The President’s Office, Chaplains’ Office, Women’s and Gender Studies Department and Newman Catholic Community sponsored a Chastity 101 talk last Tuesday. Chrystalina Padilla and Jason Evert spoke for an hour and a half about abstinence and the consequences of pre-marital sex. The two speakers, engaged to be married only 24 hours before the talk, presented two separate theses encouraging abstinence.
Evert, a 27 year old virgin, believed that everyone wants to get married and have that marriage be sacred in the eyes of God. He said we should save our virginity for our future spouses or we’re not being faithful. “I want to be faithful to my bride before I meet her. . .I want to start practicing for her. . .the peace and joy that comes from chastity is better than all the pleasure in the world,” said Evert.
Padilla, who lost her virginity at the age of 15 and engaged in a lifestyle of sex and drugs before her vow of chastity, argued that men control the power in sex and that while sex may appear to be “a very attractive lifestyle, you’re not going to be fulfilled.” She believes sex is a way for people to engage in a very temporary bond of pleasure, after which women can not respect their bodies or themselves; sex out of marriage is demeaning and empty. “It’s not fun and games; you can not rest until you rest with God,” she said. She found that men were more interested in getting to know her body than her personality. As a young woman engaging in a sexual lifestyle, she was “disgusted” with herself and her “dignity and self esteem were shot.”
“Before the actual speech I was actually surprised and impressed by the number of people who showed up,” said Rosie Smith ’06. “It seemed like Williams students were prepared to listen and consider the issue of chastity. That’s why I think so many people were frustrated by the talk – it was a wasted opportunity. When they first began to speak, I felt that while I might not agree with them, the speakers were making arguments I could relate to â€“ like Padilla’s discussion of women being used and not respecting their bodies. But when it became obvious that their views on chastity were so interconnected with their religion, I think we all felt pretty alienated.”
As the talk continued, the speakers brought up their religious and political views. What started as a light-hearted talk that many students could relate to turned into a discussion about the immorality of sex. Their arguments were so intertwined with religion and marriage that many students felt they could not relate the speakers. The two included statistics about divorce, STDs and pregnancy to prevent young people from having sex out of wedlock. “there is no proof that condoms protect against 7 out of 8 STDs; condoms are useless,” Evert said.
“The pill wasn’t invented to keep you from getting pregnant, it was designed so men could have sex with you without worrying about having to stay with you,” Padilla said. Evert even advised Williams women to go home and throw out their birth control pills. “Their discussion of STDs, the pill, and safe sex, while flying in the face of dominant thought was factually shaky at points,” Andra Hibbert ’05 said. “I also feel statements like advising women to go home and throw out the pill could have the most detrimental effect on the Williams campus.”
Melissa Umezaki ’04, Peer Health student coordinator, also disagreed with some of Evert and Pudilla’s statistics. “Male condoms are rated as “Good/Fair” in protection against STDs. The “good” rating refers to protection against STDs spread by fluids (such as HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea). The “fair” rating refers to protection against STDs spread by contact (like genital warts, herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, and molluscum). So condoms most definitely offer more protection against STDs â€” they are not useless by any means. Of the eleven most common STDs (among college students) condoms offer more protection for nine of them,” Umezaki said. “They [Evert and Padilla] may have been referring to more exotic diseases.”
When asked about the claims regarding the pill’s origins, Umezaki responded. “The pill serves as more than a simply a method of contraceptive. Aside from its role as a contraceptive, there are other health reasons that a woman may take birth control. For women with irregular cycles (oral contraceptives can help ease painful cramps and make cycles more regular), skin problems (studies have shown that oral contraceptives help control acne) and may lower chances of getting ovarian cysts, cancer of the ovaries and uterus, noncancerous breast tumors, and anemia. So it’s probably not a good idea to throw out your birth control pills.
“It’s for women to have that kind of protection. It also has other uses; women take it for more regular periods and it’s been shown to help with cervical cancer.”
In the question and answer session, one Williams student asked how students who were not interested in marriage could relate to their discussion. The response was Evert’s “model of love.” This model said that love had to be “free, total, fruitful and faithful.” People who are not interested in marriage do not fit into this model because they do not give themselves totally. When questioned about couples that could not marry such as gay and lesbian couples, Evert said, “those who are attracted to homosexuality are called to a life of chastity.” According to Evert, because gay couples cannot be produce children, “it is not moral to act on those desires.”
“I’m sure that there is a community of students at Williams who are a fairly silent minority with whom the talk resonated. And I do think that their talk had something to say about the sexual culture and the emotional havoc that it can wreak; however, I think that they disregard a couple of communities,” Hibbert said. “Most notably perhaps is the queer community, which they discounted because those unions can’t be fruitful in their eyes. But equally frustrating, they discount the community of people who are adults and in loving, dating relationships, and who choose to have sex because it is a way to connect and be loving. Not only do they disrespect the choices of these people, but they told them that they would regret them once they were married.”
“If they had been up front about their position from the beginning, I wouldn’t have minded, but I felt like they tried to make us believe that they were just like us and had chosen chastity for the same reasons we might, while in reality their were so many other factors involved,” said Smith. “If they wanted to talk to us about their faith that would have been fine, but it was unfair of them to pretend that their convictions really came from philosophies of love and statistics on safe sex. I think a speech in favor of chastity could have had a real effect on the Williams community, but not when the issue is loaded.”