Have We Taught Teen Girls to Ignore Red Flags When Dating?

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Uncategorized | 26 comments

Have We Taught Teen Girls to Ignore Red Flags When Dating
Merchandise is Here!

What happens when we tell girls that “boys will want to push your sexual boundaries”?

We’re in the middle of our debunking series, where we look at things that are commonly taught in evangelical circles, and encourage the church to get it right!

It’s all leading up to the release of our book The Great Sex Rescue on March 2! In that book, we share our survey results where we looked at how these common teachings affected women’s marital and sexual satisfaction, and how we can rescue and reframe these things so it’s in line with Jesus.

Plus you’ll feel validated. And heard. And it’s really fun to read!

And you get all kinds of pre-order bonuses (including our healthy sexuality rubric and our scorecard of how different resources fared) when you pre-order now!

The Great Sex Rescue

Launches March 2!

What if YOU’RE not the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

You’ll feel: Validated. Seen. Heard.

You’ll have a roadmap to escape the lies.

Plus it’s a super fun read!

Because you deserve real freedom and intimacy.

Each week leading up to the release of the book we look at a new teaching we’ll deconstruct and debunk, and this week’s is “all boys will want to push your sexual boundaries.”

We count the week as beginning on Thursday with the podcast (which introduces the topic for the next week), so that’s a little odd. But it means we’ve been talking about this for a few posts now, including:

So let’s continue this! What does it do when we tell girls that boys will push their sexual boundaries?

Well, our survey showed that it had impacted women’s marital and sexual satisfaction.

How Believing Boys Will Push Girls’ Sexual Boundaries Affects Marriage

When girls believe this in high school, then, once married, they are:

  • 59% more likely to engage in sex only because they feel they must
  • 24% less likely to orgasm frequently
  • 58% more likely to be uncomfortable with how their husband looks at other women when they are in public
  • 47% more likely to report not feeling “heard” when in conflict with their husbands

That’s just a partial list of what we found–there are plenty more findings for how this particular belief affected women’s marriages in The Great Sex Rescue.

But here’s a hypothesis I have:

One of the reasons that this may affect marriages negatively is that it teaches girls to disregard red flags when dating–and thus they may be more likely to marry men of poor character.

I don’t think that’s the only reason it hurts marriages. I explained more about how the gatekeeping message teaches women to always be in control, and then they’re not able to relax during sex, in a series last spring (and we dedicated a whole chapter to it in The Great Sex Rescue).

But the red flag issue is an important one, as one woman described on Facebook last week:

So, my experience growing up in purity culture, this message makes it nearly impossible for women to identify unsafe men.
When a man pushes sexual boundaries and disrespects a woman, when she has clearly stated her no, he isn’t safe. That should be a major red flag. That should be a man that women walk away from. And if women KNEW this in the church, then these men would have to step up or stay single.
But instead all these books and sermons have told girls that this is just how boys are. So women are dating and marrying VERY unsafe men.
Instead we need to be teaching women to accept nothing less than respect in a relationship.
Facebook Commenter

Exactly! Girls aren’t taught that boys pushing your boundaries is a red flag, something that you should be wary of. Instead, we’re taught that it’s part of being male.

And that leads to women being date raped and thinking it’s their fault.

Now, some moms have said to me: But girls DO need to be taught that boys might want to push their boundaries!

Yes, they do. But that “might” is an important word there. I would phrase it to my daughters like this (and this is how we did talk about it):

Some boys are primarily interested in sex with you. Those types of boys won’t respect your boundaries, and will push against your “no”. That’s a sign that they don’t respect you as a person, and they’re not a good person with good character that you want to be with. A good person respects your “no”. If you’re ever with someone who doesn’t respect your “no”, that is not a safe situation. Know that you are never to blame! But also know that this is a sign that that is not a healthy relationship, and it should end.

But many guys, most guys even, will respect your boundaries. If a boy does know Jesus, he may want really, really badly to have sex (because that’s natural; you’ll likely want it, too), but he will respect your boundaries and he will have some of his own. In a makeout situation, you’re both likely to want to go further, especially if you’re really in love. That’s why it’s important to have boundaries. But know your boundaries; make sure he respects yours, and make sure you respect his.

