By Jesse Jost
In her recent award-winning book, Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, journalist Peggy Orenstein surveys the host of sexual challenges and dilemmas the modern girl faces. On the one hand she encounters men who objectify her and tell her she is responsible to dress in a way that doesn’t “distract” or “tempt” men, but she hears little corresponding outcry for the way boys are “distracting” girls through inappropriate groping and lewd comments!
Girls are taught that they can dream big and be whatever they want, but many of the women who have made it to the top have done so by exploiting their sexuality. The implications of this and the corresponding advertisements are crushing: yes, they can be doctors, singers, and lawyers, but their value will still be rated by how closely their bodies conform to the unrealistic sexual ideals found in film and porn.
A woman seeking to make it through high school and college faces the unsolvable dilemma of trying to walk the line between being sexually active but not a slut, and retaining her privacy but not being a “virgin” or a “repressed prude.” Either way she will be relentlessly criticized and degraded for the path she chooses.
I was shocked to read what is expected sexually of a girl, even before she begins to date. Peggy Orenstein interviewed dozens of girls across cultural lines. Many of these girls were strong feminist dynamos with great ambitions to free women from inequality and fight for women’s rights. Yet almost all of them in the heat of the moment admitted to passively submitting to pressure from guys to give sexual favors. In each case the young woman was so eager to please, or so afraid of hurting the guy’s feelings, she meekly surrendered, and what is sacred and wonderful in its proper context became a gross act of humiliation.
This is a toxic environment where guys beg and pout for graphic snap chats and then publicly humiliate the poor girls for the slightest provocation. Women are regularly described in obscene degrading language, made the objects of cruel hazing rituals, and face demeaning expectations to be a “friend with benefits” or be left behind.
What a confusing world, where a young woman dresses for a party and feels empowered by her revealing outfit, then quickly feels powerless as she is groped and objectified! There were so many times throughout Orenstein’s book that I felt like weeping. I can only imagine what God thinks as He sees this beautiful gift of sex, designed to thrill and satisfy, turned into an instrument of psychological torment.
As I read, my 7 year old daughter Sophia walked by. I had to put the book down and give her a big hug. I inwardly vowed to do all I could to protect her from such a horrific mess. Continue reading…