Monday, October 24, 2011

I Don't Have To Be A Slut To Be Sexually Confident

I have a little confession to make. While I've been submersed in the topic of sex and dating over at Good Woman Project and here on my blog, I've forgotten the world of sex as I knew it a year ago.

I understand that this month I've spent most of my time discussing sex with:

1) my husband, who used to be addicted to porn, and now talks on how damaging porn is;
2) Ally Spotts and her fiance Darrell, two awesomely attractive and super cool Jesus-lovers who write about sex and dating;
3) my 20-something friend Haley who is outrageously gifted in the relationship-advice/purpose-of-sex department;
4) young Christian girls in bible studies; and
4) sifting through countless stories from women on how casual sex broke them.

I am blessed to be a part of a movement of men and women who are willing and excited to talk openly on sex the right way. A movement that is unafraid to say, "the traditional church hasn't handled it as well as it should," and also "the world hasn't handled it well at all."

But this week, I've read some articles that have shocked me out of my sexy-just-married-lingerie and honestly, made me a little bit angry that I'd forgotten WHY I started talking about sex in the first place.

Women are giving up on being the good woman they've been striving towards, because they've stopped believing the good men are out there.

Translated: Women are embracing sex before marriage because they've stopped believing there are men who will wait for them.


No, seriously. It's true. It's why I gave in to sex, and it's why I slept with men I didn't even pretend to love. I developed an, "I deserve this, because everyone else is doing it" attitude. The men that cheated on me, left me for other women, left pornography open on their laptops, or simply dated women that slept around angered me into my own "I don't care" behavior. Men were proving to me that sex was the most important part of life, and I should be living that way too. Sex first, questions after. I stopped believing I could find a man who could prove that he meant it when he said I was beautiful and would stick around forever. If men were going to have sex any way they wanted it, when they wanted it, I was going to have it too, damn it.

Sex has become a selfish thing, and the current "me" has become more important than the future "we." This is why sex outside of marriage is self destructive.

And what I've been reading this week is re-confirming that this is why women are still embracing and manifesting their sexuality in all the wrong ways.

AskMen and So Feminine did polls this year on promiscuity. The AskMen survey that revealed 70% of men find women promiscuous between 5 and 10 partners, while the So Feminine survey reveals 55% of women find men promiscuous somewhere between their 20th and 50th partner. Only 15% of women find men with 10 sexual partners promiscuous.

Marrie Lobel "sort of" reviewed these polls in her "Promiscuous Women" post in a rant about her self-admitted out of control yet perfectly acceptable sex life, and said: "It's this perception of what makes a 'good' woman that keeps women from being equal to men. It's in women's nature to want to be accepted and thought of as worthy and good. This survey, I'm afraid, will not only set a precedent for what men think a good woman should be, but box women into living life according to what others dictate as appropriate. Well, fuck society. If I am considered a wanton woman because I have slept around with more men than another man is comfortable with, then it is his loss."

Classy, Marrie. However, you do present a problem that demands at least a hypothetical solution.

Apparently, women still aren't equal in your eyes. Not because of our civil rights or because we now make up 52% of the workforce, but because we are attempting to have as much sex as we want outside of marriage and men are thinking less of us for it.

Hypothetical solution? Women need to be averaging as many sexual partners as men, and men need to GTF over it.

The problem with this solution is actually hinted at in your own words: "Men express their desire to be with a sexually confident woman, but find her promiscuous at 5 partners."

Marrie, I'm going to tell you a little secret.

"Sexually confident" stems from one of two things. Either from a woman who is insecure in her identity and therefore overcompensates in her sexuality to find confidence somewhere, OR is confident in her identity, in which case it carries over into her sexuality. And men know this.

Men are attracted to confident women. Men are attracted to a woman's sexuality. But good men are not looking for insecure women who find their identity in their sexuality.

Marrie, I'm going to give you some words of advice, woman to woman:

Don't read the polls to determine how you should be finding your identity and living out your sex life.

Don't decide whether or not you'll find a good man based on a statistical study.

Don't make sex about yourself just because you haven't found a man who makes it about your loving commitment to one another.

Don't get angry that men still desire women who are confident enough to share her sexuality with one man that deserves it.

Don't play the numbers game with your heart just because a poll shows you the world is playing a numbers game with their body.

Don't stop believing that there is a man out there who will protect your identity before he participates in your sexuality.

