I’m keeping this blog nonpartisan, choosing only to address underlying issues. Please don’t assume endorsement for any candidate.
The media is all abuzz this week after a video came out from over a decade ago featuring Donald Trump saying some pretty vile, disgusting things about women and how, because of his wealth, he was at full liberty to touch women inappropriately. He blew it off as “locker room talk.” As I’ve never been inside a men’s locker room, I can’t say if it is or not, and if I ever were to hear men speaking that way with all that false bravado or sheer cockiness, I would assume their big mouths were overcompensating for a significant lack in penile endowment.
This type of talk, though, only perpetuates the whole concept of rape culture. In the aftermath of this video coming to light, women started talking about when they were sexually assaulted by men who thought they could get by with it, usually because of their seniority in some way (age, position, wealth).
I remember being 13 when it happened to me, though mine was by a classmate. It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and as I walked down the hall to class, a boy – one of the popular, cool kids – came from behind me and groped my breast. I never told anyone – never have until now – but I remember feeling so ashamed. And helpless. This guy thought that, because I had large breasts – larger than any other girl in my class, anyway – that they were available to be grabbed. He further thought that, being one of the popular boys, he could get by with it. (Karma, anyone? She found this guy.) I didn’t say anything, because who would believe me? Boys are gonna be boys, right? No harm done. Nevermind that I was painfully self-conscious of my breasts already and that a lot of less-developed girls hated me for them. I never asked for that particular genetic “blessing.”
The proliferation of images of naked women online perpetuates this idea that women’s bodies exist only for men’s pleasure and consumption. I have a guy friend who shall remain anonymous who enjoys looking at nude pictures of barely legal young ladies online, and he gives positive reinforcement to those who post those images by downloading, sharing and liking them. Who are those ladies, though? Desperate college students who needed a few bucks eight years ago and never thought their pictures would be plastered all over the internet? Someone’s ex-girlfriend who posed for her boyfriend, never knowing that he’d sell her pictures after the breakup? However those pictures came to be there, the message is the same: The woman’s body is only for the pleasure of men. It does not belong to her at all.
Ten years ago, out of boredom and because I like showing off my creative endeavors, I wrote erotica and posted it online (under a pseudonym, of course!). The feedback I received was very rewarding for the most part, though some of it was less-than-welcome. I was honestly surprised at how many men thought I’d want to hook up with them for sex, just because I wrote about sex. They assumed that, since I put a few sexual fantasies out there for public consumption, that I was eager to put my whole self out there for whoever wanted it. Absolutely not! (And my husband has always loved reading these stories, so don’t go thinking that I did this behind his back. We also laugh at the not-so-subtle requests for sexual favors.)
The popular thought in rape culture is that all women are “asking for it.” We’re “asking for” the leers, the sexual assaults, the gropes, the frotteurism. It doesn’t matter how a woman dresses or what she does; none of us are “asking for it.” So some women choose to show their bodies off; it doesn’t mean the rest of us are going to outside of the proper relationships, nor that we want the touches.
Here’s a novel idea: Parents, choose to teach your sons the true value of women. Now I get that there are people out there who totally agree with Mr. Trump about women not being worth more than a man’s thrills. For the majority of people, though, that’s not the case. Teach sons to grow up respecting women, teach them that women’s bodies belong only to us women, and teach them that women are not objects. We are people created by God in the very image of God to be co-equal and complementary to men. (Sure, I’m not as physically strong as my husband, but he’s not as emotionally strong as I.) God loves us women exactly as much as God loves men. Jesus died for women just as he died for men. Slowly but surely, generation by generation, hopefully we can eradicate the rape culture prevailing in our world and teach men a whole new appreciation for women.