Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When the rules change.

I've been mulling this entry over in my mind for about a week now.

It's about sex.

I'm not sure how exactly to begin, but I supposed I'll simply start with how I started thinking about this thing.

In ninth grade, I was in what I would call a sexually abusive relationship. I was made to do a lot of things that I did NOT feel comfortable doing. Made to say things I did not feel comfortable saying. Made to write things, to draw things, made to perform things that were uncomfortable for me. Things that made me feel dirty.

The problem was this: I didn't understand that this was a form of sexual abuse.

To be honest, I still look back on that relationship and mostly just see a fifteen year old boy trying stuff out, just to see what stuck. Not a malicious person who was out to hurt me, or someone who would in ten years be in the papers as a rapist. No one who would later become a child molester. It was nothing like that. But it was abuse.

It was a strange form of abuse where I'm not sure the abuser knew he was one.

It's one of those cases where in our relationships all we know to do is emulate our parents - THE example of romantic relationship in our lives.

He wanted to be in the bathroom while I peed.

This was one of the most mortifying experiences of my entire life.

Yet... my parents were in the bathroom at the same time while the other peed every day. I'm sure that his parents did the same. Does it not logically follow that dating relationships should feel that same way?

I remember the contrasting feeling of exhilaration when I was brushing my teeth one night with a guy I dated in the past for two years. I felt very...mature in that relationship.

Sure, we were in a hotel room WITH his parents and he would be sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor while I would be sleeping in the double bed alone, but it was the playing house part of it that was exciting. The prospect of a future.

I realize now that I'm a grown up that the butt pinching thing in sixth grade probably all starts because a boy sees his dad pinch or smack his mom's butt at home. Where else would we get the idea? In spanking, it's a form of punishment. There's no sort of clue that someone might derive any pleasure from something like that. Honestly. Where else could it come from?

I guess the strangest thing in all of this is that there comes a point in our lives where we go from having "private parts" that are only for us, our doctors, and our parents when absolutely necessary for cleansing and doctoring purposes, to touch, to suddenly, somewhere in there, having it be okay for our boyfriend or girlfriend to explore.

How does this work?

How does it even work if you wait to have sex until marriage?

Will it not always have the stigma of something wrong?

There must be a point at which a mother or father takes a child aside and explains to them that sometimes it's okay for these parts to be touched when you want them to be touched, and that it isn't dirty, it's allowed - IF you want it to happen. Not if your boyfriend wants to do it to you. Not if they say that's what you do when you're in love. Only if YOU want them to do it.

To be honest, I didn't have any sort of desire along those lines until I was about 18. Maybe 19. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the occasional make-out session with a boy. That was great fun. But I wasn't all about having someone get in my pants.

I'm sure that the time when these things become allowable is different for each and every person, which is why waiting for sex until marriage is appropriate - because then we've thought about whether or not we want to "go all the way" with a certain person. We've been able to ask ourselves: "Do I want this guy in my pants?" If the answer is no - then it's probably time to rethink your choice for spouse. If the answer is yes, well then you need to also consider if they're a good person, if they compliment you in other ways, etc.

I'm not a person who waited until marriage.

Am I sorry?

Yes.

I think I'm mostly sorry about it because it makes me feel like I've cheated people.

Not just the person I married.

It cheapens all of the relationships that come later.

I dated guys after my first that I didn't sleep with. I look back and feel like it was somehow wrong for me to sleep with that first guy and not with them, because there were people I loved in between the guy I lost my virginity to and the guy I married. I feel bad about it. Like I owe them.

Then there's the guilt with being married and having given it away to someone else.

Our culture sort of spits upon this. Scoffs in it's face: the idea of waiting until marriage. I understand all of the arguments for not waiting. You won't know what to do. You'll be nervous. It'll be over in thirty seconds. It will be disappointing.

Okay, fine. But at least it's with someone you've contemplated in depth. Someone you KNOW you want in your pants.

