Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Onan the Barbarian and my version of “the talk”

Warning: Embarrassing, mature content ahead. I did it again – I abused a movie title, twisted it up and used it as the headline for my post. I learned how to do this in my Dad’s bible study. I have not seen Conan the Barbarian, but somehow I deemed this a suitable title for this post.

In my last post I talked about the extreme standard of purity me and many other girls in the different fundamentalist movements have to live up to (and usually fail, which causes deadly guilt in them).

Under the covers it looks quite a bit different. There’s a whole lot not-so-pure things going on.

Which, at this point, brings me to masturbation. I remember when I was a kid I was taught all about purity for ever since I can remember. But my parents missed the point a bit there: They never explained to me acts that would make me impure. So, while I strongly believed in purity, I just didn’t know that I could do impure things with myself. A kid of 10 years is too young to learn about these things, I guess, because once you get started talking about masturbation, you better expect the kid asking more questions about sex in every version of it.

So the point I’m getting at: Of course I did things my parents would sent me to the prayer closet for. And I didn’t even know that I wasn’t supposed to do it. I didn’t know of “masturbation” in the sense of it being a sexual practice and not ok, hence why I never really considered the actual act as that “wrong”. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do that, my parents would freak out about it. I must’ve been about 12 or 13 when I could sense what all of the fuzz was about, but I was yet somehow too silly to connect it with the fact that I was actually doing it myself occasionally. It didn’t occur to me, this connection. Can’t tell you why. I think I was like 14 when I finally made that connection and realized: “Oooops. That’s not supposed to happen!”. On I went, into the prayer closet, apologizing to God for the sodomy and stuff. But deep in my heart I couldn’t see the big deal. I didn’t see how it was adultery to my future husband – I didn’t think or fantasize about men at all!

However I want to point out that I didn’t know the “technical” side of it. I didn’t  know what an orgasm was (though I had had one at some point, I’m guessing) and I also didn’t know how sex between a man and a woman worked. My best friend and I had a talk about my upbringing in the area of sex and the idea that I didn’t come to some sort of conclusion how it physically works on my own was oblivious to her. First I thought I was a bit dumb for not realizing it on my own until I found out why I never connected male and female genitals to their actual purpose: I think as a girl, you need to know that a man can have an erection to connect this. I never knew about that. Can you imagine a woman  in her 20s and how she reacts upon finding out? “What?!?! How’s that working? That’s like… magic!”.

This and others I found out when my friend bought a book for me. It was a book on sex for teens and it was just the basic knowledge really. At first I acted like I didn’t need or want to read it but I crept into the kitchen, secretly, late at night, to get it and read it in bed. On almost every page I had a wow-moment. Not only did I learn about men for the first time in my life, I also learned about women.

I didn’t know about how pregnancies worked, or how the female body worked to begin with. I didn’t know that having your period actually had a physical function! I thought it was about being unclean and had something to do with growing up. I didn’t know the eggs business! I believed that a woman was just an incubator and that the babies were actually supplied only by the man! Part of this is due to the teaching that sin (and therefore the soul) is transferred to a child only by the father – which is why Mary didn’t give birth to a sinful, human child. She couldn’t because she was an incubator, like every other woman.

I was really shy about this topic, but my friend figured that me not knowing about it would make life in the real world harder for me. After all, I needed to know what I was getting into in case I wanted a relationship. And I guess she was right because the rate of unwanted pregnancies because people just don’T know how it works is pretty high.

A few months ago my roommate and best friend declared that she wanted to have “the talk” with me. She’d get some others to join in and explain to me what’s it all about. I was nervous, refused, yelled at her that she was stupid and embarrassing and I didn’t need her help at all. But deep inside I was excited to have this opportunity. She gave me a few days to make up my mind and while I felt like a stupid kid at first, I was so curious to find out so many new things. I decided that I wanted her to talk to me about it. So a few days later she asked me if I thought about her offer and I replied “I guess, if it makes you feel better…” with clear annoyance in my voice and excitement in my heart.

