareem.
Second question, relating intimate details publically. You make a good point re. Canticles, but a few things should at least be considered. One, that world was a bit more ready to encounter the earthier aspects of sexuality without Protestantism intevening. Things like displaying the tokens of virginity, multiple wives, levirate marriages. My points on chastity are, hopefully, cross cultural but I will illustrate within mine own. Even in a society which allows erotic poetry with artful descriptions of sexual activity and desire, even in such society there is a level of privacy which the public could not sufficiently vow i order to gain access. They would be unchaste in that society if they exceed such. Given that the Bible does not reveal what level of access is always and forever appropriate for each promise, we are limited to knowing that our own society does hold traditions outside of which a woman is unchaste and thereby no Lady.