(of course, we also had ongoing conversations about sexual assault, so they would have known they weren’t to blame, too).

That’s a healthier message! That teaches them to identify red flags; it teaches them that not all boys are gross, but most are honorable; and it teaches them that temptation and sexual desire isn’t sinful.

Can you see the difference?

But if, as a girl, you only ever hear that all boys will push your sexual boundaries, will you even know to try to find a better guy?

Then, of course, there’s the effect that this message has on boys, as another Facebook commenter noted:

Not to mention I think it 100% sets boys up to become men who are slaves to their baser selves. They are not taught that they are in control of themselves. They are not taught that they CAN have self discipline. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that leads to things like porn addiction. When the bar is set low, you stay low.
When you teach someone that they are not better than this, they will continue to believe this is their “curse.” Or worse that it’s normal.
I’ve seen so many men grow up in the church, shackled by porn addiction, in despondent resignation, in failing marriages that this is just the way they are and there no hope so they might as well push that boundary.
Facebook Commenter

Do boys suffer because the bar is set so low?

I think they do. Why are we raising boys to think that sinning is natural? That part of being male is trying to see how far he can push a girl?

I think many (most?) youth groups are trying to teach boys to be honorable, which is great. But you can’t do that while also teaching that natural male behavior is to push boundaries. It’s not, and sets boys up to fail.

Church, we can do better. 

Like I talked about last week, our youth groups can do better. We’re on a quest to help people identify harmful messages, and to replace them with ones that honor each other and honor God. 

We do that in The Great Sex Rescue, and I’m so excited about the launch! But for today, let me ask: Has this message about boys pushing boundaries affected you? Did you grow up feeling like all boys are pigs? Did you grow up feeling like there was no point in expecting boys to do better? 

Or if you were a guy, I’d love to hear what messages you were taught in church! Let’s talk in the comments.

 

Teen Girls Ignoring Red Flags when Dating
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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26 Comments

  1. Anon

    Couldn’t agree with this more. Although I think there is another type of teaching that is also responsible for girls ignoring red flags (at least in my country), and that’s the way marriage is held up as the ultimate goal for a woman. If girls are taught from an early age that marriage is essential to being a happy woman, and if they see single ladies being treated as lesser beings, then they are going to be desperate to marry at all costs, even if it means ignoring danger signs. And I believe that teaching also encourages men in the church to think they can treat single women any way they want – I’ve even had men use it as an excuse for assaulting me (‘but you’re single so you must be desperate for attention’) and also been told by a church leader, when I told her about one church member who groped me, that I should be ‘grateful for the attention’.
    I feel the message needs to be two-fold – teaching girls what they should expect behaviour-wise from men and encouraging them to avoid dating guys who don’t meet those standards, but also, teaching them that the single life can be fulfilling and happy – and also demonstrating this to them practically by treating older single ladies as fully-paid-up members of the grownup community! In so many churches I’ve attended, it’s like single women are never treated as ‘grown up’, regardless of how old they are – I didn’t marry till my mid 40s and it’s been infuriating to see how people have changed in their attitude toward me since!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is so good, too! I know there are a lot of single people reading this blog (I’m pretty sure you began when you were single, but dating, right?). And a lot of that is from the unhealthy teachings about gender dynamics in the church.
      I think the problem is that we don’t value single women, because we don’t know what to do with them. If marriage is the goal, then what’s the point of a single woman?
      But this is a modern evangelical thing, it’s not a “Christian” thing. Throughout history in the church, the single life was usually the pinnacle (think Paul’s epistles, but also the monastic tradition). The issue is that we’ve elevated gender dynamics and male headship as the main point of the Christian life, I think, rather than keeping Jesus at the centre. And when we do that, then single women have no place.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Yes I found your blog when I was dating and desperate to find some healthy teaching on relationships. My husband will never know just how grateful he should be to this blog for helping sort out some of the confused messages that were jumbled up in my mind regarding marriage and sex! God has used this blog to do a lot of healing and re educating in my life.

