Ok men. I have a bone to pick with you. Especially among you of the conservative Christian circles.
I am not an object.
A cousin posted a link on Facebook and charged women to find “godlier examples.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for modesty and dressing conservatively, but I am not something you men need to be protected from. You can ask anyone in my closest circles. I’m uncomfortable showing too much skin. I’m uncomfortable with low cut tops, short shorts, or outfits that show little more than my swimsuit (which happens to be a tankini, usually covered by swim shorts and a shirt). Most of the arguments i hear from the Christian circles regarding modesty speak of guarding men from their own selfish desires. I understand men and women have fundamental differences in the way we think, but if we have to adhere to a man’s sense of what women should look like (hello 1950s!), then why can’t they adhere to a woman’s standard?
I propose all men run wearing no less than a sports bra top. That’s right. Men shouldn’t show their chest in public. And their shorts must be comparable to a woman’s… often short and tight. Is this making you uncomfortable yet? Men should also wear fitted clothing to accentuate their curve equivalent.
Not ok with this proposal? Fine. Then stop making me an object that you can keep or toss away. I have value outside my feminine nature. My gender gave birth to you men, nurtured you as you grew up, taught you in schools. We aren’t things to be tossed away and discarded after our jobs are done. We look to these supermodels as role models because we see you looking at them, drooling over them, wanting them. We think that is the kind of woman you want, a woman who is unhealthily thin, wears massive amounts of makeup, perfectly dressed, with perfect hair… We don’t always hear you when you say, “You’re beautiful the way you are,” because we see you drooling at movies over the lead actress who’s barely clothed, and you expect us to dress modestly? I’m sorry I have issues with that.
There’s nothing wrong with finding a woman attractive, men. My husband and I often comment on people we find beautiful, not to compare to us, but simply stating “That person is attractive.” When it comes down to it, though, we know where our loyalties lie… with each other. He gets on to me when I say, “I feel so fat.” His typical response is, “You aren’t fat, Karen… You’re pregnant. There is a difference.” When he sees me as beautiful, it’s easier to see me as beautiful. No, my self esteem isn’t dependent on how my husband sees me, but it doesn’t hurt.
So how do we address the issue of modesty by taking into account that we, as women, are not objects? First off, modesty should be a way of enhancing the female form while keeping a bit of mystery. It’s ok to look attractive or sexy. Inherently, those things aren’t bad. The issue comes when women look like they are cheap or scandalous. It should be ok to look cute. Looking like you’re a cheap call girl, however, not so much. Secondly, we should nurture our future generations to see that a woman is not an object to obtain and discard. We should teach them that women, like men, have value in our society, that ultimately, women and men really aren’t so different. Yes, there may be roles that women can fill better than men or vice versa, but ultimately, we really aren’t so different and have value.
Why is it so difficult to for conservative Christian men to see this? Yes, there will be people in the media who dress scantily and you wonder how our culture can allow that, but please remember that we see you react to them. We see the way you give them attention, and often when we dress like them, we want to be seen the same way. So don’t put us down because we mimic the society we live in. Don’t treat us as objects. Treat us the way we were made, as valuable members of this society, as the nurturers of generations past and leaders of generations to come. We’re human, not objects.