But as I have been reading about boundaries this week I have realized this is a very basic and important boundary issue. And the all too common lack of respect for boundaries in ALL areas of our lives leaves too many people of both genders believing manipulation and game-playing is the normal way to live. Many lives are being damaged severely both from sexual assault and from the use of the threat of claiming sexual assault in order for bullies to get what someone else does not wish to provide them.
Of course, the "wild west" attitude toward sex that equates "frigidity" or "up-tightness" with anyone who has a healthy body image supporting a valid and reasoned decision to forgo sex at any time and in any place with any one does not help. Neither do the number of pundits who have accused women holding political views that Deep Chopra or Madeline Albright and Vance Packwood do not espouse, saying "women do not know what is good for them." I'm grateful we already have the vote since I thought this nonsense had been debunked nearly a century ago!
So Shades of Grey not withstanding, both men and women have a right, and indeed a responsibility to use their assets responsibly, which includes not using comeliness or charm to push someone where they do not wish to go. And men or women who don't get what they want have the right neither to demand nor threaten when faced with "no".
But this is true in the rest of our lives also. It is inappropriate to threaten an employee who declines to follow a supervisor's instructions to act in unethical and/or illegal ways. It is inappropriate to manipulate a spouse or child, using intimate knowledge learned or shared in what should be a trust-based relationship. It is inappropriate to manipulate someone into volunteering for the PTA or a church committee. It is inappropriate to take advantage of a friend or relative's low resistance to scam them out of money, ask them to lie in order to "cover" or demand they "like" or "hate" someone else on behalf of another.
All this is really wrong: damaging to all involved and absolutely worth getting help to "reset" our boundaries and protect our boundaries in kind and firm ways. It is unrealistic to say "I will quit bullying when that person gets some gumption," and equally unrealistic to say "I will get better when someone gives me permission to do so." Find a counselor. Keep calling until you find a pastor who understands boundaries. Find a mature and able mentor. Find a group. Start a group with others working on boundary issues because it is SO much easier to identify when someone else is getting treated badly.
Learning to give what you can give without strings, conditions or expectations: it is a blessing without measure and absolutely God's desire for our heart. (That is, after all, how Christ's saving blood was shed: sufficient for all before anyone could even believe.) And as things get new and scary (and they will) God welcomes your prayers and longs to help you find your foundations and boundaries so that giving can become a joy rather than a duty, or worse, part of a pattern of abuse.
Tomorrow: They say I'm crazy and this feels a lot scary!
Musings upon reading: Boundaries: When to Say YES and When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life (See BOOKS tab above.)