Some ideals and concepts are so deep engraved on our brain from an early age, that many times we fail to see what’s in front of us. Take the above picture for example: When I saw the stunningly white dress the girl wore, I immediately linked it with virginity and the blood with the loss of it. The title also was connected in a similar way to my thoughts. Well, after reading the description of the creator, the idea she wanted to put across was something totally different. It had to do with the beauty of the dress and the ugliness of the crime commited to obtain it (the murder of the swan).
Yet what was it that lead me to such conclusions? Most probably my upbringing. That connects purity with virginity as well as the cultural connotations in West associated with these colours. But is it really like the conservatives claim to be? And were there a time when we were pure-hearted? A time of innocence?[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jul4X7CE994&feature=share&list=PL35F3A2C172C56273]
A short about lost innocence. Every time I watch it, tears come to my eyes. There’s this sadness and pain emitting from “and she longigly stares at what she’s lost”. I’ve felt it many times, yet is it really the loss of innocence that causes this pain? Because I doubt that innocence exists at all, especially in the way most people perceive it.
Let’s begin firstly with the meaning of the word. I searched in 3 online dictionaries (Longman, Cambridge, Oxford) and Wikipedia and I noticed that the former two were referring only to innocence according to law and the one that indicates lack of knowledge. The latter two on the other hand analyse further:
the state , quality, or fact of being innocent of a crime or offence:they must prove their innocence
lack of guile or corruption; purity:the healthy bloom in her cheeks gave her an aura of innocence
euphemistic a person’s virginity:all the boys lost their innocence with her
That’s from Oxford’s online dictionary. Very laconic, yet meaningful. It sums up everything very well. Wikipedia, although one would believe that one cannot trust it, delves deeper and explains:
Innocence is a term used to indicate a general lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. In a legal context, innocence refers to the lack of legal guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime.
Innocence can also imply lesser experience in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. In contrast to ignorance, it is generally viewed as a positive term, connoting an optimistic view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong. This connotation may be connected with a popular false etymology explaining “innocent” as meaning “not knowing” (Latin noscere). The actual etymology is from general negation prefix in- and the Latin nocere, “evil” or “guilty”.
In some cases, the term “innocence” has a pejorative meaning, where an assumed level of experience dictates common discourse or baseline qualifications for entry into another, different, social experience. Since experience is a prime factor in determining a person’s point of view, innocence is often also used to imply an ignorance or lack of personal experience.
A “loss of innocence” is a common theme in fiction and pop culture, and is often seen as an integral part of coming of age. It is usually thought of as an experience or period in a child’s life that widens their awareness of evil, pain or the world around them.
Now that we have all the connotations we can try to explain the short film and the common view of innocence.
When a person looks back at the ‘innocent years’, (s)he wishes (s)he had not gained the knowledge of the ‘true, harsh’ world. It’s a wish of staying in the ignorance, since usually knowledge brings pain with it and certainly is a heavy burden. Because when you are aware of a situation, you feel the obligation to do something about it. If you stay ignorant, you won’t get hurt, you won’t get accused- because you lack the experience. But when you are an adult, you just aren’t allowed many times to not be aware of your surroundings. In this effort people invented a positive word for ignorance: innocence. So, practically in this case, adults wish for an utopia, when everything seemed good to their eyes. This longing of an illusioned world, of the lack of accusation is so old that it shaped itself into one of the most well-known stories of the world: the story of Paradise. It is the gaining of knowledge and awareness that led to the exile from Paradise.
And of course the human soul seeks ways to console itself, so if someone goes through hardships, the person idealizes periods of his life that were in the past and appear all rosy. Because really, what’s better from now, from the present? When we were children, we were dependent on our parents, most of us one way or another were the dolls they played with, wish-fulfilling machines or accidents- thus they neglected us for one reason or another. Who wants to return to such a reality? We didn’t have to care for anything back then. Relationships weren’t so complex back then. We thought we were loved back then. We didn’t feel so confused as later when we stepped into puberty and later into adulthood. But isn’t this the way life goes? Don’t we have now control of ourselves? Don’t we gain our own money? Don’t we choose the ones that love us? We are just scared to admit that our parents didn’t prepare us well for what’s coming. That they weren’t perhaps very supportive or they were overly protective. The ‘Father in Heaven’ was thinking for ‘our own good’ when he forbid us the fruit of knowledge. Never explained why though, did he? Was it for human kind’s good or for ‘his’ good? In Wikipedia we see knowledge is connected to wrong-doing. It is true and it isn’t. If you don’t know a thing, you can’t know ‘good’ either and much more you won’t do it. My guess to the last question: because when one’s eyes open, one understands the control (s)he was under and finds a way to break free… It’s easier to let others decide about what you have to do or want to do. But that’s no life. It’s a puppet play. And when the puppetier dies? What happens then?
