My post today is one that comes from a very angry and frustrated part of my soul. It is very personal and may be difficult for some viewers to read. But it must be said.
We are bringing to light an issue that has been pushed just under the surface of our awareness for far too long. We hate it, but we don’t know how to overcome it. We’ve tried to hide from it, tried to embrace it, tried to stand up to it, tried to show its hideous true colors under all the charm and allurement. But it’s still here. And it’s getting worse.
I’m talking about the over-sexualization of our culture.
The normalization of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and the general sexualization of, well, everything, is out of control. I’m so happy to see that with #metoo we are seeing this issue come just a teenie bit into the light. But I also see so much backlash, so much defensiveness, so much blame and hatred…this is not the answer.
I have read several blogs published by men, good men who are recognizing the issue, and standing up for the rights of women everywhere, and this thrills me beyond comprehension. I have little faith in the goodness of the male gender, and God is really showing me that this is a heart issue in myself, not a man issue.
Maybe that realization is what has opened my eyes a bit. I’ve been quick to blame men and their seemingly unquenchable desire for dominance and lustful conquests. But they are not the problem. They are also the victims.
We are serving a ruthless and manipulative dictator. We live, some in fear, some in loyal allegiance, and some with negligent passivity, under the rule of a beast with many heads. It has many names. Sexual Perversion, Sexual Exploitation, Lust, Sexual Immorality, Rape Culture, to list a few. And we are all its captors.
I’m going to share some experiences with you that I have shamefully ignored or brushed to the side with a numbness acquired only in a life ruled by fear. Some are my own and some are from others that are or have been close to me. Their identities and relationship with me will not be shared for privacy and security. What I hope you see is not just victims, but the depth of the infiltration of this evil ruler. I am not negating the experiences of women who deal with sexual assault on a daily basis. I am just unveiling the depth of the issue. Because its list of victims reaches far beyond women and far beyond the point at which it presents as physical assault. And we need to start opening our eyes.
A man I once loved shared with me that he was coerced into having sex at age 11 with his babysitter, who was an older teen at the time. She assaulted him, using the curiosity of a boy just beginning puberty, touching him and using charm to pressure him until she got what she wanted. He has struggled with an addiction to porn ever since.
Another man who claimed to love me was subjected to porn frequently starting at age 14 by an adult who was charged with caring for him at the time. It was provided as a “gift”. He became addicted to porn, and has sexually assaulted or harassed several women over the course of his adulthood. He struggled to maintain healthy relationships with women and cheated frequently.
A man I know who loved his wife was hit hard with the charm and manipulation of an attention seeking woman. She subtly flirted, played the victim, teased, and found ways to use the man’s compassionate heart to keep his attention on her. He denied her sexual advances at first, and severed the “friendship”, but she always found a way be near him. She made his wife believe he was sleeping with her, destroying the trust they shared. She isolated him and assaulted him until he finally gave in. She used him and then spread vicious lies about him, ruining his career, friendships, and reputation.
One man prided himself on his long hair (think biker) as he went through middle school and high school. He was mocked, cat-called, and inappropriately touched constantly by boys who thought he was a girl from behind. He was teased, called a “fag” and hit on by boys who assumed he was gay. Friends did not come easy to him, and he was often bullied because of his choice of hairstyle.
The same man chose to remain a virgin until he met a girl who he actually had a true connection with, someone he loved. He wasn’t a christian, he just believed women and sex should be respected. He didn’t want to throw away that gift on just anyone. And this choice caused him to again be mocked and bullied. Friends tried to change his views by taking him to strip clubs, setting him up with loose women, and on one occasion, even offering their own girlfriend to sleep with him. Another offered him prostitutes as a birthday gift, then questioned his sexuality at turning them down.
There’s a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome (now just referred to as part of the Autism Spectrum). Aspie’s become obsessive about things, infatuated with every detail of whatever is the subject of their fascination. His obsession for a few months was Sonic The Hedgehog. He could tell you every detail about Sonic, Sega, the lore behind the game, the names of the people who developed it, the voice actors and what other work they’ve done, the orchestras hired to do the music, the composer who wrote it. Anything and everything. And when Aspie’s get fixated on a subject, they talk about it constantly. So every kid in his school basically knew he was obsessed with it. At the bus stop one day, a group of kids held him down and forced him to watch several episodes of Sonic The Hedgehog porn. One child out of the group was suspended for a day. No other action was taken. He was 12 years old at the time.
