So, since Katie over at NFP and Me gave me a little bit of motivation, I decided I will write a commentary on last night's Glee episode.
Now, to start things off, I will say that I don't normally watch Glee. I have seen maybe 3 episodes total. I don't follow the story arcs and I know only a little about the overall premise. This is actually kind of surprising since, though I was never a theater kid in high school, I harbored a total theater kid envy and constantly entertained ideas of my whole life suddenly turning into a giant musical number.
Be that as it may, last night as I was perusing the internet in the evening, I ended up watching the newest episode of Glee. At first I was sort of just having it on as background noise, but I got a little sucked in. I re-watched it tonight on demand, since I had missed some parts of it and I wanted to make sure that I had gotten the entire thing.
The premise of last night's show was that the high school was putting on a musical- Westside Story (full disclosure: I haven't seen the musical since I was probably in Jr. High and I didn't like it). Rachel and Blaine are playing Maria and Tony and in the very, very beginning of the show, Artie, the director, tells them both that they lack passion because they are both virgins. And while he "supports their strained aversion to fun," they can't really "sell" the sexual awakening as someone who hasn't been sexually awoken themselves. The rest of the show concerns Rachel and Blaine attempting to lose their virginity in order to perform more authentically. Glee has been pointed at by many in the Catholic media as being a somewhat “damaging” show, if you will, because it is targeted at a younger audience. The main reason for this is because of the gay storyline between Kurt and Blaine. To be honest, this doesn’t bother me at all. There are plenty of young people out there who have same sex attraction, who are ashamed of it, who feel isolated, and who may be bullied or attacked. I think in some ways, it can be good to have an openly gay character on TV that people can identify with and might make them feel less isolated in their own lives. It’s also nice that, based on what I saw in this episode, Blaine and Kurt have a normal teenage relationship and, at least until this episode, weren’t engaging in sexual activity.
The thing that bothered me was there was no talk as to why the characters were waiting in the first place. It was more of “well, we better be authentic, time to take care of this little annoyance.” At one point, Rachel calls a committee of girls, and they all tell her to wait, except one, who expounds on the fact that she and her boyfriend had discussed it, and they were each other’s first love, and that the moment will always be perfect for her. This is the deciding factor in Rachel’s decision to go for it.
This, to me, is more damaging than anything I saw happen with Kurt and Blaine in this episode. This attitude is so prevalent in today’s society that I fear how it will impact young people. I know how it impacted me.
Maybe I’m just bitter because I didn’t get a chance to discuss it with my first love and have it be a perfect moment that I will remember for my whole life. Instead, it’s a terrible thing that I will always feel ashamed of for the rest of my life. Because I waited, too, just not long enough. And my reasons weren’t well-formed enough in order to stave off advances. When you get to a certain age (which apparently now is senior in high school) in today’s secular society, it’s expected of you to have had sex. And if you haven’t, you’re almost more damaged goods than someone who has with everyone that walks by. I found myself at 20 years old as a virgin and being completely un-dateable. I was not practicing my faith, so what option did I have? I could date Christian boys (which wasn’t an option as I didn’t identify as Christian) or I could date guys who didn’t value me. And what was the big deal anyway? Everyone else had had sex, what difference did it make if I did, too? That’s how it was presented to me, anyway, and I was dumb enough to think that someone who would say that to me actually cared enough about me to consider it in the first place. So what’s the big deal? I mean, if you want to be an actress, you’ll eventually be playing people who aren’t virgins, so you can’t possibly be a virgin and authentically play a non-virgin. It’s only natural, right?
What I would have liked to see, just once, is a character with some moral fortitude- but maybe I’m just looking for something I didn’t have. I would have liked to see someone who maybe thought about it, and then decided against it. Maybe not for religious reasons, but because they decided to be above that. To do something that was right for them. I dunno, maybe I just wanted to see an actual discussion of how many, many girls (and possibly guys, but I can’t speak from a position of knowledge there) feel when they DO lose their virginity, and then go on to be sexually intimate with every person with whom they have a relationship afterwards. I would like to see a discussion of how that impacts their future marriages, their trust, and their self-worth. I would like to see an honest discussion from the flip side. Not just that “sex is good! It feels good, it’s natural, everyone should be doing it—all the time, with whomever they want!” Or even, “sex is a true expression of love for whomever you feel like you love at that moment.” Because, I’m sorry, but this message that is being peddled out to our culture, our young people, is a lie! I can think of only one of my friends who is still with the person she lost her virginity to. And I can remember all the pain and heartache that occurred in the wake of the breakups for the rest of them. Except my own, because I was so messed up, I ended up in a therapist’s office and on antidepressants, so I have no real recollection of it. Even Hubbs will say that when he really thought back on his life, he realized that not one good thing ever really came about from his previous attitude toward sex. It was a lot of selfishness, low self-worth, and somewhat of an addictive behavior. It was also a harbinger of problems in the relationship, especially when it’s compensating for any kind of real intimacy or love.
I know that today’s society has a schizophrenic relationship with sex. We are puritanical in one sense, and over-sexed in another. What I want to see on TV, what I want told to young people everywhere, what I wish everyone would just understand is that we’ve made sex too important. So important that we have tried to downplay it to the extent that it’s mundane. It’s a classic Catholic both/and. But the Catholic Church has made sex unimportant. So unimportant that it’s the most important thing in the world. The Catholic Church teaches us to value ourselves and each other by respecting our basic dignity as human beings. Not animals who have to give in to our instincts, not creatures to use and be used by others.
And would it be so crazy to point out that, since Westside Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria got married before they had sex? Just sayin’.