Sunday, August 31, 2008

Modest is…hottest?

By Jenny Senour

You could have fooled me, Hollywood. Last time I checked, modesty has become “anathema” in the entertainment industry, tossed out the window in an attempt to more compellingly portray heaving, sweaty feminine… beauty?

Get the picture? Probably a little too clearly. Sorry, guys. But it is so interesting and so strange to watch the development of a female lead character in most major story lines, attempting to follow with interest and compassion her struggle with being “taken seriously” and “appreciated for the person she is inside.” I know when I go out grocery shopping topless, I also struggle valiantly (but alas, often in vain) to get people (men especially) to look into my eyes and see the depth of the person who is Jenny.

Kidding. I definitely wear at least a swim suit when grocery shopping. But my point is this: how do women expect to be freed from the slavery of objectification when we’re getting up every morning and slipping into our skin-tight shackles willingly? Sure, there’s a necessary level of responsibility to the dignity of the feminine person that rests heavily upon the conscience of every man. But there’s also a necessary responsibility to the dignity of the feminine person that requires women to clothe their gorgeous bodies out of respect and reverence for themselves and the men they encounter! It’s not repressive to cover up what is beautiful and desirable and, let’s face it, holy. On the contrary, it is out of deep respect and appreciation for the inherent value of the person that we cover the more intimate “details” of our bodies.

To put it more pragmatically, following the simple principle of supply and demand, what is readily available for little or no cost is going to see a sharp decrease in its market value. In other words, why buy the cow when the milk’s flowing from every freaking faucet in town? Sorry, but seriously ladies, what gives?

We desire love, we desire to be seen as desirable. This is good and natural and even holy. What is unnatural is the expectation that a man, or any other person, is going to be primarily concerned with the depth of your personality and the quality of your character when you are distracting him with a body poised and primed for sexual activity. That’s not fair! You’re short circuiting his brain and exploiting the nature of the masculine person, especially in our fallen state. It’s difficult enough for guys to maintain their purity as is… it’s the fallout from a very bad decision a long time ago. It’s impossible to call a man on to purity and chastity and greatness, to all that makes him a man, while simultaneously inciting him to lust.

This is not a matter of rights or equality. Men and women are wired differently, and we do not respond similarly to external stimuli. For a man, a little cleavage isn’t just a little sexy, it’s utterly distracting and changes the entire context of his experience of the person on the other side of the pair. It’s like wearing a shirt with a picture of an elephant screened across the front and insisting that no one think about elephants. What else are we supposed to think about?! There’s a freaking elephant on your shirt!

Maniacal ranting aside, I guess my question is this: why Hollywood do you insist on heaping insult upon injury, portraying my gender as incapable of commanding respect and denying us our dignity? What’s in it for you, to make every female lead character look like the playmate of the month, writing into her storyline the inevitable struggle to be “taken seriously?” Oh, wait. I forgot. Sex sells.

Well, carry on then. We’ll just keep watching and waiting, lamenting the decline of civilization and wondering why our 9 year-olds have eating disorders, our 12 year-olds are sexually active, and our 17 year-olds are suicidal. Give that girl a Bratz doll, a subscription to Cosmo, and a 3 month supply of Ortho. She’ll be fine.

How can we expect men to not have impure thoughts when breasts, stomachs, butts, and everything else are being shoved in their face every day. Not just on TV, in movies and on billboards but in their own backyard. God created men with the strong natural desire to procreate in order to keep the human race going. Most days (from what I hear and read) are a struggle for men to stay on the straight and narrow path without all of the extra temptations to deal with. I, as a heterosexual female, even find myself looking at, and being distracted by, cleavage or other scanty clothes on women, so I can't imagine what men must think and feel.

After reading and learning more about the Theology of the Body my eyes have really been opened and I have found a great new respect for the beauty and complementarity of the male and female body and how God designed them. That beauty deserves to be treated with the dignity and respect that God originally intended. Starting with the person living in that body loving, respecting and not "cheaply selling" the treasure they have been given. Now, when I see someone looking for attention by wearing "exposing" clothes I say a prayer that they find the love of God, which is what they are really seeking after anyway.