“Can’t turn a hoe into a housewife”, is a well known phrase. Essentially it encapsulates the idea that once a woman has a past of being sexually promiscuous, she can never become ‘respectable’ enough to become a good wife. The cumulative effect of her past sexual experiences have forever tainted her and rendered her value at zilch in the marriage economy. I’ve made a couple of posts about sexual double standards before and I hate to to beat on the same drum with a similar rhythm, but unfortunately, this message just hasn’t travelled through to the all the intended villages yet -so I’m going to keep playing.
Funnily enough, men who are well on their way to being able to run their own brothel with themselves as the primary service giver, are the same men who tend to use this phrase without any sense of coyness. Yes, you’ve read correctly – JimBob who has slept with a different woman every month for the past 5 years, wishes to marry Felicity Neverkissed. It doesn’t strike them as ironic that they’ve treated women as mere semen receptacles since puberty but still claim that the many women they’ve slept with aren’t worthy of their hand in marriage. This should be side splittingly hilarious to the majority of sensible people, but it always strikes me as strange how so many otherwise intelligent and emotionally sensitive men have for some reason still not rejected the idea that women’s sexual expression has far more moral consequences than theirs. Practically, I would agree it does – we can get pregnant. Morally I’m not sure why my past promiscuity would make me completely ineligible to get pregnant, use a spatula and be a source of emotional support to someone, but a man’s promiscuity has absolutely no bearing on his ability to function as my life partner.
I’m not arguing that your sexual past has no consequences for future relationships. I personally believe in abstinence and I believe that part of the reason my faith promotes not just abstinence but purity is because our past experiences DO inform our future ones. We can’t run away from that. It’s up to each of us to make decisions about our own moral choices, and choose to believe what we believe, but our past behaviour may well impact our future relationships. If you choose to have many sexual experiences with many different people then that’s entirely your prerogative and your choice.
What I am arguing against is the offensive, stupid, and sexist idea that women can’t change their sexual behaviour but men can. Men, especially Christian men, feel that they can sow their wild oats for as long as they want and suddenly, when they feel that they have seen enough of ‘the world’, they will be able to turn off that behaviour, find a ‘good woman’ ( one who is less sexually experienced than them) and live happily ever after in a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs with a dog made Bingo, eating home cooked meals and having fabulously passionate married sex for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately Tiffany, who was twerking alongside him in the club a mere 15 hours before he locked eyes with his future wifey, just lacks the innate ability to turn off the tap in the same way he does – by virtue of the fact that she bleeds on a monthly basis. Don’t even get me started on the extra double standard that allows white women to release sex tapes and start whole careers off the back of it, but black women who do the same thing will be forever blackballed (pun intended).
I hate to break it to you, but there’s a strong possibility that your sowing of wild oats will reap, as one writer puts it, ‘a bitter crop’. Don’t you dare look down your nose at the women you sowed your wild oats with. And even if you have been one of those men who has chosen to be very selective about their sexual partners or the number of sexual partners, if you believe that only men but not women can change, you don’t really respect women.
If I decide that I don’t want to be with a man who has a list of woman he’s slept with the length of my arm then people see that as unrealistic or picky, but a man who wants a woman with a lower number than him is just being a man? How is this still a thing in 2016?
Personally, I’m grateful that every day I get the chance to make choices that are better than I did the day before. If men who used to be selfish, or spendthrifts, or drama queens (yes, men can be drama queens), or couldn’t fry a baked bean without assistance can become husbands then a woman who used to be promiscuous can become a housewife too.
People can change. That change can’t and won’t happen overnight because consequences are real, habits are hard to break, and it can be a difficult and sometimes discouraging road. But if someone wants to change, they can change. Stop playing God and telling them they can’t.