White Knight/Rapist: The Dichotomy for Men
In searching for a topic for today’s post, I was browsing some of the research institutes that advocate for scientifically accurate sexual education. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is a particular favorite of mine.
I found an interesting analysis of the current Abstinence Only Until Marriage (AOUM) curriculum that is used in public schools across the country from SIECUS. Here are the key points of the analysis published at that link:
- Regardless of gender, younger teens are assumed to sexually objectify ‘opposite-sex’ peers.
- Sexual pleasure is acknowledged but portrayed as dangerous and addictive when outside the context of heterosexual marriage.
- The longstanding stereotypes of the sexually pure ‘good girl’ and the sexually adventuresome ‘bad girl’ are increasingly matched with stereotypes of ‘good guys’ who respect females’ sexual purity and ‘bad guys’ who disrespect it.
While I am glad that there is an acknowledgement of sexual interest and pleasure, the notion that it is dangerous or addictive outside of a heterosexual marriage is patently ridiculous. The complete and total disregard for any sexual feelings or orientation that falls outside of the heterosexual norm is outrageous, especially when one considers that teens who fall outside of the norm are at risk for bullying, homophobic based hate crimes, and suicide. But this is par for the course, when you consider that the push for this sort of curriculum came from the rabidly homophobic Religious Right. It was the final bullet point that really surprised me.
It appears that the AOUM textbooks that are recommended by the Abstinence Clearinghouse (I promise a post about them at some point in the near future, as their blog section is a gold mine for this one.), perpetuate the stereotypes of the “good girl” who stays abstinent, and the “bad girl” who has sex before marriage and probably enjoys it, which is BADBADBAD in these textbooks. Nice Girls Who Like Sex Too are apparently just as mythological as unicorns and mermaids in these books, but the Madonna/Whore dichotomy is alive and well. However, there is an interesting twist to the stereotypes of men found in these textbooks.
Instead of the longstanding stereotype of men being the aggressors in a sexual relationship and women being perpetually passive (except for those “bad” girls, their sexuality just doesn’t count because it doesn’t fall into their ideal!), there are new and judgey stereotypes for men as well. Now there is the defender of a woman’s virginity or “purity”, and the defiler. I have decided to call it the White Knight/Rapist dichotomy. These new labels manage to devalue female sexuality as either something to be protected or to use at will, and don’t address the reality that there are “good” girls who are comfortable expressing their sexuality, which seems to be the general theme for the abstinence crowd.
Congratulations on being judged based on the false presumptions about a woman’s sexuality, guys! How does it feel?
Friday’s post will discuss assertiveness for women in a whole new light. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!