If someone has a lustful thought looking at this woman’s photo then, according to society, she’s responsible for their thoughts. Do I understand this correctly? There are many contradictions that exist in society. One of the most fascinating contradictions revolves around the body of a woman.
America is one of the most openly and visibly hyper sexual cultures on the planet. It is also oddly conservative regarding what’s considered the appropriate way a woman should cover her body.
The fundamental concept appears to be that a woman must cover her body to protect a man from his own lustful thoughts. This concept is flawed for a few reasons. It assumes that a man cannot control his own thoughts. Is assumes that men are weak, helpless and utterly unable to reign in their sexual desires. It tells a woman that she is to blame if any man sees her and has a lustful thought. Is it possible for a person to control what another thinks?
If this were true, then the more clothing a woman wore the less a man would desire her. But this is not the case. I’ve been told by men that seeing women wearing burkas is arousing to them. A burka is a type of clothing worn primarily in Muslim cultures and which requires most or all of a woman’s body to be completely covered. The woman was completely covered except for her eyes, yet the men were still aroused. Why? They explained that it was more sexy to imagine what was underneath her covering than when little was left to the imagination. Being fully covered seemed to do nothing to stop men from having lustful thoughts.
I can think of no other social or moral construct that holds one person directly responsible for another person’s thoughts. Religions take it a step further by teaching that a woman is sinning by wearing flattering clothes.
The first time this occurred to me was when I became a mother. I was put under so much pressure to conceal myself when nursing my sons. It was extremely uncomfortable both for me and my children. We were forced to hide under blankets in the heat of summer and seek refuge in the car no matter the weather when my child wanted to nurse. I remember thinking that there is nothing sexual about feeding my child and if someone was turned on by seeing it, they were the problem. Yet I was made to feel immense shame if I was ever seen breastfeeding my child.
Where does the problem lie? Is the problem in the body of a woman or in the mind of the viewer? Who is really to blame when sex is projected onto a non-sexual act?
Even worse, a woman’s body only incites consternation in certain contexts. There’s little if any outrage about using a scantily clad woman to advertise a product. As long as a woman’s body is being exploited by corporate interests to sell cars, beauty products or promote nightclubs, society isn’t bothered or threatened. Yet if a woman wears clothing that is flattering to her physical form for her own enjoyment, it’s considered unseemly and is frowned upon. Is it self empowered women that threaten the status quo?
This notion is dangerous because it fosters a certain sexual and emotional retardation in men. It also reinforces the idea that a woman’s body is primarily a sexual object. This contributes to rape culture.
Where is the personal responsibility? How did we reach this point where we’ve given up on a man’s ability to be emotionally and spiritually mature?
Men, I believe in you. I believe in your ability to control your own thoughts. You are not helpless in the grip of a woman’s physical beauty.
Let’s stop demonizing something that isn’t evil – the beauty of the physical form. Instead, let’s demonize the thing that IS evil – lack of internal discipline and emotional immaturity.
These ideas are wrong and disempower both men and women. They say that men are weak and women are wrong simply for being attractive.