        Reply
    • Bre

      AMEN to the stuff about being single! The attitudes toward women who are married (in sex and their husbands being in charge, ext.) have been such a turn off to me that I want to stay single. I know it’s selfish, but I want to be happy and free and not have to deal with all that junk, even though it would be nice to fall in love and get married. But the attitudes toward single people are also so annoying. Everytime I tell any of my Christian friends that I want to stay single because it’s just what I want, the typical response is ‘oh your just young and stubborn! You’ll come around eventually like everyone else!’ (these are unmarried people my own age or a little younger). Ugh…darned either way. I’m SO sorry that people used singleness to excuse you being hurt…that’s just disgusting and so un-Christlike.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Oh Bre, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this – I can really sympathize because I had it for 30 years (started getting pressure to date at 16 so I could marry at 18 and ‘not waste time’!!!)
        Hang in there and keep enjoying your single life! But please don’t let other people’s unbiblical views on marriage taint your view of marriage as God meant it to be. This was something I allowed to happen to me, and God had to do a lot of work in me before I could see marriage the way He intended it to be.
        I don’t regret my single years at all – they were amazing! And I would have been happy to stay single for life, but God had other plans. And marriage to a Godly man, who values, loves and respects me, who treats me as an equal partner and who is adamant that sex should be equally enjoyable for BOTH of us is amazing too. And it’s totally different to the kind of ‘marriage’ that was portrayed to me by so many when I was growing up in the church.
        I’m not saying you should get married – just that you should stay single if that’s what right for you, and not because you’ve been put off marriage by a lot of twisted messages that have nothing to do with what marriage should look like!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, exactly! I know so many women who are put off of marriage because of toxic teachings and toxic church communities, or toxic parents, and it makes me sad. If it’s a genuine choice or calling, no problem. But I don’t want women to be robbed of something that might give them great joy because of bad teaching. At the same time, I know the single life can also be very fulfilling. But it’s always best if we make our choices from places of wholeness. (And this doesn’t just apply to singles–so many people marry for the wrong reasons and then end up in bad marriages, too!)

          Reply
  2. M

    I think it’s also important to teach boys and girls that sometimes it’s the girl that pushes the boundaries or may want to go further like you did for your girls. I think when the girl is told to be the gatekeeper but then she finds herself tempted to go further and not wanting to “gatekeep” she may feel more shame and like she’s bad or something is wrong with her. She also may not be prepared for what to do when she doesn’t want to stop because she thought only boys want “more “.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! Very true, too! And also, a lot of BOYS are pressured by girls to go further than they want. Yes, girls feel that shame afterwards, but I think boys also need to be part of this conversation, and we need to raise our boys to recognize red flags as well.

      Reply
      • M

        So true! My son is very committed to keeping sex in marriage. He dated two women (at two different times) that pressured him to go further than he wanted in order to prove he loved them. The situations turned him off completely and he realized the relationships weren’t healthy. He didn’t break up right away because he did like them. He tried talking to them about the importance of healthy boundaries but they both felt hurt and rejected that he didn’t want to go further. They thought he would be captivated by them and that something was wrong that he COULD resist.

        Reply
  3. Bre

    I couldn’t agree more. I don’t ever remember getting any messages like this growing up. We never really talked about sex much at all, really. And in the collage ministry I’m in now, despite being an egal. denomination, there is stuff they say about marriage and gender roles that I know is wrong and erks me…but the typical teaching on sexual integrity night is to know = yourselves and set a boundary that is just a little bit more “extreme” than that (can’t find better word) so you have time to catch yourselves and put on the brakes.
    I’ve only recently learned that some churches actually teach this and…yuck. Just yuck. While it wasn’t sex or relationship related, I experienced something along these lines growing up so I have zero patience for this kind of thing excusing boys bad behavior. Growing up as an Autistic kid in public school, I was horribly bullied a lot. The majority of the bullies were boys. Instead of doing anything to actually punish them and help me, even when I was having a mental breakdown in the counselor’s office, I would literally be told “Oh, he just likes you! This is how boys act when they like someone because they are bad with feelings!” Basically, I was blowing it out of proportion and needed to grow a backbone because “boys will be boys”. This was in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. I was literally harassed repeatedly all day, every day, to the point I dreaded going to school. I was also physically attacked and beat up. One time, a boy from my class came up to me at recess and grabbed my scarf and pulled it tight around my neck and basically started strangling me and laughing while I legitimately couldn’t breath and was trying to yank his fingers off.
    I didn’t realize until years later what kind of attitudes fed into this, but now that I do I’m PISSED. If you actually care about someone, you don’t try to hurt them for fun! With some of the stuff that they did to me, like the strangling incident, especially since we were so young…there should have been some serious red-flags going on about their violent behavior there, regardless of sex. This is why I really hate all these messages coming out of the church that men need to be tough, assertive, leaders and that they are also sexually charged and basically weak to control themselves, but also superior to women and meant to lead the females. I’ve had enough of mean and rotten males as a CHILD…if that’s the kind of behavior that the church is going to not only excuse but promote, then I’d rather be single.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Bre, I’m so sorry that you went through that as a child! And you’re right–the “boys will be boys” thing really fed into that. For sure.
      I do believe the church is changing. I think that there’s a rumble coming from the pews that wants healthy teaching and that wants respect and is sick of all this. I really do. It hasn’t reached the evangelical leaders yet, but eventually those terrible books will stop selling. The conferences are all dying. And then healthy stuff can fill the void. We just need to stop buying and supporting the unhealthy stuff!

