So basically, teaching kids that losing their virginity makes them like a chewed
piece of gum is potentially harmful.
I don't understand why being raped would make a person feel worthless. It
seems illogical from my perspective. But I believe her that she felt that way.
I wonder if she has been able to shake those feelings. Perhaps she never will
This is just a question. Didn't Elizabeth Smart get married? Did she
decide not to adjust her name in some way? I didn't see in the article a
married name. Thanks, if anyone knows.
Frankly, I am surprised that this article misrepresents part of her message. In
her comments, she spoke out against abstinence-only education. She said she was
taught through abstinence-only education that a person whose virginity was lost
before marriage was considered worthless. She talke "about a school teacher
who urged students against premarital sex and compared women who had sex before
their wedding nights to chewing gum. She said: “I thought,
“Oh my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a
piece of gum. You throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel
like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be
worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued?
Your life still has no value.”This DesNews article completely
surpressed and distorted this important perspective. I deem this a manipulation
of the news.
If one has incessantly been drummed into them that chastity is the one and only
way for a young lady to be able to function in her family's religion, it is
no wonder that one would feel as Elizabeth Smart describes. Ms. Smart is a
brave woman to come forth and tell it like it is.Perhaps this responsible
revelation that others have been unwilling to publicly discuss, will awaken more
thoughtful conversation in religious and social circles.
Esquire got it right. The single most important part of her message, as
reported by other outlets, was that she'd gotten the despicable
"chewing gum" object lesson from a teacher at some point, and after she
was kidnapped and raped she thought "Oh no, I've lost my
'virtue', now no one will ever love me again!" Who told which
editor that this bit should be left out of this story in this newspaper?
Like several other commentators, I was surprised to see no mention of
Elizabeth's sense of lost worth due to her understanding of virginal
virtue, and how once she was no longer a virgin her sense of worth was forever
lost.I'm not sure of all the reasons but it seems clear that
this reporter could not have omitted such a central point of Elizabeth's
speech accidentally or through sheer neglect.I hope there will be
improvements in the editorial review process that will ensure that such
omissions (or deletions) of parts of stories that are as relevant as this will
no longer be permitted (or encouraged).
Dear DesNews, This article ends up being somewhat misleading
because, as others here have already said, you have left out a big chunk of
yesterday's message, that is the part that covered abstinence only
education and the chewing gum analogy. Smart was actually
complaining about those old chewing gum lessons which are very common in our
small community and teaches that someone who has had sex is like a used chewing
gum that no one else will want to touch. That analogy is simply wrong and we
shouldn't use it and it negatively affected Ms Smart during her kidnapping
and probably negatively affects others today who face these issues in silence
Cinci man - she got married last year. I can see her keeping her maiden name, at
least in the public eye, to avoid confusion.A lot of media outlets
have used this to state why abstinance only education is bad. To me this is not
an "abstinance only" issue. This is an issue of failing to empower our
young women with the appropriate education. A discussion of birth control in her
8th grade health class would not have prevented what happened to her, but a
class on rape prevention, and how to identify it may have been far more
Thanks to Elizabeth Smart and her family for helping people avoid potential
problems with their children. We don't want to be so fearful but yet want
to know the caution signs and warnings out there we can learn from.What a remarkable person to be able to do this with those healing scars she
lived with. What a blessing through this tragedy in her life experience.May God bless you forever.
Everybody who is commenting on this topic ought to take 5 mins and use the link
in the article to listen to Elizabeth Smart's speech.Assuming
DN has a high standard of accurate reporting, they did leave out a major point
in Elizabeth's speech--one that every school and church teacher ought to
hear: education needs to start early and personal value extends beyond mere
chastity. There is such a double standard in society whereby male
promiscuity is acceptable but promiscuous women are trash, and that women need
laws, enacted by men, to control their healthcare decisions.
There was a study done by BYU years ago that showed that only those teachers who
truly believed in abstinence themselves were able to teach abstinence
effectively. I can guarantee you that many teachers do not believe that
abstinence is realistic, mostly because they didn't do it themselves.
Therefore, when they have to teach it in the schools, the students absorb the
teacher's true attitudes. A teacher can't help but teach who he/she
SLC_gal, while rape prevention might be a meaningful topic to be taught at
schools, it wouldn't have prevented much in this case. When a man breaks
into your window at night and forcefully removes you at knife point, your
choices are very limited. Yes, we can and should teach people how to avoid
dangerous situations and how toe scape, but it is something that sadly cannot
really be escaped a lot of the time - and it isn't because the women (or
men) aren't educated enough to know how to escape, it's just that the
attacker(s) are quicker, more powerful, more dangerous, more methodical, etc.However, teaching young people that their self worth is not decreased
because of any act committed against them is something that we can do which can
have a meaningful impact on the unfortunate victims.