And please, for the sake of all relationships everywhere, please don't believe the lie that you must be sexually promiscuous in order to be sexually confident.

I'd like to end with words from an anonymous good man who commented on Marrie's post:

"To me, anyone that has had many casual sexual encounters has a high likelyhood of having damaged their ability to respect sex as part of a committed relationship. I very deeply tie sex and love together, and frankly I don’t believe someone that has used sex for casual pleasure can feel the same as I do on the subject. I would gladly give up “wild, kinky, crazy” sex to be with someone that feels as I do. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many women left that haven’t ridden the merry-go-round of casual sex, which means I either suck it up and settle for less than I want, or go without a committed relationship."


PS. Can I just re-phrase "sex out of marriage" as "sex without committed, unconditional love" once and for all, please? Maybe then we'd realize that we're not breaking a rule someone else set, we're actually harming ourselves.

22 comments:

Ruthiey said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this, Lauren. I think sometimes Christian women don't know HOW to be sexually confident without being slutty because they've never seen it. I REALLY appreciate your challenge to Marrie. <3

Anonymous said...

I heldout from sex with a girl i dated for many years, didn't get me anywhere...should i have tried waiting again?

Sheryl said...

That was powerful, Lauren.

I think you're absolutely right when you say women have stopped believing there are men who will wait for them. I believe men get the message from so many places that waiting isn't manly. If they're hearing it, so are we. Sadly, too many are believing it.

Thanks for your strong, confident, correct words.

Katey K. said...

Wow. Lauren, my dear, you have once again hit the nail on the head. It almost scares me how some women address this ideal of being 'sexually confident'. So many women seem to be compromising themselves just to fit a mold that only ends in emptiness..and yet some of the most beautiful, sexy and confident women I have met are those who know their own self worth and strive to have loving, healthy relationships that are rooted in honesty and vulnerability.

What's more interesting to me is that it seems as though men are innately interested in women who WON'T sleep with them, which I would assume is because they are seemingly so counter-culture. You'd think women would pick up one this!

Thanks for the words of wisdom!
Lovelovelove.

Kevin said...

It almost seems that you write your blog just to spur hatred in your direction. The unintelligent, closed minded ideals you portray make me scratch my head and wonder how you feel so empowered.
Let’s start with examining those who your discussions of sex involve. Each of these has one large thing in common, that is, the bias towards hatred of sex outside of wedlock. Maybe you should put some effort into discussing your ideas with those who disagree to help determine if you are, in fact, correct about the issue? You could converse with people who have overcome depression because of casual sex, or atheists who don’t believe in monogamy, people in the porn industry, or a number of other people who don’t share that same bias.
Now, to focus more on the main point you stated as “Women are embracing sex before marriage because they've stopped believing there are men who will wait for them. “
This is ridiculous for a few reasons. First of all, grouping an entire gender together is ridiculous. While this statement may have been true for you, there is no way it can be claimed to be true for all. As a matter of fact, I know women personally who disagree. Not only that, but it seems as though it’s claimed that all women who don’t wait for marriage are simply doing it because they don’t believe men will wait. Some women just don’t get a fuck about waiting. Others may want to try it out, or they don’t believe in waiting until marriage. Opening your mind to allow other reasons in would immensely help your reasoning.
More so, while it is true that there are some, even many, men that are scum and treat women poorly, there are women who do the same to men. It seems there is a mindset of men vs. women here, and that’s preposterous. Each person is their own, and the blame must be placed individually. You should not blame all men for what happened to you, but instead, focus it on those that did. On that note, placing blame on men for a feeling you had is largely absurd. Instead of collapsing to the pressure of having sex, you should have examined your feelings more closely and perhaps seen a counselor to help work through it, rather than falling into the pressure.
The beginning part of the next bolded statement does not form the conclusion of the statement that follows. Sex can, and often is, a selfish thing. Men want it, women want it, and it’s satisfying physically and sometimes emotionally. However, even casual sex can sometimes offer a ‘we’ idea. I once had a casual relationship with a friend that coincided with the idea of what some would call a friend with benefits. We hung out, spent time together, cuddled, and had sex. It was not serious; we didn’t feel that strong emotional connection we were hoping to have in a real relationship, so we didn’t have one. However, that casual sex helped to release any frustrations we had, brought us closer as friends, and satisfied our human need to be close to someone, physically and emotionally. This helped both of us, it was a ‘we’ choice, not a ‘me’ decision. This did nothing of a destructive nature. So maybe the statement could be revised to show that “selfish sex can prove to be self destructive.” That is a much more agreeable statement. However, it is possible to have casual sex for the benefit of others.