      Reply
  4. Andrea

    The idea that men just can’t control themselves also leads to marital rape (and by rape I don’t necessarily mean she’s fighting him off and screaming “no,” but she’s been taught to give in regardless of her own feelings because she just can’t understand how difficult it is for men). So she’s more likely to have sex when she doesn’t feel like it and to have the kind of sex she doesn’t enjoy. She’s more likely to put up with degradation and pain and even pretend she’s OK with that. At least in the dating situation, she goes back to her own or her parents’ place at the end of the night, no matter what happened, but once she’s exchanged vows with him, she doesn’t even feel safe in her (their) own house anymore.

    Reply
      • Andrea

        Yes, as Germaine Greer says, most rape is banal. She gets in a lot of trouble for this because the phrase is taken out of context and used as clickbait to look like she’s minimizing rape, but the truth is that most rape is not physically violent and in most cases the victim knows her assailant. Greer is a radical feminist who has nothing to do with the evangelical world, but watching her speeches and interviews on banal rape would make you think she’s been reading this blog because it sounds like she’s describing the everyday experiences of many evangelical wives.

        Reply
    • Bre

      It makes me really sad that, as someone who is both Christian and considers herself a Feminist, that lots of the mainstream/secular Feminist movement that passionately hates Christians isn’t exactly wrong in many respects, like you said about Germain Greer. I read a book called Why Not Women? and one of the first things in the intro that hit me like a sack of bricks was the author pointing out that while, yes, the secular Feminist movement may hate the church and have some pretty dark parts to it, has anyone in the church bothered to wonder and ask why they hate the church so much? It makes me sad…I’m weird to most Christians because of my beliefs in equality, but Feminists hate me because I’m a pro-life activist, and I really cringe at many of the things that religious pro-lifers say about families and sex. Basically, I have moral qualms no matter where I am and it stinks with my mental health issues. Seriously, I feel much safer around atheist/ non-religiously affiliated pro-life feminists; many of them, I’ve found, are actually quite interested in Jesus and religious things and they actually understand my struggle and we can have good, deep discussions. I feel less attacked for my deep convictions and beliefs around the atheist president of my college’s pro-life club and my sweet LGBTQ coworker than many other Christians because they understand and see these sort things as being evil and wrong quite easily. It’s sad that the church should be the first place that is safe for women (and everyone…duh) but it’s literally, throughout history, often been the last holdout for love and justice in many areas.

