Objectification steals life from a living, breathing human being and assesses her value by judging her parts instead of her heart.
While we probably don’t want to admit this, the Church is guilty of the same sin as the porn industry: We objectify women. Matthew Paul Turner http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/current-events/op-ed-blog/26523-is-modest-really-hottest
One Sunday morning many years ago, I was a worship leader busy preparing for that Sunday’s worship concert/production (oh – I’ve got strong feelings about all that too, see my other blog at www.churchburned.com), and I looked up to see my then girlfriend walking down the center aisle, coming to join me on stage. It was about ten minutes before the service was scheduled to begin.
I remember it like it was yesterday, this tall, brown-eyed, brunette beauty walking towards me. She always had a way of attracting attention, whether she was intending to or not. On this particular occasion, she strode toward me, smiling, legs crossing over slightly as she walked, her head held high and her shoulders back.
As beautiful a moment as it was, I’m sure it would have eventually blended into the thousands of similar memories to follow in the years to come (yes, I married her), had it not been for what happened next.
After the service, one of the church leaders came to me, concerned.
“I don’t know how to say this, but I felt that I had to bring this to you…”
“This can’t be good,” I thought to myself.
“Does Brandee really have to strut like that when she walks? It could really be a stumbling block to the men in the congregation,” he said.
Keep in mind, I was only 17 or 18 at the time, and yet patriarchy was already being instilled in me. As an (almost) man, I’d soon be ‘her head’ and be responsible for her actions. Of course, at the time I was still a good Christian boy, so naturally, I went to my girlfriend and I told her how it was. I was gentle, but to the point. She didn’t want to be responsible for causing someone to lust, now would she?
Looking back, it was moments like this that began to crush her confidence. It was moments like this that tethered her spirit and brought her into submission. It was moments like this that caused her strong posture to weaken, her shoulders to slowly slump forward, in a subconscious effort to disguise her breasts.
Wow. What regret. I’ve now spent the last twelve years trying to undo this, trying to help her rise above this judgmental, fearful mentality (see “She Rises”). This wouldn’t be the last time that church leadership would attempt to control my future-wife, but it was the last time I supported their misguided efforts.
Why are we confusing confidence as if it is contrary to modesty?
The purity culture I grew up in obsessed about women’s breasts, legs, bra straps & skirt lengths. That same culture feared beauty, as a gateway drug to lust and infidelity.
It is easier to create controls than to initiate culture change. It is easier to police than educate. Unfortunately, control doesn’t facilitate maturity, in fact, it stifles the ability to think for one’s self.
As guys, we were given strategies to help us avoid seeing beauty in human form. Bouncing eyes (the practice of being ready to focus on something, anything other than the pretty human girl who’s recklessly walked into view on her way to class) was my go-to method of lust prevention & protection.
How many times have you heard Romans 14 misused as a means to control the behaviour and dress code of women, based on the apparent insurmountable weakness of men. For more on this, check out Belle Vierge’s post, “All Women Cannot Prevent the Lust of All Men.” http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/2013/08/my-bikini-answer-all-women-cannot.html
If something causes you to stumble, clean up your room. If some one causes you to stumble, clean up your mind. Inanimate objects can trip people up. Only women who’ve been objectified by their observers then can cause similar results.
Are we really talking about modesty? Because it seems like at the heart of the matter we’re talking at men who are unwilling to change or grow themselves to prevent from succumbing to sin so they would rather force women to change to cater to their weakness.
Just relax people. Appreciate life, appreciate beauty. Love. Breathe. Just because she’s pretty doesn’t mean you have to have her or have to want her. She is human. She is equal. She’s not a prize, she’s a person. She’s your peer. You are not an animal. Be human. Show some respect.
When my daughters look in the mirror, the first thing I want them to say is “I am beautiful,” not, “What will the boys think?”
Modesty isn’t about skin, it’s about intention. It’s not how she walks, but why she walks that way. It’s less to do with the cut and length of the clothes she wears and more to do with why she wears them.
If you can get her to admit that the reason she wears something sexy is to entice you to to lust, then yes, you’d have a point. That would be immodest. But when you assume someone is dressing immodestly like that, just by looking at her, you bring shame to her and you accuse her of something you have no
Modesty shouldn’t be as polarizing a topic as it is within the Church. When you strip modesty down, underneath it all it’s about humanity over vanity. It’s about humility, decency and self-respect. These are character traits, not clothing styles.
I was raised to treat women with respect. There was no option to blame thought or action on an especially pretty woman.
Women, only you know your hearts. I stopped judging you. I hope my brothers do too. Embrace your strength, exhibit your beauty, both inside and out.
I asked some respected women for their thoughts on how men can better serve women as we continue the modesty conversation. I’ll close with their words of wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:
Emily Maynard @emelina
Listen to us. Believe us. Check your privilege. Deal with your sexuality. Build new ideas w/us.
Start thinking of sexuality as something we *both* share to equal degrees. The dichotomy between men=visual and women=emotional, and men=sex, women=love needs to end. Women can be more visual than men, and men can want relationships/feelings more than women.
Don’t make assumptions about women based on the clothes we wear. Don’t tell girls that their clothes send some sort of message.
Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love.
Playlist while writing: