This is my second response to In my Emily Maynard’s Prodigal.net article, “Modesty, Lust, and My Responsibility.” In my first article, I talked about modesty and women. Now I want to talk about modesty, lust, and men.
Just as women get dehumanized and have their agency stripped away in this debate, becoming dress-up-dolls for our lusts or our self-righteous desires to control the way they dress, so too do men get dehumanized. Sometimes literally: how many times have you heard someone say that “Men are dogs” or “Men are pigs” or “Men can’t control themselves?” Even “Men are visual creatures, and are more affected by appearance than women are,” while gentler sounding, and not strictly speaking dehumanizing, still steals agency from men.
Women are not responsible for men’s sexual fantasies. Men are. Women are not responsible for men mentally objectifying them, thinking of them only in terms of sexual performance and fantasy. Men are. Men are not dogs or pigs. We are human beings, made in God’s image, just like women are. And if we are, on average, more visual than women, so be it. If it causes a problem, it’s our problem.
I think all the men here can think back (maybe not that far) to a time when you either entertained or resisted the temptation to entertain a sexual fantasy about someone who dressed modestly, wearing clothes that were neither revealing nor highly sexualized. How “modestly” do women need to dress to protect us from our own moral responsibility? Maybe a burqa would do it, but I don’t think even the strictest anti-feminist wants to go there.
So what’s the take-away from this, not for women, but for men? We have the power (with God’s help) to control what your mind does. When we see an unusually attractive woman, especially if she’s dressed in a revealing manner, we usually get a rush of attraction. But we have the power to decide what we’re going to do with that reaction.
Will we remember that she is a person, made in God’s image, just like we are, or will we reduce her to a sexual object in our imagination? Will we keep her humanity in mind, or will we put the blame on her for how she looks or how she’s dressed?
That’s the question. What will we choose to do. Because this is a choice. We always have the choice to remember her humanity.
- How does she feel about Brussels sprouts? (EVERYONE has an opinion about Brussels Sprouts)
- What’s her favorite band, her favorite sport, her favorite movie?
- What about the last good book she read? Does she prefer paper books or e-readers?
- Does she like Farmville, or would she rather take you on in Call of Duty or Super Smash Brothers?
Sexual-fantasy-girl won’t be able to answer these questions, of course, because she isn’t real. But the actual woman, the one who looked so hot on TV, on campus, or at the mall, can answer those questions.
Humanity. That’s what it’s about. Not wardrobe.