Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Purity: My boyfriend the aggressor

[trigger warning: rape, abuse]

They warned me.  In church, in Christian magazines.  When a good Christian girl has a boyfriend, he's going to try to get her to compromise on her purity. Be careful what you "give" him- giving him your first kiss, giving him your virginity, giving him part of your heart.

It's all some fearsome economy, culminating in marriage, which is an agreement in which you give him sex in exchange for his lifelong commitment.  You need to hold out until then, or he'll take it- take your virginity, your purity, and he'll be gone the next day.

They had me expecting that boyfriends DO NOT respect their girlfriends.  That girlfriends have to stand strong and keep saying no, as boyfriends keep pressuring them and not accepting their boundaries- and that this was normal.  (I'm not sure how much of this was explicitly taught, and how much was me taking it to its logical conclusion.)

In other words, dating is all about protecting yourself from your boyfriend.  He is the attacker, heartless, only wanting sex, and you need to be careful about how far you go, because once you "give" it to him, you can never get it back.  That part of you is missing, and you're damaged.

No, you have to keep saying no.  Until... where is this going?  Finally you get married, and then there's no problem because you can just have sex without being "impure"?  No worries, when he pressures you, we don't require you to resist any more?  Yay!

The stupidity is baffling.

And then... when I was dating my first boyfriend, I became incredibly confused as I realized he respected me.  For example, when I told him not to kiss me yet, he actually felt bad for mentioning it more than once, fearing he was "pressuring" me.

He was a gentleman, and I had no mechanism to understand that. 

Yes, sometimes in talks about purity, they mention that you have to ditch that guy if he's pressuring you.  Being single is better than being with a guy like that- and he doesn't deserve you.  But what about the option of dating a gentleman?  Why are healthy relationships almost never discussed?

Because, this is abuse.  If a guy pressures a girl over and over, to have sex with him, to kiss him, whatever, that's not okay, and that is not normal.  That's emotional manipulation.  Why is this the narrative they give the girls in church- "Be ready, because your boyfriend will try to manipulate you into having sex with him.  All boys do."  Really?

I mean, in a practical sense, it's nice to teach "here are the warning signs of abuse."  But that's not how this is taught.  It's presented like this is normal.  Like this is how relationships are.  There are no guys who respect girls.

And that's why "purity" is so important.  Because boys want sex and girls have to hold down the fort.

And any girl who does have sex is a slut and ruining it for the rest of us.  Supply and demand, folks.  Image source.

Umm hello, women like sex too.  Did you know?  This whole terminology of "giving" and "he took her virginity"- it's so asymmetric.  A relationship shouldn't be like that.  It should be both people working together and both enjoying whatever physical connection they've agreed on.

(And it's fine if one person is more interested in sex than the other.  As I said, it should be both people working together and both enjoying whatever physical connection they've agreed on.)

It's not a freaking transaction.  I don't want to use "giving" and "taking" terminology any more.  And somehow, I'll figure out what purity is supposed to be, and how I should honor God while I'm not married.  But it won't be by defending myself from my boyfriend.

(Credit goes to Dianna Anderson's post Giving In and Giving Up for inspiring a lot of my thoughts here.)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds so familiar! I learned very well to fear and mistrust boys as a girl too. It took a while for the man I eventually married to really convince me, deep down, that he was not "only after one thing" as I had been taught all guys were.