Although I am surprised that DN left out her mentions of feeling worthless
because of what she was taught about chastity, saying that her experience is an
indictment of teaching abstinence CHEAPENS THE HORRIBLE CRIME OF RAPE! Are you
saying that if she was okay with having sex outside of marriage she would have
been able to handle the situation better or differently? Would it have made the
rape less traumatic and somehow okay in her mind? The point of her
comments, in my reading, is that we must emphasize that self worth is not tied
to anything that someone can take from you (freedom, virginity), but is an
inherent part of each human being. She has often said that her religion, family
and what she had been taught helped her survive. In addition, several studies
have shown that teenage girls that choose to wait have higher self-esteem, so
lets not try to boil her remarks down to a petty fight over when sex is
There is nothing wrong with teaching abstinence---what is wrong was that along
with teaching her about abstinence, E. Smart's teacher didn't
discriminate between a rapist and a potential life partner. I grew
up with the OPPOSITE teaching---abstinence is stupid, it's not
'realistic,' it's not normal, etc. This came from my parents:
My mother has been married 4 times, and my father, who has been married 3 times.
They taught me be word and example that abstinence DOES help a family and a
marriage. But I was never taught that I was a dirty chewed up piece of gum,
either.There has to be a balance, and more than anything, to teach
children that they have infinite value, something that was also engrained in
Elizabeth's mind as a young girl.
@ patjan... So Nuns at catholic schools who teach abstinence, don't really
believe in it, or aren't actual virgins, if any of their students
don't practice what they are taught?Talk about a blame game of
nonsense, Kids are animals who can "absorb the teacher's true
attitudes." and then in defiance have sex?Using this logic and
the fact that religions are the 1st to push abstinence only teaching, I guess
religious folks don't believe what they're teaching cause kids are
still having sex.
Perhaps when we're teach sex ed, a distinction needs to be made between
loss of virginity by rape and loss of virginity by choice. The two are not
related because one involves choice and the other does not. It's like
being injured in a car accident because the other driver was DUI vs. being
injured in a car accident because you were DUI.
"Human Trafficking" is a polite term governments and groups frequently
use and which media outlets tend to follow. Doing so misses the nature and root
issue. There are many forms, true, but the term ought to be corrected to read
Agreed, byufanutahemployeeOne cant imagine the feelings of one who is
raped at a very young age - or any other age for that matter. The only fact one
can cling to is that they themselves are decent in the face of indecency
"Are you saying that if she was okay with having sex outside of marriage she
would have been able to handle the situation better or differently?"No. We're saying that the methods used to illustrate the point
about chastity are inordinately severe, and teach women that they are literally
worthless and deserve nothing more than to be tossed into a garbage can, and
that they fail to account for issues of sexual assault, child abuse, and simple
In the light of the 3 women rescued in Cleveland, as well as JayCee Duggard who
was rescued a few years ago, and others who have been raped or molested - those
that have had the most precious thing stolen from them are still virtuous,
because it was robbed from them. They didn't freely give it. They are not a
piece of old chewing gum, but are someone who is very worthwhile to love.
I was once taught that committing sin was like driving a nail into a board.
Repentance was likened to pulling out the nail, but, they warned, the hole would
remain. I know now that Christ's atonement can heal everything, including
the left-over hole. I don't blame those teachers, they were well-meaning.
I think they just didn't want us to commit sin deliberately in the belief
it would be easy to repent afterward. The key here is intent.
Those who hurt others deliberately will have a harder time changing their
nature, but they can. Innocent victims bear no blame but need help to
heal--especially young children who are more likely to blame themselves when
something bad happens. Christ's atonement offers a way out to both.In all cases we should be very cautious in judging the intent of others.
The reality is that loss of virginity (by force of rape or by choice) is NOT an
indication that an individual's worth has decreased. Elizabeth and any
other girl who has had a lesson likening the loss of virginity to chewed gum,
licked cupcakes, or nailed boards is taught that their virginity IS their worth
until they are married - when being a wife and/or mother is their worth. What needs to stop immediately in our culture is the idea that a
girl's or woman's worth is tied to her virginity, marital status, or
motherhood. And, we also need to acknowledge that a rapist CANNOT
remove your chastity nor your virtue. Your virtue is NOT your virginity. There
are a lot of highly virtuous, unmarried people who are not virgins. And,
chastity can only be removed by choice. A girl or woman who has been raped is
@Esquire--you're being a bit disingenuous. Did you think we wouldn't
listen to Ms. Smart's original speech? She did not speak out against
abstinence-only education. She explained how a rape victim feels about
themselves after being violated, which is pretty much universal, whether you
believe in abstinence or not. She did not fault her parents, but did chastise
one of her teachers who taught that someone who had sex before marriage was like
a "chewed piece of gum", which would then be worthless and discarded,
unwanted by anyone else.That concept is a very damaging lie, but it
is not an inherent aspect of abstinence education. When abstinence is taught
correctly, it enhances and builds one's self worth, not diminishes it. The
principle of repentance should be a companion teaching when taught in the home
and at church. Anyone who believes or teaches the "chewed gum", or
"pull a nail from a board, but the hole remains" concepts would somehow
limit Christ's power to cleanse or eagerness to forgive. No individual who
is raped, or who succumbs to sexual temptation, for that matter, need ever feel
they can't be cleansed and completely forgiven!
