On Becoming A Woman Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Beware!

Remember how I said that the last chapter was the worst chapter in the entire book? This chapter is a  close second.

There is a freakish trick of human nature by which a woman sometimes “falls in love” with another woman or a girl with another girl.

Yup. I’m gonna hate this chapter.

This tendency to homosexuality has been publicized so much that many teenage girls have almost become fearful of falling under the “spell” of some older woman.

Ummm if an older woman is “Falling in love” with teenagers, that’s not a good thing. Not sure what spells have to do with it, unless they’ve finally learned not to spell “lesbian” D-Y-K-E.

In the average mind a considerable mystery surrounds the subject of homosexuality.

Not really, it’s pretty simple to understand.

Most persons understand very little about it…This mystery naturally leads to a certain amount of fear.

I will absolutely agree that people tend to be afraid of that which they don’t understand. I think that is a large part of why we now accept gay marriage. We understand now, and we’re not afraid. Well, most of us, at any rate.

We need good solid reliable information on the subject in order to dispel fear through education. Naturally, this means we should be reading another book.

The author tells a story told to him by a dean in a girl’s dormitory.  A rumor was going around that 2 of the girls were gay, and the dean had quite a time managing to convince the girls that “no great tragedy” was going to happen. Shryock admits that he has no idea whether or not the rumors were true.

Another story he tells us about a different boarding academy concerns an older woman who lived in the same town as the boarding school falling in love with one of the teenage dorm girls.

The friendship developed to the point where the woman used to write love letters to the girl.

Eventually, the teenager was counseled she should break it off. So she tried.

But the older person’s attachment for her was so strong that she continued her attentions in spite of the girl’s hints.

Finally, the dean got involved and told the older lady she was no longer allowed to visit campus. This should have happened much sooner, as it is clear the girl was being preyed upon.

After this, however, the woman proposed a place of meeting at the boundary of the campus, where she and the girl could meet to visit, just as sweethearts would do.

This is not ok. On that the author and I agree. However, I want you to try a small experiment. Go back to the story, and change the gender of the older woman to that of an older man. Now how does the story sound? Exactly the same? Still creepy? Exactly. This is not a story about homosexuality. This is a story about ephebophilia.

So there is such a thing as homosexuality!

Yes, Shryock, there is. But that’s not what you’re describing here. What you’re describing here is predatory behavior. There’s also evidence to show that the gender of the victim isn’t really that important to the predator.

It is the purpose of the present chapter to inform you of this matter, so that you will know how to take reasonable precautions against your ever being involved in such an attachment.

Ok, well, by all means, tell me how I can avoid being stalked by a predator.

This, actually, is why there is so much fear.  By bringing homosexuality and predatory behavior into the same story, he’s able to say “beware of homosexuals, for they are predators!” And that’s disgusting. There are a lot of homosexuals out there that, surprise, aren’t predators.

Homosexual tendencies usually occur in persons who are otherwise poorly adjusted in life. If the development of the personality of such a person had been normal, he would be attracted to someone of the opposite sex, not to someone of his own sex.

What exactly is a “normal personality development?” People develop personalities differently, because each individual reacts differently to the same thing.

In each person with homosexual tendencies there has been some factor that has caused him or her to react abnormally to life and its relationships.

Who decides what is an abnormal way to react to things? And what exactly in life are they reacting abnormally to?  Is it the “abnormal” reactions themselves that cause homosexuality, or are abnormal reactions a sign of homosexuality?

To help Abby understand this better, we’re going to look at “the normal plan of personality development” whatever that means.

At the time of late childhood, or the very early teens, girls develop an attitude of aloofness and indifference to boys, and boys develop an attitude of extreme aversion to girls. These attitudes normally appear at a time in life when the child or teenager is undergoing rapid physical development…. a girl of this age is… naturally sensitive about the evidences of her approaching womanhood. she therefore does not choose to mingle with boys except at school or in routine was, lest she be embarrassed.

