The fastest way for a society to plunge into sex trafficking and abuse of women is to hold the sexual standards of one gender higher than the other. This has been seen over and over again throughout history, all the way from the Greek and Roman Empires to the present. Today in America, girls are being held to a higher standard of sexual ethics while “boys will be boys.” Nowhere is this better seen than purity events, books, TV shows, T-shirts, etc. targeted to girls only (femino-purity). In the short term, they may seem innocent enough. After all, what dad doesn’t want his sweet little Cinderella to wait for Prince Charming? She receives affirmations and encouragement from her church, girlfriends, and of course her family. She’s made to feel special, a part of something bigger than herself. She has the safety of an instant group of friends. She’s following God’s plan. So how could any of this have anything to do with sex trafficking? More than I have space to write about.
First, femino-purity objectifies women by telling them their bodies are more valuable than men’s bodies. They see their bodies as something to guard and protect, which plays well to contemporary ideas of chivalry. At the same time, they are a source of danger for men, if you believe men are more visual than women. So women must make sure they’re not showing an inch of skin that would cause men to lose control in a rage of lust. Instead of creatures made in the image of God to help man, women’s bodies have become objects of desire. To that end, purity becomes no more than icing on a cake and a bonus notch on a bedpost. It becomes part of foreplay. In this view, virginity doesn’t have much to do with the purity of Christ and his marriage to the church. Rather, it has more to do with short-term pleasure and avoiding the commitment of marriage.
Second, femino-purity leads to sexual slavery because it tells boys they are not responsible for their actions. It reinforces in their minds that lack of self-control is the norm. “If they thought this stuff was important to us, why didn’t they include us?” And their answers will include: “It’s just a girl thing. I mean, how many guys wait anyway? Come on, let’s see if Stacy is home yet.” Unfortunately, the organizations that sponsor femino-purity events do not realize that these questions and assumptions resonate all the way down to future generations, to their children’s children. Once sexual values are imprinted, it’s hard to change them. Femino-purity is especially harmful because it is often church affiliated. Most young people go to church to socialize. So whatever peer pressure they’re facing continues right there in youth groups. Few have role models at home. So when young men, who are often confused about their own sexuality, see church, purity, and girls in the same sentence, they are being provided a false picture of God’s creation and human sexuality. They are led to believe that men can act on all of their urges and that it’s the woman’s job to set moral boundaries. Would you take your 5 year-old son to see a same sex “marriage”? Would you want him to go out on his first date with no idea what his sexual standards are? Or would you feel comfortable with his girlfriend calling the shots? Real men do not ask for sex because it’s saved for marriage. Men cede their moral authority and leadership role to women when boundaries have to be defined in the backseat of a car with a yes or no to zippers and straps. “I’m just gonna take all I can get. It’s up to her to say no.” This kind of logic leads men to lose respect for themselves. It places them in a position of moral inferiority. Hence, it’s one of the reasons we have a feminized church today. In the security and commitment of a marriage, these boundary questions don’t come up at all. They’re not supposed to. But since parents don’t discuss sex with them and they are excluded from the femino-purity world, boys never get to discuss self-control or hear how other people deal with it. They grow up to be men who prey on women and see them as objects to own and commodities to be traded – with a price tag attached.
Third, femino-purity tells men that all women want one thing – sex. It tells them that they’ve got what all women want – a body part to fit theirs. “I mean, assembling all these virgins in one room for a purity ball, what else could they want, right?” “We know what they need.” “Those girls must want it want it really bad.” Since it makes marriage and sex the be-all and end-all to their existence, femino-purity does not allow for girls who are not called to marriage. They will be dismissed and bullied as prudes. It doesn’t allow for girls who are waiting on something grander than marriage and sex. They’re purity will “just go to waste.” Sexual trafficking depends on an inaccurate definition of purity and womanhood. It depends on girls who feel unloved and under-valued who acknowledge the compliments and attention of pimps. If a girl doesn’t know her worth and is living in a bad situation at home, with an abusive father for instance, she is more likely to sell her body for food and shelter. Throw in some new clothes and spending money and a pimp’s proposition becomes irresistable.
Fourth, if approached from a non-Christian standpoint, femino-purity devalues girls who have already had sexual relationships, especially if they find themselves in the middle of such an event with girlfriends or for whatever reason. They may look at it like: “Since I’ve already made mistakes, I’ve got nothing else to lose” or “who’s going to want me now?” Instead of using their witness to help prevent other girls from making the same mistakes, they end up on the streets selling their bodies to the highest bidder. When her total worth is defined by her history or past abuse, she becomes quite a bargain.
Fifth, by leaving guys out of the equation, femino-purity allows boys to grow up to be boys – not respectable men. Men who can’t control themselves do not make good fathers and they can’t begin to live a celibate life. With no self control, they can’t afford the price of a Christian marriage. So they either satisfy their sexual desires on the streets or enter into a marriage with the memories of those street flings permanently imprinted in their brains, which greatly increases the chance of divorce. So it’s a vicious cycle. Men don’t know what self control is and women don’t expect it. Thus we have the perfect ingredients for sex trafficking.
Sixth, femino-purity does not allow girls to see what they’re waiting for, if marriage is for them, because purity does not exist in the sterile vacuum of one gender. They never see what a chivalrous man looks like. The prince of their childhood becomes a fleeting fantasy. Then when their knight in shining armor doesn’t appear in early adulthood, they ask themselves “what have I waited for?” They begin to doubt if godly men exist at all. Their dreams of children, the white picket fence, and the American dream start to disappear. What can a femino-purity conference do at this point? Not much. They can’t inject hope into empty shells of heartbreak. Many leave church because they didn’t get what they were “promised” and were never able to put sexuality in its proper perspective. Most churches are reluctant to play any kind of matchmaking role today (which is a shame) because they have no clear standards of what marriage and family is. The best they can do today is fend off same sex marriage. Since many of these disenfranchised girls can’t discern good guys from the bad guys, they are easy prey for smooth-talking pimps.
Seventh, femino-purity places too much emphasis on female anatomy because it excludes male anatomy. The popular opinion today is that guys don’t even have a virginity to lose. And since their purity is never affirmed or valued from a Christian perspective, why should they wait until marriage? Who cares? He’s got condoms and two tickets to paradise. And she’s got contraception. Even if pregnancy occurs, who will pay the heaviest price. The girl, of course. So what’s his incentive not to bang every girl on the street he encounters? Who has told him that the purity of a penis is just as important as the purity of a vagina? Who is reinforcing in his mind that sex belongs in marriage and that marriage is a lifetime commitment? Probably not his parents. Not his church. Not the guys he hangs out with. In his mind, sex is what makes real men. Marriage is just too heavy of a price to pay for sex when it’s cheaper than a loaf of bread on the streets.
Yes, the jump from purity balls to sex trafficking may seem implausible. But the social dynamics made possible today by the internet and other means of communication make such connections ever so possible. It is only to our detriment that we forget young men are social creatures too. Their expectations and behavior are shaped by everything they see and hear. They talk, surprise. Even the bad boys will stop and take note of a room full of virgins. But they don’t have to live by those standards. Did you hear them shout hallelujah? How are you going to control where their mind goes? You can’t, as long as they’re left out of the purity equation. Are you comfortable with your ballerina balls today making pimps for tomorrow? Are you comfortable with your princesses today becoming prostitutes for tomorrow? Put guys back in the equation.