I’ve read a LOT of blogs lately. Blogs about how girls should dress, how young ladies should protect young men, how the way a girl dresses defines her. I’ve read about how a girl is responsible for the looks she gets, for what goes on in a boy’s mind, for if and how much he lusts after her. I’ve read blogs from mothers of sons, who’ve warned girls of the impending Facebook block, should she show up too scantily clad on one of her son’s Facebook feeds (I applaud her, and I think I might want to try this).
As the youngest of four girls belonging to a pastor, I was very much raised to dress modestly. Constantly aware of the length of my shorts, the tightness of pants, the thickness of the straps on my tank tops, the cut of necklines, and the openness of dress backs. And Lord knows, two-piece swimsuits were simply out of the question.
And I don’t disagree. We women were created with a unique and curvy beauty, designed specifically to appeal to men’s physical and mind’s eyes. Knowing it, we have a responsibility to dress ourselves both in clothing and in dignity. For our own sake as much as anything else.
But here’s the thing: As the stepmom of a 16-year-old young man and mom of a 2-year-old toddler (whose world-in-14-years will undoubtably make me cringe in new ways), I’m annoyed.
I’m annoyed that all the preaching to “keep a boy’s mind pure” seems to be aimed at girls. Because that’s my sons’ job.
I’m annoyed that parents seem to be teaching their little girls that to be pretty and dress up their curves is to cause a man to stumble, “So be careful. And maybe wear a habit.” Because I want my boys to learn the difference between a beautiful woman who knows how to dress to accentuate her loveliness, and one who’s dressing for stares. I’m training them to discern a woman who dresses in godly character even when she’s wearing a bikini, from one who covers all the right parts because she hates herself and is ashamed of her body. I’m training them to recognize and avoid the attention-hungry girl seeking to manipulate his baser instincts AND the self-righteous religious girl who seeks to manipulate his spirit in more subtle ways. And that practice involves a lot more than weeding the “properly” dressed girls from the “immodest” ones.
I’m annoyed that parents are talking all about what Miley did on the VMA stage (and in what little clothing), about how girls shouldn’t emulate her and boys shouldn’t chase girls like her, all while ignoring what a 34-year-old married father did to her on that same stage. Because if she should know better, so should he. He should have been the one covering her up.
I have two boys whom I love. I want them to respect women. I want them to cherish their sexuality and save it for a worthy wife. I want them to hold out for worthy wives and, instead of chasing tail, practice becoming worthy husbands.
Just as a worthy wife doesn’t make a practice of baiting all the men she can, worthy husbands don’t blame women when they take the bait. They own their dishonorable thoughts and deeds, and repent. LIKE MEN.
I, as their (step)mom, am striving with all my might and praying with the fervor of a thousand hurricanes, that they will practice self-control until said wife is ringed.
I’m praying that they will practice capturing unworthy thoughts about girls, committing them to the Lord, and moving on with honorable thoughts, rather than blaming the girl on whom they unleashed their immaturity.
I’m teaching them that THEY are responsible for how long their eyes linger on a girl, and THEY are responsible for treating her with the dignity inherent to her womanhood, even when she doesn’t know it or seem to deserve it.
I’m teaching them that worthy ladies are found reading Jane Austen books in the library, enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend after a Saturday shift, or running a 5k on the track team…not at a party getting wasted and disrobing (or being disrobed).
But I’m also teaching them that, should they find themselves at a party where girls are getting wasted and disrobing (or being disrobed), they should be the guys who step up and protect them, cover them, and help preserve their dignity while they’re drunk – NOT the ones taking advantage of those girls.
I’m teaching them that, just as women were created with the desire to be desired, men were created with desire. And just as the same controlled fire that warms a home can, uncontrolled, burn that house down, so is their desire. So PRACTICE SELF-CONTROL.
Frankly, all this talk to daughters about, “Girls, don’t make my boy lust!” is undermining the God-given charge to my boys to take responsibility for themselves and CHOOSE not to make meat of the ladies in their midst.
All this talk of how girls should dress “for boys” (to protect their eyes, to help them not to stumble, etc etc etc) perpetuates the lie that women exist for men – for their pleasure, for their protection, etc – rather than for the God who loves them and created them fearfully and wonderfully with the face and eyes and hips and breasts that men (honorably) admire.
It perpetuates the myth that my boys literally cannot help themselves; that they cannot control themselves; that they cannot capture and commit unworthy thoughts to the Lord; that, given the opportunity, they will lust – they don’t have the choice not to – and therefore, we women are responsible to not let it go that far. (Anyone else cringing at the nuances reminiscent of the “she got herself raped” culture?)
I’m striving to teach my boys that they alone are responsible for how they treat women, for how they think about women, for whether or not they lust over women. That even if provoked, they don’t have to take the bait, and if they do, THEY need to repent – not her. (I do hope mothers of daughters are teaching their girls not to provoke my boys’ desire…but that’s another blog…maybe…)
I want my boys to know that girls who strip down and pose for them aren’t looking for love, but attention. So instead of flirting and affirming that her worth lies in her ability to entice men, I’m teaching them to do the decent thing. To befriend her, to affirm her character and intelligence rather than the curve of her bum in a pair of tight jeans. Because maybe she doesn’t know she’s more than fodder for a boy’s daydreams, and maybe my boy can be the one to show her the truth.
I’m teaching them that men have a special power to bestow dignity on women who don’t otherwise know their worth. And that’s a sacred privilege.
Don’t get me wrong: I HOPE my boys don’t have to live their days in a society in which women more closely resemble strippers than, say, teachers. And I hope that mothers of daughters (and more importantly, fathers of daughters) are teaching their girls that the way a woman dresses can engender either a man’s respect and admiration or his baser instinct to lust, and that character trumps curves. I hope they’re teaching their dignified daughters how to spot my honorable sons from among the throngs of boys who just want to do them. (*Snort* – I just said “do them.”) I hope those girls are being taught to clothe themselves with integrity and carry themselves with the self-respect and the confidence that comes from knowing they’re worth more than a one-night-stand, so my sons have someone to date and bring home to me.
But I refuse to let my sons off the hook. I refuse to let them blame girls for how long they look and what they’re thinking as they stare.
Because I’m raising my boys to be men. Men who sacrifice themselves for the women in their lives, as Christ gave Himself up for the church. I’m raising them to be men who honestly and fearlessly face their ugly thoughts, humbly repent, and confidently move forward.
I’m raising men who will protect and preserve the honor and beauty and dignity of women, not men whose dignity and honor need to be protected and coddled by habit-clad women.
Because – call me a throwback to the olden days – I believe that’s how God made us.