You know, I was recently remembering someone who I mentioned here a few months ago. A few months ago I wrote a post and mentioned a particular man who was “glaring sexually” at me at a funeral.
You know, I am always a little hesitant when talking about sexual topics. Is it relevant? Is it appropriate? Is it prudent for me to talk about these issues, as a single woman, who subscribes to biblical standards of sexual purity – that is, reserving all sexual activity for marriage? Something I am very aware of is that no-one is talking about these issues, that is no Christian; either that or I have not come across the YouTube channels etc where these things are being talked about. Meanwhile society itself is saturated with sexual content, so as single or inexperienced Christians we are trying to navigate a path through these issues, while other married or otherwise experienced Christians remain silent. So I hope that my writing about these things might help. While I do write these posts, all the same I tread tentatively with the idea that I could always discreetly unpublish any or all of them if I later decide against them.
So to go back to Mr Sexual Glarer. He was definitely glaring at me, and there definitely was a strong sexual element to the way he was glaring at me. It might be the kind of thing that is really hard to envisage, unless it has also happened to you. However, in the moment it was unmistakable.
So let me tell you a little bit about this man. He was a stranger, effectively, and yet, I had met him before, but only once. As I type this, I have only met him the two times, the second being the occasion of the funeral. And actually, the first time, I can’t remember whether I actually met him properly, as in spoke to him. And that first occasion I met him was….his wedding blessing in church. I did not attend the church just for the sake of the wedding blessing, and the wedding blessing was not an actual ceremony, but something just tacked on at the end of a regular church service, and the blessing lasted 20 minutes, tops, if that. I can’t remember whether I posted this on the original post (I can’t be bothered to go back and re-read it just now!) However, his wife was sitting right there beside him at the funeral, while he was sexually glaring at me.
I cannot now remember the timings of all these things, how many years ago they happened, how much earlier his wedding blessing was than the funeral we both attended. I recently asked my Dad who also attended the funeral how long ago it was, but he could not remember. Actually my Dad was at the wedding blessing too because his (my Dad’s) church at the time was involved in both functions. You know what, I did not even initially recognise the glarer, after having met him only once before. What I am going to say next will muddy the waters slightly. However, that same day of the funeral I had previously spotted him, as a moderately attractive man, while I was sitting in a car and he was walking by, and I had instantly and subtly checked out his ring finger as I do almost instinctively, saw the ring, and instantly looked away. There was no way he could possibly have seen me. And even if he had, would checking out someone’s ring finger truly warrant some sexual glaring? Hello?! My noticing the ring had been a few hours earlier, just after the service. The glaring itself occurred at the reception and I was not interacting with this man at all. I was not looking at him, I was not even aware that he was there. I was just casually minding my own business, while he sat at a table a few metres away. Actually, in the event it was his wife that I recognised, as she was wearing the same very distinctive dress that she had worn for their wedding blessing, and it was simply by a process of deduction that I worked out that they were the couple whose wedding blessing I had been present at. You know, if I were to meet either of them again, I probably would still not recognise either of them, unless they were together, and if she wore that same dress that would help.
Now I am going to have to tread very carefully here, as I am going to make some assertions. While these assertions have been inspired by my reflecting on this incident, I want to make it clear, I am not making an assertion about this particular marriage, as I could not possibly know.
So let me just go ahead and say what I want to say, so you will see why I am being so careful.
The question is why a newly married man would be sexually glaring at a woman who is essentially a stranger? As I say, I am not asserting that this is happening in this particular marriage, but thinking on it raised the possibility that in some new marriages out there, one or both spouses might already be experiencing sexual frustration. Apologies, I forgot to warn that this is going to be a very candid post!
So the real question I want to consider here is this: why newly-weds might be experiencing sexual frustration. If we are talking about Christians, then the idea, the expectation is that they rightly waited until marriage to start having sex. Because sexual purity is a big consideration of Christian life, and yet Christians have sexual yearnings that are as strong as anyone else’s, this means in practice that sex is one of the big reasons why Christian couples get married, where people of no faith might not bother to get married.
