Dear Christian men,
It’s summer time and once again, you’re engaged in a battle for your mind. It’s everywhere – the short skirts, the crop tops, the see through leggings, the cleavage, the too short shorts. And guess what?
This isn’t a blog post suggesting that any of the above items of clothing are things that I or any other Christian woman should be wearing. This isn’t a blog post by someone who isn’t sympathetic to the fact that modern society means that there is an onslaught of images that make it difficult for the modern Christian (because contrary to what you’ve been taught, many women are just as visually orientated as men) to adhere to the standards we have in regards to sexuality. This isn’t even a blog post by a woman who feels that men and woman have zero mutual responsibility to each other when it comes to sexual behaviour.
I’m sick of Christian/Muslim/random men who despite my attempts to dress modestly still feel like it’s appropriate to rest all the blame for their lust….on me. In fact, I’m sick of the church in general portraying men as helpless puppies, who sit in front of Jezebel women, panting and jumping up and down at the behest of their scantily clad owners.
This isn’t about what women wear or don’t wear, it’s about a historical legacy of sexism in the church that harms men AND women because it disempowers you and shames us. It tell you that your locus of control is entirely outside yourself. That sexual sin is something that ‘happens’ to you, thrust in your face by seductive women who are out to devour you.
It doesn’t really matter what I wear – if I was in the most Amish friendly skirt, maybe my perfume would be to blame for the fact that you’re turned on. If I wore eau de tap water, it might be that the way I walk is a little bit too sensual. If my walk was stiffer than a German police officer in a Zumba class, it might just be the way I flip my braids. Once your thoughts and behaviour become primarily women’s responsibility and not your own, we are ALWAYS to blame.
You see, you’re right that Christian women should have regard for you as your sisters. And you should have regard for us too. Thing is though, there are a lot of women out there who aren’t Christian – they walk the streets in summer too and they’re very much entitled to make their own choices about what they wear on their bodies. At some point you’re going to have to go outside. And and some point you’re going to have to learn to cope with the fact that some women just don’t care about what you think. They’re not dressing for you today or tomorrow – they’re never going to dress with you in mind. Your belief system doesn’t occur to them when they slip into their crop tops. So what are you gonna do?
Make comments about their body? Walk up to them and say ‘Hey you!Cover up!’? Ogle their breasts? Blame them for the fact that you can’t control yourself?
I hope not.
Because your sexual behaviour is ultimately YOUR sexual behaviour. So when I turn up on Sabbath morning with my past knee length skirt and non cleavage revealing top, and you still feel a little hot under the collar, please don’t make me feel ashamed and act awkwardly around me. Cos I like my Sabbath morning hugs.
And when another young lady turns up with her cleavage out and flashing a lot of thigh, I would hope that despite her inappropriate attire (I’m really not here for outraged feminists who believe that modesty is de facto oppressive), you can still recognise that your response to her is entirely in your control, not hers, and that she deserves to be treated with the same level of respect as anyone else.
Actually, there’s no reason for you to feel guilty that you find me, or any other woman sexy. Sexy simply means ‘sexually attractive or exciting’. I’d be pretty worried if you as a heterosexual man were surrounded by attractive women and felt no sexual attraction to them whatsoever. And I’d be pretty bummed to marry a man who at no point up until my wedding day found me either sexually attractive or exciting.
In fact, here’s a thought..maybe part of the reason you find it so difficult is that you’ve absorbed so much shame around your sexuality that you’re beating yourself up for things that aren’t even wrong. Maybe you’ve begun to sexualise parts of women’s bodies that aren’t even primarily sexual because you’re so hyper aware. Maybe we all need to sit down and take a good look at what the Bible ACTUALLY says about sex and sexuality instead of blindly accepting this hodgepodge mixture of Victorian ethics and modern day sex-obsession.
And maybe we need to stop being so scared of being sexy.