They Do Exist.

Slaves To Sex: On Feminism & Sexuality

Editor’s Note: Few women have such a thorough understanding of the history of feminism as Caitie Hlushak. I am THRILLED to have her share her thoughts on what it has meant for women in 2011 and how we handle our sexuality because of it. It’s a punch in the face, and a reminder that we are worth so much more than we know. I encourage you to read this attentively – and more than once. – Lauren

Our great-great-grandmothers dreamed of seeing their daughters and granddaughters stand side by side with men; equal in dignity, respect and achievement. Our culture tells us that the Women’s Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement and the Sexual Revolution unlocked our cages and set us free to be man’s equal. But have we really achieved such equality?

These past hundred years did a lot for us as women. Newly enfranchised, we rose to the top of every profession and academic field available. We receive more diplomas then our male counterparts and outperform them at work. We don’t need help lifting boxes, opening doors or starting world-changing organizations.

As women, it seems we’ve reached the heights of equality. But, what’s really happened is that our prisons were simply relocated. Chained no longer to husbands and children, we are slaves to sexuality.

As Twenty-First Century women, we are oversexed and underdressed from the time we are tall enough to walk (toddler bikini’s and MTV’s Skins, anyone?). Abstinence and modest attire oppress; the girls who choose that lifestyle must hide their purity or accept being high school outcasts. Nothing less than skimpy, sexy and skinny gets noticed, and nothing is worse than going unnoticed.

Walk into the junior’s department and you’ll stumble into a lingerie shop; sweet 16 has lost its sweetness. Look at the time, money and effort women devote to looking like the perfect image they cannot afford to not be. Get in line, sweetheart, if you have an eating disorder—and while you’re waiting absorb these tips on making your sexual relationships last through the second hookup.

Where is a woman’s right to choose to be more than the sum of the sexual pleasure she gives?

The Porn industry is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative industries in the world, along with human trafficking (sexual and labor) and illegal sales of drugs and arms. Our culture verbally condemns sex trafficking but physically consent to it by indulging in easy-access porn and consummating one-night stands with strangers. The idea of a woman is now hardly more than a sexual object of satisfaction. Instead of broadening our horizons with our own careers, our own 401Ks, our own pursuits of income equality, we have accepted our prison bedrooms and vowed to be better performers and hung large signs that read “Will Trade Sex for Attention.”

But casual sex is freedom from restraint, some cry. It is consummating our freedom from oppressive husbands and forced motherhood. We have the freedom and the legal right to choose our own destinies.

But are we really free?

On some level we are. A woman’s right to choose is a brand new freedom and idea. Easy access to contraceptives and no-questions-asked abortions allows us to take off our pants at a moments notice because we don’t need to make sure that each man is provider. Our identity and value in our families and society used to be tied intrinsically to our production and rearing of multiple (male) children. In this last century, however, the ability to chose a pregnancy became a right as birth-control technology and the realization of our independent rights became more solid. The feminist movement unlocked the front door and let us leave our husbands’ homes to venture on career paths and to carve out respectable identities based on our own achievements. For the first time in history, a woman can be more than her ability to produce children and to iron pants.

Easy access to abortion makes it easier for men and women to have sex without the natural consequences and responsibilities: babies, families, relationships. But the easy access we have all enjoyed to legal contraceptives and abortions in the United States has led to easier and easier access to our bodies. How is that what once cost men flowers, dinner, and a verbal pledge to a lifetime commitment now only requires a look and a nod to the bathroom at the back of the airplane?

We don’t even ask for verbal affirmation anymore. Love-making has been reduced to what we can do with our hands, and our mouths, and our bodies. Sex has lost its sacred dangerousness, and women have lost their esteem and value.

Historically, women have been the moral gatekeepers of society. Now, many of us are raped, sexually abused, or endlessly harassed by the time we reach our early 20’s. Our fractured beings are unable to keep society’s moral gate shut, so it is a sexual free for all whether we want it to be or not. The mindset of abuse is so pervasive in our culture that even women who have never been abused walk with a limp, because we no longer know what unbroken sexuality is like.

