Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's a sexy sexy world

It is no revelation that women today are objectified more as sexual beings than human beings and that our current culture  is a strongly sexualized one.  Everything is sexy.  People and every single piece of their bodies can be sexy, clothes can be sexy, shoes can be sexy, cars can be sexy...I even read in the sports section a month or so ago about a sloppy victory by a team as not being a sexy win.  You cannot open a magazine/newspaper, go to the grocery store or even turn on a G-rated kids television show (I have heard it on Good Luck Charlie) where there isn't some sort of sexual content hinted at or stated outright.  Women have plastic surgery to attempt to look younger and more attractive (attractive meaning sexually attractive obviously.  What else are you trying to attract?  Bees?  Metal objects?) and to "feel better about themselves".  Our whole idea of worth has become centered around how well a woman can attract and then manipulate others with their appearance.  And although this isn't new, prostitution is called the world's oldest profession, our culture today is so blatantly sexual, there is no way of avoiding it even if you wanted to.

I'm not denying that we are sexual beings.  Of course we are.  I wouldn't be here if there had not been generations of people having sex.  Sex is part of being a member of the human race, but we have given it WAY too much power in the role that it plays in society.  And I have an extremely difficult time in understanding how this sexualization of society has benefited women in even the slightest manner.   Diseases and unplanned pregnancies don't sound like freedom to me.  And although people can point to vaccines, safe sexual practices, and birth control to avoid such things, none of it is 100% effective. And most importantly, we forget that there is a human being with a heart, a soul, and feelings attached to all of this. Women can and are left feeling empty, hurt and at times, suicidal when trying to live out this promised bliss of sexual freedom that is so heavily promoted in our culture.  It is not unheard of a girl committing suicide after naked pictures of her are forwarded around her school.  I am no expert on the history of the women's rights movement in America, but I can guarantee you the women weren't picketing the streets so one day girls would have the opportunity to text naked pictures of themselves to boys. This is not empowering, it's insanity.

I just finished reading a book called Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen.  The author relays story after story of young women who have led promiscuous lives in order to find their self-worth.  I don't condemn any of these young women.  In fact, my heart hurts for them.  They were duped by our over-sexualized culture into thinking that their worth was dependant on how much they were desired by boys/men.  Here are some quotes from the book from the girls:

As years went by sex became exactly what I wished to win, because it told me that I was valuable and beautiful, and those things were important to me. (pg.25)
and this
When we broke up, I slept with guy after guy to fill the emptiness that I felt.  I started cutting and became addicted to drugs.  I became known as either "That Girl That Cuts" or "That Slut". (pg.99)
and this
I have a Pavlov's dog-reaction to the sound of a text coming in.  I immediately think, "Could it be someone who wants me?" (pg.135)
Doesn't sound like good times to me.  This book was a pretty interesting read, and although I did not agree with the author's hopes for the future which wishes for casual sex without the emotional strings attached, it was brutally honest about what is really going on in the lives of young women today.   She had this to say which is spot on:

A huge part of being a loose girl is believing in a fantasy, and that fantasy is of course not factual.  We have been handed the lie about men by our media and culture. A boy will make you worth something.  A boy's loving you means you matter in the world. We've bought the idea entirely...(pg. 170) 

Now certainly, not every woman's story is like the ones mentioned above, but the fact remains that there are some that are. They have become collateral damage in this sexual revolution that is grounded in fantasy and not reality.   There are real consequences to this sexy world we live in.  And more often than not, the consequences have to be handled by a woman, alone.   Notice the MTV reality show about teen pregnancy is aptly named "Teen Mom" and not "Teen Parents".

As I mentioned in a prior post, I have two daughters of my own.  My daunting job is to now somehow convince them that despite whatever is being marketed by our culture at every waking moment about their self-worth is false.  It's an uphill battle for sure.  However, allowing them to figure it out entirely for themselves and giving them the power to do whatever "feels right" to them is not the answer.  When we get drunk our judgement is impaired and we honestly believe that we are okay to drive, but an outside observer will tell you otherwise.  I have to be that sober outside observer for everything for my children. But in order to do that, I have to be sober myself.  Screaming "Don't do it! Don't do it! God hates fornicators! You'll go to hell!" is not sober.  I think that the only way to counter our present enslaving culture is to expose the illusion in an un-fanatical and completely honest manner and through my own actions show that the only way to truly be free in any aspect of life, is through self-control. 

Self-control, the purported archenemy of freedom...next topic.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Undefining Feminism

Okay, I've had a while to think some of this through.  Actually a few nights ago I woke up at 3 am and had my thoughts all sorted out. However, I kept arguing with myself that I shouldn't get up and write them down because I needed to get back to sleep. I had promised the kids that we would go to the zoo that day and I wanted to be well rested for the outing.  And sure enough, here I am grasping for those cohesive thoughts.

Having said this, I can remember one thing that I was going to say, so maybe I can start and then (hopefully) things will work themselves out.  So, here it goes.

I came to the conclusion that there is no way to define a feminist or a woman and that the popular idea of "defining oneself" is a false one. There are people who feel the need to say they are X, Y or Z. No you're not. You are a human being who likes X, or is Y by birth or Z by deliberate choice because you despise Y but ultimately you are not any of those things.  You are someone, not a list of adjectives whose definitions can be blurred or misunderstood.

Secondly, what I thought it meant to be a woman 20 years ago at the age of 21 is drastically different from what I know it to be now at the age of 41.  So what a 21 year old believes with her limited life experience and a what 41 year old believes with 20 additional years can and should be worlds apart.  There comes a point when one must take off their rose colored glasses instead of upping the prescription.  I think I reached that somewhere in my late 30's. 

And lastly, which sort of ties in with the second point, there seems to already exist certain conditions that one must meet in order to be regarded as a "feminist".  For the same reason I am a registered Independent when it comes to voting, I refuse to be categorized within the constructs of what society has predetermined to a feminist.  I hold certain beliefs  because I have either experienced something personally and know it to be true or have been close to people who have experienced something that really blew away my preconceived notions of what I had thought to be true.  That is what life is about and why we should always be free to change our minds without fear of being called a hypocrite.

With this in mind it is imperative that we avoid demeaning or belittling women whose actions appear contrary to our belief system. We have no idea what it is like to be them.  I am not suggesting that we sit by idly and watch someone self-destruct through addiction or that we not teach our children from our own mistakes.  Nor am I saying we should keep our opinions to ourselves.  There is always room for honest discussion and debate if people are willing to listen and not judge.  But once we start name-calling and casting people into hell, we destroy each other.  One of my biggest pet peeves EVER is when someone I don't know well (or at all!) says to me "You shouldn't feel that way about such-and-such. How can you believe such a thing!"  How do you know how I should feel?  Do you know how I arrived at this juncture and all the extenuating circumstances?  Unless it someone close to the situation that can provide an honest perspective, no celebrity or public figure has the right to assert that my beliefs or feelings about something should be one way or another.   And quite frankly, we shouldn't be turning to pop culture for any sort of advice about anything.  Unfortunately that is all we have and it is in our face.  That's what's next.  The fantasy created by our culture and how it further enslaves women. 

See you soon!