There was a hashtag on twitter a couple of months ago started by relationship blogger Oloni called #sluttygirlfears, tackling some of the taboos surrounding women’s sexual desires and dismantling the idea that women shouldn’t enjoy or want sex in the same way men do. I initially looked on as an interested outsider of sorts, but quickly realised that I could actually relate wholeheartedly with the jist of many of the tweets.
I can’t remember the age when I started believing that good girls don’t like sex, but by age 13 I definitely knew it to be true. I don’t remember thinking too much about sex before 13. It wasn’t that my household was one where the topic of sex was taboo or forbidden. My Dad was (still is) and old school Jamaican man, whose idea of the sex talk was telling me, gruffly, on the way back from a sleepover age 12 ,”I don’t want to find you with any boy behind a bush”. To which I obviously replied “Why on earth would I be doing ANYTHING behind a bush?”
My Mum, on the other hand, encouraged us to ask as many questions as we wanted and she was never shy about giving answers, even if the answer was “I’ll tell you more about that when you’re older”.I had a very good working knowledge of the birds and the bees by the age of 6, thanks to the “GROWING UP” books she had left around the house, littered with very graphic and clinical diagrams of, as they described it (1986 edition books), ‘coitus’. 6 year old me was unphased and uninterested in intercourse, although I would gladly tell you that men produced sperm, women made eggs, and that it took approximately 9 months for a baby to develop from their joining.
Unfortunately, March 23rd 2003 and the onset of puberty came upon me suddenly. One minute I was reading Harriet the Spy complete with my Marks and Spencer’s training bra, and the next minute hormones, bleeding uteruses and teenage acne attacked me. Shortly after that assault commenced, I was sitting in the living room at home one afternoon and I stumbled across some porn on the T.V. I was intrigued and disgusted by it at the same time, but honestly probably more intrigued than disgusted. Fascinated that I could finally put the cartoon graphics of “GROWING UP” to real faces, I watched through half squinted eyes for a minute before telling my Dad that something had got fuddled up with the Christian cable box (yes, it was on a Christian cable box) and he should probably get the cable guy to fix it,
I’m sure I was aware of my own sexuality before then to some extent – I knew that when the boy I liked at church had to hold my hand during the prayer my heart would get a bit racy, but I think age 13 was when I really realised that I probably was going to really like sex when I finally had the chance to do it. The problem was, I was pretty sure I wasn’t really supposed to like sex.
The early 2000’s were the hey day of the ‘True Love Waits’ movement that swept across America’s evangelical churches. Teenagers were signing pledges, writing vows of virginity with menstrual blood (not really, but i wouldn’t be surprised), wearing promise rings and doing Daddy daughter dates to make sure that they had enough non sexual male presence in their life to stop them having sex with men they actually fancied. It was a bit of a #fail, because the pregnancy rate in schools with abstinent only education ended up being the same or higher than schools which taught more about contraception.
Being a young, Caribbean-British Christian, specifically Seventh Day Adventist, I had my own purity woes to contend with. The American books on waiting didn’t exactly resonate with the environment of my South East London private school. I wasn’t being constantly pressured to have sex and having to valiantly run out of high school proms clutching my bra strap and my dignity.
The overwhelming message I heard about sex in church was pretty simple though – “Don’t have it, try not to think about it, and if you do do it, don’t have an abortion because that’s a sin. But once you get married it’s great and a gift from God and you can think about it all the time”.
Age 27, this is no longer serving me.
I’m fed up of us pretending that only single men struggle with wanting sex. The narrative that women seek companionship primarily and sexual intimacy is a pleasant but secondary consequence is frankly, more archaic than leather condoms. It’s hilarious that in 2017, we’re still doing relationship seminars with young Christians where we pull the boys into one room and talk to them about masturbation and porn and pull the girls into another and talk to them about modesty and ‘guarding their heart’. Women of this generation are often as visually stimulated as their male counterparts, much more aware of their sexual desires and definitely not just ‘giving sex to get love’. 15 year old church girls are performing oral sex during the week and sitting at the back of church every Saturday. Get real.
I’m not going to be boxed in by these #sluttygirlfears anymore, being scared of the disapproval of church folks who are in denial about their own sexuality and the sexuality of those around them. Some women in church have had sex, and are having it right now. Some of them have had lots of sex with lots of different people. Some of them haven’t had sex, but want to. Some of them might even be asexual. Most of them probably really enjoy sex, or at least the thought of it. It’s time to accept it for what it is.
While God gives us boundaries for our sexual behaviour, we don’t help Him along by either pretending that they’re easy to live within, or that we don’t have any sexual desires in the first place. Our inability to accept and acknowledge female sexuality doesn’t lead to righteousness or repentance, but to guilt, shame, self loathing and fear.
I apologise to the women I’ve hurt, spoken badly of, or looked down on because I couldn’t come to terms with the fullness of my own humanity.
To the church girl who has slept with that guy she shouldn’t have, watched the porn video last night or thought a few things that would make the head deacon blush, know that you aren’t strange, abnormal or irredeemable. There are lots of us here, walking this Jesus walk with you, trying to heal from the lies that were told us about our sexuality from those in church and those outside church. You are wonderfully made. God designed your body to desire sex and to enjoy sex as much as any man. You are not a slut. You are formed into wonderful femininity, holding inside of you the breath of God.
I wholeheartedly believe that God’s ideal for us is sex within marriage, with one person who loves us, cherishes us, and forsakes all others. I really want to have that experience one day. It would be great if my sex drive could turn on on the wedding night and stay off before then, but that’s not realistic, and evidently not how I was made. So until then, I’m slowly allowing myself to accept all of my humanity, including acknowledging and celebrating my sexuality – and so should you.
Here’s some great reading material I’ve found helpful:
- Real Sex by Lauren Winner
- Flame of Yahweh, Sexuality in the Old Testament by Richard Davidson
- Letters to Young Lovers by Ellen White
- Songs Of Solomon