There's plenty of lust floating around nowadays. I think part of the reason people have sex before marriage is just because we're afraid not to. For several reasons. First of all because our next partner will most likely NOT be a virgin, and then we'll feel cheated because we're not the first. So we feel like we need to cheat them too, that way we're even.

But I stray from my point.

I think that sexual abuse is wrong.

I don't want anyone to misquote me or misconstrue what I'm saying there. I do think that there should be a point at which something is said to explain things to a kid. To explain that it's not just sex you should be waiting for.

That there comes a point at which people think that it's okay now to touch those private parts. That they have a right. But the fact is, it's NEVER okay. Not for anyone. Not for the cute popular boy at the locker next to yours. Not for your boyfriend. Not for your brother. Not for you best girlfriend. It's not okay EVER unless you decide it's okay. You don't like it, you tell them no. If you feel uncomfortable, then it ISN'T okay. It isn't right. You aren't ready. Period.

I let boys do a lot of things to me as a young girl. I thought that as long as I wasn't having sex, then other things were alright. People focus on sex. They forget about having someone watch you go to the bathroom or asking you to give them a hand job in the movie theatre. There were things I encountered as a ninth grader that I didn't have a clue about, had never heard of before, wasn't interested in, and ended up doing because I thought that's what girlfriends and boyfriends did.

The next guy I dated got cheated.

I thought he didn't care about me because he didn't do those things. I missed the nice guy because I'd already dated the jerk.

I'm putting a lot out there in this blog. I think I have to. I think that these things happened to me and I've been given this brain to help other girls like me. Girls who have been told to wait for sex until marriage but haven't been told how. Haven't been told that feeling uncomfortable means you say no - and if that boy cares about you then he'll stop - and if he doesn't - then he needs to have his balls ripped off (not to be forward or anything). If he stops and then tells you that you've done something wrong, then you need to think about private parts and what your parents told you as a kid. The rules still apply. You have a say over your body. Period.

The Bible talks about how men have rights to their wives bodies. Read the whole passage. It says that men should treat their wives as Jesus treats the Church. And Jesus isn't a rapist. You gotta ask yourself, would the Savior of the World make me sleep with him if I didn't want to right then? Think real hard. The answer is obvious. The answer is no. He would hold you and rock you to sleep and maybe give you a foot massage and make you some tea.

The entire message of this blog is that YOU ARE VALUABLE. There are too many women and girls out there who think they're not. Or that their value is determined by the person they're dating, or by what others say. The fact is, that's all bs. YOU ARE VALUABLE no matter what anyone else says, because to The Creator of the Universe, you are a precious child, worth dying for. Worth everything.

Next time someone says "if you love me you will" - look them straight in the eye and tell them you'd rather make out with a stuck pig on a BBQ spit. It's sure to get their attention.



PS - if anyone has questions about the experiences described in this blog, I'd be happy to talk with you. I'm over it now. I'm ready to speak.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm reading something I wrote from the heart. I've been in the same boat. Boyfriends when I was too young making me and influencing me to do things I wasn't comfortable with. If I didn't do them I was labeled as immature or was told that i was a bad girlfriend. Sometimes I still felt that way in later relationships.

We are worth something, and it took a lot for me to learn it.

Anonymous said...

Well said Missy! Thanks for shaing your insight. I'll be passing this along to my own teen daughter.

Jason said...

Missy,

Thank you for sharing this. I'm sorry you had to experience this, but I know what you've said here will be a blessing to others.

Speaking from the guys perspective, for a second and speaking directly to your point.

It comes back to parenting.

Girls need to be taught that their bodies are to be loved, their boundaries respected, that saying NO does not mean you don't care for somebody. Be ready to defend your purity and your honor, even to the point of violence. Anyone who says if you loved me you would...deserves to have their testicles handed to them in a baggie.

For boys. They need to be taught and have it hammered home that sex can wait. Don't start down the road of kissing or making out because it will lead to you wanting sex! Treat the purity of women as something sacred, regardless of whether or not they do. NO means NO, but regardless don't even ask. This may seem rather puritan of me, but guys are wired this way, our culture reinforces bad behavior and teenage boys are really wired this way. Their brains often not mature enough to appreciate this, many males well into their 20's. It takes good parenting to beat biology and culture here.