Everything that can bring happiness and self-fulfillment includes a part of pain and labour to obtain it and most of all maintain it. Be it money, status or relationships. Even if brought by luck, people will have to struggle, be careful with, tend to those in order to have them for a long time.
It’s only natural that as babies, new beings on this world, we don’t know many things. The ones that have authority over us are responsible to show us gradually how this world works, so that the pain of realization won’t be that big and unbearable. I was shoked when I discovered alone homosexuality and bisexuality, in an homophobic environment. I got scared about me, about how love functions, about hurting others that I thought the could never be a possibility of seeing as lovers. I dare say, it’s not the innocence that we mourn rather the bad luck of being false guided and/or the maliciousness that people can hide in their heart. It’s not the lack of knowledge. It’s the lack of preparation.
|Adults are but grown up children…with our happy times, our rosy memories and our wounds. “When we was” by matabi on deviantart|
The other very important aspect of innocence is associated with sexuality or better the absence of sexual activity. Very nicely put by Oxford’s dictionary, ‘innocence’ is a euphemism for virginity. This innocence isn’t irrelevant to the other two; it is lack of knowledge: of sexual experience and it is also lack of guile and corruption, lack of wrongdoing… What does this mean? That sex is equated to a guilty deed, almost to a crime…it’s a sin…Sex is needed only for reproduction that was a curse by ‘dear God’ for not obeying to his prohibition or perhaps sex, as a new experience, is linked to knowledge, the one that was forbidden- according to the ‘Holy Bible’. And thus, whole generations suppressed their sexuality or better the woman sexuality and the needs of the body. For men the problem that was created was dysfunctionality of relationships.
“Sex is dirty”, “Good girls don’t have sex before marriage”, “Sex only in marriage is blessed, because Lord commanded the reproduction of human kind”, “Sex isn’t something to be enjoyed (only by men)”, “The prostitutes are for pleasure, good girls are for making a family”, “Masturbation is unwanted by God, you will burn in hell if you masturbate!”, “Women who seek self-pleasure are sick” and many other similar indoctrinations lead to a humiliating and degrading behaviour towards women, to suppressed and guilty feelings for the most natural things that intereprete themselves into pain as well as intentions to hurt to feel better and to a general sadomasochistic behaviour- might as well be a schizophrenic one.
Telling men that they only desire women they don’t marry, and only marry women they don’t desire, cannot possibly lead to a fulfilling romantic life for anybody. It leads men to question their own morality when they find themselves highly sexually aroused by someone. It also leads them to suppress their sexuality when they meet a woman they want to marry. In both cases, something is suffering. If he’s drawn to a woman he himself thinks is immoral, his own sense of self-worth deteriorates. If he subverts his sexual drive because he thinks its wrong to feel such things for his wife, his natural desire to express love and affection through sex deteriorates. It’s a no-win situation.
It isn’t much better for women, either. Telling women that sexy women aren’t moral and that moral women aren’t sexy leaves many women perplexed. Women who would like to enjoy sex freely find themselves holding back out of shame, or out of concern that they’ll be condemned as whores. Women who ignore cultural prejudice and flaunt their sexuality would like to be appreciated for their other qualities as well, and not be declared stupid or vain because they enjoy being a woman and enjoy sex. ~ Leanne Bell
Why do we keep torturing ourselves and others? Why do we insist to take a knife and cut seperate the mind, the body and the soul? We should try to balance all three of them. Why do we keep believing that we should promote only one of these three? Body has needs, logic is a great weapon and helper in life and so are our feelings. We move throught this body, we taste life, the ‘God’s’ gift, if you want. Certain desires and feelings are created through the body, but they aren’t necessarily evil. We’ve given logic not to suppress our emotions but to control them and most importantly enjoy while being careful.I’m not suggesting a lifestyle of chaos. I suggest that sex is something to be enjoyed, felt wholeheartedly and ALWAYS with precautions. If our psychic and bodily health isn’t harmed, then I see no reason why not experiment. And with experimentation I mean exploration with respect and honesty towards ourselves and the others. I don’t urge anyone to play with the feelings of noone (See more here and I’ll elaborate on safe sex in another post). We develop hormones at a certain age for a reason isn’t it? And don’t tell me it’s devil’s doings or ‘God’s’ testing. If ‘God’ has a big ‘heart’, then why deny the joys of his gift to his ‘children’? Why do we go on discriminating people in two categories- the saint and the whore, the moral and the immoral?
