Chastity is not something that I think about often, if ever. So, when I saw the posters for the chastity talk I was excited to attend, as I thought that it would challenge me to perhaps rethink my opinions regarding the subject. I would like to think that I went into the discussion with an open mind, wanting to hear what someone of a different perspective had to share.
I was surprised at how well Jason, the main speaker, was able to present his argument at the beginning of the evening. Though he seemed to be accustomed to speaking to younger audiences, he was so open with his beliefs that it was easy to access his perspective.
At some point, however, something started to go terribly wrong. The first question that Jason fielded was about the fact that there are many relationships between people who choose not to get married or have children, including same-sex couples, which were absent from his examples and reasoning. From there, Jason said that he believes that a successful relationship must be fruitful, which, according to him, homosexual relationships are not. This answer clearly shocked and offended many of the people in the audience.
I am not going to get into a debate about Catholicism and homosexuality, but I do believe that in order for speakers to be effective they must, regardless of their views, work to not offend anyone whom they are trying to persuade to agree with them. In this way, when the talk began to reveal that most of the couples’ motivations toward chastity were due to religious reasons, it became very hard for me to follow what was being said.
When both Jason and his fiancÃ© co-speaker Crystalina, urged all of the women in the audience to go home and throw away their birth control pills, I was taken aback that he was no longer sharing a life philosophy of his, but he was preaching to the audience and trying to impose his views rather then try and have them understood.
What I found to be the most disturbing part of the talk came from Crystalina. She is not a virgin, and she experienced many negative interactions with men in her past. So, she made a conscious decision to begin waiting for marriage, to, in a sense, reclaim her virginity. This may have been the right decision for her, and yet, when she was faced with the notion of the potential for positive, pre-marital sex that did not involve drunken one night stands and regretful actions, Crystalina said that such actions would eventually be regretted regardless of the circumstances.
Furthermore, both Jason and Crystalina told individual members of the audience that they would regret premarital sex once they found someone with whom they wish to eventually settle down. This may have seemed likely within the context of their talk, which used extreme examples of predatory men who are only out to use women for their bodies. When I questioned this usage of extremes to voice their argument, I was made to feel as though I was overemphasizing sexual experience. In fact, I was trying to voice the unrealistic nature of their presentation, especially to a college-aged audience.
I went into the talk willing to give a new perspective a chance, and yet the speakers did not come in with the same mentality. Instead of being open to what audience members had to say, they came with a rigid need to justify and defend their points by any means necessary, throwing out statistics left and right in order to scare rather than inform.
I was angry and disappointed that so many organizations on campus, including the Office of the President, sponsored this event. That is not to say that I think that groups that are controversial or with whom I do not agree should not be brought to this campus. I do think, however, that we have the right not to be treated like middle-schoolers â€“ kids without the ability to think critically or challenge extremism and prejudice.
The talk was very well advertised, with posters everywhere. Yet, it was very falsely advertised. The signs should have read Chastity: A Catholic perspective, but instead they gave the impression that the talk would be a presentation on the issue.
The talk did not live up to the standards to which we should hold speakers that come to our campus. Had the initial question not been asked, many of us in the audience would have gone home without fully realizing the motivations behind the speakers and the fact they were hiding behind medical scare tactics to try and convince us of their views. I see this as an ultimate insult to all of us on this campus, regardless of what we believe in or choose to do.
In the future, such speakers should perhaps just come and speak directly to groups like the Newman Catholic Association, who occupied most of the front rows of the talk. They could speak behind closed doors so as not to invite a large group of people and then offend them. Or else, they should advertise in an upfront manner and come out and share how they truly feel from the beginning.