So I’m thinking: imagine you’re a Christian. You’re trying to honour God in terms of sexual purity. Sex is one of the big things propelling you into marriage. And yet, a few months later, when you and your wife should be enjoying one another and finally being able to delight in sexual expression, you are glaring at a stranger at a funeral. (Or any other scenario.) A few months after your wedding, why are you even looking at anyone else?!
From the way he was glaring at me, it was almost as if he was making an assertion about me. Like he found me abhorrent for representing what I apparently represented, and yet, he still wanted it. (Crucially, he did not seem to despise himself for wanting it.) I have previously written in my earlier post about this that I was not dressed alluringly in the slightest. I was wearing a baggy white T-shirt (which was a tribute to the lady who had passed, sold there at the funeral to support the family, which is why I was wearing a T-shirt at a funeral), most likely baggy black trousers, flat shoes. You know, I am very capable of dressing attractively, (but never seductively apart from that single time I wore a skirt with pronounced slit) – but that dressing at the funeral was genuinely completely uncompelling. Actually, I am quite surprised that some people still manage to look sexy, even when dressing for funerals. However for me, I never aspire to look sexy anyway, as I plan to reserve sexy dressing exclusively for the eyes of my husband, after he has become my husband.
So this then is the generalisation I am going to make about situations like this: if someone glared at me but apparently still wanted what he imagined that I represented, then to me that would suggest that he instantly assumed that I was a very sexual person, or he found me sexually compelling and he wanted that while he simultaneously abhorred it.
I’m finding it so hard to write this post and talk in hypotheticals.
Another thing is that this man was like me a dark-skinned African, where usually I get the undisguised sexual interest and assumptions from light-skinned Europeans. Not all light-skinned Europeans, by any means. But it really was a first that it was a dark-skinned African who was behaving like this. Please do not get me wrong, Africans flirt like everyone else, but they don’t seem to project assumptions with their expressions.
Here I am going around in circles to get to my point! OK, I must admit that what I am struggling with in this post is acting like this is all hypothetical!
To me, it seemed that this man and his wife and his glares at me, regardless of whatever might actually be happening in their particular marriage, represented a situation which is very plausible, that a man would choose a wife because she seems to represent the sexual purity and innocence that he admires or desires….only to then find that she thinks so little about sex, or dislikes it so much that to put it simply, her sexual appetites simply do not match his own…meaning that he might find himself sexually frustrated even in the early months of his marriage, which should arguably be the days of greatest sexual satisfaction of the marriage, hence the term “the honeymoon stage”. This might be why he might glare at another supposedly “sexual” woman, in that he imagines that she does not represent the kind of chastity that he so highly prized in his own wife…and yet there is an element of unmistakable interest there too.
What made it easier for me to draw this conclusion was that while he was glaring at me, his wife was either completely oblivious to the whole thing, or she was so embarrassed that she was pretending not to notice. And I could not help thinking that she may have been a little naive, which is an attribute that is often conflated with sexual innocence. And furthermore, I know that many men generally and many Christian men specifically prize sexual innocence. Actually, from a number of articles I have read online and offline, Western men of no faith do not seem to prize virginity in itself so highly, but all the same they seem to like the idea of their partner having a low “body count”. However, please believe me that in traditional cultures and Christian circles virginity itself is prized very highly. Once again, there is no way I could in any way know about the sexual status of either party to this marriage before they got married, but all the same this incident spoke to me of something I was already very aware of:
People consistently suggest that men typically have stronger sex drives than women do. And yet sexual innocence, purity and virginity are all highly prized by Christian men, typically. If you are a Christian man, and you have been waiting until marriage for sex, and battling your own sexual yearnings etc, but you then also carefully choose a wife who matches your requirements for sexual innocence etc, in short you might find that after the wedding you are just as sexually frustrated as you were before. Because one of the reasons why your wife might score so highly in terms of sexual purity is because she simply does not like sex so much, which means that if you as a man, have been looking forward to hot nights of endless passion, you might find yourself frustrated. So what, you married a woman without any particular interest in sex, and you subconsciously expected her to automatically blossom into a sexual tiger just because she is now married (to you)?
What am I saying? I am not saying that you cannot hold out for sexual purity in your future spouse. I am saying that you need to be honest with yourself. If you are really looking forward to sex, then it would be wise to look for a woman who is looking forward to sex with an enthusiasm that matches your own.
