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It’s not the secular world that’s hyper-sexual

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 11:38 EDT
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I need to document that ass. For Jesus. 

By now, I have to imagine regular readers have seen this story posted at the blog of Hännah Ettinger, who was raised in the Quiverfull movement and is now an outspoken critic of Christian patriarchy. (Her family has since left the cult and, according to Ettinger, is relaxing quite a bit, at least by fundamentalist standards.) Hännah’s younger sister Clare, who is also being homeschooled, writes about a horrible experience she had trying to go to a “prom” that homeschooling groups throw for homeschooled kids. While the event was not explicitly Christian, it’s clear that right wing Christian homeschoolers basically are running everything. Which explains why, the second Clare walked into the prom, she was subject to outrageous levels of abuse for having a lady body. Her dress fit the dress code that was laid out at the event, but over and over again various female chaperones kept pulling her aside and making her prove it. Then this happened:

When I got into the ballroom I laughed, because I was surrounded by girls in much shorter dresses then me, albeit they were shorter, and therefore stood out less in the crowd, but it was still frustrating. I joined my group of friends, (there were six of us), and told them what happened, they were all appalled, especially considering we’ve been attending this prom all four years of high school and usually wore much shorter dresses then we chose this year. We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves. We weren’t dancing, but swaying with the music and talking and enjoying ourselves, when Mrs. D again approached me, and gestured me off the dance floor. She took me into a corner in the hall way, with another woman, (who I’m assuming was a parent/chaperone) and told me that some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts. At this point I said to her that I hadn’t been dancing at all! Much less seductively, and that even if I had been being inappropriate, they should issue a warning instead of just kicking me out.

She ended up being kicked out because all these Christian dads couldn’t stop leering at a teenager and, of course, they blamed her for it. This is what she looked like that night, with proof her skirt was fingertip length:

It’s cute, but hardly Jenna Jameson in a tube top. Not, of course, that it should matter. There’s no excuse to ogle and leer at women and make them feel uncomfortable. Indeed, if you like seeing women looking sexy, the correct choice is to be a grown, mature man about it and enjoy the view with subtlety and class, because if women feel safe and comfortable wearing sexy clothes, they will do it more. But, of course, making her feel unsafe and ashamed is the point, because all these “dads” are just straight up misogynist dickwads who project their own shame about their sexuality onto women.

What this all shows, however, is that the relentless policing of women’s bodies actually backfires when it comes to the “goal” of desexualizing things. Conservative Christians are always and forever accusing the secular world of being “hyper-sexual”, but you know what? You can put a group of 20 middle aged secular dads in a room with teenage girls and most of them will refrain from ogling the girls like they’ve never seen a woman before. The people who have an unhealthy obsession with sex are not the “secular” people who are fine with human sexuality. It’s the people who are so worried about the possibility that a skirt might show 3 centimeters more leg than you anticipated that they ruin a teenage girl’s prom over it. It’s middle-aged men who can’t keep it together because a teenage girl has successfully finished puberty.

I’m not saying the secular world doesn’t have its share of creeps and perverts, of course. I have spent my time giving the stink eye to grown men on the train who think it’s cool to hit on teenage girls. But those guys are the exception, not the rule. There’s a lot of them, but there’s way more men who refrain from acting like every pretty woman they see is four alarm emergency. It sounds like, from this girl’s description, that pretty much every man who is deep into the Christian homeschooling movement sees sex oozing out of every corner and can’t think about anything else. And, of course, blames women for his self-control problem and punishes them instead of considering, perhaps, the possibility of just chilling the fuck out about it.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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