A Woman’s Right to Choose

IMG_6488 I recently read an article in Stylist magazine by Lucy Mangan about men video taping consent from their prospective sexual partners. I searched the web for it and couldn’t find it but I swear it existed.

Coming from a UK teaching background where I had to evidence just about everything that happened in my classroom without actually video taping the class room I initially thought, well done to these proactive men and women, entering into a contract which, growing up in church and having NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE shoved down our throats without full explanation of why we should, makes total sense. Marriage is legally binding and so is a video confession. Yep, I’m on board.

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As I read the article I realised Lucy was against the concept, and I realised I still didn’t fully grasp the concept of consent.

It was a mixture of wanting to be the best christian in the world and a fear of having children that kept me from having sex before marriage. After getting married I realised my fear of having children was part of the reason it took a month and a half before my husband actually got to penetrate me.

I had many opportunities to have sex and I let myself get very close to those experiences but I said no from the first kiss. The first guy that I dated got me down to my knickers before I started having the panic attack that made him realise he may have convinced me to get this far but if he took it any further he was raping me. Thank God he stopped. After him I had two rules for any bedtime fun that momentarily made me forget how lonely I was: CLOTHES STAY ON AT ALL TIMES AND YOU ARE NEVER ON ME. Sure, a hand could slip up my shirt, down the back of my jeans; if you lay down the law like that most don’t try to slip it down the front, however I did find that they’d try fingering me through my jeans. Men have no idea that actually feels like cleaning out your nose with sand paper, making it very easy to say, you need to stop that.

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As clothes were on, you could have fun but nothing could happen that you’d really regret. You couldn’t talk about it at church connect group because someone would make you feel guilty for being the everything but girl, but you’d remember those passionate kisses the rest of your life.

As I continued reading Lucy’s article she pointed out that all though I would say no, and continue to say no until the guy realised I wasn’t playing hard to get and fall asleep and leaving me awake the rest of the night full of sexual energy, other women, including christian women, get to a point where they feel confident enough to say, yes I will have sex with you. Just like I had the opportunity to say, ok I’ll let you take my top off, she has the opportunity to say no I don’t want to do this anymore. If he’s got her consent on video he could rape her and get away with it because he’s already got her consent on video. It was at this point I realised what a wise woman Lucy Mangan is.

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How many of us have gotten into the position where we have thought, well I let this happen so I deserve this. Imagine if you have video evidence of something you regret saying, even just a few minutes before. You already feel vulnerable and now it’s being used against you. If that first guy had a camera phone back then (I’m a millennial but I was ‘active’ pre camera phones) I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have been a virgin when I got married. He was so good with the emotional abuse he would have put that in my face and I would have felt responsible and let him take those knickers off.

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I’ve had a lot of friends describe sexual experiences to me where they felt like they’d been coerced into ‘trying something new’ or hadn’t really ‘felt up for it’ but followed through because she felt bad. You see it on their faces as they realise, “I was kind of raped”. They quickly dismiss it as a bad experience because that’s easier to deal with.

It’s only since I’ve been married that I understand why sex should be saved for marriage. For us ladies it’s invasive, we’re sharing our bodies. Depending on what sort of hymen you have (follow the link to see the different types) the penis will either slide in nicely or rip you apart. I was ripped apart. If I’d experienced that with anyone I’d been with before my husband, I think I would have hated sex and been so self conscious the whole time. Even without the addition of sex in my earlier experiences I spent the whole time in bed with them thinking, are they bored of me, do they actually like me, how long are they actually going to be in my life? My husband can’t escape. He had to put up with a good 6 months of me not knowing what the hell was going on with my body. Turning sex into a science project while I figured out how the inside of my vagina worked. Most importantly, how do I get that penetrative orgasm? But we got there. I knew that he loved and supported me in every other aspect of my life and he did exactly the same thing in the bedroom. But it was hard to begin with.

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My prayer is if you are a christian and you have had sex before marriage, please don’t feel judged by this. Remember, Jesus has 2 prostitutes named in his family tree. That a woman is mentioned at all is incredible, that a prostitute is mentioned is meaningful. I’m also not calling you a prostitute.