This same boy was bullied so bad he had to change schools. The boys threatened him saying that they couldn’t wait for his sister to start school there next year, because they were going to take her to the bathroom and “run train” on her. He was 12 at the time, his sister only 10. For safety, the sister was forced to attend a different school as well.
A few years back, a boy was being bullied by a another kid in the neighborhood. The boy’s sister yelled at the bully and hit him. He pushed her to the ground and pulled down his pants, and told her if she ever spoke to him or touched again he would shove it in her mouth. She was 6 years old. The bully was only 8.
A little girl, who was bit of a tomboy, came home with a note from school saying that at age 7, she must wear a bra and spanks or leggings under her clothing, because the boys in the classroom were trying to touch her. Seven years old.
A 9 year girl who was tall for her age was harassed by a group of teenagers, all at least 16 years old. They came to her home asking her to come hang out with them in their “clubhouse” several times. When the mother found out, she threatened to call the police. They kept their distance, but still hung around the neighborhood, waiting for her to go outside alone. The girl was limited to playing with friends at her house only.
A child in a middle school youth group was told by a group of boys there that they were going to f*** her and all her friends, and explicitly described what they wanted to do to the girls. At church.
Every man I have very been in a relationship with, besides Justin, has had friends who have hit on me, spoken to or touched me inappropriately, or offered me payment of sort for sexual favors. Justin tells me his friends are my friends, because I’m sort of a social shut-in most of the time. He tries to explain that they are cool people who accept everyone for who they are. And they are, but I still don’t trust them. I do not look them in the eye, I try to dress as boring and unappealing as I can without sacrificing style when we hang out. I do not talk to them alone, I do not have their numbers, I will not be friends with them on Facebook. I am afraid to let them be my friends.
I have been invited to work in the porn industry 4 times. Granted, during these times I was not living a godly life or surrounding myself with godly people. I was honestly living a life of survival and I’m ashamed to admit that I very seriously considered doing it, and other things that I knew would keep food on the table. But 4 times, from people who knew my position as a struggling single parent and hoped to exploit it.
I have been rejected for pornography by one man, told that because I’ve had kids, my body isn’t a turn on.
I have been cheated on and rejected by another because after having a child, I was “disgusting”.
On the other side of the spectrum, I get so many stares and comments on a particular area of my body that I make Justin walk behind me any time we go out. It doesn’t matter what I wear, the fact that I exist in this body seems to be an invitation for sexual come-ons.
I have been told to my face by men I thought of as friends that they masturbate thinking about me. Then some of those friends had the nerve to hit on me even after my clearly disgusted response.
It’s everywhere, and no one is immune. It’s on our T.V’s. I just had threaten my children with deleting our Netflix account if I saw anyone watching Big Mouth, an animated show that may as well be kiddie porn.
It’s in our music. We glorify musicians who sing about rape and manipulating to get what we want with sex. Our kids know every word by heart.
We glorify people who make their fortunes in life by exploiting themselves sexually and we allow them to be our standard for beauty. We follow them like sheep, copying every fashion trend, painting our faces to look just like them, and imitating every hair style. We starve, mutilate, and add fake body parts so we can fit this “ideal” body image they set for us. We strive for our sexual appetite to meet the bar they’ve set, hoping that we too can be the desire of every man/woman, or at least, the one we care about. If only we are at least as beautiful, sensual, and promise just as much sexual enticement as them.
It’s in our books, our magazines, our advertisements, our fashion. I can’t find clothes made for my daughter’s age group that do not scream “come get me”. Most of our arguments are over clothing. She is a beautiful girl and her clothes accentuate that beauty. Men stare at her every time we’re out. She’s 11.
I preach teaching our children to respect themselves and their bodies. I encourage women to live free from the traps of victimization and sexual promiscuity. I believe in equal treatment of men and women and express disgust at the way men are made out to be less intelligent, less sensible, and overtly heinous in sexuality.
But do I really believe it? Do I really live it?
No. I don’t. I live in fear.