      Reply
  5. Jessica Ghigliotti

    Sheila, this is so, so good!
    Another thing: Not only is purity culture teaching women to marry unsafe men, it’s also teaching women that A) You may NOT break up with an unsafe man, and B) You should rush to marry an unsafe man even faster!
    A) You may not break up with an unsafe man. “We’re basically married now. God just have you to me. Our souls are bonded and you’re mine.” Twelve years ago my boyfriend said this after raping me.
    I had wanted to break up with him for months, but knew I couldn’t. I had made out with him, which meant we were basically married. He had said gross things over the phone (against my wishes) which meant we were basically married. I was a rose petal with his fingerprint on it, a chocolate bar he had sampled. Our souls were forever tied with that “superglue” that all the purity books say happens the moment you become sexually aroused. An older woman I respected had flat-out told me God wanted this man to be my husband now, and I would be disobedient to break up with him.
    And everyone knows after you give your heart to someone, breaking up is basically a divorce.
    So the message? A girl is allowed to break up with a good, safe boy who respects her as a person. But a girl may not break up with an unsafe boy who disrespects her and pushes her boundaries.
    B) You should rush to marry an unsafe man even faster.
    If you find a man who has no sexual self-control, marry him quick! It was never said in these words, but the meta message was clear.
    “If you cannot control yourself, you should get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
    I went to my pastor to tell him I wanted so much to stop having sex with my boyfriend, but my boyfriend wouldn’t let me. “Set a wedding date.” Was his stern advice. No mention of consent, sexual assault, or suggestion that my relationship was dangerous and should end. Oh, you’re in a dangerous relationship? Put a ring on it.
    (I didn’t end up marrying that man. His poor character showed up in a different way that the church saw a justifiable grounds to break up. I married a different unsafe “Good Christian Homeschool Boy” who had a string of affairs and left me with 4 children last year.)
    Sheila, thank you so, so much for your blog and podcast! I’m over here cheering you on! Break through these lies! Our girls deserve SAFETY in their relationships. Marriage wasn’t invented as a way to avoid premarital sex. We have to stop disrespecting the nature of God by treating marriage this way!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, Jessica, that is AWFUL! It’s such a dereliction of duty that pastors are not trained in sexual assault/marital rape, but they aren’t. And our doctrines tend to say men are entitled to sex, so women can’t say no anyway. Just terrible. Thank you for sharing!
      Incidentally, I wrote a series on that whole “soul ties” idea a while back. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of feeling like you have to marry the guy, but that’s another terrible repercussion of this doctrine that has no root in Scripture.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Oh yes, feeling you must marry them is definitely a thing. In my teens (aged around 15-17) we attended a church where it was really pushed that the ideal was to marry the first person you dated. While some of this teaching was from a good place, intending to make you treat relationships seriously, even that was harmful – and some of it was seriously sick. One guy even taught that if you so much as held hands with someone of the opposite sex you committed ‘fornication’ with them. ‘Pure’ couples held hands for the first time on their wedding day. It put so much pressure on, even before you started to date, as you were expected to spend time praying over whether you were ‘right’ for each other beforehand – agreeing to a first date was as major as getting engaged is for most people! Although I recognised much of this teaching as unhealthy, I still absorbed a lot of it, and I felt so much guilt when I split up with my first boyfriend – now I was going to be a ‘lesser’ Christian because I didn’t get to marry ‘the first one’. Even though he had some major mental health issues, was a compulsive liar and used threats of suicide to get his own way with people, I still had this uneasy feeling that I was ‘wrong’ to break up with him. Sadly, a number of girls who stayed in that church longer than I did, and absorbed even more of that teaching, went on to have a very sad marital history, which I’m sure is partly due to the feeling that they had to marry young and to their ‘first date’.

        Reply
    • Anonymous in TN

      When I was a teenager and young adult, I was afraid to date and this was why! It’s taken 25 years and your blog to help me realize it. I subconsciously thought I would be in a dangerous situation eventually and would either be violated or have to get married. I didn’t know what red flags were – I was just taught to be super nice and polite and sweet to everyone but quickly found out that unsafe people see that as opportunity.
      I was stalked by 2 different men – it pains me to say, they were both from my home congregation. Thank the LORD things were dealt with years ago and no longer an issue.
      And to the above commentor about being single – I absolutely agree. Marriage is taught as the pinnacle of existence (just for ladies) so you’re really missing out on life unless and until you’re married. I was single until almost 40 and people started trying to marry me off to just about anybody around age 25. People seemed to view me as being a perpetual kid. Single ladies aren’t to be pitied or looked down on; they’re supposed to be treated as a whole person; not someone who one day (once she’s married) will have something to offer.
      Thank you all so much for all your shedding light on!