And you know, the two are not mutually exclusive! No matter what the church might suggest. Yes, it is possible to be a woman who is eagerly confident in her femininity, indeed her sexuality, and looking forward to overflowing marital passion, while also carefully cultivating sexual purity, and maintaining wise boundaries with men (and actually, increasingly, women too.)
So if you as a holy Christian man are planning to spend the first six months (two years? decade? longer?!!!) of your marriage solely in bed with your spouse, or if all you can think of, when thinking ahead to your future marriage, is sex, I implore you, for your own sake, and for the sake of your future wife, that you firstly admit this to yourself, and then admit it to God, and then pray to God for a woman who is looking forward to sex as much as you are and yet also striving after sexual purity.
Some men have apparently been so brainwashed that they seem to think that it is somehow bad for a woman to enjoy sex, or to even look as if she might enjoy sex. (And if you constantly have sex on the brain, then you might instantly evaluate all women this way, the same way I automatically scan attractive men for wedding rings…?) I catch ideas from people that seem to suggest, unbelievably, that a woman’s purity consists in the fact that she dislikes sex and pure women should need to somehow be cajoled into sex, even by their husbands, during their marriage. (I have to admit that I deliberately went out of my way to contradict that idea in my adult romance book that I wrote, “Nidhra and Pradha” which I honestly think was given to me by God, even though the characters are not specifically Christian, and even though it is unapologetically adult.) This erroneous thinking flows from the misconception that sex itself is somehow bad, or dirty. No, as Christians we think of sex as a beautiful gift from God to be enjoyed with joy, pleasure and gratitude but within the bounds of a loving, committed, consensual heterosexual marriage, that God has given us in His word. Hence the Bible book, the Song of Solomon. (Ironically Solomon himself was married to a thousand women, which we definitely do not subscribe to in New Testament faith!) Yes, outside these bounds it is often dangerous and destructive, so we have to be extremely careful with it lest we accidentally set a forest ablaze while we are merely trying to keep warm. So before marriage it is not a matter of being “cajoled” because it is rather something to be rejected outright, and I unapologetically advocate that a woman should ditch any man who is trying to sexually cajole her before marriage. However during marriage it is still not a matter of being “cajoled” because both spouses are now free to embrace the pleasure of something that God terms as “good”.
And you know, when you meet a woman who seems to be “sexual”, then that is not a reason to despise her, or glare at her with disdain. At most it might mean that she would not be an appropriate wife for you. If you are not married yet though, then actually, that might be exactly the kind of woman you need to consider, if you find yourself drawn to what she apparently represents.
If you are already married and you find that this person is innocently inspiring weird thoughts in your married mind, then it might be prudent to politely take your leave, and keep a safe distance from them. That is what I would do if I found myself attracted to a man while already married to my husband. All the same, either way, people still need to be treated with respect.
This is the kind of situation that I would also run from as a single woman. As a single woman, I neither need nor want any married man to cast his hot, hungry eyes in my direction and if I found myself in any kind of ongoing situation like that, I would find a way to diplomatically extricate myself. Actually I would also run from this even if I was already married.
To me, all this seems so obvious as to seem patronising for me to spell it out – well yes, of course, duh! And yet, this topic of mismatched sexual appetites comes up so much, especially when it stems from a desire for sexual purity in your spouse. And it seems to occur a lot in cultures, which like Christianity, highly prize female sexual purity. To be clear, male sexual purity is also highly prized in Christianity. However, men typically do the choosing, and it seems to be the case that there are far more available women than men in a typical church. So a man might more readily be able to have his pick of necessary criteria in his wife than a woman would when evaluating her husband, which means that a man can more readily stipulate the level of sexual purity that he desires for his wife, no matter what he may or may not have done sexually himself.
And you know what, just as I wrote about in “Nidhra and Pradha”, if you are really looking forward to big sex, then I think that you need to let your would-be spouse know, and carefully evaluate them for a good sexual match, before you even get engaged. Really! Actually, no matter where your own sexual yearnings might fall on a scale, sex is something that needs to be discussed before marriage, as it is such a big element of marriage. This is so embarrassing! Talking about sex is embarrassing regardless of your Christian commitment. Apparently even couples who have been married for years, even decades, often find it hard to talk about sex.