“The Most dangerous place for African-Americans is in the Womb.” This slogan appeared for a few days on a billboard on an obscure corner in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. The billboard was part of a campaign funded by Life Always, a Texas group whose Board of Directors includes pastors Stephen Broden and Derek McCoy (both successful, black men), Abby Johnson (former director of Planned Parenthood who resigned in 2009), and Brian Follet (founder of Life Foundation). Many commenters argue that this billboard is offensive and racist. But, if we only focus on the use of race, we risk ignoring the central message of this billboard.

It was designed to be a provocative image of an even more provocative fact; that roughly 50% of all pregnancies end in abortion. These statistics clearly reflect a culture that craves sex but does not want any children. The fulfillment of this desire is impossible; no birth control works that well. Sex and babies are like up and down; forever linked in a consequential relationship. Easy access to abortions decreased the cost of sexual intercourse and increased access to the female body.

Why is there so much sex for its own sake? Because nobody looks at a woman as more than her ability to enlist ecstatic shudders from a man. There is nothing special about being a woman anymore. Our emotions are mocked, our intelligence judged, our bodies appraised and our sexual skills advertised and rated.

In the Feminist movement, we sought to compete with the men on their own turf. In doing so, we conceded our gifts and powers to the subjugation of men and have lost our own sense of being.

What must we do to recover our dignity? We must stop judging ourselves by our girlfriends and movie stars. We must not be skinny or trade our bodies for attention. We must stop seeking to beat the men and engage them respectfully as peers.

We must be ourselves at all costs–no one else can give what you alone can give. We must believe in our selves and our individuality.

I once heard sexy described as simply being comfortable in your own skin–we must be sexy like that. We must not stop doing our hair and fixing our makeup and caring about our appearances. We must not stop pursing careers and the passions of our hearts and being highly successful in whatever we do. Those things we must continue. In continuing to be free in ourselves, we allow and encourage others to be free in their own beings. We are Women. Sacred creators of life.

Our right to choose must come before the pregnancy, before the reach for contraceptives and before that first, sweet kiss. Our right to choose must come when we look in the mirror and remember that we are more than the next hook up, more than our sexuality, our bodies, and our achievements. We were once allowed to be only wives and mothers, but now we parade as half-naked slaves–blindfolded and chained to mere carnal pleasures.

O beautiful woman, pick up your dignity. Become more than a low-cost sex toy.

Claim the right to choose how your body is spent..

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28 Responses

  1. cheyenne

    Wow! Very well said!

    August 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

  2. "Sex has lost its sacred dangerousness"- wow, powerful statement. This is very spot on. Thank you!!

    August 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  3. chandra

    I would just like to be enlightened as to when sex ever had it's "sacred dangerousness." Please, enlighten me. Because I'm pretty confident that the steps, which I brazenly call leaps and bounds, that modernity and civil rights have brought to the female gender is yes imperfect, but is moving forward in the hopes of dealing with it's own place in the modern world and even it's own inconsistencies.

    And come on porn. Porn is completely upfront with itself. It is as commercial as it is taboo. It knows both things because it can't hide from both things. However, if you want to call porn the issue, then you can't ignore the many other conventions that hide well sheeps' clothing and hide behind convention while they continue to brainwash men and women when it comes to sex and gender.

    August 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm

  4. Tiffany

    Donald Miller has a great post today directed toward women and not being the "hook up." It's another great take in a similar vein of thought.

    August 2, 2011 at 9:52 am

  5. Cassie

    "As women, it seems we’ve reached the heights of equality. But, what’s really happened is that our prisons were simply relocated. Chained no longer to husbands and children, we are slaves to sexuality."

    By our very design we women are created, by God, to do things that men cannot. Through our rejection of that design as reflected in the quote above, men are encouraged and are free to reject their God given design as protector and provider. Men, in their rejection of their God given design, are more than happy to oblige us in our quest for "sexual freedom" and assume none of the responsibility.

    One other note, we are not free…ever…we are either slaves to Christ or slaves to sin, we must choose.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  6. Kelsey G.

