The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“We need to teach our boys and girls that porn is wrong, unhealthy and dangerous”.
On a trip to the Arctic Circle in Finland, where I was invited to speak at the northernmost university in the European Union, the University of Lapland, I came across a candid response to the #metoo campaign by a young Finnish woman named Sofia.
Thanks to social media, the campaign has become a global phenomenon proving that sexual harassment is also a global phenomenon.
‘Sofia’ of course means ‘Wisdom’. And as Proverbs 2:2 tells us, Wisdom deserves to be listened to. Judge for yourself.
Sofia: Like pretty much every woman and many men, I also have been sexually harassed, so it’s #metoo. Not abused, thank God, but harassed in those kind of ways that almost every woman is.
It has been some boys in my class calling me and the other girls whose breasts hadn’t yet started to grow “board” (“lauta” in Finnish); and when our bodies started to get more womanly, slapping and squeezing our bodies. It has been a random adult man contacting me and sudden sending me a picture of his penis. It has been an old man trying to buy my body when I tried to help him when he was lost. It has been some men trying to hit me relentlessly, not stopping before I’ve walked away. And it has been many, many other things. Sadly, all very common things for us girls and women.
It bothers me when some people are reacting to this campaign saying that we need to teach our boys “not to rape/assault/harass”. Really? I honestly don’t believe there’s many men in our culture who don’t know that raping is wrong and illegal.
Yes, this is an important campaign. But there’s a major contradiction. At the same time our culture openly and shamelessly consumes pornography, which shows abuse, rape – and even worse – and calls that ‘entertainment’. Many ‘experts’ even say porn is a good way to ‘educate’ young people about sex or ‘spice up’ sex life in marriage. Girls are taught they shouldn’t be offended if their boyfriend watches porn, because ‘every guy does that’. Recently the western world celebrated the life of Hugh Hefner, an old pervert who made an empire out seeing women as sex objects. Our culture says that selling sex is a job like any other; it’s totally fine for men to buy women. Our culture, entertainment world and media encourage people to have loose sex affairs and ridicule those who believe sex is sacred and belongs to marriage.
Our culture teaches what is right and wrong in the law, but in attitudes our culture teaches everything else. The people we celebrate, the porn we consume, the things we believe speak much louder to the young generation than our words. Our attitudes speak that women are objects for the satisfaction of men and that men who can make an empire out of that are heroes. They speak that sex is a normal part of every romantic relationship – at the latest from ‘the third date’. They speak that sex is a basic need and without that we can’t flourish. And porn is actually teaching our boys that women always want sex, should be ready for anything a man wants – and enjoy to be dominated, abused and raped.
As an answer to seeing how many women and men have been sexually assaulted, we don’t need to teach our boys “not to rape”. We need to teach our boys and girls that porn is wrong, unhealthy and dangerous. We need show by law that buying women is illegal. We need to stop celebrating people who have objectified women. We need to stop the forces that are filling young people’s minds to believe that it isn’t normal to be a virgin and that people who see sex as sacred and are saving it for marriage are idiots.
And, most of all: We need to encourage men to be real men – courageous and brave, strong by heart, learning to share their feelings, ready to fight and win the battle of porn addiction, willing to speak up and willing to serve, protect and love others, especially the weaker. And we need those men to show our boys what it is to be a real man. Our boys need healthy and brave examples of good men to teach them by their words and actions aligned with how a real man respects girls and women – in homes, in schools and in media.
So rise up, men of courage and honour! Our boys and girls – and we, women – need you, so that boys would grow up to be men of courage and honour. That’s the only way that the girls growing up today won’t also be harassed some day. We need you – and we believe in you!
Thank you for speaking up, Sofia!