Modesty. Today my family and I went to the New Mexico State Fair, and I was baffled (but not completely surprised) by the number of young women scantly clothed. On the way home, my sister and I started to talk about modesty. What does it all mean? As a woman myself I am affected in a negative way by the topic of sexuality and what that means to be a woman with sexuality. So, I decided to search Google and found this article called “Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means” by Rachel Held Evans. She presented this argument that woman are often fed two horrible things-like two sides of a coin. A culture that tells woman there only value is in their sex appeal rather than her character, and the other extreme which goes on to imply that woman need to dress modestly in order to keep our brothers from lusting toward a woman bodies. Two of these points, according to Rachel, point in pleasing men on one side with their sexual appeal, and on the other, pleasing men by taking responsibility for their sexual impulses as if our bodies were dangerous.
As I read this article, something hit inside me. I have been fed this as a woman. What have I been fed? Both sides of the coin. The mixed messages. Pressure to pleasing a man by being the best looking in a sexual away, and then believing this projection that my body is dangerous tool that causes men to lust, so therefore, needs to be hidden with modest dress. A few examples this has manifested in my life: I was on a date with my ex-boyfriend and I was wearing a beautiful blue dress that was fitted. I was wearing my hair down and I felt beautiful. We went to a pueblo cultural center and the night was filled with music and an open dance floor. I love to dance. Dancing is something that I truly do enjoy, and I wanted to dance even if it was by myself. However when I told my boyfriend I wanted to dance, he told my flatly that if I do men will look at me lustfully. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I didn’t want the attention and felt if I did dance, I was responsible for those men lusting after me because I chose to dance. So I didn’t. That night wasn’t very much fun. Another example (with my ex): I was about to go to the gym. I was wearing pattered blue yoga pants and then a fitted workout shirt and a hat as well. My ex came to me and said I shouldn’t be wearing that because he told me if I do, he would “look” at me. So, I changed so I could protect him from lusting after me. Whether or not he meant it this way, this gave me the impression that it was my responsibility to prevent him from lusting after me.
I feel furious at the revelation. SO, now. Here I am. Writing this blog to blow off some steam as I am realizing that I am fed mixed messages about my sexuality as a woman.
I realized that since I adopted the perception that a woman was responsible for a man’s sexual impulses, I started looking at women and their bodies as dangerous and seductive. This includes how I look at my own body. I find that this is a horrible trap I have caught myself in.
Where is the accountability for men? Has society reached so low a point that they have reduced men’s sexual desires to animalistic because there is no accountability for their own thoughts and actions?
I realize that a woman who chooses to dress in a manner that reveals a lot of skin does have an affect on men becuase how God created them. I am not saying that woman should be able to wear whatever they want because “men need to control their thoughts more”. NO. That is NOT what I am saying. Dress can be inappropriate on women and men alike.
What I am saying is that in todays culture, a woman tends to be caught in a standard (masked by outward dress) that a woman cannot reach. Two sides of a coin remember? On one side, woman cannot reach the standard of having a perfect body in order to please a man. On the other, woman cannot meet the standard of modest dress so men never lust after them. In my opinion, men will lust regardless of what a woman wears because he chooses. Lust is the product of sin in the heart, not a product of an individual causing another individual to lust. Jesus even said “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” Lust comes from the evil desires of ones own heart and this is true for BOTH men and woman. Not just men lust. I have dealt with this battle in my own life.
In all truth, this blog is a short cry from a wounded woman. I have believed that my body is a dangerous thing that is responsible for a mans lustful thoughts. I have been carrying a false sense of responsibility. I have failed to see the glory and purity of my own body and sexuality as a woman because of the perceptions I have adopted unconsciously. We all need healing, men and woman alike because I am sure we ALL have dealt with our own negative perceptions of our own sexuality and that of the opposite gender.
Lord, whoever is reading this I pray your truth in this matter of sexuality. Lord I ask that you would make a difference in perceptions and cultural attitudes on women and mens sexuality in the secular world and in the church that reflects your heart, not our fears. Please heal the wounds I have received due to sin in the world and sin from my own heart. Forgive me if someone has read this and received condemnation. I pray against in Jesus Name. I ask for truth-for myself and the reader. I ask for healing for us all, Jesus. In your name, Amen.