    I've heard this argument before and I agree with it but I think it also points out the obvious. Of course, this generation simply cannot handle the responsibility of sex, the potential outcomes of sex, the emotional outcome of sex etc. We are the laziest and least responsible generation yet to come. Nowadays poeple prefer to skip all the "courtship" and "smalltalk" and get down to business. Sadly, this is what's "in". I'm sure there are millions of women and men who wish it wasn't so but do it anyway. Women don't bother to understand their true purpose anymore because it is SO hard to stay focused on gracefully gliding past the misogyny and side stepping the sexualizations. It is so hard not to get caught up in what a (worldy) man expects of you.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

  7. Kelsey G.

    Women just want to be loved or at least feel like they are loved and honestly, we'll do anything to get it. I have. But I swear, once you see a vision of what a Christian man is supposed to be, how he respects you (and himself) and looks at you and loves you, there is probably no greater satisfaction in this world. I haven't found him yet, but I believe it sincerely and I think more women believed it, they'd be better off.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

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  9. I love this… I really do. But one thing I am stuck on is where it is said " that roughly 50% of all pregnancies end in abortion." This is completely inaccurate in all studies I have found, unless you are going so far as to count miscarriage in the abortion statistic. So I would like to know where this number came from.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm

  10. Such an honest piece. Whatever someone's opinion, women need to respect their self and their body first, just the way God made them. Thank you!

    August 3, 2011 at 3:15 am

  11. Brilliant!

    August 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm

  12. this is really depressing. there is truth here, yes, but sexuality is not all dark and broken, and we get to be actors in our own stories.

    i maintain that feminism is a good–and necessary–thing, because we aren't equal, yet. and a person can be a feminist without ascribing to the kind of promiscuity and "sex slavery" described here. we don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    August 3, 2011 at 9:57 pm

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  15. Perfect.

    August 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  16. Lindy

    I find it odd that many of the "Christian" arguments against feminism chastize young women for being taken advantage by lustful men. Sure women today dress more provocatively than in chauvanistic male-dominated times, but would we do so if it weren't rewarded by men? It takes two to tango darling. Neither sex is fully culpable for the results, and neither remain innocent either.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

  17. Lindy

    Let the condemnations fall on both sexes for their reprehensible actions. I find this article comparable to blaming girls for being anorexic without a second glance to the culture and role that men play. While women are seeking affirmation in sexual exploits, men are more than obliging, often offering to act as tour guides in candy land. It makes me angry when Christians blame feminists for the sexual promiscuity of both sexes. Both genders are struggling to find their role in the world. Men are not being the men they are meant to be, and neither are women. It is not my intention to blame one side or the other. With freedom comes responsibility. Women have more sexual freedom and have fallen into lifestyles of promiscuity. Men have more freedom in their access to women's sexuality, and they have responded by using and abusing women. Freedom is good if we can handle the responsibility that comes with it. Instead of seeking to restrict freedom and reverse the feminist movement, we need to teach both sexes to take responsibility for their freedom and be aware of the consequences of abusing freedom, both physical and emotional consequences.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

  18. Caitie Hlushak

    Hi Lindy,

    Thank you for your thoughts and for your response to my article. I want to respond to both of your comments because I think you've misunderstood what I was trying to say in this piece.

    am not saying that I want to undo all that the feminist movement has done. I don't know if I agree with all of the consequences but I am in no position to dismiss the entire thing. That isn't what I am doing in this article; I was saying that we need to go beyond what our forbears have done and continue growing in freedom, fortified by responsibility, as women.

    Both sexes do need to bear their own weight in this struggle. I'm glad your intention is the same as mine – not placing blame but calling out responsibility.

    I'm not making a Christian argument chastising young women for being taken advantage of by lustful men (and, frankly, I'd love for you to point out where this article makes you think that thats what I am saying so I can avoid that misunderstanding in the future). "Blaming" or "condemning" either sex in this case is absurd and counterproductive. Sexual issues are deep personal issues; but, because our culture's perceptions of sexuality have so much influence over our individual perception, false-sexuality has grown into an institutional problem (in the abstract cultural sense of institution).

