CONTENT NOTE: This is an “PG-13” rated post and talks about sex, rape, and misogyny.
TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of rape, misogyny, and spiritual abuse
READER DISCRETION ADVISED
This post was inspired by the following tweet from a follower under #SpiritualAbuseIs: Check out @iSierraNichole’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/iSierraNichole/status/832015035153186816?s=09
This is what was taught at the church in which I was raised: the pastor often blamed wives for their husbands’ unfaithfulness, saying the husbands cheated because the wives wouldn’t have sex with them, saying, “If you don’t do your homework, someone else will.”
This was actually preached frequently. The verse used to support this is 1 Cor. 7:5, “Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
The teaching was, in sex, couples should be Creative, Interesting, and Available (abbreviated CIA). In theory, it applied to both men and women, but 99.9% of the time it was preached against the women. One of the comments was, “Ladies, how hard is it to spread your legs and smile?”
The pastor also once made a remark that people should move, rather than just lying there. I have since read online that lack of movement in sex is often a response to rape. (More on this below.)
We guys were fed a generous helping of misogynistic propaganda. We were told things like, “The system is biased towards women, against men. Society and most of the church are this way, but I, and there are very few others, have the guts to tell you the Truth[TM]”, and, “All a woman has to do is to bang her head a few times in order to bleed, call the cops, and the husband is powerless, because they’ll believe her”; also, “She can hit you, but if you hit back, you’ll get in trouble.” We were also told that after six months most women “close the garage door”, meaning sex would be rare. In fact, when I expressed a desire to go overseas, and was not released, I was told, “God is only trying to protect you, for 80% of women out there won’t do you right. They’ll turn you down for sex and you’ll be tempted to cheat with her girlfriend.”
On one occasion, when I expressed doubts about my faith after being confronted on lust, I was told this was my last chance, for God was getting bricks with which to knock me upside the head. I was told that if I were to backside, I would either go insane(the pastor said, “You need me more if you’re smart”), get a venereal disease from being a womanizer, or end up in an unhappy, sexless marriage. But, I was told that if I went with God(TM), I could have a wonderful marriage, and all I would need to do would be to tell my wife to put on her teddies for sex.
Even at the time it wasn’t appealing; it seemed crude, disgusting, and was a turn-off. Now for a confession: back in those days, had I gotten married, I would have begged until I got it. This is why I am thankful for all the feminists I encountered on Twitter and on blogs (especially the Love, Joy, Feminism commentariat, who patiently have answered my questions, even when I’m exasperating at not getting it!). I now know that what I would have done is wrong, and I’m grateful to have been enlightened before I even started dating, let alone got married. Even though the church presented themselves as experts on marriage and family, I feel I’ve learned more in the nearly two years of being on social media and interacting with feminists than my entire time at the church! I think, thanks to them, I can be a better boyfriend and husband than I would be otherwise. Also, it is due to what I read on these blogs that I recognize that the remark that people shouldn’t just lie there immobile was making light of marital rape, something that would never have occurred to me otherwise. (In my days of ignorance I also made some comments that make me cringe nowadays.)
Like St. Paul said in 1 Tim. 1:13, “I acted in ignorance”; well, since I’m a virgin, technically not “acted”, but the point remains. The problem with my begging is that it does not allow for a “no”, and a “yes” is meaningless if “no” won’t be taken for an answer. But, growing up, we weren’t taught boundaries, we always had to be ready if the church needed something, and not listening to the pastor, as God’s Delegated Authority(TM), was as not listening to God. This does not allow a healthy culture that honors boundaries and consent to form. Feminists say, “Men, you need to respect women’s boundaries and consent, for women are people too.”, which implies being human means the right to set boundaries. Also, since we were taught that since the Bible says, “You were bought with a price”(1 Cor. 6:19-20), the idea of bodily autonomy would have been anathema. (Interestingly, they didn’t mention “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.”, 1 Cor. 7:23, NRSV.) Thus, I am grateful also to feminists in letting me know that I can set my own boundaries.
However, since I heard that some women have a higher libido than their husbands, I considered that possibility frequently, and often interpreted the CIA teaching in that light. Maybe with being a virgin who never dated and who is uninformed on sex, it’s too early to say it, but, even taking into consideration the fact that my autonomy and consent matter, I still want to be available to my wife when I get married, mainly to make her happy and to express gratitude for picking me out of 7 billion people.
I will end with this: though I did it in ignorance, to the feminists out there reading this post and all women, I am sorry for my role in perpetuating the system. Though I was brainwashed, and didn’t know, I am still sorry. I am glad have been enlightened and have a chance to change direction. (From a religious viewpoint, I think this is what repentance is. In Judaism, part of repentance[teshuvah in Hebrew] is recognizing the damage caused. Sadly, in the matrix I grew up in, the damage was erased; the shadow on the cave wall was interpreted differently.)