By The GlimmerGlass, Editorial Board
At the beginning of each academic year there are several traditions that we can count on seeing at Olivet. One of these is the mandatory housing meetings.
During these meetings students hear about rules, regulations and codes. In the past, men have also received a pep talk on the topic of pornography.
This topic is never talked about with women. Even in sermons in chapel, or discussions in seminars. When the subject of sex arises the terms “porn” and “women” aren’t even mentioned in the same sentence, unless it is “porn destroys a man’s view of women.”
During a girls-only chapel held in January 2013 by speaker Amy Smalley, told the students that “the boys are talking about porn right now.”
After a dull chorus of astonished gasps died down, Mrs. Smalley (whose husband, Michael, was at the same time counseling the men) continued to advise the women on how to approach a male friend or significant other who watched porn. No mention of women watching pornography was made.
If one had to judge on this fact alone, it would seem as if women never watched pornography.
Yet, it is estimated that 1 in 6 American women –including Christians – are addicted to porn, according to one of the safe families website’s resource pages, “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators.” The numbers are even higher for those who watch casually.
After six years, Olivet senior Sierra Navarro is still dealing with the after effects of recovering from an addiction to pornography.
“I think that it should be talked about with women just as much as men,” she said.
Navarro believes that even those who recognize that women struggle with porn addiction don’t go beyond the surface. “They say ‘women struggle too, go get help’, but what about after that?
“I wish there was something that I could do to help counsel other women who are going through what I went through. But I don’t know how to, because there was no one there to help me.”
Society, the church, and this campus have fallen into the habit of genderizing sex. And not only sex, but lust and emotions.
We tell girls not to wear low cut tops, or to show the tops of their thighs, as to not cause their brothers in Christ to stumble. But when we tell men to put a shirt on, it’s in the name of professionalism and speaks nothing to their ability to spark sexual desire within women.
We’re led to believe that women are not sexual creatures, but men are. We assert that a man’s body is non-impactful, but a woman’s body is lust incarnate, a physical embodiment of sin. At the same time we treat women as the seducers and men as simple-minded creatures just waiting to be tempted, with no control over their “natural” human sex drives
“It is necessary to recognize that sex is a human thing, not a gender thing. Combining the two can create a guilt complex within men and women that is detrimental to them both internally and externally.”
Bodies of faith with a skewed view of sexuality send women to their marriage beds valuing their virginity instead of their purity. Purity can be maintained within a marriage, but virginity is dissolved.
What happens when something that has a huge stake in your self-worth disappears? A part of you becomes obsolete. A marriage is no place to feel voided.
In the online article “4 Lies the Church Taught Me About Sex” that was published in June, Lilly Dunn, Christian author for Relevant magazine, discusses the issue of gender and sex.
Dunn wrote, “For years I was told that ‘girls don’t care about sex.’ Well, as it turns out, I do. This has been a deep source of shame for me. For a long time I felt like a freak, until I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one, not by a long shot. But I never knew it because no one would admit it.”
It is necessary to recognize that sex is a human thing, not a gender thing. Combining the two can create a guilt complex within men and women that is detrimental to them both internally and externally.
Women are crippled by the refusal to recognize that they are sexual too, and even struggle with it. Men are stigmatized by our tradition of over-sexualizing their humanness, and many don’t know how to live outside of that sexual label. If we ignore people who are hurt and struggling, how do they get help?
Pornography normalizes harmful relationships, it normalizes sexual abuse, and it tells both women and men that sex is the only natural link between the genders. It reinforces the idea that sex is animalistic and emotionless. It creates a lust that cannot be satiated and prevents people from building genuine relationships. And by genderizing sex, we are only deepening the problems we aim to fix.
Men should know the dangers. Women should know the dangers. And both gender should be recognized for what they are: imperfect human beings with God-given sexual drives.
Last semester, the lower Ludwig walls boasted posters reading “Porn kills love.” Not talking to women about porn kills love too.
Let’s start talking to girls about porn, and let’s not only tell them it’s bad – let’s tell them why.