Sorry for the long break in posts; I took a short trip to NYC and as soon as I got home I was knocked out by a cold for a few days. I’m feeling a bit better now, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a bit more often.
In the final part of the three-part series I’ve been doing about this site (parts one and two), today I’m going to address the parts of this site that are truly ugly. Some of them are not particularly the fault of the site’s authors, except insofar as they don’t really question the ugliness of the cultural norms that they’re repeating. Others are just disturbing.
1) The page titled “How to Express Love“. It’s not so much the anything that this page says that bothers me so much as the fact that it needs to exist at all. I am saddened by the reminder that many people have never had an opportunity to learn what the expression of love looks like. I’m also a little worried about the fact that this page seems to be targeted at men – with ‘tips’ like “pick up after the children (even if it’s not your job)” and “change a diaper” – and then puts “listen to them” at the bottom of the list, “as an aside”. Listening is absolutely CRUCIAL to expressing love. If all you do is listen and react accordingly, you will be more loving than anyone who follows all the “rules” about expressing love. You’ll be honoring the other person as a person, not as a body filling the role of “loved one” in your life. And that is, at the most fundamental level, what it means to love someone.
2) The “shame and blame” attitude surrounding the discussions of premarital sex. I do not mean to say that premarital sex can’t be emotionally harmful. As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I recommend this book for its thoughtful discussion that talks about how that harm can occur without implying that everyone should feel that way. In other words, my issue is not so much with a person saying “It’s possible/likely that you’ll regret it later if you have sex now” as with the implied claim of “and that’s the way you should feel, since it’s a dirtybadwrong sin, and if you don’t feel that way, there’s something wrong with you.” If you tell someone they will feel shame, and they respect you, then they probably will – either regarding the act itself, or regarding the fact that they don’t feel ashamed of the act. Neither of those is necessarily a reflection on whether the act is shameful.
3) The “sex for the clueless groom” page. Reading this page just makes me angry and sad in so many ways. I think the common root of all of my complaints is the implication that on the hypothetical wedding night, this groom should have some sense of what to do, but his clueless bride should be expected to be shy, nervous, not really know what’s going on. Not to state the obvious, but if they’re both “pure”, shouldn’t they be equally shy, nervous, and not really know what’s going on?
Of course, that would challenge the ideals of our society in which men are always in control (of the situation, I mean… or something…). So instead of just telling both men and women “relax, have fun, touch each other and see what feels good, don’t do anything that hurts, and be willing to laugh when things go wrong”, there’s this whole page so that the “clueless groom” can at least have a plan going into the wedding night. Of course, most of the comments that are of a “how-to” sort of nature will only apply to some women. And I worry about the other women, when their guy comes in trying to pretend he knows what he’s doing, because it’s so hard to say “no, that’s not right, please stop” – especially if you don’t know for sure what is right. Really, guys, the answer to any sort of “how-to” of this nature is the same as it is for “how to express love” – listen, try something, and then listen some more.
4) The pages on penis enlargement and breast enlargement. Do I really need to explain this? How is it that penis enlargement = bad while breast enlargement = good? Oh, that’s right, we live in a patriarchal society. Look, it can’t go both ways. Either men’s sex organs should be just as subject to scrutiny as women’s, or neither should be. Personally, I’d prefer the latter be the case in any public arena.
Also, why is it the case that when penises are at stake, a lack of FDA regulation means “Danger, Will Robinson!” but when breasts are the issue, they say this:
Is it Safe? The FDA has approved the device, and chosen not to regulate the device since they were convinced it was safe. There have been a number of studies and tests, and no damage or risks have been found.
Call me crazy, but I think there’s a bit of a double standard here that leaves me wondering if this site gets some sort of reimbursement for promoting this particular system.
But really, what disturbs me most about these pages is that neither asks the obvious question: why not accept the body that God has given you? Why try to conform your penis or your breasts to the visual standards of a society you reject in so many other ways? Here, if anywhere, is a place for a bit of that gospel (good news!) that is so central to everything else – God created, and God saw that it was very good.