Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Immodesty Doesn't Equal Female Power

The other night I was talking with some women about the destructive power of places like Hooters and Tilted Kilt, and strip clubs as well--and how they reduce us as women to the sum of our body parts. How they diminish and affect not only the women who work there, but women everywhere. And there were a few tears in our eyes, as we realized that we have all at some time sought male attention and approval through subtle and not-so-subtle manipulation of our bodies.

from wikipedia.com
I felt anger beneath the surface as I talked about Beyonce's latest video "Who Runs the World--Girls!" that has body parts displayed through little clothing, hips and breasts gyrating, while all the while claiming that girls now have the power--by manipulating through their sexuality. I'd like to go on record by saying that we certainly don't run the world when we're dependent on our fleeting beauty and gross immodesty to have power and position. As one blogger (who was simply a music reviewer) put it after seeing the video, "Hide your daughters!"

Did someone forget that women have brains and strength and love and nurture to give--and that they aren't only valuable when they look sexy? That they are valuable to God from the moment they are born till the moment they die...and beyond?

No, we are worth infinitely more to the God who created us in His own image. We as women are created as indispensable "ezers" -- the Hebrew word for Eve that exalts us as agents or rescue, meant to join with men to accomplish God's work. We are neither subordinate nor superior. We are created by almighty God, and instead of manipulation, we are called to love, to service, to give. (If you want to know more, listen to this sermon or watch this video.)

I'm not removed from this problem--I've seen the tragic effects firsthand. Last year, while helping a 21-year-old exotic dancer who was detoxing from opiates, my husband and I took her into our house for a few days. She was so ashamed, she couldn't look David in the eyes. I told her God loves her and gives her dignity, but she couldn't imagine leaving the strip club, since she made so much money there, and had so much "fun." Where is all the money you've made, I asked, since she had about $3 in her purse. And she had to admit it was all gone. And that in a few years, she would be out of a job, too, tossed aside as younger, more beautiful dancers came on the scene. Although she was the one nauseous from detoxing, I was the one who felt like vomiting.

Ladies, we don't have to objectify ourselves. God loves us intrinsically and always, when we are 8 days old and 80 years old, and it doesn't matter to him what we look like. We are valuable because He created us, loves us, and wants relationship with us. That is enough, and no-holds-barred sexuality cheapens you and the way other women are perceived. There's a better way.

Men, you don't have to objectify us, either. Choose to believe that you are also made in God's image, you are not animal, but you have a mind and a will that can be submitted to the One who loves you most. When you see a woman of beauty, thank God for his good Creation. Then decide that you will treat your mothers and your girlfriends and your wives and your daughters and the woman on the street with the protection and dignity they deserve. 

Pornography, and Hooters, and strip clubs, and showing body parts that arouse attention, are destructive to men and women, boys and girls. We have the ability to choose things that bring us death, but oh how God longs to bring us life!

**The author wishes to acknowledge that women also deal with disordered sexuality, including pornography--and that there is help and healing for both men and women. Here are two resources: xxxchurch.com and dirtygirlsministries.com.

How can we as men and women help each other in this area? What are some things we can do to restore modesty and dignity to God's daughters?


  1. Michelle WilliamsMay 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    My daughter and I watched Lady Gaga performing on television ... I think it was Letterman. It was basically a stripper act sans a pole.
    Clad in panties and a bra, she stood at the piano with her hind end up in the air. I thought to myself, any credibility she has as an artist is destroyed by how she's portraying herself. I felt sad for her and for all women who have lost the perspective of true worth. And I grieve for future artists who think that this is the way to garner attention for their art.

  2. There is a balance to be found between Beyonce and burqas and as Jesus followers we need to find it and extol it.
    Andy Crouch in his book, "Culture Making", encourages believers to move from consuming culture to creating and cultivating culture.
    A culture which encourages modesty and dignity will place a high value on each life because it is life created in God's image, not because it meets the current societal standard of beauty. Each individual and their gifts will be treasured and valued for their uniqueness and their role in the body whatever it may be.
    It's far easier to be a consumer than a creator as any cook will attest, but Christians need to step back into the kitchen and skip the carry-out.

  3. Thanks for the comments. The post above was written with some fire in my bones. I'm angry that women and men have been marginalized in these ways...and that we are collaborators in our own marginalization.

    Anonymous makes a good point, thank you for challenging us to redeem culture. I'm hoping that in doing so, you will choose not to remain anonymous. Step into the light and let's have a great dialogue here.

  4. Girl, I was just writing about this very topic yesterday. Great minds think alike. :-) But seriously, I too hav ea fire in my bones against this constant decline and the mixed messages that we are sending women. Submitted the article, will let you know how it goes. Concerning culture making and reclaiming the culture, the church has to get outside of the four walls of a building to engage these young men and women one person at a time to let them know that God has a much better way.

  5. Thanks for this blog, Suzanne. I don't have daughters, but I was once a teenage girl, and it breaks my heart to see beautiful, shapely girls and young women dressed in tight, brief clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination. I blame popular culture, parents, but most of all I think the church and our pastors have failed to cry out against the immodesty so rampant today, mostly out of fear that they will be branded as legalistic.