In She Deserves Better, we include headings listing what girls deserve to know.
And they’re dynamite!
It’s now one week since She Deserves Better has launched!
It’s been a wild week, and we’re so excited with how well the book is selling. We’ve had even more requests for interviews as it started selling so well, and we’re looking forward to what comes next.
But today, I’d like to share with you those headings, because they speak to our heart for the book, and our heart for girls.
Read these phrases with the words “She Should Know” in front of them
- …Her Feelings Should Not Be Ignored.
- …Struggling with Mental Health Doesn’t Mean You Did Something Wrong.
- …Happy Isn’t the Only Good Emotion
- …She is Not Less Important than Anyone Else
- …Truth Should Not Be Sacrificed for Peace.
- …Women Who Model Boundary Making.
- …God is not a Husband Vending Machine.
- …Breaking Up Isn’t a Sin.
- …The First Date Isn’t a Proposal.
- …Jesus is not a Jealous Boyfriend.
- …If a Relationship Feels Hard, She May Need to Reevaluate.
- …Her Ultimate Submission is to God Alone.
- …Not Everyone Who Claims to Be a Christian Has Good Character.
- …Boys Should Be Held to the Same Standards as Girls.
- …More About Sex than “Don’t Do It.”
- …Facts, not Fear Tactics.
- …Virginity and Purity are Not Synonyms.
- …The Goal is Not Virginity but Following Christ.
- …Feeling Safe Takes Precedence Over Being Nice.
- …Boys Are Not Sex Fiends.
- …What Sexual Coercion Looks Like.
- …Compliance Does Not Equal Consent.
- …about Arousal Non-Concordance.
- …She Is Not a Walking Temptation to Be Used by Satan.
- …The Difference Between Girl’s and Boy’s “Visual Natures” Has Been Overblown
- …She Has the Right to Exist in a Female Body.
- …Adults Who Find Children “Intoxicating” Are Called Pedophiles.
- …Girls Don’t Talk Too Much.
- …Disagreement Is Not Rebellion.
- …She Isn’t More Likely to Be Deceived.
- …It’s Not Her Job to Make Boys Feel Good about Themselves.
- …Not All Churches Will Try to Keep Her Small.
My heart sings when I see that list, because those are my prayers for our girls!
I thought I’d comment on just two today, and then let you all ask in the comments if you want more information on the other ones!
Let’s talk about #5–she should know God does not ask for human sacrifice, and #24–she should know she is not a walking temptation to be used by Satan.
She Should Know God Does Not Ask for Human Sacrifice
Here’s part of what we said:
From She Deserves Better
Joe White, the founder of Kanakuk Camps, branded his camps with the slogan “I’m Third”….and they ran with it: “I’m Third” week at camps; “I’m Third” discipleship groups; small group discussions called “I’m Third All Year”; and their slogan “God First, Others Second, I’m Third.”
The camp also made national news for covering up sexual abuse.
We think there’s a connection here. Teaching children to see themselves as the least important grooms them for evil, predatory people, whether that grooming was intentional or not. And all too often, Christian leadership has shown girls—and, in the case of Kanakuk, boys too—that their physical and sexual safety can be sacrificed for “the greater good.”
A reader of my (Sheila’s) blog shared this story:
Our pastor and his wife were hosting a huge dinner for their daugh- ter’s friends and dates for homecoming. His daughter told him she didn’t want to include a particular friend, because this friend was dating a boy from school who had acted physically inappropriately with her best friend and other girls among their friend group. The pastor/dad argued with his daughter about inviting the teenage predator, because he wanted his home to be “welcoming for the sake of the gospel.” The pastor/dad ended up not inviting the teenage predator, and hosted at a restaurant instead of his house as a compromise, but it was obvious he was still really torn up over the decision. And I thought, “for the sake of the gospel TO WHOM?” Clearly not to his own daughter and all of her friends, who had justifiable reasons for not feeling safe around this young man. Clearly not to the unfortunate girlfriend, who needed to be told that she was a precious child made in the image of God and deserved better than this. And clearly not to the young man himself, who needed to learn that actions/sins have consequences, and a consequence of mistreating girls/women is that you no longer get to be around them.
Often girls are told in subtle ways that drawing boundaries around personal safety means failing to live for the sake of “the gospel.” Is this the message that we want to give our girls—that Jesus cares so little for them that he’s fine that they experience trauma if it means someone else hears about him?
She Should Know She Is Not a Walking Temptation to Be Used by Satan
We were asked recently in an interview which was our favourite “She Should Know” statement, and this was Rebecca’s by far (because it’s personal for her). Here’s what we said:
From She Deserves Better
A 2007 Brio article taught how to alter 60s-style mod dresses to make them modest. The article concludes with a warning about wearing these over leggings: “These short dresses make a guy want to see more of a girl’s body, so Satan can use you as a walking temptation to make guys sin. As Christian girls, our goal should be to prevent sin, not encourage it!” Walking temptation to make guys sin. Wow.