As I came home two days later, it was early evening and I had been at work, she was in the kitchen, cooking dinner with two male friends and another female friend of hers. I didn’t realize that it was the day of the talk. We ate together and afterwards had a glass of white wine. Finally, my roommate initiated a conversation about her experiences with love and sex. And then one of the guys went and everybody ended up discussing and exchanging. I thought the talk would be horribly embarrassing, but that actually felt natural and fun. I wasn’t demanded to ask questions or answer things. I could just sit and listen. They described a lot of different situations. Like how they reacted when their boyfriend wanted to have sex but they weren’t ready. How their first times went. What they felt about it in general, how important it was to them, what they find acceptable and so on. Especially interesting for me was when one of the guys talked about his experience with a one-night-stand (something I didn’t know but do now!). I expected him to be happy about it and show off, because we all know men are sex-obsessed monkeys, but the opposite was true. He felt it wasn’t for him, he had regrets about it because he felt he had disgraced himself and the girl and he feels like love is most important to have sex.

I was baffled. Everything I learned about sex and love was questioned that night. Could it be true that having sex before marriage doesn’t always break a person? That love sometimes doesn’t last a lifetime? That society doesn’t see sex as something cheap and easy but as sacred and special? That worldly men thought such a thing?

I still don’t know much on the subject, only what I have read and been told by my friends so far, but that didn’t make me go out and sleep around. I’m doubting that the abstinence only and purity movement is the only way to teach a responsible sexuality. But I’m really glad that finally, after over two decades of not knowing what this purity deal was even about I have at least a tiny idea of what’s going on between men and women.

In retrospective I have to say that I believe my wedding night would’ve been a traumatic event for me. So many things I didn’t know, I wasn’t taught about. How shocked would I have reacted, being thrown into that situation? Would it have messed up my view of sexuality? I’m pretty sure it would’ve had tough consequences for me and my entire life and I’m so glad I saved myself from something I couldn’t even grasp back when I ran away from it.

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Do Amish girls have nice tits?

Yesterday I logged into my stats page here on WordPress to find that somebody used the following terms in the search and ended up on my site: do Amish girls have nice tits. I thought that was a strange thing to ask. Very strange. But since I don’t think that person found an answer on WordPress, I decided to answer this question.

Amish girls, just like every other girl on the planet (or women, for that matter), have a normal female body. And I’m guessing while some might not live up to the western standard of beauty (like some among the worldly ones), they all have one or the other nice body feature.

The fact that somebody asks this question proves to me that the Amish, or any fundamentalist christian group for that matter, have succeeded in hiding their daughters away from the world. But it proves another thing: While preaching modesty to a point where it comes out of your ears, they succeeded in making their daughters an objects of sexuality and sensuality, much more than worldly girls and women might be. Doesn’t it show that this person is terribly aware of the sexuality these girls and women still show about them, even through the many layers of dress? Modesty is supposed to hide the things that could cause a man to lust. However, exactly this way of dressing makes the women and men equally aware of sexuality in general, and the sexuality hidden by extreme modesty.

Fundamentalist girls and women are much quicker aware of any body part which could be considered sexually attractive. Long legs, a fit and attractive body shape, attractive breasts and so on. When I walk around outside, I still point out the features on a woman I see which she should be covering. And it doesn’t stop there. My mind keeps on making up stories what could happen just because a woman is showing her long legs. How a married man might see her, lust after her, go back home to his short-legged wife and be thinking about the other one when he is with his wife. That she is pretty much forcing him to commit adultery.

And likewise, boys and men within the movement have a sharp eye for looks and dress as well. An immodestly dressed woman is blamed for the lust these men feel. She is no better than any prostitute out on the streets: She is damaged goods even if she’s a virgin. You need to understand where this is coming from: If she causes men to lust, she is in their fantasies. They might have sex with her – in their imagination. But that’s no better than actually having sex with all the men. If you’d marry this immodest woman, you’d marry a woman whom many other men have seen naked, even if they didn’t actually see her naked. A woman who had sex with many other men, even if she’s a virgin. They like to argue that modest dress is to protect men, but in reality, it’s just to satisfy the movement’s men’s craving for the absolute, the perfect virgin in every aspect.

For a long time after leaving, I have considered keeping my modest dress up. The fact that I was taught to save everything for my husband, even the glimpse of skin, was rooted deeply in my whole being. It took me quite a while to realize that, by the movement’s standards, I’m already damaged goods. It didn’t matter that I always dressed hypermodestly. I held hands with Harry, and that was an emotional as well as sexual connection I had with him. Harry and I actually kissed once, too, so there’s another aspect of my sexuality damaged by a man who is not and will never be my husband.

