A Woman's Truth Can't Be Controlled
As a young teenager, I remember visiting a friend’s evangelical church because she was taking part in an abstinence ceremony. It was a big deal, something like a wedding. All of her family and friends were there. I never wore a purity ring or bracelet, nor did I take part in a ceremony where I promised my father that I would be a "good girl." Watching my friend dressed in a white gown, as her father placed a purity ring on her finger, and promising him that she wouldn’t have pre-marital sex was disturbing to say the least.
Essentially, these girls were told that what was between their legs was not theirs; that their value was in their ability to be “pure.” My friend turned to the congregation with an embarrassing smile, after being put on display. I was confused. I felt uncomfortable.
I wondered why the boys didn’t participate in the ceremony. Why weren’t the boys promising to remain “pure” until they married? Who would they stand with and promise their virginity to? Instead, all the boys sat together off to the side, watching these girls like they were slabs of meat. Again, disturbing.
Over the years, I have developed my thoughts about purity culture, but more importantly, having agency over your own body. Out society is obsessed with the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves and make themselves submissive for men. There’s that word we don’t like - submissive. Perhaps, rightfully so.
Why are we telling young girls that their worth can only be found through their bodies?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve even had time to figure out who they are, separate from a patriarchal lens. Their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.
Maybe that’s why a lot of men, and some women, have an issue with Lori Harvey. How dare she do what she pleases.
She's been enthused by the likes of Meek Mill, and crudely slut-shamed for her "body count" by Boosie. Her relationships with high-profile men, ignites a visceral reaction for many. While our culture worships beauty, we still vilify women who have agency over their bodies and their actions. Lori has both and that makes people uncomfortable. And incredibly mad.
We live in a culture that still associates male love with dominance. Even more, our ideas about Black women's sexuality are deeply rooted in slavery and exploitation. It reinforces the idea that Black women’s bodies are commodities, perfectly adorned with rings and bracelets.
Meanwhile, Nick Cannon welcomed his 12th child in December, just one month after his 11th child was born. He now shares children with six different women. He explained, in 2017, that his Lupus diagnosis five years earlier might be a root cause of his actions.
"I'm probably gonna die sooner than most people. That's what the doctors said," he said in an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. "So, I'm living life like I might die in the morning, so let's f--- all night! Why wear condoms? I might not be here tomorrow!"
Really, Nick Cannon? That's a whole other blog post...
Listen, I’m not the president of the Lori Harvey fan club. But I do believe some people have to ask themselves why they care so much about what she does. What is being triggered, particularly in Black men, that causes such a hateful reaction? A man on social media said that he wouldn’t allow his daughter to be like Lori Harvey. The truth is, sir, you may not want your daughter to be like Lori Harvey but it's not up to you. You can’t control her body, her mind, or her body count, no matter how many rings and bracelets you deck her out with. That truth doesn’t have to hurt.
Reading that on social media made me think about that day I watched my friend’s father put a purity ring on her finger. The way I cringed at that symbol of control over her body he felt he had a right to. The distorted message that it gave to those young girls that probably had them seeking therapy as adult women. Hurt girls grow up to be hurt women. Now that’s a truth that we can’t afford to keep contributing to.