I have written and re-written this second reflection on Beyond the Makeover. I wanted to talk about selfie culture and how we help girls decide not to subject themselves – particularly their bodies, clothed & semi-clothed - to the intense scrutiny of both “friends” and strangers on the internet.
But my mind kept bouncing back to something we heard right at the beginning of the day and I can’t shake the idea that our first duty to girls is to tell them the truth about sex.
Here’s a quote from Everyday Sexism (follow them on twitter) or buy the book.
I am 13 and I am so scared to have sex it makes me cry nearly every day. We had sex education in Year 6 and I felt fine about it, but now some of the boys at school keep sending us these videos of sex which are much worse than what we learned about and it looks so horrible and like it hurts, and at night I get really scared that one day I will have to do it.
This child believes that she has now seen “real sex” and that it’s bad for a woman. It’s something that will be done to her and it will hurt her.
But what if, from an even earlier age, the following was the main thing she believed about women and sex?
The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife…he does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
Yes, they are carefully chosen verses out of context, (the community of believers has a long history of doing that), and the main gist is that a husband shouldn’t refuse his wife if she wants sex. But it also implies the truth I want that 13 year old girl to know: she has the same rights as a man regarding sex.
Everything else we say about girls and sex and boys and porn needs to come from the truth that healthy sex is about mutuality and mutuality is the basis of all good committed relationships.
And uncommitted relationships? That’s another conversation worth having, but I wouldn’t hesitate to tell a young woman to hold herself and her body in the highest regard and to expect the same from any partner.
What starts as a feminist issue becomes a relationship/community/humanity issue.
And some more out of context quotes from the same letter – wise foundational principles to live by – in all relationships:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.
…honour God with your bodies.
…knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Be careful that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.