|This is the wrong view of the world. Things are not black and white. All the shades of grey, yes. “Juxtapose by Ecthelian on deviantart|
People discriminate, in other words label from they day they were born. It’s in our genes somehow. We try to define what we are according to the ‘other’. We need this because constructing an identity makes us feel safe. The concept of ‘belonging’ doesn’t mean necessarily hate to the different ones. Someone who understands that we constantly change identities and that there are people who accept us the way we are each time, doesn’t have to fear the change. But people who percieve stability and permanence as the rule of life, in their effort to defend themselves from what they’re afraid of, change, come to hate others. When people label others, they stigmatize them and by doing so, feel more powerful, more in control, more safe.
Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong. ~ Leo Buscaglia
In our case men supress women, because the former feel weak, insecure and because they see no other way of feeling good apart from dominating others. They couldn’t communicate properly with the other sex, so they decided to shut it up and accustom the world only to their needs. So they made up Eve, the reason of their sadness and then went further ‘creating’ a woman that brought the ‘Savior’ to the world, a woman that remained virgin and was a mother, and another one that was the disgusting prostitute that became saint, Magdalene. Men were and are afraid of female mind and sexuality (in ancient Greece the virgins were compared to wild horses that need to be tamed) so they tried to have the upper hand. In what better way than to control their bodies? Claiming that a simple tissue is a woman’s honor… now really, who isn’t logical enough to admit that a person’s honor-not just a woman’s- is a kind and witty personality?
‘Whores’ are the realization of a fantasy: pleasurable sex without strings. Virgins from ‘good families’ are attracting men, because being sexually ignorant they can be easy preys for domination- it’s not important what women want, because they don’t know how ‘good’ should be or how they are supposed to be treated. Wake up! We are not objects and we are not fools. We can be saints and whores and nothing of both at the same time. We need a new fairy tale figure, a new role model that engulfs our sexuality and our morality/ kindness of soul. Something like Isis, the egyptian goddess, “The One who is All”:
Hymn To IsisBecause I am the first and the last
I am the venerated and the scorned
I am the whore and the saint
I am the wife and the virgin
I am the mother and the daughter
I am the arms of my mother
I am the sterile one, and my children are many
I am the well-wed and the spinster
I am the one who gave the light and the one who never gave birth
I am the wife and the husband
And it was my man who bore me in his belly
I am the mother of my father
I am the sister of my husband
And he is my rejected son
Respect me always
Because I am the scandalous and the discreet.
– 3rd or 4th century BC, discovered in Nag Hammadi
Sex and virginity should be rediscussed more than ever and allow ourselves to be responsible and happy, hence to think for ourselves. This article put me into thoughts and reminded me the problematic definition of sex, that not only excludes same sex activity since it demands a penis penetration -that can hilariously imply that lesbians are virgins- but also denies that oral sex and petting can also be sex. Expanding the definition with some help of proper information would also solve, in my humble opinion, the problem of very early pregnancies, STDS and psychological problems an untiming penetration may cause.
I think I sidetracked a bit. I’ll reconnect immediately. We are trying to analyse how innocence is perceived like the opposite of sex. Just remember that Jesus said that children are sinless and innocent. And now imagine the impact Freud’s theory of sexuality had a century ago. Parents see their children as innocent creatures, because they can’t understand that even babies are sexual beings. Not in the sense an adolescent or an adult is, but still…Babies explore their bodies and the world; they try to find what’s pleasing and what’s not. Many parents cut off the joy of self-pleasure a person starts to experience by repremanding the baby and making it feel guilty. These babies aren’t allowed to love themselves. Parents don’t embrace their nature and hurt them. How are these people expected to grow into healthy, happy adults??? So, we return to the motto: sex, for ‘God’s’ shake, isn’t a sin! Just come out and express your insecurities, your traumas that your own parents left you with and don’t try to impede the healthy growing process of your child. You can’t keep it for a long time as a child. Don’t hide behind the word innocence- because it doesn’t exist in the way you present it.
Short conclusion: Innocence is just a fallacy. It doesn’t exist. At least not out of the rose-colored version most people talk about.
P.S.: Now that the media spread more images of sex, don’t think that children stay ignorant for a long. So don’t hide behind your finger and help your children by explaining and giving them love, not just a series of commandments. Labelling and prohibiting will have quite the opposite results. The child won’t become happy…