Whether you find yourself in a position where a guy wants to film you giving consent or if you feel coerced or guilted into doing something that doesn’t feel right, you have a right to say no. Even if you did it the last time you were with that person, you can still say no. You have a right to choose. God gave us freedom of choice. My pastor likes to quote Jeremiah 29:11 that God knows the plans he has for you. Plans. That’s plural. He’s got plan A, B, C, D… all the way to infinity. Romans 8:28 says, all things work for those who love the Lord and are called to his purpose. You may have done something that you know wasn’t right for you and, on reflection, could be counted as sexual assault but God has a plan and a purpose for you and He’s working it all together for your good. So go ahead and change your mind. God gave you a woman’s right to choose. And, for my fellow Sex and the City fans, a woman’s right to shoes.

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I hope that this has encouraged you and blessed you. If it has please leave a comment below. If it hasn’t please leave a comment as well and we can chat it out.

We’d also love you to be part of an ongoing study we’re doing into christian culture sexual paradigms. If you’re up for doing a survey to add to our research please head to this link.


Hold my Earrings

Tonight I found myself screaming as I ran down a street in semi suburban London. I was chasing a car. Said car had pulled up to the corner as I was walking, honked at me and as I looked into the window I saw 3 young men with their tongues hanging out of their heads and smiling at me like I was juicy steak.

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How did I get here? How did I get to the point that I couldn’t just ignore it and walk behind the car? Could it have been that the night before at a well known London nightclub in my first 20mins through the door I had one guy think he could put his hands on my waist, another try get in my line of sight for 5mins before also trying to touch my waist and finally had another guy think that just because he could see my bra straps he had the right to snap them? Could it be the 2 years I lived in Tottenham where I couldn’t walk down the high street without having a man treat me like a prostitute with my ‘favourite’ example being when the guy followed me into a particular fast food chain, tapped me on the shoulder forcing me to take my ear phones out and told me to hurry up with my order because he wanted to talk to me? Or could it be when I first moved to London and I gave my number to what I thought was a nice guy who lived down the street. 10 phone calls a day made it obvious he wanted to be more than just a friend till early one Saturday I morning I spent about an hour of my life on the phone trying to let him down easy because I didn’t want to date anyone at the moment and why would he want to date someone so adamant about not dating him?

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And there in lies why I was screaming down the street, or at least why I kicked the 3 guys in the nightclub.  I don’t have the time to stand there and play the polite girl card and say, ‘um, I’m sorry but what you just did kind of makes me feel like a piece of meat and I’d really just like to walk down the street/ dance in peace.’ I want to get on with my life and it’s near impossible to do over 115 dBA sound system or through a closed car door so a kick in the shins or screaming down the street gets the message across a lot faster.

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The unfortunate thing is that any man who’s made it this far though my writing without thinking ‘feminist victim crap’ isn’t the issue here. Someone like my husband who didn’t understand why I didn’t dress up more to go out until the time a guy hit on me while he was holding my hand. However, even my nice guy husband described an encounter with one previous sexual partner like this:

I was drunk at a club I saw this blonde girl walking past me and I grabbed her hand and started dancing with her till I suggested we go back to my house and we never really spoke till the morning after.

If my husband had grabbed my hand on the dance floor before I knew him he would have ended up with a punch in the chest.

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So what’s going on? Who’s to blame for the current state of the cultural milleu? Is it the way these men are raised? Have they been conditioned to see all women as objects? There’s multiple newspaper, magazine, blog, vlog, whatever else articles on that subject. Or is it these girls that allow themselves to be objects? Like the married woman who told me she wished someone called out ‘hey baby’ at her as she walked down the street. Or the other woman who tried to reassure me that being in a strip club isn’t as sad as I think it is because you see the girls in the bathroom and they have as much cellulite and wrinkles as the rest of us. My body image wasn’t the issue. Just in case it’s still not clear, it’s the objectification of women.

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Part of the reason I don’t feel so bad for shutting these guys down so quickly is it gives them more time to go and find someone else that meets their needs. Even though it does hurt their pride for a moment, and let me tell you these guys have A LOT of pride, I’m doing them a favour. Then in the morning he can tell her about the crazy girl that kicked him in the shin at the beginning of the night. That’s assuming he’s till there in the morning.

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Take home message: doing crazy things when men objectify you starts out as fun but after awhile it will become your reflex action. Trust me you don’t want to go there. Practice zen. You’re better than this. You’re better than them. I’m preaching to myself here :/

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We’d love to have you contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment below or by filling out the Christian Female Sexuality survey here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeRria-Rnln3g6-oq0PlkZZXd3i-kimjZ_gddh0ytzd7sL4PA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Thanks for coming on the journey.

x Rahab