Kevin said...

(cont)


The poll results show clearly what is already known as a problem throughout our western civilization. Women are treated differently and often in a less positive way. It’s a shame that it is this way, but society itself is improving consistently. However, this poll does not further your argument in any way. Marrie is not confused when she displays that women aren’t equal. It’s not her eyes she’s using, it’s societies. Generally, men and women still aren’t equal. We could quote stats regarding the pay structure, amount of females in higher education, or any number of things, but what would remain true is that women are still struggling.
And it is true that men are attracted to confidence, just as women are. Confidence is an air of comfortableness that anyone can possess. Men are not attracted to a woman’s sexuality. Some may be, some are not. Again, clumping an entire group based on the genitals they possess is outrageous and unreasonable. Good men are looking for secure women, regardless of their sexuality, and women do not need to look for security in their sexuality, but some may find it there.

Brooke said...

Lauren,

This is the first time I've been compelled to post, even though I've been following the adorableness of you and Max for a couple of months now. The honesty both of you present is refreshing and inspiring to see.

As a church girl who grew up Southern Baptist and find myself now reformed, I've had to confront an upbringing that didn't talk sex, other than to say it was "bad before marriage", so I applaud your honesty and mission to bring it to church in a new way. WE NEED IT.

That said, I'm currently doing a study of Isaiah, and what I read there today corresponds so uniquely to this post, that I decided to come out of the blog-stalking shadows and comment.

There's a lot of gloom and doom in Isaiah before you get to the redemption, and he spends several verses in chapter 3 and 4 talking about women. Namely, a focus on adornment and ruling over men with "seductive eyes" that leads to God's daughters sitting destitute and ruined outside the city. The scariest thing about it to me, is the connotation women's behavior has on the downfall of God's people. Just, you know... yikes.

Reading your post, I feel like this is so much of what we see women doing today...ruling over men with false sexuality, thinking it makes us equal and powerful, not knowing or believing it leads to heartbreak, disappointment and ruin in more ways than one. Our sexualized culture makes people talk in lots of "everyone does" and "no one waits" absolutes that perpetuate lies about men and women and where we all stand. Thanks for calling them out.

/over-long rambling comment

Brooke

jenniferbryant.me said...

Lauren, I wrote about why singles shouldn't be having sex outside of marriage today too, and linked to a past post of yours. Despite the lengthy rant by Kevin, I absolutely agree with what you had to say. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.

Jessica said...

Can I just re-phrase "sex out of marriage" as "sex without committed, unconditional love" once and for all, please? Maybe then we'd realize that we're not breaking a rule someone else set, we're actually harming ourselves.

Yes. This.

Maybe this would also stop people (*ahem*) from having knee-jerk reactions when they think you're condemning "sex out of wedlock" when you're actually talking about sex divorced from love.

Shelby said...

I totally agree with your statement, "Can I just re-phrase "sex out of marriage" as "sex without committed, unconditional love" once and for all, please? Maybe then we'd realize that we're not breaking a rule someone else set, we're actually harming ourselves."

Being in a committed, loving relationship is the context in which sex was made for. None of this one night stand crap. I'm glad I'm not the only person who wants to rephrase "sex out of marriage" as "sex without a committed relationship".

Brandy Lee said...

Absolutely amazing post, per usual, Lauren. I have had sex outside of unconditional love and even lived with my ex. Now in a new relationship, 3 yrs since the last time I slept with a guy, it feels amazing! We are both SO focused on God, it's truly wonderful how He fulfills you! More so, my boyfriend is still a virgin, at 24, and it is truly a picture of God's amazing grace to put a man in my life who has saved himself for me, his future wife! Thanks again for all of you're amazing words!

Nduku Wambua said...

Thank you for this post. I very much agree with you. in a society that more and more people seem to be engaging in sex even from a tender age, the feeling of wanting to be like everyone else is enormous. I have not had sex and I'll be turning 23 on Saturday. It's scary to think that my future husband might be engaging in sex right now, but I pray against it. Insecurities will always be there, we just need to know who we are and stop trying to fit in and just be us.

