I was recently driving to go hike and passed a church that I’d forgotten all about. I’d forgotten about why I knew this church, it’s one of the churches I was brought to in high school to be saved.
Yep, you read that right, twice in high school there were attempts to save my blasphemous, harlot soul lol!
It’s kinda appropriate that I came across this church right now, especially as they seemed to be having another revival, given some of the recent articles coming out about dating statistics, misogynists like Andrew Tate being so popular, and the ways women are being vilified, legislated against, and harmed.
I’ve seen people in shock by the current events wondering what got us here so suddenly.
This wasn’t sudden, my experiences in high school prove that, and honestly this shit has been occurring for centuries.
If you knew me in high school or after you’ve probably known me as this wild, bold, not fitting into a box person. It’s how I’ve always been and through high school and beyond I’ve been very open and comfortable with my sexuality despite my traumas. Even when I wasn’t trying to be sexually expressive, I come off that way, and in high school that led to me either being preyed on or prayed for, depending on the boy.
Whether they were trying to “hook up” with me regardless of my wanting it or found themselves disturbed by their own reactions towards me so they needed to “save me” it didn’t matter, that shit comes from the same place.
A group of football players deemed me highly desirable along with my bestie, so they made an annual list of girls that were ranked by hotness and if you were an 8 and above, they’d go to any length to have sex with you. I was always at a 9 or 10 which means walking home from school meant we had to stick together or change routes occasionally as they didn’t care if the sex was consensual or not.
Imagine being a teenager and the simple act of walking home from school puts you at risk of assault simply because you’re desirable to a group of assholes?
This isn’t even that uncommon, I’ve met so many other women/AFAB people who experienced the exact same bullshit!
The other side wasn’t any better. Two guys I’d become friends with when going through my performing arts program turned out to be just like them, except they hid under the guise of being good Christian boys.
I knew both were attracted to me, but both seemed to have it under control, so I thought I was safe, I thought it was safe to be friends. It wasn’t because both of them at different times invited me to see them play in their church bands in what I thought were just weird Christian rock concerts. I got to each only to discover that sure they were playing but they were playing at fucking revivals where they were encouraged to bring people that needed saving.
I was there to be indoctrinated and saved because I was too tempting and too in my body as if I was some evil being trying to lure them away from their god. It broke my heart to be thought of this way. It broke my heart to see that my just existing was somehow a problem for all these boys that would grow up to be men who probably never questioned why they thought the way they did, why they put it on me or any other woman to be responsible for their fucked-up views of sex, sexuality, and women.
I’ve worked with so many clients that have similar stories and internalized so much shame, and self-hatred and many of them learned so much of it first from their families and own churches. The problem is never them; the problem has never been them. The problem that’s always existed is the screwed-up religious and patriarchal conditioning that harms all of us.
We’re seeing lower numbers of marriage, having children, and even dating for women while more and more men become outraged, violent all because of this type of harmful rhetoric that women/AFAB are meant to belong to men while also being seen as evil beings responsible for the violence and hate inflicted on us. Our society has been built on these ideas and we’re seeing pushback to the empowerment of AFAB with racist, sexist rulings from SCOTUS, state, and local legislation.
What I experienced, and what many of my clients have experienced on individual levels all play into national and global issues that’ve impacted us for generations, and the only way through is to change the way we talk about gender identities, encourage healing work for men/AMAB to unpack and divest from the toxic ideas around masculinity and racism because that heavily affects these beliefs and behaviors as well. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and empathy have to become a focus otherwise the work I do and so many others like me will take decades, if not centuries to influence any real change.