A couple days ago #metoo went viral. It was an opportunity for women everywhere to share their experiences with sexual harassment.
I was shocked and appalled to see so many covering my newsfeed.
I was bothered by it.
Not only because my friends and family had been hurting, but because I know that I have been a perpetrator of it.
Now, I have two sons. I will be demonstrating to them how to love a woman well, how to respect a woman, how to honor her, and how to respect her in his life. The way I treat their mom will teach them the right way going forward.
I have a daughter. She will know her worth. She will see the strength and intelligence of her mother and strive for that. She will have the beauty of her mother, but she will not rely on that beauty to get her places because of her intellect and strength, just like her mom. I will demonstrate to her how she should treated by a man. Her brother will also show her by watching how I do it and following my lead.
To be honest, prior to knowing Jesus, I definitely looked at women as objects. I didn’t respect them. It’s not something I’m proud of, but something I have to own as a man.
Yet now, as a follower of Jesus, I understand the value of women. I recognize that they are a part of creation that should be honored and lifted up.
Society and culture frustrate me sometimes. You see, in the USA, we have turned the woman’s body into a tool for men’s attention, but also a way to oppress other women.
For example: In the 1990’s Baywatch was a big show. In fact, it has been declared by many as the most watched and most talked about show during its time on television. It wasn’t because of the stellar performances or dialogue, but because several of the women had posed in Playboy magazine and were now running in slow motion to save the lives of poor swimmers in the ocean. That slow motion running drew in audiences, especially young teenagers such as myself, to the television set.
For me, that was a foretaste of looking at a woman’s body as a source of pleasure and believing there was no way for good conversation to be had, nor should there be, according to television. I remember seeing Pamela Anderson on the tv screen and realizing there was a magazine in the next room that had nude photos of her. I could not wait to sneak over and catch a glimpse.
Pornography seemed to be a norm and I began to believe women were for me to use for my pleasure and spit them out. I’m not saying I had the opportunities, but I believed this was my right. The magazines and videos I saw made me feel this way. I misused many relationships based on what I experienced around me.
Playboy magazine had a major influence on my thoughts, especially since many of the actresses in the shows I watched had posed in the magazine during or prior to the show. In my opinion, this magazine was and is a key contributor to the issue of women being harassed and disrespected. In fact, shockingly, many people celebrated the life of the man who began this company. A man in a smoker’s jacket, who walked around his mansion with women half naked or more, becoming an icon and someone other men idolized.
I mean, he was manipulating and exploiting the body of women in order to get men to purchase a magazine with “great articles”. The way women were defined by the magazine had a devastating effect on the lives of many men and women. It has broken up families and destroyed marriages.
Not only did this become an unfortunate reality for many, due to all these women who were airbrushed and manipulated with made up measurements, other “abnormal” women (emphasis on the quotation marks, the real abnormal women were featured on the foldout) felt insecure. Eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and a lack of self-respect crept into the hearts and minds of other women. I know of many who felt like they had to give themselves away or let men look at them and treat them a certain way because they needed to match up to the images being thrown at young men.
Yes, I looked at the magazines. I was a teenage boy, unaware of the concept of human trafficking and exploitation. I did not know Jesus then and it was something I had access to. It doesn’t make it alright, I’m just confessing that I fell into the trap.
People were telling boys it was normal to look at pornography. It was normal to be curious and look at magazines. However, they never told us they are only made-up fantasies of women and real women don’t want to be looked at like they are in the videos.
You see, what I’m saying? Culturally we have to make a shift. We cannot allow the normalization of pornography to continue, because boys become men, thinking all women are the same as what is depicted in the videos. We need to rethink how women are being portrayed in movies and television, in order to shine a light on the great minds, speakers, leaders, etc. that women should be shown to be.
Another issue with our society, is men lacking a clear understanding of their role, as men leading boys to be men. So many men have stepped out of their son’s lives, or aren’t willing to step into the lives of other young men, to help them learn how to respect and honor women. Dad’s disrespect the mom’s in front of their sons, which makes them believe it is okay to treat women poorly. Many boys have been left to navigate manhood alone, and fail to fully embrace what it really means to be a man and how to treat women.
Now, to the heart issue. We are broken sinful people. That means we all have been separated by God due to our desire to go against Him. However, when we turn to Jesus and understand His message of grace and mercy, we walk into a new understanding of life and joy. We see creation for what it is. Our hearts begin to form towards God’s will and desire.
His desire is to see His creation thrive and live a life to the fullest. When women feel oppressed and less than, God’s creation is not living a full life, nor are they thriving. Which means, He has a broken heart, and our hearts should break as well. He longs to see His creation whole again, and those who follow Jesus, have a role to play in revealing the One Who can make them whole.
Until women are respected fully, encouraged to pursue their dreams without sacrificing their identity to do so, receive the pay they deserve, their space respected, and much more, then I fear #metoo won’t be a one time viral experience. It will continue for years to come.
Peace and blessings friends.
P.S. For all who posted #metoo, I believe you, you are in my prayers, and I stand with you. I also apologize for being a man who was a part of the problem. I pray this can be a small step to being a part of the solution.
QUESTION: How can we be better as a society in respecting women?