A male student at Timpview High School in Utah complained that the cheerleaders at sporting events were giving him “impure thoughts.” Rather than addressing the student himself, the school instead instructed the cheerleaders to no longer wear their uniforms. This decision to alter the attire of the girls as a result of the boy’s perverted thoughts is a perfect reflection of female oppression at the hands of male sexualization.
One cheerleader even told Fox 13 that she felt the school was “supporting a rape culture.”
The reality that this conservative school fails to acknowledge was that women are not responsible for the impulse control of men. Or, as historically noted, the lack thereof.
Since the beginning of time, women have been told that they are “stumbling blocks,” mere temptations that stand in the way between men and their relationship with God. This same rhetoric is why we see sexual assault victims asked what they were wearing the night they were victimized — as if any attire excuses the violent exploitation of a woman’s body.
Despite the active fight against traditional gender roles, this patriarchal theology is deeply rooted in our society and is often brought forth when men are asked to take accountability for their sexual misconduct.
For decades, sexual education in the United States has been shaped by religious ideologies, preaching that abstinence is the only option that evades the risk of horrible consequences. Although fear-mongering is no stranger to religious teachings, abstinence-only sexual education has been largely discredited — proving to actually increase risk because individuals engage in sex without knowing how to do so safely.
Since then, public schools have begun teaching youth about the importance of safe and protected sex. The abolishment of purity culture has been on the rise – people’s disinterest in abiding by biblical law is skyrocketing.
Maybe this is because science is denouncing its credibility. The Bible’s teachings directly clash with our modern understanding of human nature — we no longer see an unbroken hymen as a measure of virginity, and we are all certainly aware that the earth isn’t flat, nor does the sun revolve around it.
The problem with purity culture is that it teaches women that their value equates to their lack of sexual experience.
This results in women who are afraid of their own sexuality, therefore never allowing themselves to explore it. Countless Christian women recount their fearful and uncomfortable experiences with sex — even once they’re married — simply because they’re indoctrinated to think that it should be accompanied by shame.
If a woman remains a virgin until the day she marries, she’s holy. If not, she’s damaged goods. By preaching this ideology, sex becomes an unwashable stain on an individual’s morality, instead of the undeniable facet of human nature that it is.
We can help people overcome sexual shame by helping them view it from a place of information rather than ignorance. Offering a fact-based outlook on sex education is the best way to empower people to make their own decisions about sexual expression.
It is only when we accept our sexuality as an aspect of ourselves, and not an external, sinful force, that we can truly begin to heal from sexual shame and begin to accept ourselves for everything that makes us human.