October 26, 2011
A Guest Post by HELENE
When the lovely folks here at Met Another Frog asked me to contribute to their discussion of sex and religion, as a former Catholic schoolgirl, I was only too happy to oblige. Since those days, I’ve discarded my plaid skirts, cable-knit knee socks, and saddle shoes. They may have made a brief reappearance for a few themed parties in college, but it’s been a long time since I was plagued with the Catholic guilt and inexplicable reverence for religious rituals that defined my elementary school days.
Frankly, Catholic guilt used to be a major repressive force in my life for many many years. I still have no idea why certain religions equate moral uprightness with chastity and self-deprivation. But it has a strong effect on how those of its flock conduct themselves. And not necessarily in a productive way! Catholic guilt was the reason that I went through a purging period of my life during which I threw out ALL my miniskirts and generally saucy clothing. I know. Tragic.
Catholic guilt was the reason that I preferred to be drunk off my face in order to have intimate relations with another person during my undergraduate years.
Catholic guilt was the reason I didn’t have any redeemable personality for the longest time.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that religious obligation is the sole reason for my lack of social development all these years. All I’m saying that religious restrictions and fundamentalism is far too conducive to narrow-mindedness, regret, over-cautious attitudes, and…well…despair.
It’s no wonder that, in that kind of environment, we more adventurous types tend to rebel.
When I was eighteen, I immediately opted to go as far away from home as possible. And having achieved that, I insisted on being as wild as possible. (Those stories shall never see the light of day, I tell you!)
And I couldn’t even stop there. I had to go abroad. I had to date outside my race. I had to choose a career based on the humanities and the liberal arts.
Catholic guilt can keep people in check, within the flock, but it can also have the opposite effect — forcing some people to go bat crap crazy in order to cope with the pressure and the guilt that we associate with our upbringing and with our lifestyle expectations.
Because of my Catholic guilt, I have made some of the most questionable decisions that a lady can make, in terms of romantical entanglements as well as overall life decisions.
But at the same time, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t made those inadvisable decisions, or been driven by guilt and the need to escape from it.
In overcompensating for and rebelling against this Catholic guilt, I’ve had amazing life experiences abroad, embraced my inner saucy self through my wardrobe choices and my well developed sense of humor, honed certain methods of interaction with the opposite sex (i.e. FLIRTING) and learned what it is to have loved and lost – including the fact that it’s possible to get over it all eventually.
In other words, what I’m saying is that Catholic guilt has two sides to its coin. It can either make you or break you. I’d like to think that it made me. It made me better, faster, stronger, awesomer.
One day I hope to write the Pope to tell him that his institution is the reason that I live the promiscuous life that I live today. It’s the reason that I take chances and the reason that I understand risk and payoff.
The pope made me slutty.
And I’m perfectly okay with that.