Most would agree that predatory behavior of one human being upon another is wrong and should be stopped. This applies whether that behavior involves physical force (such as rape) or subtle coercion (someone using his or her position of power or influence to pressure others to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do).
It’s desirable to stop the demeaning treatment of women — or of anyone. Rather than thinking of women as objects for sex, and thinking of people in various demographic groups as somehow inferior to us or unworthy of our attention, we should recognize and appreciate each person’s God-given gifts, talents, and abilities. We should respect and treat each person as a being created by God in His image.
The Swinging Pendulum
Whenever change is attempted, there’s the risk of over-correction — whether it’s turning the steering wheel to avoid hitting something on the roadway, or examining a possible injustice and making a societal shift in how a group of people is perceived and treated.
The allegations of sexual misconduct brought forth in the past few months have ranged from complimenting a woman on her appearance to sexually assaulting her. While all of these actions may contain some elements of inappropriateness, some are more serious than others. We — our society, the superiors of some who have been accused, many of us as individuals — seem to be failing to consider the nuances of difference between various allegations. Have some men’s careers too abruptly been ended?
The Paradox of the Golden Globes
Much in our entertainment world is morally deplorable — not only the story-lines, words, and actions on our screens, but also the lifestyles of many actors and others who create our entertainment. Simply reflecting on the Golden Globes awards program can provide some valuable lessons for us, however.
Many impassioned statements were made at the program, heralding a new, higher level of respect for, and treatment of, women. While that’s laudable, it seemed that many of the black dresses worn by women supporting an end to women’s exploitation revealed even more flesh than in the past. Are women feeling emboldened now that men are experiencing serious consequences for their inappropriate advances? Are women using their bodies to taunt and tease and tempt?
While it’s true that men should not treat women as sex objects, it’s also true that women should assume their share of the responsibility for moving our society forward in this area. Women could appropriately match the higher level of respect they receive with a higher level of modesty.
The Golden Globes Awards program offers a special lesson for parents: Babies are unable to choose their wardrobes; their parents make those choices for them. And parents’ choices become the basis for choices their children will make in the future. Children learn from their parents which clothes are acceptable and which are not, which parts of their body should be covered and which can appropriately be exposed in public.
Once a child learns that a particular part of the body is appropriate for exposure, it will be difficult to reclaim that area as “private.” Consider spaghetti-strap tops or skirts that end at the top of the thigh, for example. They may look charming and innocuous on a toddler. But would you balk at your teenage daughter wearing them? If so, begin communicating that message with the standards of dress you establish when your daughter is a child, long before dress has the opportunity to become a contentious issue.
Overemphasizing a girl’s appearance — with clothing, hairstyle, make-up, obsession about weight, etc. — conveys to that girl, and to those around her, that appearance is a high priority, possibly the top priority. Wouldn’t it be better for your daughter to be recognized and respected by those around her — and to respect herself — as someone made in the image of God, with all of the gifts, talents, and abilities He bestowed on her?
Proverbs 31:10–31 paints a beautiful portrait of “the woman who fears the LORD,” concluding with this in verse 30:
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
In addition to glorifying God with her life, such a woman will preclude men from being unduly enticed by her; rather she will tacitly encourage them to employ the various gifts, talents, and abilities God bestowed on them.
Now consider how these lessons from the Golden Globes can be applied to people of various races, ethnicities, religions, income levels, etc. How can you recognize, respect, appreciate, and connect with all people as they are — as beings made in God’s image? This seems to be a good starting point for making our world more like the kingdom of God.