by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
All quotes from Sarah Mally’s ‘Before You Meet Prince Charming’ in blue text.
In exciting news, we are rapidly approaching the end of this book! We are on chapter 10 of a 13 chapter book. I plan on skipping Chapter 11 entirely; the chapter revolves around the Princess rejoicing in her newfound relationship with Christ and Sarah Mally’s ideas on how we can find Christ.
Chapter Ten is titled “Reserved For One”. This is the chapter that Ms. Mally decides to explain what Emo-Pure means. Like most of the previous chapters, this one begins with the Princess having conversation with the Alligator. Forgive me if I’ve brought this up before, but the Princess always rises to the bait of arguing with the Alligator. The fact that she’s got no skills at walking away from an annoying peer is really sad. The Alligator’s theme – as always – is that the Princess is throwing her life away by sitting alone in a castle waiting for someone to come and marry her.
The Alligator’s first attack is on how the Princess will be perceived by her future suitor:
“(…)the alligator continued: “When your non-existent hero does show up, he will think that because you have never been kissed, have never been loved, have never been swept off your feet, that apparently you are not worth the effort. No one has sought after you before –so why should he? Thou wilt be looked upon as a second-class, unwanted maiden. ”
“As far as I am concerned, any fellow who thinks that way may just as well go after some other maiden who is more lovable, more popular, more easily caught –and who has already given her heart to a dozen other Prince Charmings, ” she said, stroking Victory’s mane.” (pg. 180)
- The Alligator’s argument is a rare insight into how people within CP/QF think people outside of CP/QF think. Apparently, men who date weigh the opinions of other men (e.g., “How many men have dated this girl before?”) as more important than their own feelings (e.g., “I find the Princess attractive”).
- On the flip side, there is truth – based on my observations as an outsider – that women have a harder time finding suitable partners in CP/QF/courtship culture than in the wider US culture especially as they reach their mid-to-late twenties and beyond.
- In the broader US culture, many people are unmarried in their late twenties and thirties. No one needs to explain why a guy or girl hasn’t married at 32; they were building a career, still growing up or hadn’t met the right person yet. Since the vast majority of adults in the US work for wages while single, couples who meet and marry later often have more secure financial footing than younger couples.
- Compare that with CP/QF single women. Their education is often severely curtailed. Working outside the home is allowed, but can’t be a sign of starting a career. These two things limit their income by limiting their jobs to retail, housekeeping, or a home business. I suspect most of the woman’s income is appropriated by her parents to raise the mob of younger kids still at home.
- The main difference between an unmarried 20 year-old woman and an unmarried 30 year-old woman is that the 30-year-old woman has lost 10 years of reproductive capacity which gives a finished family size of 3-8 fewer children than the 20-year-old. Unfortunately, that’s not as attractive to an unmarried CP/QF man as it probably should be….
- The Princess describes women who date as being “more loveable” than herself. I wonder if that was a Freudian slip. I personally think that Emo-Pure extracts a heavy toll on its followers and creates people who are afraid to love and be loved; I’m surprised that Ms. Mally has the same thought and is willing to admit it.
- I wish the authors of Emo-Pure books like Ms. Mally and the Mss. Botkin could hear how catty/bitchy they sound to outsiders when they slut-shame unnamed women who date. It’s not attractive – not to other women and sure as hell not to men.
“Listen to me for once,” said the alligator in the more serious tone. “You say you will be pure –and perhaps you will be, living in this sheltered little prison. But, I tell you, your dreams will be shattered when you learn that your magnificent knight hath not done the same. Do you not see? You live in a changing world; there is not even one man alive who has saved himself for you. Search the whole world and I guarantee it, you will not find a single one.”
” Even if you prove to be right, even if no true gentleman yet exist, I still choose the way of purity. It is not an earthly knight for whom I ultimately save myself, but a heavenly One. ” (pg. 180)
- The earth-shaking problem with falling in love with a man who isn’t Emo-Pure is that the Princess would be forced to examine her ideas in depth. Heck, we can do some softball questions here:
- What happens if the Princess falls in love with a young Emo-Pure widower? They’ve both played the romantic game by the “right” rules – but he’s given a chunk of his heart to another woman who is dead. Is the Princess supposed to be eaten alive with jealousy of a woman who died young?