But this attitude from Brio that girls can “make” guys sin simply by donning a too-short skirt persists. Shaunti Feldhahn, in a 2019 article titled “A Letter to Our Teenage Daughters about How They Dress,” says this to young girls:
Instantly, even the most honorable guy is instinctively tempted to want to visually take in, linger on and fantasize about all the details of this great body he’s seeing. . . . So if you dress in a barely-there outfit, not only your date but every other guy in the room (and not to freak you out, but EVEN the dads who are there at the picture party) sees you, notices how little you’re wearing and has the same temptation.
Feldhahn then drives the “even the adults” rhetoric home:
Also, keep in mind that this is not just your date or your boyfriend. This is any guy—all your guy friends from school, your friend’s brother, his father, and the total strangers at the restau- rant while you’re eating dinner before the dance. One told us, “When we see a hot girl, the first 10 seconds of a guy’s thoughts are pretty raw. We go straight into fantasy mode. And we have to really work to pull things back.”
Although Feldhahn adds a caveat in her post that she is not blaming girls for boys’ poor behavior, her caveat is invalidated when a takeaway from the article is that girls need to help grown men not have predatory thoughts about their developing, peri-pubescent bodies. The rest of the article, other than that small caveat, tells girls that their sexual objectification by men is a “biological” reaction, that at the sight of an immodestly dressed girl, “a part of his brain called the nucleus accumbens is automatically stimulated,” and that even if a man wants to honor a girl by not thinking of her sexually, he is biologically unable to do so, unless “you’re not calling overt attention to your body.” Yes, Feldhahn says she’s not blaming girls, but “if the dress is a bit longer, the top less revealing, or you’re wearing something that covers more of the leggings, that center in his brain isn’t biologically triggered, and that temptation doesn’t arise in the same way.” So a young girl reading this might hear that it’s not her fault but also that she alone can prevent it. That it’s totally his choice, but it’s a biological response to seeing her body that he has no control over because this is how God made him. That it’s not his fault because he can’t help it; it’s hers because she could have prevented it. But no one’s blaming her. See how confusing it is?
Seriously, She Deserves Better is fire!
We’ve heard from dads who are reading it (we’re thrilled about that–we thought it would mostly be a women’s book). We’re so glad that dads want to learn how to do this well!
We’ve heard of women reading this to re-parent themselves and heal from the things they learned in youth group.
We’ve heard of women reading it with adult children, and starting conversations to apologize for some things.
We’ve heard of women with small children reading it so that they’ll be prepared when their daughters are teens.
We’ve head of women with sons reading it because they think it’s just as useful!
And finally, women with teen daughters working through the exercises. So far more people than we thought are interested–which means that there’s a sea change happening. People are desperate for healthy information, and people are very, very unhappy with the way the church is right now. I hope this is part of the change.
So let me know–which one of the “She Should Knows” made your heart sing the most? Let’s talk in the comments!
All About She Deserves Better!
Podcasts about She Deserves Better:
- Do Girls Talk Too Much?
- Should We Kiss Dating Goodbye? What Dating Rules Work Best
- How Did Modesty Messages Affect Teen Girls Long Term?
- Why Are Women Supporting the Modesty Messages? Plus How Youth Groups Handle Date Rape
- Trauma, EMDR, and "Himpathy" (and why we sympathize with abusers)
- "Nice Guy Syndrome" and Boundaries
- What We're Fighting For: A Glimpse 20 Years Down the Road
- Pink and Blue Faith: Plus We Take a Submission Quiz!
Posts about She Deserves Better:
- 10 Defining Features of Purity Culture We Need to Eliminate
- How did we think calling 8-year-old girls' bellies "intoxicating" was okay?
- The data on why we need to stop calling girls "stumbling blocks"
- Feeling responsible for her own Sexual Assault: A Youth Group Case Study
- What do the toxic teachings have in common?
- Are we giving our daughters only half the gospel?
- 32 Things Your Daughter Deserves to Know
- 3 Things That Make it More Likely Your Daughter Will Marry an Abuser
Get She Deserves Better in paperback or ebook, or listen on audio!
From clip talking about Shaunti’s article: “So a young girl reading this might hear that it’s not her fault but also that she alone can prevent it.”
So, it’s not her fault. But IT IS her responsibility.
What a heavy responsibility. It is given responsibility over that which she cannot control. She not only can’t control it but, by all complementarian accounts, she has absolutely not authority over it, whatsoever.
Another unjust “no authority but all responsibility” situation created by the powers that be to keep their power and further oppress the powerless. Nice.
