HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Jane” is a pseudonym.
I grew up with the Pearl books surrounding me.
My dad had cases of their “To Train up a Child.” The church moms and young married women were constantly talking about Debi’s book “Created to be his Help Meet.” This book was given to every young lady either getting married or recently married. However, in my teenage years my mom thought that the book was not age appropriate to me (I might start asking what sex was!), so I was not allowed to read it.
Despite not being allowed to read it, I picked up on many of the themes in the book from listening to the other ladies in the church talking about it. I remember many times hearing the women talking about what “type” of husband they had. I heard enough of that that I could even figure out what “type” my father and brothers were and especially what type I wanted my husband to be (or not to be – my dad was a “steady” and honestly I couldn’t stand his methodic ways most of the time).
Despite not being allowed to read many books when I was a teenager, I was great at reading books on the sly. When I was 16, I managed to pick up “Created to be his Help Meet” for a few minutes while visiting my recently married sister. Of all the pages to open up to, my highly hormonal, sexually awakening yet so innocent teenage self opened the book to the “Bad Bob” story. I found the story on another website (which also has a great commentary on this story), and reprinted it here (trigger warning for misogynistic language):
In the following story, the characters, Bob and Lydia, are composites drawn from counseling sessions of two different couples. We have heard the same basic story many times over while ministering to countless married people.
Bob had an upset stomach and was not hungry, so his family dropped him off at the motel where they would be staying, and then they went to get something to eat. His dad never let them watch the motel TV, but Bob knew they would be gone for at least an hour, and he was bored. The first scene that he saw held him riveted. The music was sensual. Bob stared, trapped in his own shocked silence. There before him in slow motion was a woman walking up steps. All he could see was the woman’s behind encased in a short leather skirt that was slit up the backside. The camera slowly shifted down her long slender thighs until he could see the backless high heels. Then it traveled slowly up her long legs focusing on the open slit as she climbed. He watched as she reached the top of the stairs and stepped into a room; still the camera stayed on her legs. Bob’s heart pounded in anticipation. The soft music began to swell as the camera climbed. A sound on the outside of the motel door jerked Bob back to the present. He hit the off button with such force as to crack the remote and then flung it across the room as if it were a poisonous spider. False alarm, no one was there, but after only two minutes of a mere introduction to soft porn, Bob would never be the same. That day was the first day that Bob masturbated. He was 13 years old.
Two years later, Bob was sitting in church when Lydia, the youth director’s wife, stood up directly in front of him to take her youngest child to the bathroom. His mouth got terribly dry as he stared at her round behind encased in a tight leather skirt with a slit up the back. It is true that Lydia’s skirt was several inches longer than the one that was no part of his daydreams, but when Lydia bent over to pick up the child, several of the young men sitting behind her slowly covered their laps with their songbooks. Bob almost hated Lydia after that day. She was responsible for his torment and temptation. The force of those few seconds of soft porn 2 years earlier, along with the stretched material pulled dangerously high as Lydia leaned over, caused him to empty his semen into his pants, right there in church, resulting in a large wet spot. He found a use for his Bible that day after church. It covered his shame as he rushed out to the van to take the back seat. A week later Bob dropped out of the youth group. His sudden departure puzzled and saddened the earnest youth director. He went to Bob to ask him if there was anything Bob wanted to talk about. Bitter bile filled Bob’s mouth at the memory of the youth director’s wife slowly walking up the church steps with her tight skirt and high-heeled shoes, just like the woman on the TV. Lydia, with her sanctimonious smile, did not deceive him; how could she be so dumb as to not know exactly what she was doing to him? No, he had nothing to talk about, he told Lydia’s stupid husband.
Lydia never knew she had shamed her husband, hurt his ministry, and caused a young man to smolder with bitter hatred and almost falter on the edge of quitting the faith. She would not have believed me (or perhaps she would have been secretly pleased at what she thought was her beauty) if I had pulled her aside and explained how the young men at church were reacting to her and why several treated her with such distain. She would have explained to me that her style was just “her style,” and they needed to get a grip. I know this because I have talked to many Lydias.
Bob had not looked at porn since that first night, but his mind was in a constant struggle, and his battle with masturbation was never-ending. Opened or low-cut shirts were a misery to him. Bare midriffs were bad too, but a girl who had long slender thighs coming to the meetings in mid-length shorts or skirts made him miserable beyond belief.
When Bob was 22 years old, he met a sweet, little peach of a girl with soft, warm eyes and a good, clean heart. They married, and Bob was relieved that his miseries were finally over. For the first three years she was sexually exciting, and he was able to fully enjoy what before had shamed and frustrated him in his youth. He known knew blessed relief from his old enemy, lust, which was finally brought under control in his pure marriage relationship.
Life never seems to roll out easy, and after Bob’s wife had her second child, she stopped being so responsive to Bob in the bedroom. Her excuses were exhaustion, sickness, didn’t want to get pregnant, didn’t feel like it, it hurt because “something seems wrong inside me now,” etc. She knew she had to give him sex once a week, but she came to him half-heartedly, which caused him to never really get total satisfaction. The women at work always dressed sexy and had tried to provoke Bob, but he saw them as a bunch of diseased animals, so although they provoked him, he resented it.