[Edit, as I edit this again, it occurs to me that it might be less embarrassing if you subdivide the topic of sex into four (or more) main categories, and perhaps pinpoint what exactly it is that you personally find embarrassing to talk about, eg: 1.The vulnerability of admitting that you want and need anyone in that most intimate of ways, that you have intimate sexual needs at all 2. the vulnerability of admitting you want that specific person to fulfil your most intimate needs, and with it the implication that you may already have sexually fantasised about them, perhaps at length. 3. The extent of your sexual yearnings generally, or how much you want it. 4. The mechanics of sex, or what you personally want, or like. And surely, even though specifics might differ, we all ultimately want and like pretty similar things – sexual pleasure by stimulation of sex organs or erogenous zones?! (Reading this I wonder if Mr Huggie-Wuggie might be thinking -“Tosin, with that your big mouth you think you know everything – you just wait!!!” 🤣🤣🤣)]
However, I believe that if you can find a way to do it, you should ideally give your would-be spouse an idea of how important this is to you, so that if it freaks them out, or if they are on a completely different level, they can walk away as necessary. Perhaps a diplomatic way to suss them out would be to ask them what the most important aspects of marriage are to them, on a scale of 1-10. If sex represents the top three, or even the top ten aspects of marriage that you are most looking forward to (out of ten), and they don’t even place it in their top ten aspects at all, then you know that the two of you are not going to be a good match.
If you have the courage to ask them outright, then you might simply ask them outright: “How important is sex to you?” Or “What do you envisage about sex?” The danger is that in the flush of romantic excitement, someone might say what they think that you want to hear.
True story, in a certain video call I had with a guy earlier this year (I think that outside of my family I have only ever been on a single video call to a guy, ever, which was that one time, so it could only be one person I am talking about…) he asked me some questions and being completely out of practice in conversations I found myself completely caught off guard, and having to think on my feet, and I said some things which on reflection I would have liked to completely amend. If you’re reading this, I’ve been hoping for a chance to correct some of the things I said, and I don’t know whether it would be too much for me to simply just send you a message….as you know I don’t want to be forward!
Is it cowardly of me to stick this on my blog? Because I was really hoping to continue that conversation…
Morever, I’d like to remind people that I am a writer, and I like to think about things before I make assertions…so if someone asked me this question, I would definitely prefer to give an answer in writing (before then blushing and running away!) To be clear we did not discuss this topic, did we? Ponders – hmm, perhaps only tangentially…
So going back to you, dear reader, perhaps you need to find ways of digging or other means to assure yourself that that one time you managed to blushingly introduce the topic, the answer your would-be spouse gave you was reliable – without oversexualising your pre-marital relationship by constantly bringing up the subject.
You know, it has just occurred to me while editing that some men might choose wives that they are not particularly attracted to sexually, for the sake of avoiding any kind of vulnerability in marriage. And yet their sexual yearnings don’t magically disappear, so these men might simply project their sexual yearnings outside their marriage, whether or not they then choose to go ahead and act on those yearnings.
Edit – well I have now had a chance to sleep on this, and I have realised that what I was projecting that day, that was triggering that man, even as he was apparently attracted to it, was not sexuality, but rather my confidence.
I walk in big confidence, and as I refuse to pay the slightest notice to what (Christian) society often tells me is my “place” as a woman, I sometimes come across as being overly bold.
People often act as if the mark of a good woman is one who does not think too highly of herself, however my perspective is subtly different. I think that for many women, “not thinking highly of themselves” is an expression of low self-esteem. So when people promote “not thinking highly of yourself”, what they are truly promoting as true “womanliness” is low self-esteem. I believe that as Christians we are called to infinitely high self-esteem, to aspire after infinitely high ambitions, but in humility. The difference between low self-esteem and humility is this: self-esteem influences the things you even attempt. If you have low self-esteem, then you do not think yourself inherently capable or worthy of attempting great things. If you have low self-esteem then you might need someone’s constant validation to tell you that you are capable, you have worth, you are beautiful. However, if your self-esteem is sky high, like my own, then you feel more than capable of achieving great things. You set yourself big goals. You set off to achieve them. You don’t automatically discount yourself from achieving great things, by saying “No I could never…” No, you are more likely to say, like I do: “Well if it is possible for it to be done, then I might be able to do it too!” (That said, someone might physically have more and bigger muscles than I do, which might make them more physically powerful than me which is one big reason why I might not be able to achieve what they can achieve, but it is not because my mind is inherently incapable of it.) You know your worth is the same as any other human being’s.
