Pro-patriarchy blogger Lori Alexander is at it again with a post titled Feeling Guilty for Having Sex After Married (sic). She introduces her post with this:
Hollywood makes sex out to be absolutely amazing with fireworks the very first time a couple has sex so young people grow up to believe that it must be amazing always, UNLESS they are raised in a godly home by Christian parents. I was out to lunch with some friends the other day and they were all taught to be pure until marriage. They taught their children the same thing. The problem was that they weren’t taught that sex was supposed to be fun and enjoyable once married and they didn’t teach their children, either, so on their honeymoons and for a while after, it was difficult for them to enjoy sex because it was always forbidden in their minds and they felt guilt.
I’ve written about this issue before. A whole lot of other ex-evangelical Millennials have written about it as well. It can be hard to flick the switch from “no, no, no” to “go, go, go,” particularly in households where any mention of sexual activity has been instilled with shame.
Alexander, though, was surprised. She says she didn’t experience this herself. So she did what she often does in such cases—she asked the like-minded women in a chat room she hosts about their experiences.
I asked the women in the chat room if any of them were raised this way and felt guilt once they were married and had sex, since I had never heard of this before. I was raised by a mom who clearly let us know that sex was wonderful in marriage and we taught our children the same. Many of the women in the chat room said that they did have guilt feelings concerning sex after marriage and it seems to come from the lack of being taught by their parents.
Say it ain’t so.
Alexander chalks this up to the way their parents talked about sex, not to the taboos she surrounds it with. In other words, she argues that the guilt these women experienced is not the inevitable result of teaching children that they better not have sex before they get married, because then they would be dirty, impure, and unwanted. Not at all! Those other women’s moms were just doing it wrong.
Alexander offers this advice:
Mothers, it’s your responsibility to be open with your children about sex at the proper age. It’s usually when they begin asking questions. You don’t have to go into details (unless they are asking right before they get married) but let them know that they are to be pure before marriage and make sure they know all of the benefits to this. God’s commands are ALWAYS for our best! Then, tell them how wonderful sex is after marriage and how God created it for us to enjoy. Teach your children to not deprive their spouse since this is a command from God (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Yes, hearing sex after marriage talked about as “wonderful” is going to be better than making any mention of it hush-hush and taboo. But this doesn’t address the underlying problem: In Alexander’s world, sex before marriage is impure and dirty and sex after marriage is pure and good.
It’s in her last paragraph, though, that Alexander really jumps off the tracks:
Make sure your daughters know how very important sex will be to their husbands and that they need to be available to them even if there are times, like after birth, that they must be creative. Help them to make the decision in their minds that this will be a priority in their lives. They need to understand that their husbands should not take the place of a back burner once their children are born. If they have time to watch their favorite TV show or scroll through Facebook, then they have time to bring pleasure to their husband!
Yeah … no.
If a person is taught that sex is something men want, that it’s something women are supposed to give to men, you’re setting them up for a whole hassle of problems.
A woman in Alexander’s culture who has a healthy libido and wants her husband to do sexual things for her may end up feeling guilty for that. A woman who finds that her libido is higher than her husband’s—and that does happen—may end up thinking she’s not attractive enough to her husband, or that something else is wrong. Alexander is setting her up for a lot of insecurity and angst.
And there’s another problem—teaching a woman that she must always be available to her husband—“even if there are times, like after birth, that they must be creative”—is going to mess up even the most otherwise healthy relationship. Alexander is telling women—young women preparing for marriage—that they must always, always, always say “yes” to their husbands in bed, or else.
Or else, their husbands might be sexually discontent. Or else, their husbands’ eyes may stray. Or else, their husbands might leave them. Because that is the threat. And if your husband leaves you—in Alexander’s culture—you lose everything. Everything.
Consider this: a man married to a woman obeying Alexander’s dictates will never know whether his wife actually wants to have sex. He’ll never know whether she’s plastering on a fake smile. He’ll never know whether she’s participating in an act while disgusted inside. She’s being told to fake it, to smile, to perform, to participate, whether she wants to or not. Or else.
Some men, of course, wouldn’t care. They have been raised to believe that sex is their due, and that it is their wife’s obligation to provide it. It’s worth noting, though, that even if a husband does care, even if a husband would rather his wife say “no” than fake it, even there Alexander’s advice messes things up. Young women who listen to Alexander won’t see saying no as an option.
The result is a sort of human sexbot.
In her post, Alexander came close to acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, purity culture can create a warped and unhealthy view of sex. But rather than actually doing so, she deflected—some mothers are doing it wrong, she said. And then she proceeded to give advice sure to only make things worse.
I’m rarely so glad I left.
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