There is this pervasive myth, particularly prevalent in the evangelical Christian subculture (though I’d argue it’s present in other parts of society too) that boys are sexual and girls (at least good girls) aren’t. In my article for Relevant I called this the lie that “Girls don’t care about sex.”
If you are anything like me, you have countless times heard things like “Men think about sex all the time” and “Men are very visual so it’s up to you to keep them from seeing something that will make them stumble.” “You probably think kissing your boyfriend is very innocent because you aren’t thinking about sex, but he definitely is.” “Boys only want one thing.”
There are just so many things wrong with this. First off, I think it’s very degrading to men as it paints them as some sort of sex-fueled animals that must rely on women to curb and control their otherwise uncontrollable urges because they have no will power and their brains are too busy thinking about that one thing to engage with their actions. That is its own (necessary) conversation, but since I’m a woman I want to spend more time tackling the damage this does from a woman’s perspective.
These kinds of statements reinforce, directly or indirectly, that sex is a distinctly masculine thing. And this isn’t restricted to pre-marital sex. How many times have you heard a joke that is some riff on the woman who is not interested in sex and the man who wants it all the time? Many girls grow up believing that this is the inevitable reality they will one day experience.
And even if girls are looking forward to sex, they are very rarely free to admit it. Young Christian MEN are permitted, sometimes even encouraged, to look forward to sex within marriage, but when a young Christian woman expresses excitement about sex, she is perceived as crude and unfeminine
In fact, the only acceptable, feminine alternative for a young woman seems to be cultivating a fearful attitude towards sex. It’s something you are supposed to be able to enjoy in marriage, yet most of the married women you know only talk about it being uncomfortable or a sacrifice they make for their husbands. And worse, It’s something boys want and something you must protect yourself from. It’s something you can bring on yourself unintentionally by being careless about how you dress or present yourself. For most women there is a lurking, subconscious awareness of the potential correlation between sex and violence.
Without a model for how to be a woman who can embrace her sexuality even while setting boundaries, young women are faced with two options: admit to having sexual curiosities and interests and be seen as “slutty” or build up fear to protect ourselves from it. Many Christian communities are lacking a model for how to live purely without rejecting or denying our sexuality.
For years I was told that “girls don’t care about sex.” Well, as it turns out, I do. This has been a deep source of shame for me. I felt so unnatural and unfeminine for having a sex drive. In my experience, my youth leaders and pastors never really talked about girls’ sex drives at all. We preferred to pretend they didn’t exist. It wasn’t a “nice” thing to talk about. So naturally, I assumed no one else felt this way. For a long time I felt like a freak until I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one, not by a longshot. I just had never heard anyone admit it before.
Here is the truth: Many girls (yes, even Christian girls) think about sex. Many girls (yes, even Christian girls) like sex. If you are one of those girls, I want to tell you something no one ever told me. It’s OK. You are not a freak. You are not unfeminine. You are not unnatural. God created us, both men AND women, as sexual beings.
[I want to be very clear about one thing – I’m not trying to suggest that anyone, man or woman, should feel free to indulge in whatever kind of sexual fantasizing they want to. That’s not the point at all. I’m talking about an attitude I’ve witnessed that I believe builds shame in young women.]
Being a woman who cares about sex doesn’t make you dirty and it doesn’t make you less of a woman. It makes you a human being created by God, in the image of God, with the capacity and desire to love – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sexually. God has given us both the desire and the ability to express love with our hearts, minds, souls, and BODIES. How cool is that?!
[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]