As a young girl, my life situation and society around me portrayed women as objects to be used for pleasure.
Men were expected to stare, flirt, touch, fondle, kiss and hopefully take the object of their lust to bed. “Real” women enjoyed being the object of someone else’s desire and would join in eagerly. If they resisted, it wasn’t because they meant no, it was only that they were teasing as part of a game. A man was supposed to pursue and conquer sexually; the woman should melt in his arms. But as soon as she was conquered, she earned the label “slut,” “easy,” or “loose.”
As Christian women, we were responsible for drawing a line, holding men back and making sure that purity reigned; thus relieving men of any respectful responsibility in the relationship. Then, as Christian wives, we’re to submit our bodies wholeheartedly because they no longer belong to us. What a contradiction in emotion and values for a woman, and often a license for selfish, irresponsible men.
As a girl surrounded by these ideas, I grew up looking for the love I craved in all the wrong ways and places.
If a young girl has an absent father, one who spends most of his time at work or play, is emotionally disengaged, or has abandoned the family altogether, she may start flirting or dressing to show off her body in order to secure the attention and affection she misses. Dressing provocatively has become the norm in our society, so often a girl innocently enjoys the attention it brings without understanding the statement she makes.
I noticed an advertisement for an upcoming show in which the woman, who was wearing an extremely low cut blouse asked the man she was talking to why he was looking at her breasts instead of her eyes. Is that a trick question? It presents a contrary and unfair message for both men and women! “Look here, but don’t look!” As women, we must be cautious what we portray to men.
Now, take the same girl who is desperately seeking a father to love and cherish her, and affirm her importance. If she meets someone seeking to use her sexually, she is in trouble without even being aware of it. Patterns can then be set and repeat themselves in each relationship she has.
In my case, unhealthy childhood patterns led to many unhealthy relationships.
Sexual promiscuity became the norm for my life, and I was afraid that if I didn’t go along with whatever was asked or expected of me, I wouldn’t be loved. I often felt sickened by my circumstances and had a deep sense that it wasn’t as it should be, but I didn’t understand the patterns. I didn’t know how to break free. Marriage seemed to be an answer. My dream for love and acceptance could be lived out in a Christian home with a man who promised to be faithful to me until death. Wasn’t that a guarantee?
The Bible says that deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:7); God’s spirit calls to ours. But also, the beliefs and values we’ve adopted over the years that reside deep within our soul or spirit, call to similar patterns in others. My longing for love and attention called out to men looking to fulfill something broken in themselves. Marriage didn’t change the patterns. It created another kind of trap…Have you felt trapped in behaviors or patterns you didn’t want to be in? Do you think society’s portrayal of sex is helpful, destructive or neutral?
2 thoughts on “Look Here, But Don’t Look”
Laura, you could be talking about my old life. I’m so impressed with your courage in speaking out about this. We should talk one-on-one sometime.
I would love that! Thank you for checking out my site, and for your kind words. It’s true that sexual abuse is a very silent place that feels so scary to talk about, but I learned when I spoke at a women’s retreat in Greece, that my vulnerability made a place for other people to feel safe in sharing their pain. I’m sorry to hear that you have suffered as well. Let’s get together. I’ll email you!