Our Youth

Let Them Speak: What it Means to be a Virtuous Woman in 2017

By Andrea Hernandez

As I was pondering what it means to be a virtuous woman in 2017, I decided to make myself some tea. While I was pouring the water and the tea bag into the mug, I noticed the Bible verse on it that said, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” from Proverbs 31: 25.

The verse makes sense, but at the same time, it does not make sense at all. We cannot physically wear strength and dignity, but I understand how we could metaphorically wear them by how we carry ourself. When we wear modest clothing, we do not hide or put a limit on ourselves, but in fact, we reveal something more profound about ourselves and that is our dignity. We show strength in our womanhood when we dress to respect our body and not to provoke men.

All of us are called to imitate Jesus and follow Him, but as women, we also have a different calling than men. There’s a reason why women are portrayed as flowers and beauty, not because we are weak, but because of our innocence, purity and our loveliness. Adam couldn’t find a mate in the Garden of Eden so God created Eve. When Adam saw Eve, it was like cupid’s arrow pierced his heart. We were made to be pursued. That’s why men are normally the ones who ask us out on dates or our hand in marriage. Even while men pursue us, we will spend the rest of our lives with only one man.

In my generation, unfortunately, we shame women who fall into temptations of the flesh, but at the same time, call women who are modest and chaste, a prude.

Harsh Realities

One day, I noticed how powerful it was to uphold my dignity by the way I act and dress. I was walking to my class and I noticed a group of guys who had nothing to do but gawk at girls from afar. I had no choice but to pass them to get to my classroom. Yet, as I was passing them, they stayed quiet and did not say the rude remarks as they did to the other girls. That really got me wondering why they acted different around me.

A couple weeks later, I was hanging out with one of my guy friends and he whispered to me that the girl walking across the street from us was promiscuous. When I heard this, my jaw dropped. I asked him why he believes that. He told me because he heard she was dating one guy and then started another relationship the following week. This was not the first time guy friends inform me about other girls’ history. What unsettles me is how loosely they used those harsh terms when most of the time, they hear about gossip from other people. It is understood that no one is perfect but people still seem to point fingers and criticize other people and their life choices.

Dealing With the Culture

In our society, a virtuous woman is hard to find. So why when we find someone who meets virtuous standards, do we criticize them? I can sit here and type about what it means to be a virtuous woman but I’m afraid all people would think is a prude woman. Meanwhile, the word prude came from the French word ‘prudefemme’ meaning a worthy or respectable woman. Unfortunately, the word prude has been taken out of context and used to insult women who are virtuous and chaste. In actuality, being called a prude should be a compliment and not an insult because you are showing that you are strong willed, have confidence and that you know your value.

Living in a society where girls give into physical temptations at a young age makes it hard to remain chaste. Because of this, many will not understand why some girls choose to stay pure at a young age. You will encounter boys who will completely dismiss you because they know you want to uphold your purity. You will also encounter people who will think you chose such a lifestyle because no one seemed to be interested in you. You will also encounter guys who will pretend to understand your choices, but will manipulate you to give in.

Be Your Sister’s Keeper

My advice? As a virtuous woman, still maintain dignity in a society that sees women as someone with less value. Have the strength to continue on even if you might even fall into temptation. Nobody is perfect. Yes, you can be virtuous even if you were once impure or didn’t wear modest clothing. It is never impossible or too late to begin being virtuous.

We can also start by ending the shaming of women, sticking together and helping our fellow sisters in Christ by not putting them down. What makes a virtuous woman is more than just being pure, but striving to be pure even if you struggle with that every day. To be virtuous is a choice you make every single time you feel tempted to not be chaste.

As a woman motivated to be virtuous, you are able to recognize your own beauty and your own self-worth. Just like Proverbs 31: 25 says, a virtuous woman – that’s every woman reading this – does not need to worry about what the future holds because she is capable of obtaining strength and dignity for herself and toward others.

Andrea, far left, enjoyed a silent retreat at St. Joseph by the Sea Retreat House in South Mantoloking, N.J.

Hernandez is a senior at Forest Hills High School and attends Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jamaica. In the fall, she will attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She enjoys writing short stories on her computer, with hopes of publishing them one day.