I know that lack of sex and consent education harmed my husband’s and my sex life in the early years of our marriage. But as I look back, I realize that’s only one side of the coin. The other was biblical illiteracy.
Female students at my evangelical university experienced both misogyny and racism. We were asked to conform to impossible standards. And we are not the only ones to struggle against injustice in the classroom. Women and girls all over the world face bias in school. From primary school to undergraduate to seminary, the system is not built for us.
A few weeks ago, I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a day. I stopped for about twelve hours between night buses to see the sights, including a beautiful, vibrant mosque near the center of town. I did some online research on dress protocol beforehand: cover your skin, wear something on your head, take your shoes off. Nothing unexpected. I had a scarf and a maxi skirt in my backpack for this purpose. I was happy to be respectful, and excited for a new experience. I arrived at the mosque, circled around to the front, and . . . walked away. I felt nervous, suddenly, and upset.
All parents—and especially egalitarian parents—should talk to their kids about boundaries, consent, bodies, shame, double standards, peer pressure, and sexism in school. Have you had these conversations with your kids yet?
I have my own particular kind of body shame, but most women have experienced similar mortification about their physical beings—a heritage of enmity with the structure of skin and bones and viscera in which we daily move.
Try as we might, there is no way to equally share the joys and struggles of carrying a child, giving birth, and breastfeeding. When my husband and I were ready to grow our family, I wondered how we would be able to maintain our nontraditional gender roles and split work equally.
Not all tradition is bad; honoring the past can be a beautiful thing. Each of us gets to decide what traditions we do and don’t incorporate in our day. Yet, I do think egalitarian couples have a unique chance to challenge the typical wedding narrative.
A “husband trump card” can be an excuse to not do the important relational work of communicating with each other, compromising, and resolving conflict together. It can also foster a dangerous power imbalance in marriages, making husbands and wives opponents instead of partners.