    The problem of over sexualized identity goes beyond (even though it includes) men and women. The problem rests in the way our entire culture addresses sexuality. The solution starts with the way each of us, as women, look in the mirror in the morning and decide if we measure up.

    This article was me pointing out that we often define ourselves by sexuality. Attire is often judged by its sex appeal, not its actual beauty. Do we really consider the aesthetics of what we are wearing or are our standards of personal beauty confined to what we are told is "sexy"? How we got to this over-sexualization is a question of cultural anthropology. Read Susan Bordo's "Unbearable Weight" if you'd like some of that.

    I want to call our generation of women out of passively receiving the ideas of femininity and sexuality that are poured over our bodies from our very conceptions, to be free from the culture's narrow understanding of what looking like, acting like, being a woman is. I want to stand on the corner of 34th Street and 6th Avenue in New York and cry out that while our forebears did very well in getting us to this place for freedom and equality, we simply cannot leave femininity tied solely to sexual appeal.

    August 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

  19. A. McMillan

    I think this was well written and although we have heard some or a lot of this before, it bears repeating because many still haven't "got" it yet.

    As for looking at the fault of men in these issues… the audience here is women. We can only change our own behavior. Besides, men who want to hook up with women can't do so unless there are women willing to hook up. We can go in circles passing blame around like a hot potato, or we can take up our part and encourage the women we care about to do their part. I believe that if women would get this, what the author here is trying to convey, eventually men would have to change. They wouldn't get away with the things they do now, because there would be less and less women putting up with it.

    Yes, it will cost us, especially at first, but if we are really looking to be so free of the men, then let's start by weening ourselves off their flimsy non-committed approval that all too often evaporates as soon as someone hotter walks by.

    No, I'm not bitter. I'm actually happily married. But when I think of how many girls and women are selling themselves short to feel loved by a guy who knows nothing of how to love, it just makes me angry.

    We need articles like this; keep them coming until every woman out there who can make the change, stands up and does so. And while we are at it, let's do what we can to rescue to millions who truly have had their choice robbed of them.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm

  20. peacenepal

    why not focus on men changing their perception of women n their moral guidelines instead of telling women to change? does it imply that we r occasionally responsible for how we r treated by men?

    thanks though for the initial paragraphs ,was interesting.

    February 7, 2013 at 12:19 am

  21. Ggirl1

    I read your article a few times and your intentions and your message about sex becoming a corrupt, commodity with no value is true. BUT your methodology sounds weird. It seems like your trying to say that women should be the moral gatekeepers. If we are that will change men. Even if women do take up the torch of reaching moral perfection in the ways of sex, drugs and modesty it will not change men. Well, technically that's already been done, and it hasn't worked. In the 1950s although pre-marital sex still happened the general societal norm was that women were supposed to practice chastity, be morally perfect and make good housewives. This was not the case for men. Women being "good" did not change men. Instead those men married those good women and continued to committ crimes of abuse, rape, and adultery. This didn't bring them to a higher sexual standard as your suggesting, although women kept themselves at a pretty high sexual standard. And this my friend was during the time when evangelist churches were becoming popular again. Theoretically even if women do everything right and respect themselves, men will still succumb to crimes of abuse, rape and adultery like they always have unless we expect the same of them. We need to have high expectations for both sexes. Reproduction which encompasses sex involves cooperation after all. Hence, why shouldn't we expect that from men. Why don't you right an article addressing both sexes to encourage them both to achieve the high sexual standard that you should rightfully be promoting? Something to think about.



    April 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm

  22. seiok

    The moveable objects were locked away in the Secret Museum in Naples and what could not be removed was covered and cordoned off as to not corrupt the sensibilities of women, children, and the working classes.
    seo toronto

    December 18, 2013 at 5:18 am

  23. These past hundred years did a lot for us as women. Newly enfranchised, we rose to the top of every profession and academic field available. We receive more diplomas then our male counterparts and outperform them at work. We don’t need help lifting boxes, opening doors or starting world-changing organizations.

    August 17, 2014 at 6:29 am

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