In my first blog I commented on the school dress code story that has been sweeping the Internet. I focused on how men and women need to be co-responsible for not letting either sex be treated as an object. Some people might take it that I was “victim-blaming” i.e. that I am blaming women for men’s lack of self-control. The argument I’d like to make this week is that men are also victims in this story.
- Point #1 – Men and Women Do Not Understand Each Other
Women do not understand what it is like to be a man, just like a man doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman. The same way that I, as a White man, don’t know what it’s like to be a black man. We can empathize, we can imagine, we can sympathize but we can never really perceive something from someone else’s perspective.
- Point #2 – The Sexual Desire of Men
Women do not know how easily men can be sexually aroused. You’ve probably heard that a mans sexual arousal works like a light switch, where it can come on very quickly and go from zero to a hundred in an instant. A woman’s sexual arousal needs to be warmed up slowly like an oven (or so I’ve heard, like I said earlier I’m not a woman so I don’t really know what it’s like). So a mans sexual arousal needs something to trigger it and then his thoughts can start to race without him realizing it or having any control over it. Next thing you know the switch has been flipped and we are sexually aroused which effects our mind in incredibly powerful ways. In the context of the current discussion, can a woman’s shoulder be sexually arousing to a man? Maybe not on its own, but it can be a trigger for sexual thoughts. For a man practicing purity and trying to refrain from having sexual thoughts, it can feel as if we are bombarded by sexuality and we feel like victims of our own sexual desires. The only way for a man to practice sexual purity is to be preventative, which is very challenging in a world of short skirts, yoga pants and bikinis!
- Point #2 – Men as the Victims
A man cannot control the stimulus around him. If a woman wears revealing clothing in front of even the most chaste man, he can’t help but notice and inadvertently have his sexual arousal awakened. A man cannot control this natural, instinctual sexual desire, as it is an impulse that stems from our evolution. Men are victims of a woman’s choice of clothing. Also, both women and men are victims of what society deems acceptable for a woman to wear and of the fashion industry that makes the clothing. If a man is trying hard to be chaste but has to look at a woman wearing a short skirt, the man is also a victim. A man is forced to look at a woman and the way the woman chooses to dress effects the man. We can’t put sunglasses on that protect us from seeing something that awakens our sexual desire. We are victims of women who choose to wear clothing that was made to sexually arouse us. Sometimes this may be intentional on the woman’s part, and sometimes it may not be. This however, doesn’t mean it is ok for men to objectify women or to look at them as a sexual object of use. Men are still responsible for what they do with these thoughts, i.e. whether they let them be a distraction in class or not. Also, needless to say, men are responsible for how they treat women.
- Point #3 – We are Both Victims of Lust
When we stop holding sexual purity (both mental purity and physical purity) as a virtue we lose the right to get upset at men for sexualizing women (or vice versa!). As a society we do not hold sexual purity as a virtue anymore. In fact we look at it in disgust, as an archaic way of viewing sexuality. Because lust is a social reality between men and women, it takes both men and women to deal with it. As I said in my earlier article, men and women are co-responsible for dealing with the issue of lust. The first step is to condemn lust and uphold sacrificial love. We can do this by reinstating purity and chastity as a virtue, rather than a hinderence to our sexual freedom. Both men and women are victims of a man’s sexual desire, and both of us play a part in combatting sexual objectification of women, you can’t put it all on the man.
A man can try to control his sexual thoughts as best he can and with a lot of practice, he can become quite good at it. This practice of chastity needs to be encouraged and celebrated, by both men and women so that more men are able to control their sexual desire. Then, let us also encourage and celebrate modesty in order to help form chastity and purity (especially in men). What we cannot do is antagonize the sexual impulse of a man, (either through women’s revealing attire, or porn, or Miley Cyrus music videos) and then get angry when that impulse does what it has been trained to do. We need to value control over sexual desire in all cases if we want men to control their sexual desire in the classroom or in the workplace. So let’s do this by promoting chastity and purity especially in young men, and modesty especially in young women. Let us condemn the things that lead both sexes into lust and objectification of each other.