The LDS Church's For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says this: "Victims
of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a
victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves
I would just like to point out, That many Republicans would force a young
RAPE victim like Ms. Smart to carry any pregancy full term, with NO choice.Talk about adding insult to injury.Tell me that doesn't send
a mixed message to these victims.
AnonymeOrem, UTThe LDS Church's For the Strength of Youth
pamphlet says this: "Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not
guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you
are innocent and that God loves you."========== But
Chastity as explained in the Temple is "...each of you...have no sexual
relations... with anyone except...to whom you are legally and lawfully
wedded." By not having any distiction or exception to these
rules or being taught them at all, it DOES give a very serious mixed
message.I have talk with many LDS women at length about this
matter.It is confusing for adults, let alone young women or children.This all-or-nothing-ism You are either Pure and Virtuous, or you
are NOT -- IS the problem.We need to do a better job of
teaching our young people that only the Sith believe in Absolutes.
Esquire, she did not speak out against abstinence only education taught
correctly. Elizabeth still believe in not having sex outside of marriage if you
have a choice in the matter. Duh!
LDS Liberal, what part of "Victims of rape . . . are innocent" are you
and your friends having trouble understanding? Merriam-Webster gives
"pure" and "virtuous" as synonyms for "innocent." To
paraphrase your words, you are either innocent or you're not, and the
Church says that rape victims are innocent. So rape victims are as pure and
virtuous as they were before they were assaulted. Maybe your friends would be
less confused if they searched doctrine instead of talking with you. Or, you
could go to the lds.org search feature and type in "rape victim" and see
if there's any equivocation on the subject. (While you're there, you
could look up this quote from President Hinckley: "We are under obligation,
binding and serious, to not use temple language or speak of temple matters
outside" ["Keeping the Temple Holy," Ensign, May 1990].) As for teaching absolutes, that's what churches do. There is no exception
to the law of chastity, but I think every grownup knows the difference between
sexual relations and sexual assault. The Church's For the Strength of Youth
pamphlet is there to help kids understand the difference too.
I would like to thank the posters on this thread for catching the fact that the
author of this piece truly misrepresented Ms. Smarts message regarding
Abstinence Education. And, indeed--to the editors of the Des News for allowing
these posts to stand and reflect that the author did not do a very good job of
representing what Ms. Smart said. The author of this piece truly owes a brave
and wise young woman an apology, but again--it would have been easy for the Des
News to hide the many responses that pointed out less than accurate journalism.
AnonymeOrem, UTYou COMPLETELY missed the point.1.
We need to do a better job teaching our children the differences.That was
Ms. Smart's entire point in this discussion.2. I dodn't
say anything contray to my Temple convenants. I hold them most sacred. 3, The Church is not absolute. God is not Absolute. That runs dimetrically
opposed to the entire Atonement.Besides - anyone who's ever seen Star
Wars knows that, only the Sith deal in abolutes. The same goes in the gospel.
As a member of Elizabeth's church and her parent's age, I remember
being taught the same things. There was huge emphasis on the Book of Mormon
statement that sexual sin is second only to murder in seriousness. Stories of
excommunication and disfellowship abounded about youth who had broken the law of
chastity, all leading to fear and horror. So, in a 14 year old's mind,
there may not have been a lot of difference between consensual sinning and
forcible rape. The youth should be taught that they should obey commandments
around sexual purity out of love for God and not driven by fear of being chewing
gum or some kind of punishment.
LDS Liberal: "Absolute" may not be the best term to use in terms of
expressing what the church and God are "not". A number of the brethren
have warned us about accepting moral relativism and situational ethics. Those
ideologies are probably irrelevant to the current discussion. But an
understanding that God is perfect and we may become perfect is germane, even
essential, to our salvation.An understanding that we live in an imperfect
mortal world to learn from experience, and that God helps us gain it line upon
line, should help to clarify the issue. Also, that mortal men and women make
mistakes when teaching or offering counsel--as in the gum analogy so disturbing
to Elizabeth.As we learn from out experience and move more to a
Terrestrial and then a Celestial state, we will definitely experience positive
change and growth. If that's what you mean by God and the Church not being
absolute, I can appreciate where you're coming from. But hopefully, we
won't confuse what's normally thought of as being "relative"
(the antonym of "absolute") with a lack of perfection in God, or the
church's desire to work towards it.