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Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson

Feb 21
25 tweets

🧵I’ve said before that American evang. churches basically raise girls who are pre-groomed. I’ve attributed that to undue trust in men in the church and excessive suspicion of people outside of it (who could tell girls that what they’re experiencing is not healthy or normal).

I’d like to add another data point to this phenomenon about how it happens: the normalization of unnecessary, gratuitous discussion of sex, either done by men or that represents male concerns in front of a general audience that includes minor children.
One of the odd things I recall about being an evang. teen/college student is this: There was more pressure to be “pure” than, I think, any time in history. Virginity was not enough. There was also concern about all touching or having crushes (“guard your heart”).
At the same time there was an inexplicable condemnation in more contemporary churches of being prudes. For instance, wearing big long dresses was obviously just as wrong as wearing a bikini (“show you’re a woman, but also a lady” is the phrase I remember hearing).
Likewise, part of not being a prude was accepting the fact that real Christians, not buttoned-up fundamentalists/Catholics, needed to be able to talk about sex. Talking about sex was part of engaging the culture – indeed, it was the only way we could engage the culture,
because sex was everywhere. Also, kids were growing up faster than ever and we needed to equip them. They needed to know how to think about sex from a godly perspective.
What this meant in practice was that it was important that everyone talk about sex, but specifically – sex as mediated by adult men, to children and young women, with grown men setting the agenda and primary concerns.
This is what this looked like. When I was 11 a church leader told my junior high group that when he was in high school he liked to go to basketball games and try to look up the cheerleaders’ skirts. We, too, wore skirts, and men were probably already trying to look up them.
That was the first time I heard the word “lust.” I didn’t know what it meant, and I didn’t really know why men would want to look up our skirts. The moral of the story was – you guessed it – we need to be careful what we wore.
When I was 12 a woman at a church event held up pictures of women in explicit poses and encouraged us to do these with our husbands, not our boyfriends. I didn’t have a boyfriend, I played with Legos after school.
That was the first place I ever heard the phrase “spread your legs.” I could see the lady in the photo doing it, but I didn’t know what it meant.
When I was 15 a boy at school was encouraged by his youth leader to tell me that he struggled not to think about me when he watched porn, but he was working on it. I got the impression I was supposed to pray for him and hold him accountable.
When I was 18 a man at church told me he caught himself trying to see through my shirt at church and he was sorry. I think he was 30. It took a few rounds of prompting before I realized he was expecting me to thank him for the information, and apologize.
These are just the first four I remember. There were hundreds of others, or things I saw happen to other girls. I know the names of all these people. I could drive you to their houses. They're not criminals, or in prison. This is actually what they believed was important.
Here’s the lesson you learn. It’s not just that your body makes men sin. It’s bigger than that. Your body is also a topic of conversation. The specific sexual effect your body has on men twice your age is worth talking about.
It is normal and understandable that men think about you, personally, when they are aroused. When you are in public, you should accept the fact that men are using the occasion of your presence to think about you, sexually.
If you don’t like it, you can cover up, but it doesn’t really help. The more central thing is, you really ought to be impressed how honest they all are. So I’d like to remind you that all this happened at the same time that "courtship" (hyper controlled, supervised-only contact
with boys your age) was suddenly really in vogue in church. Churches were at once withholding experience and knowledge from girls while also normalizing the experience of having no boundaries in front of men. Whatever men wanted to talk about in front of girls was their right.
If men wanted to talk about sex, they would. If they wanted to talk about their wives, same thing. If they wanted to talk about you, also fine. Your job is to accept this as authentic, fearless Christian discourse - and not be a prude. But also be pure. And very, very passive.
I am going to let the men in the audience who aren’t complete idiots figure out for themselves how safe girls are in this context.
And -if you don’t think that hearing your pastor talk about a woman’s body in loving, breathy detail, and then get applauded for his fidelity and courage in the face of opposition the next week is part of this big, gross matrix - I don’t know what to tell you.
The word “grooming” is complicated and wildly overused towards bad ends in this culture. But I don’t have another word for it. We relentlessly acculturate girls in church to put up with anything, to sit under anything, to ignore everything,
and to attribute the state of being permanently sexualized in all contexts to the godliness of the men who do it. It's not necessary. It's not healthy. It's not authentic. It's not accessible. It's at best childishness, and at worst predatory behavior.
If you're at neither end of that spectrum - child nor predator - and yet insist on your right as an authentic man to say whatever you want to whoever you want, and damn the consequences - just knock it it.
I'm not saying that talking about that super hot woman you could have banged at the bar is the thing that caused all this. I am saying it's another brick in the wall.
Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson

@NTReviewPod. Follow for New Testament, theology, crochet, pop culture, excessive cat documentation.
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