Thank you for being you:-)

Anonymous said...

i've followed your blog for a while now...and i have trouble reading whole posts like this--not because the subject matter is wrong, but because i see the title about how "i don't have to be a slut" and then i see your picture in the corner that my husband has to avert his eyes from.

because, let's face it: you're not wearing pants.

i'm not trying to be condemning, i just think it's so strange that a fellow wife of an ex-porn addict doesn't take into consideration that the way a woman dresses can cause other women's husbands to think about them in a certain way?

it's a topic that's really close to my heart, because in a sex-saturated society, i feel like Christian women need to step up and respect our men, help them out.

{sorry for posting anonymously. my husband hasn't really given me permission to be out spreading his past all over the cyberweb. :)}

again, totally not trying to judge. sometimes i just feel like that is an area of sexual purity that we don't think about as much as we should. we don't want our husbands looking at other women, yet we won't give other women that same consideration...

Anonymous said...

In soooo many ways Lauren, I respect as well as identify with everything you have said!

I am one of those women who has a good man who is will to "suck it up" to have what he wants:

my unconditional love.

In return he gives me his, and he does! he bolsters my confidence in my identity!
... and here! HERE, is where I have to thank you!

Because, until now I never really thought that it would be appropriate to allow that confidence to carry over into my sexuality. (Herein lies the residual damage of my former life.)

Needless to say this does throw a wrench in our idea of happily-ever-aftering every now and then, but it's not impossible!

DID YOU HEAR THAT LADIES?!?!?
This does NOT MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

There are men out there, good men!

They want you for who you are first!!! If that is all they could have, and could never have sex with you, they would still want you!!!

How do I know this? ...

... because I HAVE one! (how humbling)

When he told me that if he could never have sex with me he would still love and want me, that! that is when I learned what love really looks like here!

One more thing, if I may be so bold and take up a little more air-time:

Be sure ladies that you are looking for love in all the RIGHT places.

And by that I don't mean looking for a man in your church,
or you bible study,
or your book study,
or your library,
or your magazines
and you know, just stay away from looking in bars and all that jazz.

No! but what I'm talking about is looking in the right place,
in the best place

your bible.

We ladies have it easy, as we can all be brides one day.

God's love for us is PERFECT!
It is the way He loves us, all of us, His church, His sons and daughters.
The bride of Christ!
Learn what real love is ladies, be content in letting your Lord love you first and let that be enough.
Yes, pray for a husband, pray for a good man. No matter your past or what you have done, He loves you and He can give you a man that will emulate His love for you here on earth.

I echo:

as women, we lose, we lose when we entangle ourselves with promiscuity -- bravo to you Lauren!

Thank you for your words

Lindsay said...

Excellent ending point, Lauren. I have entered a new culture where I stand mostly alone on my standard to wait to have sex until I'm married, but I knew that this wasn't the only reason why I was waiting. I've been searching for the words for that deeper meaning. Thanks for pinning them down.

Saying I won't have sex until it is paired with committed, unconditional love sounds a lot wiser and less naive than saying I'm waiting till marriage. Really, I can't thank you enough for giving me the words that will help me not look like a fool for standing up for what I believe.

KerryRose said...

Lauren:

I read Marrie's post, and then yours. I felt like crumbling in tears of relief after reading your words. I'm glad that you have the strength to stand up against what is cast as the "norm" in society, because I know YOU know that there are people (not just girls) who need to know there are other people out there who don't conform to the "sex sex sex" mentality.

And to this Kevin fellow, Lauren's not looking for hatred...she knows the things she talks about will spur all sorts of reactions. Takes a strong person to know that and still speak her mind.

Also, for the record....I love the picture. Don't feel faulted for that. :-)

Anonymous said...

kerryrose: i definitely wan't trying to "fault her" for her picture. i came back to check this morning because i was worried that people {most especially lauren} would think i was judging and trying to make her feel bad.
NOT my intention.

i've just had many talks with my husband who has a really hard time with how girls dress, and especially how young Christian girls dress. not because he's old-fashioned. he's got a very similar story to lauren's, actually.
which is at the heart of what i'm saying. it hurts that my husband has looked at other women that way, has been with them that way. i want his eyes on me only. i get jealous for his eyes and his mind.

and i know it's unrealistic in this world to think that he's not going to see other women revealing their bodies. they're everywhere. billboards, walking down the street...in...churches?

lauren has an amazing opportunity here, to teach and encourage and set an example.
she's in a position of being a role model for others, speaking on topics like sex and sexuality from a position of leadership and authority.

i'm not calling her out. i'm just passionate about respecting guys as much as we want them to respect us.

does that make sense?

