Ok, I am not a political person. If you know me at all you know this. I avoid the news like some people avoid horror movies, I have never voted for a candidate who was republican or democrat, I tend to either become silent or leave a conversation if it becomes political even remotely. My husband is the only person who knows many of my political leanings or ideas because I think it sours people and relationships to get into the kind of debate politics tends to spark. However, something came up in my personal life today that I just have to comment on. It is completely irrelevant in some ways because the conversation centered around Trump and whether he is good or bad he is in charge. In some ways, however, it is more than relevant, and will be at any time in any culture.
A person in my life and I were arguing today, honestly I’m not even sure what the argument was about. I thought it was whether or not I had reason to believe Trump was a bad person, but later she said she agreed he was bad but kept defending her side, so I have no idea. The important part of the conversation, however, was that I told her about what Trump said about it being ok for a man to “grab her pu***.” Her immediate response was to tell me that she saw a post on Facebook of women in plunging necklines and she couldn’t help but think “What did they expect?”
Ok. For those of you who already understand why this is an issue, I’ll let you just sit with that for a second.
Imagine the screams that wanted to emerge from me. Suffice it to say, that any true emotion(that disagrees with hers) is not accepted by this person, however, so I was required to keep my calm.
Here we go.
IT IS NEVER OK FOR A MAN TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT A WOMAN.
You may say, “well, duh of course not, but what did they think was going to happen?”
“Don’t you think they are inviting it?”
It is infuriating to me that this kind of ignorance is touted as a real teaching in Christianity. Modesty, which by the way does not mean “Cover every inch of your body, you are disgusting and a temptation,” is taught as if it does. Women are encouraged not to be alone with men, because then we are encouraging them. If a woman wears something too tight, too low, too loose, then we are tempting them. I grew up traditional Catholic with weekly if not daily lectures on modesty, do you know how often I heard men talked to about respecting the wfemale body? Exactly never. I don’t count anti-porn addiction because the way that is taught is really as just another thing for men to blame their bad behavior on.(Not saying porn is ok, in fact that is a huge post for another time.)
I never heard anyone talk about how to respect a woman’s body and boundaries.
[I should note, before I go on, that while I never heard this talk to men growing up, I did have a fantastic college professor who discussed how men should view women, and he helped me to understand what I am talking about in this post.]
Now, first of all, this is a teaching that is not really even necessary for most women, because women have not been taught that anything we do is excused by the clothes that men wear.
Second of all, the example far too frequently used “if you put a great dessert on the table, do you expect people to eat it?” is laughable and demeaning. A woman’s body is not food for a man to take as he wishes. I don’t care if I put cookies out on the table and you eat them. Cookies are not a part of a human being, they do not have consciousness, they do not (as far as we know) have an opinion as to whether or not they are eaten. I could go into the Christian argument that woman’s body is made in the image of God and is therefore sacred, but I’d rather simply say, a woman is a PERSON, not an object.
Those who talk about how women “objectify” themselves by dressing in a certain way, need to reflect on what they are saying. A woman who is a PERSON makes herself an OBJECT because she wears something that does not fit into your guidelines of what is appropriate.
Is that true? Can we accuse a woman of doing that? Women in Africa go topless everyday, are they objects now or still people? When a baby is born naked, are they only an object because they are not wearing clothes? No. And it would be ridiculous to say so. But, you say, these states of dress are appropriate in their culture, or their situation. Back to the Facebook comment, what is and had been for some time the culture of Hollywood? Revealing, provocative styles designed to make a statement are the cultural fashion if you will. A plunging neckline is frequently the mildest of these things, but even a piece that pushes boundaries farther still fits into the culture of that situation.
Those who argue that women are objectifying themselves, are basically saying that a man can treat this kind of woman however he wants because she has made herself an object. No matter what a woman is wearing she still has the basic reasoning and consciousness of self that is the typical way of recognizing personhood. She is and always will be a person, and can NOT be treated like an object.
The argument itself is actually degrading in a deeply sinister way if you think about it. No one argues that a man is compromising his personhood if he wears no shirt, but if a woman wears a deep v, she is no longer a person?
Take a second to think about that.
Why do women only possess personhood if you deem their outfit appropriate?
Honestly, I feel that there’s nothing I can add to that.
Why am I only a person, therefore deserving respect, if I wear what you say I should?
Note: This isn’t meant to be a philosophical essay, or I could have gone into the definition of personhood and argued more academically my points. My point is to say my thoughts on the issue today, and these are them, do with them what you will.