      Reply
  6. JohnMark

    LOVED this post, very refreshing. It did make me think of a follow-up question I would be interested to know, but no way to figure out. What percentage of high character guys are single vs what percentage of low character guys are single? It made me wonder if, experientially, women might be more likely to encounter low character guys in the wild such that what might be a statistical minority feels like a majority. I was thinking about this recently when a single coworker friend asked if I had any guy friends to set her up with but I couldn’t think of someone that was both single and a guy I would vouch for.

    Reply
    • Maria Bernadette

      What some people don’t realize, is that getting married before you are ready to, or before you have found the right person, is the opposite of maturity.
      By “ready to” I don’t mean there’s something wrong with a person who isn’t ready for marriage at a certain age. Reasons for not being ready can be completely not your fault.
      Example: someone who practically had to raise herself, because her parents were so neglectful won’t be ready for dating and marriage as early as would someone with a good upbringing.
      So, while it is true that no one should marry until they are mature (emotionally, mentally and spiritually) as well as financially stable (which also requires a lot of maturity) that does not translate into: wearing a wedding ring means that a person is mature.

      Reply
    • Anon

      I’m not sure what the percentage is, but a recent study in the UK showed that there were more than twice as many single men as single women in the UK church. Assuming the ratio is similar in other countries, many Christian girls will have to choose between marrying a non believer or staying single.
      If you look at the ratio of those who are really serious about their faith, I suspect the gap would be even larger. I have several female friends who are single because they can’t find a guy who is really serious about his faith – they’re not looking for someone who has a leadership role in church, just someone whose faith extends beyond a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. And all the really sincere & committed Christian guys that I know are married apart from a couple who believe they are called to singleness.

      Reply
  7. Annelise

    I grew up in a strongly complementarian church that was deeply entrenched in purity culture. I didn’t really get this message. Pretty much any physical touch was too much, so pushing boundaries means he isn’t a good guy. But I think it encouraged unhealthy relationships in another way. Men were to be the head of the house, so women had to look for strong leaders. With a bit of distance now, I can see some guys I thought were strong, godly leaders are actually controlling. (Not all, there were many great guys too.) But I’m concerned that this narrow view of ‘godly manhood’ combined with the requirement for submission and an unspoken pressure to marry young could have resulted in a number of unhealthy marriages.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, yes! I could go on about this for hours. Absolutely. It taught women that men who were domineering and controlling were godly, and then we have an epidemic of emotional abuse in highly complementarian churches. And then each generation cements it for the next, because it propagates. It’s really scary, and we simply must do better. I want to teach women and girls that this isn’t acceptable so that they can get out before they get into those relationships.

      Reply
  8. M&M

    Even though my church is better than some of these terrible stories, I still relate. For the abuse cases that I’m aware of, my church supported the victim and didn’t blame her, but some victims blamed themselves because of ideas about modesty and submission.
    I felt closer to equal when single than when married. When single, there was a mix of people talking about a future husband and about the advantages of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, but nothing about submitting all decisions to one person. When married, there was never an overt, obvious insult to my worth, but subtle reasons to feel worthless. When someone says that women are equal in worth and different in authority, it still FEELS like unequal worth. To clarify, my husband isn’t controlling, so this isn’t about him, just church.

    Reply
  9. Jennifer Aprill

    My sisters and I had physically abusive parents and then went to a private Christian high school in the 00’s. Some of the loudest boys in the school did push boundaries constantly, even with girls they weren’t dating. It was like a blanket thing. Because as girls we were told that “girls have ways of getting boys to do what they want, so you must’ve egged him on somehow” and also it felt like everyone came down harder on girls who were perceived as flirtatious, it felt like we couldn’t tell the adults. No one ever told a teacher.
    However my sisters and I grew up with violence, both parents worked full-time while we homeschooled in middle school so we were home alone all day. We wrestled and played rough a LOT, and then dad put us all in martial arts classes (an extra mean one). We were dedicated to learning for obvious reasons. When boys at school would push our physical boundaries we were very quick on our feet in a fight. No one was ever seriously hurt, because we didn’t use any of the nastier ticks we learned on our friends, but my sisters and I were certainly capable of sending a guy to the ER. It made guys more cautious with us, and we’d intervene on behalf of other girls, but we shouldn’t have needed to fight at all. Looking back that the combination of it being normal for boys to push boundaries and a culture of blaming girls so they can’t talk to teachers, created a situation that could have been potentially dangerous.

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