Church was different. Church ladies seemed clean and wholesome. At 25 years old, Bob was in his prime, and he needed his woman. God had designed his body with a sensitive trigger that needed release at least 2 or 3 times a week. He had developed certain habits in order to avoid unexpected temptations. His wife had no idea why he had such strange habits, like picking the spot where they would sit in the church, but she just sat where he led her. Lydia was not a problem anymore. Thankfully, the few years that had passed had played havoc on her beautiful behind and thighs. Bob smiled and said “hi” when he saw her walk by. She still tried to pull on that stupid “what did I do” look, like she really didn’t know why he had always disliked her. It was true, he still did not like her and found a certain sense of gratification at the demise of her beauty. Seeing her made Bob remember when her husband, the youth director, was teaching a small group meeting of young married men, explaining to them that all women go through times of total disinterest in sex, including his own wife, and how important it was to be vigilant against lust during those times. He had felt sorry for him at the time, but now Bob’s own little honey had turned off her water spigot of sweet loving.
“Vigilant, I must be vigilant.” Bob was scanning the church building looking for a safe place to sit when he felt his wife pulling on his arm. “I want to sit over behind the Chandler family.” Bob’s alarm went off. Three tall, long-legged, beautiful teenage girls, who liked tighter, shorter skirts, were members of the Chandler family. He groaned with irritation. His wife caught the groan and took offense. He wished he could explain all this complicated mess to his wife, but she would only get jealous and spend the rest of his life watching where and who he was looking at…. He allowed her to lead him into the row of temptation. If anyone could see his mind while he sat behind the Chandler girls, they would have had him arrested. He knew he was Bad Bob, full of lust, anger, frustration, and defeat. Somehow he always thought bitterly of Lydia when he was feeling defeated: “What a fat cow, no, not a cow, she’s a pig.”
I know this story has so many things wrong with it on so many levels, but I will leave that to others to discuss.
Today I want to talk about what that story did to me and my idea of sexuality. You could probably say I grew up without sex education. My mom went to great extent to not discuss sex with me. In fact, at the age of 16, I was still terrified to sleep in the same bed that my brothers had slept in without changing the sheets because I thought I would get pregnant by my brothers – and that would be the ultimate sin and shame!
When I read Debi’s story, I thought I was given a great secret into the mind of a man.
Between this story and also sneak reading “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn, I formed the idea that men were sex robots that could be completely turned on and ready to hammer me from just glancing at my butt in tight jeans. Despite rejecting many of the teachings of my fundamental upbringing, I didn’t realize these views on men’s sexuality were so wrong. I hadn’t connected these ideas to the religion because I had never been exposed to how men really were (after all, I could never openly talk about this!). I found these teachings haunted my sexual life years after I had left everything resembling fundamentalism behind. Here I was, thinking that it was a fact of life that men could ejaculate in their pants by just seeing my butt through a tight skirt.
When I became sexually active and eventually married, I thought there was something wrong, ugly, and not womanly about me. Why? Because these men were not aroused the way Debi said they would be by my body. My husband can see me butt naked and may not necessarily be aroused just by the fact that he can see my naked body. This was extremely hurtful for me when all my life I had been taught that the slightest peek of my body could have a man ready to tear my clothes off.
I thought something was extremely wrong with me.
After time and time again of not seeing men aroused the way I was taught they should be by my body, I started to get obsessed with it. I think somewhere deep inside I knew that I wasn’t a defective woman and I wanted to prove that to myself. I turned to man after man to see if I could find one man that reacted to me the way Debi said they should. After all, I thought something was wrong with me, not Debi’s idea of men. I wreaked havoc on my young life with this obsession and felt an immense amount of shame for the extent I went to try to prove that I was actually womanly the way Debi said I should be.
Thankfully, I met my wonderful husband and slowly healed. It wasn’t easy, but over time I think I have gained a more healthy view of men’s sexuality. Or at least realized that I am a normal woman and my husband is a normal man. There’s nothing wrong with either of us, even though he does not react the way Debi says he should. On a side note, he doesn’t even need that release 2 to 3 times a week just to remain faithful to me. I am grateful to say there’s so much more to him than that.
I think one thing Debi (and many other fundamental Christian authors) has done is she writes thinking that the younger, homeschooled, sheltered generation will have many the same experiences as she has. After all, most parents first got a healthy view on men’s sexuality before they are exposed to radical ideas such as Debi’s. By having some exposure to the real world, the parents are able to balance it out more than the sheltered kids are.
I don’t think Debi realizes how much these young, innocent girls truly believe her.
After all, she’s married and she knows what a man is actually like. She knows that her story isn’t entirely the real world. But these sheltered girls don’t know. These sheltered girls spend their entire lives making sure to not have men ejaculating in their pants only to reach the marriage bed and be extremely disappointed when they meet a real man. No one ever told them that sometimes they might be met with a soft dong. If no one ever told them that, they will think something is wrong with them. I don’t know how many of these disappointed young girls took the same route as me.
I don’t know how many of these poor girls may have destructively turned from man to man just trying to prove they are as womanly as Debi says they are.