KerryRose said...

Yes, of course it makes sense. I think I sometimes forget that men have just a difficult time with certain things like women do. It's tough, isn't it? The way society has made this mold for women to fill, and this kind of expectation that's set out for men. That's another thing really irritated me about Marrie's post....that she was insinuating that men can "get away" with having a high number of partners and be seen as a "real" man. Who says that's the definition of a "real" man? It seems to me that real men are the ones like your husband.

I apologize for sounding so judgmental of your comment. :)

Anonymous said...

and I'M sorry for sounding judgemental IN my comment.

this is one of my {billions of} faults. i can't shut up when i'm passionate about something. still learning when and where to speak up and when to just walk {click} away.

thank you for being kind to me. :)

and lauren: i apologize to you too. totally not cool of me to write something like that in a public forum. i have respect for what you do and who you are, even if we don't have the same views on things. it's still a very important issue to me, but i can discuss it on my own blog, not attack it on yours. sorry about that.

Abby said...

I really enjoy your blog, too, and I know being a Christian is not about following rules or being a "good girl" or anything, but that picture bothers me, too. (Whoever said women aren't visual is a liar.) Not trying to condemn you, but it doesn't seem to fit into the philosophy this blog. If it does, please correct me and explain why. If not, please consider taking it down.

There might be more people who think it's fine than who are bothered by it, but it doesn't seem like a battle worth fighting to me. I'm willing to bet there are a lot more who have been bothered by it but haven't said anything.

That said, I'll keep reading, picture or not. I just don't see how it feeds into a perspective of sexual purity, and sexual confidence within a committed relationship.

@kristen_rea said...

I came back today to read this again. I think this is a point and conversation that needs to be addressed more with women and young girls growing up in today's sexualized society.

Thanks for writing this! It gave me a lot to think about.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic, however, I feel that you're missing the underlying issue. The issue is not sex. The issue is not sin. The issue isn't self-confidence. The issue isn't waiting for your husband or significant other.

I am sitting with a group of attractive, intelligent, athletic, confident followers of Jesus who also happen to be single. We are all in our late 20's. Most of us were raised with the whole "True Love Waits" movement. We were given promise rings. Most signed the pledge. However, those campaigns are empty. They refuse to hit on the actual heart of the matter. If I was waiting to have sex because I wanted to be a virgin for my husband, then I would have had sex a long time ago.

We were all talking about what keeps us from having sex. The reason we don't have premarital sex is quite simple: because God tells us not to. Our relationship with God is more important than our fleeting desires. Following Jesus is why we get up in the morning; it's why we go to our jobs day after day. It's why some of us have given up all of our belongings to move across the globe.

I choose not to have sex because I know that sin separates me from God. I have truly seen God's goodness and that is all that I want. Someday I will get married; I may be 29 or 30 or 40 before I find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. Until then, I will wait. I will do it happily, because I know that God and eternity will outlast my fleeting relationships.

Instead of focusing on telling young adults to wait for sex, we need to invite people and show them how following after Christ is better than anything on this earth can offer. Following after Christ is the most adventurous decision you will ever make. He will tell you to give up everything. He will tell you love people deeply, more than your own selfish desires. He will take you to crazy places. He will take you to the very end of yourself. You laugh harder and have more joy than you ever thought possible. Yeah, there are days when I entertained the idea of taking a relationship further physically than I should, but Christ reminds me that he wants more for me than an awkward morning after. He wants me to life and have it more abundantly.

---
The more deeply you walk with Christ, the hungrier you get for Christ; the more homesick you get for heaven; the more you want “all the fullness of God”; the more you want to be done with sin; the more you want the Bridegroom to come again; the more you want the Church revived and purified with the beauty of Jesus; the more you want a great awakening to God’s reality in the cities; the more you want to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ penetrate the darkness of all the unreached peoples of the world; the more you want to see false worldviews yield to the force of Truth; the more you want to see pain relieved and tears wiped away and death destroyed; the more you long for every wrong to be made right and the justice and grace of God to fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.

If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.”

-John Piper, Hunger for God

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