I’m at a point where I have no problem wearing jeans and knee-length skirts (that’s very short for me). I wear tank tops. I even own a bikini, and I have worn it, but never put it to use. When going swimming with my friends, I just couldn’t get myself to actually take of the beach dress I keep wearing and go swimming. I stick to wetting my legs in the shallow water and watch the others… sad but true haha. Many times I feel like I’m too immodest for the movement, but too modest for the world, I’m happy with where and who I am in this. And maybe I’ll end up swimming at some point.


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Giving pieces of your “heart” away

Caution: Explicit language.

When discussing dating and courtship, one of the most popular lines to defend courtship is the belief that when dating, you give pieces of your heart to each person you date. This belief is again based on a belief that all forms of dating mean that you “fall in love quickly”, that you end up having physical or sexual contact on the very first date and that you are certainly not finding a suitable spouse by dating.

Now obviously, the godly courtship doesn’t face any of these struggles – yet another belief. When courting, you’re not supposed to fall in love. It’s ok if there is a “spark”, but anything more wouldn’t lead you into a courtship simply because the danger of giving a piece of your heart to the “wrong” person is so big. So essentially, you should not be or fall in love with your courting partner.

I was raised in this belief and I was very strong in it. I was obsessed with guarding my heart, hoping it would please my parents, especially my dad. If I had to draw a picture of myself for you, imagine I’d be the princess sitting on a throne in a spotless white dress. My dad was a strong knight, guarding the gates to my castles, slaying every man who wasn’t clean enough for his taste. And even once he let somebody in, he was eager for the man to stay at the opposite side of the room, not letting him anywhere near me or my heart.

Only when the time of engagement comes a courting couple is allowed to actually try to start feeling something. But in some groups (not all of them), you’re still not allowed to touch. You can tell these couples by looking at them – a lot of times, they use some kind of device, like a stick or a piece of fabric, that they both hold on one end, as a replacement for holding hands. Every form of physical contact with the opposite gender is feared to “give something away”.

Now I can tell you from personal experience, the term “heart” is just a cover-up for something entirely different. Heart stands for virginity, better yet, for hymen. Essentially all the big fuss boils down to that. Any form of touching the other’s body is considered a harm to the girl’s heart/hymen.

As a young woman growing up, I had some “female problems”, nothing bad really but I felt like I should see a doctor just to make sure it’s all normal. My mother had huge issues talking to me about it, I couldn’t ask her a thing. I approached her with a lie, saying that I felt something was very wrong and I needed to see a doctor, knowing she wouldn’t let me go for the real reason. And yet, she denied me to see a gynecologist. I asked her why that was, and her answer was that there can’t be anything wrong “if the seal isn’t broken”. That was her euphemism for hymen. My seeing a doc would only lead to my “seal” being broken. And then what would I tell my husband? It would make me look like a liar. Every girl who’s not a virgin tells her husband that she isn’t “sealed” because of sports, the doctor or something else. Every guy knew that was the typical excuse. This conversation scared me. I was honestly afraid I had already broken my hymen by accident and would look like an adulteress. It cost me some sleepless nights and long prayer sessions.

I know they all say that the hymen isn’t what makes a girl a virgin. But while they say that, they mean the opposite.

Years ago I overheard a story my dad told my mom. It was about a guy and a girl who had just gotten married and were very unhappy. On their wedding night, he didn’t feel any resistance when breaking her “seal”, and neither was there any blood. The man felt robbed of this experience and was sure his wife actually wasn’t a virgin before marriage. He even thought of getting a divorce on the base of adultery. My dad felt sorry for the man, agreeing that he has a good enough reason to be divorced from his wife.

I started thinking about it and realized that it really wasn’t about the heart. All the planning of a wedding boiled down to defloration. What the bride should wear, something that was easily accessible and sexy at the same time. The fact that our weddings end at 10PM. That the place we spend our wedding nights at is usually in maximum half an hour distance. The fact that no christian fundamentalist man cares about planning the wedding, only about when and where the wedding night will be. I felt exploited. Back then I was courting Harry and I realized that the biggest virtue I had to offer wasn’t my meekness, my simple mind, my godliness, my biblical approach, nothing of that compared to my biggest virtue: I had an intact hymen.

At the end of the day, dating vs. courtship isn’t about the heart. It’s about the man opening a woman like a can of diet soda. If he doesn’t get to do that, it’s like somebody spit into your can of soda: You don’t drink it, you throw it away.