Some Food For Thought

I haven’t been blogging as much lately due to some serious issues in my life (don’t want to go into details here, suffice to say that it has been a really difficult few weeks). I just wanted to stop in to share a few things that have given me a lot to think about recently.

thoughts by ErinBird on deviantART (read on, and I think you’ll understand why this picture perfectly represents the themes of this post)

First up, a, brilliant blog post by Marc Barnes of Bad Catholic, entitled “Women Swiftly Running Out Of Things That Aren’t Sexy“. He has managed, in a few hundred words, to portray exactly what bothers me about both the Christian Church’s treatment of women, and of the mainstream “let’s-ennoble-women-to-be-engineers-and-mathematicians!” treatment of women. Have you noticed that everything we women do revolves being told that we are sexy or hot? Our bodies are hot – skinny is hot, curvy is hot, revealing clothes are hot, modesty is hot. Not only are our choices about our bodies framed in an entirely sexual way, but now our minds are too. Our brains are sexy – reading is sexy, intelligence is sexy, math is sexy …. etcetera ad nauseam (a redundant latin statement if there ever was one). I certainly fall into this trap, and find myself wishing I am desirable far more often than is healthy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be desirable in and of itself – but it should not be the only or even the principle reason behind working out or studying for an exam.

The net result of “ennobling” our view of women by saying their “brains” are objects of sexual arousal is to make women more completely and totally sexualized — to further reduce the number of female characteristics valued for reasons other than their effects on genitalia.

At least in a chauvinistic, sexually-objectified age, a woman tired of being an object of lust could flip the table, go home, put on an ugly-ass sweater, read Sartre, and eat flaming-hot Cheetos until she smells so bad she has to take shower — an offense even unto herself. But in our wannabe feminist culture, reading a book, being a nerd, being smart — even this is “sexy.” And thus even the intellectual life of women, a strenuous activity with its own unique sufferings, joys, and worth — even this is reduced to the value-sphere of carnal desire [emphasis my own].

And while the mainstream world is busy sexualizing intellectual pursuits, which should be goods in and of themselves rather than a way to appear desirable to the opposite sex, the Church – which ought to reject this over-simplification of female desires and goals – instead participates in the reduction of women to their desire to appear a certain way:

This is precisely the same problem with “Christian” phrases like “modest is hottest.” You cannot reassert the virtue of modesty within a framework in which “being hot” is the dominant value. Like the “sexy reader,” the “hot modest woman” is still a sexual object.

This same issue is more subtly present in the Catholic buzz-phrase, “emotional chastity.” […] the phrase has mutated itself to refer to any maintenance of female emotions, whether romantic, friendly, distressed — whatever.

[…]

[B]y widening the term “chastity” to include things beyond the integration of the sexuality with the entire person, we once again make women into creatures more fundamentally sexual than men. What “emotional chastity” is straining to express is the virtue of prudence, “the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it” (CCC 1806) and that of temperance, which “moderates the attraction of pleasures,” (1809) which, of course, includes the near-voluptuous pleasures of emotionalism and romantic effulgence.

Christian men tell each other to be “honest,” to be “truthful,” to be “prudent” in how we speak with women and “temperate” in the tears of love we indulge. I’d dislocate the kneecap of any man who told me to be “emotionally chaste.” Men can be admonished for our own emotional irresponsibility without referring to our emotions as something fundamentally sexual. But with the hip, new, synthetic virtue of “emotional chastity,” women are taught to refer to a part of themselves that is not necessarily sexual as something fundamentally sexual [emphasis my own again, of course].

I encourage you to head over to Bad Catholic and read the entire essay. I think this is probably my favourite blog post by Marc yet, and that is a high bar to exceed.

I’d also like to share another blog post with you, this time by the writers at VerilyMag, entitled “Top 40 Remix Decoded: Women Should Be Seen And Not Heard“. In this post, the writer, Mary Rose Somarriba, laments a “new” kind of misogyny that is taking shape within popular music culture, which she calls the “women shut up” genre. She uses two top 40 songs to make her point, and these are both songs that I hated with a passion long before I managed to find a blog post eloquently describing exactly why I had a problem with them. First, Jason Derulo’s hit “Talk Dirty to Me”:

On first listen Jason Derulo’s song might make you think he enjoys when women talk dirty to him. But upon closer listen you’ll realize he’s actually saying he enjoys when women keep their mouths shut.

[…]

If there’s any remaining doubt at the end of the song as to whether or not he cares what women have to say, Derulo throws in a mocking soundbite of a woman with a foreign accent saying, “What? I don’t understand!”

Next, she takes aim at Naughty Boy’s song “La La La”:

This song bears the other ugly flavor of misogyny—the kind that shuts up women who are assertive by simply labelling them a b****.

[…]

Sounds like Naughty Boy has a hard time accepting when a woman had the legitimate authority to tell him what to do…

I honestly wonder how songs with lyrics like this become popular. I often volunteer with high school students, and even the girls themselves blindly praise and glorify crap like this. It is unsettling and sad – has anyone ever taught young people how to analyze what they consume, and make informed choices to lift up the culture around them, instead of participating in the dehumanization and silencing of their peers?

Sure, it’s “just music”, just like R-rated comedy is “just a joke” … but I have to wonder, what could possibly happen to someone that they accept, praise, and adore people who spread the message that half the human population should think only about their desirability to the opposite sex, should shut up and let men take charge, and should let themselves be assaulted by men (I kid you not, there are endless songs comedic routines about exactly this). Are these really the messages that we want to consume and spread?

I really hope not …

And to end this post on a lighter note, here is a lovely song that doesn’t reduce people to their sexuality, and instead provides something real and universal:

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