Look around you at people who achieve things. Everyone who has ever achieved anything is just as human as you are. Other than physical strength, what makes them inherently better than you? Absolutely nothing. The only difference between them and you is that they thought that they could achieve something – and they set out to do so. So in the same way, if you want to achieve things, then you need to firstly fill your mind with your own potential, and set your goals, and actively start working towards them. You might fall flat on your face at first, as I have done, as so many people do, but if you persevere, then eventually you will stop falling quite so much, and you will be able to start standing with confidence. So in my own life, it has not been achieving things that has granted me confidence, rather it is starting off with confidence and understanding about who I am relative to other people that has empowered me to achieve things, and to keep going even when initial attempts apparently fail.
Humility then describes the attitude that you have on achieving these things – or not. Just because I attain these things, this does not make me better than other people. This does not make me worth more than other people. This does not mean that I can then look down on other people. This also does not mean that I automatically know more than other people, but I continue to try to learn as much from others as possible.
Additionally, as a Christian I do not take the credit for these things. Rather I know that everything I have ultimately comes from God.
I suspect that Mr Sexual Glarer had perhaps unknowingly adopted the mindset that a “good woman” is one who needs validation from men. I imagine that I contradicted this assumption of his, because sitting there and radiating my confidence, it was clear that the only validation I need is my own. He may have thought that a woman who confidently sits in her own validation is somehow “arrogant” or “unwomanly”.
This is something else that has occurred to me. This man’s wife, while she clearly had some African heritage, she was notably fairer-skinned than I am. There is this deeply held preconception in my country, Nigeria, that fairer-skinned women are more attractive. But in Nigeria, as bad as that is, I believe that that is as far as it goes, that they are only considered superior in terms of being physically attractive. What occurs to me regarding this man (who was not Nigerian but had the appearance of being from another sub-Saharan country) is that he might subscribe to the thinking that dark-skinned women like me are somehow inherently inferior, even beyond the matter of physical attractiveness, and that as such, as a dark-skinned woman I had no right to be sitting there like a queen, utterly unapologetic in my dark-skinned confidence. Rather I should have adopted the stance of thinking of myself as nothing, as he might do, as I imagine he imagines that all dark-skinned women should do. Now the thing is that this man was dark-skinned like me, not quite as dark as I am, possibly one shade lighter. If as a man you’re going to be consistent in this thinking are you also going to apply it to the women in your family, perhaps your sisters, even your own mother? I have definitely encountered this exact same thinking from other dark-skinned Africans in church, even once, shockingly, a pastor who was actually darker-skinned than I am.
How humorous that men like that apparently expect women like me to make ourselves smaller to conform to their preconceptions about our supposedly inherent “inferiority”. What I eventually did regarding the pastor is that I simply left the church, and then I happily carried on glowing without seeking his permission whatsoever, but rather reaching for bigger heights than ever.
The sexual glarer might also have unconsciously imbibed the idea that darker-skinned women are more physical and less feminine, and are more suited to hard labour and hard sex whereas lighter-skinned women are more refined and feminine so they are for romance and marriage and tender lovemaking. So while he was apparently married to the “refinement” of a lighter-skinned woman, he apparently could not help being attracted to what this particular dark-skinned woman seemed to represent. Well firstly it is clearly wrong to just jump to such conclusions about people. Secondly this goes back to the need to be very honest with yourself before marriage. If you are looking forward to sex that is unapologetically physical and vigorous, then you might need to marry someone who
looks more like is characterised more by strength, stamina and athleticism and has a strong libido, than someone characterised by physical delicateness with a low libido.
You know, while I am undoubtedly athletic, there are very good and compelling reasons beyond my faith and my commitment to sexual purity, why I simply have never represented the kind of sexual fantasy that so many people have assumed I represent, reasons which I will not go into here. This is a discussion for me and my future husband, but it just illustrates that you cannot jump to conclusions about someone based merely on the way they look.