Women are often “assigned” the roles of “rescuer” or “sex object” by patriarchal society. The lies of shame can lead women to accept these demeaning roles. Many women do not feel lovable, so they settle for being “needed” or “desired.” They may feel that they only exist and only have value if they are rescuing men, pleasing men, or “keeping them satisfied.”
Teenage girls can be vulnerable to patriarchal society’s attempts to put them in the role of “sex object.” People who felt unwanted as children, invisible and powerless, can find they feel visible, wanted, powerful when they are sexualized as teens. Feeling desired can then wrongly be perceived as “love.” A key developmental task of adolescence is to discover, “Who am I? What am I made for? What is my role in life? How do I fit in?” A patriarchal worldview encourages teenage girls to believe that their role in life is to serve men–sexually and otherwise–that this is the way they can “belong” or “fit in.”
Teenage girls need to know that they are not sex objects. Their bodies are good, and God made them sexual beings, but they are more than a body, and the body is made for more than sex. They have a heart, soul and spirit inside; they are persons with thoughts, feelings, dreams, and giftings that God has given them. God longs to show them that they are loved for who they are, and that God has a purpose for their lives. God wants them to know that they belong in God’s kingdom and that they will be honored there.
Let us be bold in fighting for freedom–both for ourselves and for other women. We can learn to reject patriarchal roles; we can say to ourselves and others, “I reject the role of being a rescuer. God says my role in life is to love Him, and then love others equally to myself. My needs and feelings are equally important to others’ needs and feelings. I am as important as other people.”
When you feel someone is trying to put you into the role of a sex object, it can be helpful to say to yourself, “I reject the role of sex object. I am not an object or a slave, I belong to God as His beloved child, and I am honored by Him. As a woman I was not created for the purpose of serving and satisfying men. God created Adam and Eve to share dominion over the earth and to rule together. Men and women were both created to love God, and to love one another equally.” This kind of self-talk can help people to develop healthy internal boundaries, which can then help them to have healthy external boundaries.
We all have a need to “belong.” We can choose to belong to God, rather than to those who would “rule over us.” When we choose to belong to God, we are then given God’s Holy Spirit, and we are adopted into God’s family. God’s Holy Spirit gives spiritual birth to us, and then is available to comfort, console, help and counsel us (John 3:5-7; John 14:16, 26). Romans 8:15 says, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption. And by the Spirit we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” We can direct the longings of our hearts and souls to God, where we can belong, where we are honored, where we have dignity, and where we are loved unconditionally.
What messages have you been given about your “role” as a woman?
How can you direct your inner-desire to belong towards God instead of towards abusive others?