I teach my daughter to be afraid. To dress and act out of fear. I’m not talking about modesty or respect. I’m talking about dumbing down our personality to adhere to the normalization of sexual dominion over our lives. I myself avoid men at all cost and have trained myself to avoid eye-contact, laughing, glancing, or giving any attention to them. It feels like trying to walk past a dangerous junkyard dog, chanting to yourself, “Don’t sweat, don’t look, don’t let it smell your fear. Keep walking, avoid eye-contact. Don’t let it see you’re afraid.”
And I instill this sense of submissive fear on my kids, and likely on every area of my sphere of influence. We all do. We’re all victims, and we all bow down in fear to the perpetrator. We make excuses, we find a way to cope, we deal with it. We don’t think about it. We just keep our heads down and keep walking.
I latently allow the sexually charged mentality into my home. I look the other way when I see it. I watched a man one time in a waiting room shamelessly stare at a nurse who had come out to give another patient a cup of water. She had knocked over a magazine, bent over to pick it up, and this man stared so hard at her that I felt my skin crawling. He was obviously turned on, grabbed a book and covered himself, continuing to stare at her as she walked away. His wife was sitting right next to him and didn’t say a word. Defeated. It made me so angry, but am I any different? I’ve let things like porn into my home believing the lie that I was not enough. I’ve quietly sat by while media that is ridiculously oversexualized flows through my home, secretly fearing my inferiority to it all, wondering if my children are absorbing it and thinking this is the way adults are supposed to act in relationships.
I am glad we are raising awareness of sexual assault. I hope this trend continues, and that we keep bringing this hideous monsters true form into the light. But the only way to see change is to defeat the heart of it all.
We all, men, women and children, are letting this beast tell us we are nothing more than sexual objects, and that we are a slave to our desires. Stolen from us is our unique identity. Our beauty, purity, innocence, respect, and individuality are being sacrificed to a god of perversion. We give and give, but it’s never enough. The beast wants more. It takes and takes and takes, and we…we do nothing.
We adjust. We cry, and then plaster on a fake smile for the masses. We never let the beast see our hatred and disgust. It rules in brutality. It harshly punishes those who stand against it. It seeks to destroy any and all who dare to hold on to their dignity. It rules with fear.
Aren’t you tired of it? I am! I’m fed up. I’m tired of living in submission. Of seeing people I care about hide their pain in fear. Of watching my children accept and freely give up what rightly belongs to them.
So what do we do?
Passivity is no longer an option. We are not called to idly soak up the saving grace of God while watching the rest of the world burn. We are called to fight. To deliver the message of hope no matter how dangerous or terrifying the journey.
How do we fight?
Do you remember that little part of Christianity where we are given spiritual gifts? We have talents and God-given abilities. And then we have spirituals gifts, our superpowers, if you will.
We need to use these gifts. We need to take up our weapons and fight. We each need to take a long, hard look at our lives. We need to passionately ask God to search our hearts and reveal to us where we have let this beast infiltrate our souls. We need to repent.
It starts with our own hearts. It’s not one thing. It’s not porn, it’s not rap, it’s not Hollywood, it’s not promiscuity, it’s not lust. It’s a mentality. It’s giving in to fear and weakness of the mind. It’s handing over our own self-control and admitting defeat to the lack of it in others. We can’t overcome any one of the beasts heads without destroying the heart. And destroying the heart of the beast begins with eradicating it’s grip on our own heart.
As Christians, we need to actively take up our armor and guard our hearts against any further decay. This will take diligence. This will mean deliberately opposing cultural norms. Taking every thought captive. Standing out in the crowd. Exposing your position. Bringing attention to your rebellion.
And this beast will not allow it, it will fight back. That’s why we need to fight this war together. Each of us using our talents and our supers together to defeat this enemy.
It will not be easy. Temptation will be strong. Insecurities will flare. Fear will rear it’s ugly head.
But we can win.
We can take back the innocence and the purity that this world has stolen. We can take back the right to be seen as a human being with value instead of as sexual objects. We can choose not to buy into the idea that we are not enough. We can lead the way and free those held captive to victimization. We can send the message of hope to those living in the shadow of abuse or addiction.
We serve a God is more powerful than a thousand of these evil dictators. He is on our side, ready to fight our fight. He holds the victory in his hands.
But it’s on us to make the choice.