Have you ever heard the phrase “men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love”? This phrase is the pinnacle of an ill-informed mindset that has become pervasive in the church. Apparently women don’t like sex all that much, and simply give in to fulfill their emotional needs. And apparently, men don’t truly care about loving women, yet it is just part of their nature to use women’s bodies.
What’s the problem with portraying the gender gap as bigger than it actually is?
When you compare the two groups of male and female, of course there are differences between the groups at large. The issues come from stereotyping and overgeneralizing: when complex group differences are assumed as individual differences. When individuals in their uniqueness don’t fit stereotypes, these assumptions are damaging.
What does this mean for women and their sexuality? Specifically in the church? Purity culture, while having a righteous goal of encouraging sex inside of marriage, has done so much damage of shaming people who have made mistakes as well as shaming sex itself. Women are especially pressured by this shame. Because if women don’t really like sex, they should have no problem staying virgins until married or avoiding the trap of porn. Even after one mistake, a woman can easily be slapped with the label of slut or whore. Especially as Christians, we should know that there is no excuse for labeling someone as a slut or whore. Shame should never be used as a mechanism to draw people towards truth, especially when the shame of these labels is reserved specifically for one gender.
Lack of Resources
Along with the misunderstanding of women’s sexuality leading to sexual shame, there is also a lack of help. The advice that purity culture has for women is to cover up their skin and learn to say “no.” But what about the lust that women struggle with? Unfortunately this is rarely addressed. I love how Lauren Winner talks about this issue in her book Real Sex. I’m in the middle of reading this book, and so far I greatly appreciate her realistic perspective of sex in so many capacities. About women pursuing chastity she says, “Are many women likely to encounter men who pressure them to have sex? Sure. But they are also likely to encounter pressures that may seem even more urgent and even more persuasive – the pressures of their own bodies and their own desires.” (page 93).
Both men and women are created to enjoy sex physically AND emotionally. Some women have higher sex drives than their male partners. Some women have low sex drives. Assuming that women are not physically and sexually driven leaves women who are struggling with sexual sin (which is all of us in some capacity) to feel isolated, shameful, and with no helpful resources from the church. Women who are addicted to porn don’t have a support group to turn to. Women who struggle with sexual boundaries in relationships may feel that people would assume her boyfriend pressured her into it. Helpful resources have to first come from an accurate understanding.
Rather than contributing to stereotypes, let’s look at people as individuals and care for real needs.
In Christ’s Love,