So that's my 2 cents, but again Missy, thank you so much for sharing this.

Jason

clarkle said...

I think there are some really good points here- in your blog and in the comments. I'm not particularly for or against waiting until marriage and am sure it can be a rewarding path, but the idea of "cheating" someone and the idea of "purity" have always bothered me to some extent.

When I was sexually abused it brought a ton of negative thoughts, but no matter how much blame society may shift to victims, I do not feel that my assault left me "less pure" than before. I do think there is some level of healthy sexual exploration in adolescence that is possible if these concerns are addressed. I'm not saying all teens should have sex. I'm saying kissing/making out can be a healthy, enjoyable, and consensual expression of affection. We need to clarify that it is the non consensual that becomes a problem. Wanting sex as a result of these actions is never an excuse to just take it. (Of course boys want sexual interaction, but so do girls, and the hormones are no higher on either side. The nature of boys is a cultural thing, and, in part, a stereotype... Boys can be pressured too, which is why ALL children need to know the rules of consent, and that those are lines never to be crossed.)

I don't feel like I've cheated anyone in my present or future by being abused. I don't feel like they would argue it either. I feel like those abused are the ones cheated, those who do not get to have mutually consensual relationships of their choosing, when they choose to (before or after marriage being somewhat less important).

I also feel like children who only understand that "purity" is important are less likely to seek help when they've been involved in something "unpure" and that because sex has such a stigma around it, many don't seek help, because they feel criminal just for being involved, victim or not.

And if they are waiting for marriage, they need to understand why, because the why not is not as persuasive. That kind of commitment is for people who are enthusiastic about that commitment, who actually have personal reasons for wanting to maintain it, rather than pressure to. However people might prefer their "first time", well, that's how they should have it, with their own values respected throughout.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Missy:

There are definitely some incredibly good points you make here. I really like the image of Jesus giving someone a foot massage and bringing them tea (can we call it foot fetish Jesus, just to be sacrilegious?).

On a more serious note, I want to say some words about waiting until marriage before having sex. Disclaimer: I'm not going to preach about abstinence...just talk some about my own experience of waiting.

My wife and I decided to wait, though we certainly pushed the envelope now and then before-hand (and that's all the details anyone's going to get). What I want to say is that there's an incredibly intense quality of emotional interaction that happens on your wedding day and night as you realize this person has decided to intimately share their body with you, and that they've never done that with anyone before. I'm sure much of this intimacy happens for people who decide to share sex before marriage, and also to some degree for people who haven't had sex together but had it at another time. But there's something about sharing the experience of physical intimacy for the first time that is SO profound and so moving that I still sometimes get heart flutters thinking about it (emotional heart flutters, not physical lust, people...though that happens too).

Don't get me wrong. In some ways it sucks to wait. You have to tell your body no when it is screaming at you: "yes, yes, yes, more of that now please." Waiting is neither easy nor particularly pleasant at times. But having waited I do think the wait was worth it.

Another thing tough about waiting is that you have no clue how to encourage your partner to really have a great time during sex. It takes a certain amount of knowledge and experience to send someone over the edge into sexual boo-yeah land. Starting from zero experience, it took me quite a while after being married to really sort this out. Perhaps sad to say, what really helped was a book written by Kevin Leman, called Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. It's a great read that talks candidly about sexual exploration without being stupid or kinky. There's a definite focus on marriage and Christian ethics, but I believe that's important too. When my wife and I started reading the book out loud to each other...let's just say we learned how to have a good time. I recommend the whole book to any of you marrieds out there, and the first half of the book (Leman divides the book) to anyone not married who thinks about sex (that's everyone, right?). Seriously, a very good book that will make you think.

Enough about all that. Just wanted to share a few thoughts. Hopefully this wasn't too off-topic. :-)

Best,
pr

Missy said...

Just read some of these comments - thanks so much to everyone for posting. And no, you were not off topic :)

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