Okay, all or most of you, probably know exactly what I'm going to tell you. However, I will also remind you that you, my female readers, will also pop a chick flick in the computer or tv every now and then... just when you want something "brainless" or something "romantic" or something "just to pass the time". Allow me to remind you that images, once placed in the mind, can never be erased. Thoughts, once thought, damage. You know things are bad, so you think that they can't affect you because you know them for what they are.
Yet, knowing a thing’s reality does not negate its effect on your imagination. What you read and what you watch will inevitably affect you. Maybe the effects will be slight, but after a while the slight things build up, and someday you hear yourself saying something that should never come out of your mouth, but has been conditioned by the images you put into your head. Or worse, you find yourself doing something you never would have done. I'm giving you a worst-case scenario here - but think about it.
I noticed a couple of damaging points in Stardust and 27 Dresses, things which I've noticed in many other romantic comedies that I almost regret having watched. Now, not everything about these movies is bad. The main character in Stardust does realize he's chasing a girl who's not worth it and remembers the prize he has close at hand. The main character in 27 Dresses does take her selflessness to the point that she can't love because she doesn't love herself. But I think you'll agree that the following problems are signs of a deep-seated misunderstanding of men and women, love, and the role of marriage in human life.
1. Sleeping together before marriage - not just outside of marriage.
DON'T get me wrong. Extra-marital sex is wrong. Period. End of story. But these chick flicks take sleeping together to a whole new level. We're not talking just free love and the occasional short-term fling. It's basically implied and promoted that either a) you can't possibly know the other person is your true love for sure unless you've slept with them; or b) sex is the necessary and inevitable reaction to two people discovering that they might love each other. Why, I ask you? Why is it that a man and a woman deciding that they might (and I say might because they haven't actually talked about it) MIGHT love each other, is followed without any other preliminaries, with the most sacred, holy, special act of human life? (I except, of course, the Sacraments. Natural human life, I mean.)
2. Similarly - is kissing seriously just a casual thing?
Your standards are all off if you have to kiss someone to find out whether or not there's a "spark". If "love" or a "relationship" (of course at this point they aren't really what they profess to be) is based on sensuality, no wonder you never get anywhere. Is nothing saved, nothing special, nothing sacred? Even a hug is in some way a giving of yourself - you're letting your guard, your defenses down; you're saying in essence "I trust you with my life, for I am now without defense against you or any other." A long hug is a complete breakdown of your defenses and brings a level of physical relaxation that can and should only be given to one you trust completely. Kissing is, from all I've heard and seen, even more so an emotional letting-down of any barriers, a giving of oneself only short of the great act of love. Either we as women don't care about ourselves enough to keep ourselves safe, or we don't even realize there's something worth guarding in who we are. We women are willing to give ourselves away, no questions asked.
Girls, don't do this to yourselves, please. Your femininity is so precious. You have so much to give. Don't waste who you are, what you are, on someone who could be as fleeting as the wind.
All of my comments here apply to point 1 too and even more so to that topic!!
3. Why must women profess love first? Why is it "self-affirming" to admit to the guy you like that you like him? Why should the chase be reversed and the pursued become the pursuer?
This is, to be honest, probably one of my worst pet peeves about the modern world. Honestly, there's a reason why for millenia, the guy does the pursuing and the girl is pursued. Men have to fight for something if they respect and love it, and they won't respect or love it if they don't have to fight for it. Men go to war for a country that they love - and say what you will, the warriors are the strongest patriots. If something isn't a challenge, then it isn't worth it. Girls, you should understand this - remember the pretty dress you saw, desired, and then saved up for and bought later with your hard-earned money? Remember the feeling of satisfaction and how you looked ten times prettier in it because you appreciated it more? Guys are, and have always been, the same way. Men in particular, respect and love something more when they have to fight for it, work for it, wonder about it and strive for it.
As much as it hurts every time you look at that guy you fell for, and all you want to do is tell him how happy you are every time you're around him, don't tell him.
This advice I can honestly tell you from my own experience.
One reason is that it will keep your emotions far more intact if you don't share them with him, and then something comes up. Maybe you find out he has a girlfriend at home, maybe he moves away, maybe you find out something about him that kills your emotions for him, maybe it's just a summer crush that dies away - that's a heck of a lot easier to deal with when you haven't told him how you feel. It saves awkwardness and general emotional wear-and-tear.
A second reason is that handing yourself to a guy on a silver platter before you even know how he feels, or especially if you know he likes another girl (hello, Yvaine from Stardust), you're throwing yourself away. And there goes your dignity and respect, whether he accepts or returns your love, or whether he gently rejects you. Even if he tells you he likes you too, there is a lessening of his respect and his joy in having won you, if he didn't really win you. (Jane from 27 Dresses, I'm not convinced that Kevin wouldn't have been happier if you had just shown up at the party, put yourself in his line of sight, and smiled at him. Pretty sure he'd have done the chasing himself, all he needed to know is that you'd forgiven him and he had a chance.)
Most importantly, though, if he's worth telling your emotions, then he's totally worth waiting for. Now, I'm not saying you can't figure out whether he's actually got any potential or whether you might as well give up and nurse your emotions right now. Keeping your emotions to a friendship, especially when it looks hopeless, is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do in your single years. You want so hard to have a relationship with him, you get desperate wondering if there's any hope, you feel like even if he turned you down you wouldn't care because you just want closure. Okay, first - is it really worth it to throw yourself away like that, by telling him first that you like him? There are other ways of finding out whether he likes you or not. Second, if there's any potential for him to like you, wouldn't you prefer that he figure it out on his own and then be able to work to win your heart and your hand? It is worth waiting. It is worth strengthening a friendship with him so that you can know each other better - it will make your relationship even greater when everything finally does come to fruition.
Chick flicks have their place. But don’t blunt yourself to the genuine problems that are clearly visible in these summer popcorn movies. True romance is not the kind that is found on the screen, but the kind that is found, struggled through, and kept holy, through faith and virtue.
Rebecca Willen is a student at Christendom College, formerly homeschooled; a loyal Catholic; a defender of the liberal arts; a lover of tradition and antiquity; a devotee of the printed word and all things related to literature; one who perpetually haunts the nearest available library and bookstore; an avid musician; and hopefully a future editor, wife, and mother. Check out her blog at http://ourheartsarerestless.wordpress.com/