Ok…. but what about little girls like me, who, though they craved female friends, were more comfortable with boys and had more guy friends? Nevermind. Shryock would probably decide that asexuals didn’t develop normally either.

Naturally, a girl even of this age craves a certain amount of companionship and inasmuch as she has an aversion for boys, she chums with other girls.

I never really developed an aversion for boys… I mean I couldn’t talk to them about my period or anything, but I could talk to them about things that really mattered. Like whether or not it was too cold to go swimming, how the sermon was really boring, and whether or not dogs were better than cats. You know, the important things in life.

But in the normal course of events these attitudes soon change. As a girl becomes a little older and somewhat established in her new role of womanhood, she normally craves the notice and friendship of young men. Girls in this transitional period are often described as being “boy crazy.”

Yeah, this never happened to me either.

Girls are often seen as “boy crazy” during this time because they haven’t learned to interact appropriately with them. Because of this, it can seem way too fucking obvious that a girl likes a boy.

During this time, girls still like to have close female friends, but only because this is a “transition period.”

As a normal girl reaches her middle and late teens, however, she is no longer entirely dependent upon girls for he social activities.

Was she ever?

She is still friendly with girls and has many close friends among them. But she has now reached the age when she has begun to think of the establishment of a home.

In her mid to late teens? Maybe it was different in the 1960s, but in my mid to late teens my main concerns were with college, whether or not to be a Christian, and finding a new best friend. Oh, and trying to kill myself, but that’s another blog post.

Admittedly this normal transition by which a girl’s interests shift from her former friendships with pals of her own sex to a new friendship with a young man of whom she has become fond involves considerable adjustment.

Yeah, an adjustment for the former best friend who no longer has a best friend because you decided you didn’t need one after getting together with Prince Not So Charming. Jerk.

By now you will doubtless have guessed the relationship between the normal development of the personality and our discussion of homosexuality.

I’m still trying to figure it out, actually.

The individual who develops an abnormal fondness for someone of his own sex, and who is therefore described as having homosexual tendencies, is one who was never successful in working out the adjustment by which he prefers friendships with persons of the opposite sex.

I’m confused. Is anyone else confused? Lesbians are lesbians because they never went boy crazy as teenagers?

Perhaps such a person has passed through some shocking experience at about the time he should have been making a transition in his social attitudes.

Well, I read this book, that was a shocking experience.

Note also that the author is using male pronouns. I am reading On Becoming A Woman. I wonder if the author just copy and pasted from his earlier book shocking experience?

I’ve heard this idea before, the idea that people are gay because they were sexually abused (which is likely what “shocking experience” is code for.) The amount of children who are sexually abused is sadly quite high, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a correlation.

I know of a young man who developed homosexual tendencies whose difficulty dated back to the death of his mother. The mother’s death occurred during his teens, a time when he should have been becoming adjusted to his newly awakened interests in the girls.

I have no idea… I would guess that the death of a parent could stunt a child’s social development as they pulled back a little bit in order to have space to grieve, but it’s a little extreme to say that the death of someone’s mother causes homosexuality.

I know of a young woman in her late twenties whose homosexual tendencies dated back to an unfortunate experience in love.

Translation: he raped her. That’s not stated in the text, that’s just me trying to figure out what the fuck he’s talking about.

After the termination of her friendship with a young man for whom she had developed a high regard, she regressed in her personality development until she found greater satisfaction in courting the friendships of girls than in maintaining her interest in friendships with young men.

Scratch that. A more likely translation is: “This woman was unlucky in love, so she swore off men forever, the bitter old hag!”

But even though a young woman’s personality development becomes stationary, as it were, at the stage at which her dominant interest is in members of her own sex, her physical development and the development of her reproductive organs and glands go on to full completion. Thus she comes into possession of those urges that are normally intended to be part of the bond between husband and wife.

Imagine you’re reading this as a teenager. Let’s say you’re 12-14. You haven’t developed an interest in boys, but you have a desire for friends who are girls. How does this book makes you feel?

This is why my childhood was fucked up.