The right place to use, “It’s not your fault but it is your responsibility” is in the area of mental health. For example, “It’s not your fault that you have bi-polar disorder. But it is your responsibility to care for yourself and manage your mental health.” See that. It is something that one has control of and can and should take care of. It is not what one has to do for someone else’s issues. The boundaries are all discombobulated.
Men need to mind their own boundaries and stop sending people like Shaunti to tell little girls that they are responsible for men’s boundaries.
I just love this list – so many good points that young girls need to hear. I especially love the ones around dating. I grew up hearing a lot about how ‘really godly girls’ married their first ever boyfriend, and I know so many girls who ended up in bad marriages because they believed they’d be tainted forever if they didn’t marry the first guy they dated. (And to be clear, none of these girls had even kissed, never mind had sex with, the guy they were dating. Just going out for coffee with a guy on your own and keeping the ‘6 inch rule’ – i.e. never being nearer than 6 inches to him – still gave you a ‘soul tie’ to him. Funny that we never heard anything about the guys needing to marry the first girl they dated…) I had the sense to know that my extremely mentally unstable and dishonest first boyfriend was NOT the guy I should marry, but I still felt huge guilt when I broke up with him, which lasted for years.
And #28 – I still find that ‘women talk too much’ teaching so hard to shake. When we first got married, my husband would regularly ask if I was ok because I was so quiet. I was fine – just paranoid that I was going to ‘talk too much’ because, of course, he’d already ‘used up his words’ at work. (And I work alone, so often don’t talk to anyone all day) Funny thing is, he is definitely more of a talker than I am. Just as my dad used to talk way more than my mum.
But I think #5 and #19 are maybe the most important – I’ve heard/seen so many people covering up sin or putting up with abusive behaviour because ‘Christians are meant to be loving and forgiving’.
Isn’t it interesting that the “he’s used up his words at work” idea from Dobson even made its way to the UK where you live? Kind of sad isn’t it.
Dobson used to be super-popular over here – I think because the Christian publishing market is smaller in the UK, we tend to get a lot of American authors in our Christian bookshops and church bookstalls. (Usually the bad ones, unfortunately!)
On behalf of America, I am so, so sorry 😣
#6 …Women Who Model Boundary Making.
#9 …The First Date Isn’t a Proposal
#17 …Virginity and Purity are Not Synonyms
A quick look through a concordance will quickly reveal that purity and virginity are most definitely NOT synonyms!
Her feelings should not be ignored, she matters as much as anyone else, she has the right to exist in a woman’s body and truth should not be sacrificed for peace. Wow! Powerful. I actually read the list out as declarations over myself and it broke something off me. I’m buying the book, I think I need it more than I realise. Thank you ☺
I’m so glad, Helen! I hope it ministers to you.
Grain of truth: some gross men will leer at young women (regardless of what they are wearing). Remember that your date isn’t the only one who is seeing you.
Gross: pretending that all men are lecherous and that it’s the job of girls to handle the out of control emotions of grown men.
As for self sacrifice: that comes with boundaries. Even Jesus had limits: we have to accept His sacrifice. Only one thief was saved; the other was not.
Sacrificing for your family (who also make age-appropriate sacrifices for you) is a reasonable expectation. By age appropriate, I mean avoiding parentification of children and teenagers – just make sure the world doesn’t revolve around them. Maybe they have to switch schools because Mom or Dad got an amazing job opportunity. Maybe they have to go to a state school because it’s what the family can afford.
None of that means that anyone should destroy their dreams and goals so everyone else can be marginally less inconvenienced. None of that means anyone should sacrifice for an abuser – even Jesus said that the thief who refused to acknowledge Him would not be with Him in heaven.
These stood out the most to me.
She Is Not Less Important Than Anyone Else (I was made to believe EVERYone else was more important than me.)
What Sexual Coercion Looks Like (If I had been educated in red flags, I might be much healthier than I currently am. WIP)
Disagreement Is Not Rebellion (Yes! Sometimes disagreement means *I* am the one making best use of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is not a “men only” treehouse club.)
So many of these, when combined with even just a few of the others, makes for a very toxic, ungoldy belief system!
I LOVE that dads are reading this! It helps me greatly in trying to believe there are some good men out there. (Decades of my lived experience will take a while to undo and rewire. To all the good guys out there, I’m working on it. 🙂
There are good men out there, but often people live in communities where that is rare. When you go to a church that has consistently preached that women are responsible for men’s sin, often it can be hard to find good men.
An amazing list.
What’s truly heartbreaking is the number of people who would call some items on that list anti-God.
But, hopefully, things are changing.
