Every week we have Social Interest Group calls with The Good Men Project editors, subscribers, and writers. This post is a preview for this Monday night’s (7:30 PM EST) #StopSexism group. See instructions below to join Gretchen Kelly and Jeremy McKeen on the call. Join the group here.
Like many well adjusted adults and parents, I grew up in the church—well “churched,” that is—from VBS and youth group every Friday night to Bible Studies, prayer groups, and more than one service on Sunday.
And with that, I—along with millions of others across many religions and religious purity cultures—came to view my “fearfully and wonderfully made” body and the bodies of others as not only sinful and the cause of God’s justified hatred of sin, but that our bodies are not our own but rather “belong” to God and patriarchal cultures.
What an awful way to think about bodies, sex, and culture.
And what an awful way to raise children responsibly.
If I knew then what I know now, I’d have to share the following with my then-teenage self who didn’t know anything about sex, gender, babies, love, marriage, divorce, or relationships.
You are not just a sinful meatbag with sexy parts
You’re just not.
Yes you have a biological determination within your genes and sexual organs that draws you to create life with other people during sexual intercourse (or not if you’re asexual, gay, or choose not to).
But just like your whole life is not based on what you smell with your nose or write with your hand, you should not live in fear that your whole life will be judged on who you kiss, cuddle, hold hands with, or have sexual relations with.
There are greater things to judge your life on—or not. It’s not all about judgment, it’s about living right and being mentally stable and existentially kind and aware.
You’re going to have lots of sex with possibly more than one person
You’re going to live a long time—and possibly have more than three or ten sexual partners and/or spouses or long time significant others.
You just are. It’s how humans are.
And that’s okay.
Most of you women will outlive your male husbands by ten to twenty years, and most of you will get divorces more than once, or break up with someone you thought you would be with forever.
That’s just data.
And within or without the confines of marriage, you are going to have lots and lots of sex in different positions and ways, whether you share that publicly or not, and whether it’s “nice, simple married sex” or not (and I would also assert that neither God nor the angels are watching this or taking notes).
You are not responsible for unwanted stares or sexual advances
Your bare shoulders, thighs, legs, midriff, calves, ankles, hair, or wrists are yours to show off or not, based on your profession, values, or sense of self and personality.
You are not responsible for the sexual abuse or harassment done against you, nor are you responsible for the thoughtcrime of “sin” done by someone else because they like, lust after, or love you.
You may not be just heterosexual
You might be gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or a number of self-defined genders or sexual orientations, and that’s okay as long as you’re being safe, kind, and legal.
And you might just be heterosexual.
You ARE “wonderfully made”
You are the result of millions of years of evolution, survival, specific choices, and modern techincal and scientific advancements that have made you healthy and alive (and that billions of life forms haven’t had the chance to enjoy).
You have sexual organs and nerve endings which feel amazing when stimulated.
You have the amazing ability to create and carry life, whether you’re making 85 million sperm a day or carrying up to 1,000 eggs with you since before birth.
You are more than the sum of your parts
Men—you are not God’s chosen dominant half of the species.
Women—you are not subservient to men in any sense of the societally prescribed way.
Equal is equal when we talk about the roles of men and women, and although we are sexual creatures, we are far from being just sexual or biological creatures.
And if you stay “pure” until marriage—which may be your choice—there is no way to quantify “purity” in terms of a lasting marriage, happiness, daily life, or God’s judgment.
So live without fear!
And be safe out there.
Let’s continue the discussion on Monday night! Talk to you then!
The #StopSexism Social Interest Group aims to address the issues of everyday sexism, identify contributing factors, and discuss the implications and effects of sexism. We will hold weekly calls by phone, and together will explore ideas to combat inequality, gender bias, and society’s expectations.
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