This combination of traits involving an emotional interest in other girls and a development of the reproductive organs which leads to a craving for intimacies, is what prompts a woman to become intimate with a girl on whom she is lavishing her attention.

Wow, that was a, um, convoluted explanation. I honestly don’t believe I’ve head this before. Was this an extremely popular theory in the 1960s that’s since been debunked?

So homosexuality in its full blown form involves not only an abnormal sentimental attachment between two persons of the same sex, but also the practicing of certain physical intimacies between them.

You can’t get too attached to boys because that could lead to desires that can’t righteously be fulfilled. But you can’t get too close to girls because HOMOSEXUALITY!!!!!!

Is this why Adventist adults I know don’t seem to have close friends? After reading this, I would be scared to have any friends.

The author is now going to list the precautions teen girls need to take in order to avoid being friends with a gay person. Wow. That’s cold. I find it bad enough that the author thinks homosexuality is to be avoided, but clearly homosexual friends are to be avoided too.

You, Shryock, are part of the reason there is so much fear and misunderstanding surrounding homosexuality!

In the first place the teenage girl should be wary of any older girl or woman whose friendship for her seems to be out of bounds or to take on a sentimental aspect.

What does this mean? What exactly is “out of bounds?” As a teenager, I was friends with the wife of the pastor at the church the academy dragged us to. She loved me, and I loved her. If I needed a hug, she’d give it to me. Was our relationship out of bounds? Was it “taking on a sentimental aspect?” This woman was like a second mother to me for god’s sake. What the hell could possibly be wrong with that?

I think this advice is bullshit.

Second, it is a good general policy for a young woman to decline enticing arrangements for sleeping in the same bed with another girl or woman.

When we went on the class trip to Washington DC, it was expected that we girls would share beds in the hotel rooms, so we could stick 4 to a room instead of 2. This probably made a lot of us gay.

Third, she should be skeptical of any girl or woman who manifests any undue interest in the parts of her body.

As vague as this advice is, this is the only advice he gives that I find correct. If someone keeps trying to get a glimpse of your titties when you don’t want them to, they’re probably someone you should stay away from.

It is a wise teenager who avoids very intimate friendships and “crushes.”

I love (and by love I really mean hate) how “very intimate friendships” are in the same category as crushes. I liked my intimate friendships thank you, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with crushes either, even though I’ve never had one.

Young women should socialize with teenagers her age of both sexes.

This is a weird paragraph to end to the chapter with, it has nothing to do with homosexuality:

Even though she may be timid in nature, it is good for her to participate in young people’s organizations and learn to feel at ease, either when speaking in front of a group, participating in group activities, or otherwise entering into the social affairs of her own circle of friends.

I will argue that it is not always good for a teenager to participate in “young people’s organizations,” whatever that means, because what is good for one is not always good for another. Largely I just wonder what the fuck this is doing in a chapter on homosexuality.

This is another good example of why books like this should be updated before being sold for a 21st century audience. Science, by now, has accepted that gay people are born this way rather than becoming gay. This is being accepted, slowly, by the SDA church. Their stance now tends to be something like, “you may have been born gay, but it’s what you do with it that counts.”

I asked James if that meant that a person was supposed to be miserable for the rest of their life trying to be someone they’re not.

He looked at me and replied, “yes.”

Whoever decided to format this book for the kindle should also have gone about updating and revising it. The original author, by that point, had been dead for about a decade, but that’s no excuse. Shryock has descendants.  Someone must still own the copyright. At the very least, the conference should have edited certain parts of this to reflect changes in our understanding of science. They wouldn’t even have to admit that homosexuality wasn’t a sin, they would just have to change their strategy and come up with a different response.

Of course, this was even more true in the chapter fives of these books where the author discussed circumcision. If the SDA church isn’t going to bother updating the science on that, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they wouldn’t care about the science of homosexuality.

Do us all a favor SDA church. Don’t update these materials ever. Keep making yourself more irrelevant. It’ll make it way easier for us to keep seeing right through your bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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