Sunday night I went to my wife’s dance recital. To be exact, my wife teaches dance and it was a recital for the girls she teaches. The opening of the show was just what you expect, nearly every Disney princess was represented by a ballerina. Of course, Let it Go made an appearance because it was a dance recital with about 100 young girls in it.
About halfway through the show there was a cheesy and beautiful moment when girls and their father’s danced to Butterfly Kisses. Even though it was cheesy, I sat there with a smile on my face as I watched dads awkwardly dance in front of 500 people with their daughter’s beaming. I give those dads a lot credit. I’m sure they weren’t comfortable in their white shirts and black ties as they waltzed on the stage. But they did it because they wanted to their daughters to feel like princesses.
Because they are.
I sat there and I watched and smiled. Those girls beamed in their dance shoes and flowing dresses, and everyone I could see looked intently and lovingly into their dads eyes. Their dads tried to look at them back, but more often watched their feet. It really was a sweet moment. In that moment I was overwhelmed by the innocence of those 6 -14 year-old girls.
I watched and I smiled, until I realized in a few years those innocent girls are going to be told they are dangerous. At some point those innocent girls’ bodies are going to turn into a woman’s body full of curves. When that happens, some well meaning person will tell that young girl that she is a threat to the innocence of a boy. They are dangerous. A temptation. A vixen simply because of gender.
How can a girl keep her innocence when we tell her she is dangerous? How can she feel innocent when her sexuality is directly linked to the danger in the world? The message we send to our girls and women is, “The world is not safe for you because of you.”
Rather than protecting the innocence of both boys and girls, we sacrifice the innocence of a girl by warning her of the impact she unwittingly makes for the sake of the boy’s innocence. By trying to protect the innocence of boys we destroy the innocence of girls.
I’m sick and tired of men acting as if they are unable to control themselves. Men are warned to never meet one-on-one with women as if the allure of a woman will be so overwhelming powerful that a man will be unable to control himself. As my friend Micah put it, “We are not sex-fueled robots.” Listen, if a man cannot be alone with a women without making a sexual advance, the problem isn’t the woman or her clothes – it is the man.
Men, avoiding women doesn’t does deal with the condition of your heart. It’s simply cleaning the outside of the cup and pretending that the inside is clean. It is time we take responsibility for what we can – our thoughts. You won’t be able to control every situation. There may be a time you end up in a room by yourself with a woman. Since you can’t control every situation, control what you can. Your mind. The only thing any of us can be responsible for is ourselves. For too long men have tried to control women, and purity culture, with its telling women they are dangerous to men, is an attempt to control women and free men of any responsibility they might have at controlling their own minds.
Everyone knows that objectification of women by men is a problem. But simply avoiding women doesn’t solve the problem. It actually does just the opposite by reinforcing the objectification and implying that men cannot ever see women as humans, and therefore must avoid them like a dangerous object.
The way we have dealt with this issue in the past is tired and old. Rather than helping men deal with the issue of how they look at women, we tell women to cover up. Where else do we do this? I often go to restaurants, look at the menu, and then order a crap-ton of food and eat until I am I stuffed. It’s not healthy. But you know what I don’t do? Demand that the restaurant stop selling food. If you rack up credit card debt rivaling the national debt of the US government, do you demand that stores stop selling stuff? No, because that would be failing to take responsibility for your actions. But that’s what we do when it comes to how men look at women. “Guys have a hard time not looking at a woman sexually. Women should wear burkas.”
For me, as a Christian man, I continue to be inspired by the original design of the Creator. Fear between the sexes is not part of that design. That’s what we create. Fear wasn’t part of the design in Genesis, and it won’t be part of the design when all things are restored. Fear isn’t part of the design, so it is time to stop acting out of fear towards the other. Women are not to be feared. They are not dangerous. They are not helpless princesses to be saved.
They are fellow humans to be danced with.