Re #2: A lot of things clicked for me when I realized that the sin they were most concerned about was male sexual arousal and possibly masturbation. That isn’t always spelled out explicitly, and then you get these bizarre statements that guys can’t control themselves. OF COURSE any normal guy can walk around without raping people. If he can’t, he needs help and shouldn’t be allowed in public places. But that’s somehow held up to women as the implied concern, as if it is about our safety, when the actual concern is that he will have a sexual feeling. Once that happens, it is considered a sin. There is very little emphasis on the fact that it is total possible to have a sexual feeling and not act on it in a way that harms anyone else. Then, because the danger is the feelings themselves and not the harmful behavior that could possibly result if someone has sexual feelings and acts inappropriately because they did not control themselves, they show little to no concern about the actual harmful inappropriate behavior and have no problem with causing harm to girls and women if the goal is to stop a guy from having those sexual feelings outside of marriage.
I’m sorry they don’t know they don’t know what they’re saying. There are worse things than teenage boys going through normal hormonal developmental processes. Finding out you married a grown man with the testosterone levels of a 12 y/o boy is one of them. That is a literal pain in the ass to fix! (And it doesn’t get fixed overnight.)
#19 Feeling Safe Takes Precedence Over Being Nice.
I was raised where my concerns for safety were a direct violation of “dying to self” and “take up your cross daily”. I don’t know how many times I heard the quote from C.S. Lewis about Aslan “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” specifically to girls and our “need to be challenged to be courageous followers of Jesus”. I now feel like it was grooming to disconnect from the healthy part of our selves and our warnings to ensure our own well-being, and instead the self-gaslighting that “feeling unsafe” was and indisputable indication of “walking with God.”
A great majority of my own silence in the face of injustice stems from this being indoctrinated backwards. Speaking up for my own safety, health, and well-being still feels like sin. I’m trying to undo years of acting contrary to the will of God, by aiming to be invisible rather than “inconvenience” others with a call to justice and mercy.
I prefer the slightly American tweak of the C.S. Lewis quote, substituting ‘tame’ for ‘safe’. (Because safe and tame aren’t quite the same thing in the US. Tame means you’re perfectly predictable. Safe means you don’t blatantly harm people. You’re not a Jekyll and Hyde. Safe and good are closely related—at least in my experience of safe humans. (I know a few.)
In the UK, I think ‘safe’ has a dual meaning – it can have implications of being trustworthy/not harming (i.e. ‘good’), but it can also mean staying within the comfort zone/not pushing the boundaries/staying risk free (i.e. ‘tame’), which is the meaning Lewis is using when he says Aslan isn’t ‘safe’. But I can see how that could easily be twisted out of context.
Got to wonder why so many people were using a fantasy novel to teach youngsters the right way to live though…I mean, I love the Narnia books, and I think they can help a lot of kids understand Biblical truths, but they are not infallible OR God’s word.
“Got to wonder why so many people were using a fantasy novel to teach youngsters the right way to live though…” – In my environments it was very much put forward as THE Christian alternative/antidote to Harry Potter.
Oh, I love this! Hadn’t heard it before. And yes–here there’s definitely a difference between “safe” and “tame.”
> > the actual concern is that he will have a sexual feeling … because the danger is the feelings themselves and not the harmful behavior
This is huge disconnect, that sex itself (and sexual thoughts) are bad things. It’s caused a lot of problems, and we have a lot of work to do to overcome it.
> > Aslan isn’t safe
Most people on this site likely know that the “unsafeness” of Aslan doesn’t mean the same kind of unsafe as being around a predatory. Aslan will get angry with you (if you deserve it), and will hold you to account if you do something wrong, but He will NOT endanger your well-being. K, you and others are NOT in sin for making yourselves a priority sometimes. It takes a while to accept that on an emotional level, though, and I hope that you can heal from the poisonous teachings.
> > Speaking up for my own safety, health, and well-being still feels like sin.
For too long, people (mostly women and girls) have been told NOT to place ANY kind of priority on their own health, safety and well-being. All this does is enable abusers and predators.
“The rest of the article, other than that small caveat, tells girls that their sexual objectification by men is a “biological” reaction, that at the sight of an immodestly dressed girl, “a part of his brain called the nucleus accumbens is automatically stimulated,” and that even if a man wants to honor a girl by not thinking of her sexually, he is biologically unable to do so, unless “you’re not calling overt attention to your body.’ ”
I didn’t know she had a biology degree. Did she cite any of this scientifically-sounding verbiage?
I cannot help but have the feeling that some of these female authors who give such horrible advice to teenage girls seem to “hate” females. I wonder if they (the authors) have self-hatred. All the years I have gone to women’s Bible studies where I’ve heard toxic advice, I felt like these women just hated females. There’s that internalized misogyny.
Exactly. Also, doesn’t the Bible state that lust is always the fault of the one doing the lusting? Jesus or Paul or James NEVER blamed a woman for a man’s lust, no mention of women’s attire. Why do these authors not quote the ACTUAL BIBLE?!?!? If Jesus himself is telling men not to lust, then it’s actually BIOLOGICALLY POSSIBLE to not lust. Sheesh!