Through 7-12 grade I went to church schools. I had Bible class and Chapel. We were taught evolution, but it was an afterthought and Creationism was emphasized. History was more Western Civilization than anything else. Africa and Asia were combined into one chapter in my textbook. If the author wasn't a known Christian or the book didn't glory God, it was as though it didn't exist. (My school wasn't Harry Potter is the devil crazy, but there were several schools in my area that were). Music was limited to hymns and classical, specifically Baroque and Romantic periods. I was also the only black person in my high school, but that's another story for another time.
There was one topic that was sure to send any teacher to the hills - sex, dating, and marriage.
Sex Ed? What was that? We were all supposed to be virgins until we were married. God would send us the man of our dreams and lots of babies would be had! Otherwise you were going to suffer from AIDS and all the STDs in the world. And no man wants sloppy seconds. Who would marry you if you weren't a virgin?
My High School the uniform completely covered the female form - Polo shirts and long A-line skirts. Oh the things the sight of an ankle can to do a man (apparently). From middle school onwards, we were taught to be ashamed of our bodies. There was an emphasis on men being lead to sin based on women's dress and actions. Anytime I didn't follow these rules, I was leading a man to sin.
So fashionable. If we were allowed to wear pants, such as on a field trip, they had to be preapproved by female staff and almost had to be 2+ sizes bigger. There was the three finger rule for shirts. Place your index, middle, and ring fingers together and place them at the bottom of your collar bone. If the top of your shirt came below that, a man might see your collar bone and sin. Gym shorts must come to the middle of the knee when sitting. No exceptions.
There had to be a width of a Bible (6") between you and a person of the opposite sex. No touching.
We were not allowed to bring "dates" to my Junior/Senior Banquet because the school did not want to encourage a dating atmosphere. Courting was preferred (a la Duggar style).
Abortion was murder (I've had to go to a few Pro-Life rallies as a teenager) and there was no other exception to the subject. God would provide and "lead the doctor's hands and mind". This is a direct quote. I've heard it regularly. Never mind if there was a life threatening disorder or if the fetus was abnormal – God would find a way.
My high school would perform and compete at many Evangelical Colleges on the East Coast. One in particular – the rightfully vilified Bob Jones University – was among the worst. My Junior year, BJU built a brand new gym. Big shiny facility with everything you could possibly want inside. But if you were a woman who just so happened to be wearing pants (cause who works out in skirts?); you had to enter through the back door. Let's repeat that for a second. A woman who attended that school, whose tuition dollars paid for that gym couldn't even enter through the front door with dignity. Yeah, that's not demeaning at all.
And to be honest, my school was among the sane ones. Most of our students turned out pretty well socialized. Other schools were not so fortunate.
This is all to say, it's no wonder so many Conservative politicians believe all this crazy stuff about rape and abortion. So many kids are being taught from an early age that it's the victim's responsibility to protect someone from sinning. They hear it in some (not all) churches. They hear it in school. And it's reiterated at home. A rapist or abuser was only acting on what the abused was presenting.
That person shouldn't have worn that.
They shouldn't have led them on.
Why were they alone together at that hour?
This is victim blaming that's engrained from the very beginning.
I was lucky, my Mother taught me a different rhetoric when I was at home. I was in activities that allowed me to interact with kids outside of the church bubble. I learned how to operate outside of these circles. Many of my former classmates had no such knowledge. One girl was so sheltered she didn't know what flipping someone off was let alone what condoms and birth control were. This is harmful for everyone involved. I really feel like sex education should be mandatory. Regardless of religious orientation.
And to be clear, I'm not against churches or religion. I still attend services from time to time (though at a radically different, more inclusive and liberal church). I'm against the systematic repression and shaming of women's bodies that's so ingrained in many institutions.
This was all brought back up to me based on a series of assaults that took place on Evangelical Colleges and Universities against women in the last 6 months. I'll write a follow-up post about that soon, but I had to get this out.