- What happens if the Princess falls in love with someone who doesn’t care about Emo-Pure? (I suspect that happens a lot in the real world; Emo-Pure is a niche belief, after all.)
- Can the Princess deal with the fact that her “best gifts” of a heart that’s never loved someone romantically and being a virgin mean absolutely nothing to most people
- What if the man loves her for her good qualities – her spunkiness, her dedication to her family, her ability to earn guild memberships like levels in a game – while having no strong feelings about an untouched heart and body?
- Would she have a Shoshanna Pearl – like breakdown if he replied “That’s great that you followed Christ in the way you thought you should! Good on you! That may bring great spiritual rewards; I just don’t think it matters towards having a good marriage.”
- An ongoing problem for me is that the protestations of female Emo-Pure writers that they are saving themselves for Christ ring hollow to me. I think I know why now. I am Catholic so I’ve known plenty of women who have chosen to save themselves for Christ alone. These women didn’t just pay lip-service to this ideal relationship with Christ; they became sisters or nuns. They made a public commitment starting a year at a time and ending at a life-long commitment to live their lives for Christ alone – off the marriage market and subject to following the orders of other women in their community. To me, CP/QF writers using that same idea feels like someone who apes being in the military without ever joining up – a shallow, self-centered shadow of the real level of commitment.
After this, the Princess is verbally dismissive of the Alligator and the Alligator swims off. Since this book is formulaic as hell, take a wild guess what the next portion of the chapter is. Yes, the Princess ends up sulking – or pondering her life choices – in a sumptuously furnished area of the castle. (I don’t remember where this time and it’s not worth the effort of getting the book from across the room.) After a while, she decides she should talk to her parents about her feelings. She transverses the castle to her parents’ area of the castle while the omnipotent narrator notes the gorgeous furnishings. Oddly missing are the masses of attendants that would have accompanied her, her governess or main lady in waiting, and – oh, yeah – the ENTIRE QUEEN’S LIVING QUARTERS! (Sorry. I know I promised I’d try to let the anachronisms go, but Jesus H. Christ, read a single book on the time period before writing a novel set at that time.)
For the first time in the book, her parents attempt to comfort her. I like the change of pace, but after nine chapters of emotionally absent, gas-lighting parents, I doubt this is a permanent change.
“Do not be discouraged by all the imperfect young men, dear,” her mother comforted her. “After all, it only takes one to get married.”
“But is it true what the alligator says, that men will look upon those who are pure as unwanted and therefore less valuable? ” the princess asked.
“Less valuable? Why, even common sense tells you what you have waited for the longest you value the most, ” said the king. ” A true gentleman wants to win your heart. He does not want you to come running up to him and pour it out freely. He wants to earn your respect and admiration, but you must give him a chance to try.” (pg 182)
- The bromide that “you only need one guy to get married” drove me nuts when I was single. We live on a planet with 4 billion men. The problem for me was sifting through guys who were not right for me – and in some cases just plain wrong for anyone – to find a right guy. Plus, I was frustrated enough as an adult woman in a metropolitan area of the Great Lakes who was allowed to date. I am dumbfounded that any members of CP/QF manage to marry between the restrictions on interactions between genders and the massive heap of theological issues that have to be in alignment.
- In excellent form, the King manages to not answer the Princess’ question again. She asks “What if following Emo-Pure makes me less attractive to men?” while the King answers the question “How does the amount of time someone wants a certain object affect how much they value that object once obtained?” I suspect the true answer of “Well, following Emo-Pure is a wash in terms of how attractive a man finds you, but it sure does make it harder to meet anyone of interest” wouldn’t go over so well.
- The king’s spiel on what a gentleman wants in a courtship baffles me. A guy doesn’t want a girl to give him her heart too easily – but don’t make it too hard either. I don’t get how walking in a nearly undefined area between “too easy” and “too hard” is better than dating. It’s like trading walking on a wobbly log over a creek where you’ll probably fall off once or twice but there’s no permanent harm done for walking a tightrope 20 feet in the air above the same creek. You will fall off – and you will get hurt when you fall. The surreal part is that parents ascribe to this philosophy because it will avoid heartache for their kids – but the cost is horrific.
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