Madonna vs. Whore

Having been raised in a conservative Christian family, I’ve observed sexism and the objectification of women from two different vantage points; a photograph and its negative.

In much of conservative Christianity, it is taught that women are to “remain silent” in the church. They are not allowed leadership positions, most certainly can not be ordained as pastors, and are to “submit” to their husbands, who are “the head of the family.” Men are discouraged from being alone with other women in professional settings, which means having their wives along for any meetings, and this mindset puts women in a perpetual state of sexual objectification. (Try to imagine the reverse, where a woman brings her husband along to a professional meeting with a man.) This is necessary, they say, because men are viewed as unable to control themselves with women (either she will seduce him or he will seduce her). There is no professionalism—even in an office setting she is still first and foremost, a sex object (rather than a person and a colleague).

In marriage, she is expected to always keep her figure and be as physically attractive to her husband as possible. She is discouraged from withholding sex, as this would be seen as a “weapon” or a “punishment” to him during times of marital strain, making him vulnerable to the temptation of adultery or porn (read: if he cheats, it’s her fault for holding out). But when do these marriage books and speakers and seminars ever instruct the husband to remain physically attractive and to not withhold sex during conflict? Instead, the burden of healthy sexual relations in a marriage is placed squarely on the wife’s shoulders, first and foremost.

This leaves wives in an interminable state of anxiety about their physiques and libido. Any imperfections in her body, any weight gain she can’t shake, too many nights without intimacy, and she fears he will eventually have an affair with a more attractive woman. Doesn’t matter how imperfect he is, or how much weight he might have put on, that “more attractive” woman is still going to be waiting in the wings somewhere. But when do we ever hear about women leaving their husbands for “more attractive” men or a “younger model”? Now, that’s not to say they don’t, only that it’s seldom mentioned—by anyone.

A woman’s primary role in marriage, therefore, is as a sex object. Everything revolves around the marriage bed. She is a sex provider who is to be in constant submission to her husband, who is her “authority” and “head.” In the church she is also to be in submission to the male leadership, with the understanding that she will always be considered a potential seductress to them, so be wary. And if she dresses in an arbitrarily-deemed immodest way, she is to blame for his lust and lack of self control.

Contrast this to the secular, liberal world where we find the obverse:

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Free Love: Is It Really Free?

Webster’s dictionary defines free love as:

1: the practice of living openly with one of the opposite sex without marriage; and 2: sexual relations without any commitments by either partner.

Many people consider their choice to have sex an act of freedom—Freedom to make their own decisions, freedom to express their love to another, freedom to enjoy physical pleasure without commitment, or the freedom to feel independent and in control of their own body. Webster’s dictionary defines freedom as:

1: the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : Independence.

3 common reasons why people start having sex:

1) “We’re in love.” There’s nothing like the euphoria of falling in love. When he kisses you, the world around you disappears. You can’t imagine life without him. Expressing your love through sex seems only natural, so why wouldn’t you take that next step?

2) “I’m afraid he’ll leave me for someone else.” Are you sleeping with your boyfriend out of obligation? Do you worry that he’ll be bored with you if you don’t? Does he pressure you to sleep with him to prove your love?

3) “I need to have sex to feel loved and to feel confident.” Does having sex make you feel more attractive? Does it make you feel wanted and accepted? Do you question your self-worth when you’re not having sex?

Are these 3 reasons “acts of freedom” by definition?
Continue reading Free Love: Is It Really Free?

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