I started this as a reply to geoffhorswood on my last post, lost my reply after I went to look something up, and then decided to turn it into a post to give myself more space.
First, I think the big issue is that modesty and dress standards seen to be inordinately focused on girls and women. Women are told to cover up, to dress modestly, to consider the affect they have on men and that how they dress can cause a man to lust. I have read a blog post or two that point out boys and men are hurt by modesty/purity doctrine but the focus by and large is on women.
Second, we are talking boys and girls here. Children who largely don’t know better or are following parents, adults directions. Clothes for children, by and large, are things to wear or are fashionable. You only care about what your friends think and maybe which ever adult is your favorite thinks. It’s a pretty small world of opinions that a kid cares about which is fine since their world that they engage in is pretty small. They are just kids.
Third, boys and girls are both being bombarded by the same sexist garbage. Boys are told that they need to be one way and see girls another way. Girls are told they need to be and act a certain way and that boys are different and shouldn’t act like girls. Boys get told that girls are there for boys to use and that girls like being used because girls want to be in relationships with boys. Girls are told that they need to be in a relationship with a boy and if they aren’t then they aren’t a person. Neither boys or girls are told that they have worth outside of their genitalia. Or outside what their bodies can physically do.
Forth, normal childhood development isn’t even considered. Girls and boys go through puberty. Girls start developing breasts and curves. Boys start noticing girls are nice to look at where they might have found them icky before. Even though there are physical differences between girls and boys before puberty, these differences don’t matter much to boys or girls. There might be the idea that boys have cooties or that girls are icky but that’s more to emphasize that boys aren’t girls and girls aren’t boys, something other but nothing to worry about.
(I have never understood the concept of cooties. In third grade, when all the other girls refused to go anywhere near boys because of the possibility of cootie contamination, I was friends with boys. They were more fun and they liked having me around. I was good at finding things they had lost and they never put me down. But I still don’t get the idea of cooties and I’m 32.)
Fifth, boys and men are visual, so yes they are going to look at the opposite sex. There is nothing wrong with looking. Self-control is necessary but boys haven’t learned it yet. They know girls are nice to look at and that many girls want to be looked at. The problem lies in the reason they are looking and the way they are looking. It’s one thing to notice a girl walking by who looks nice and is dressed nicely. It’s another thing entirely to stare at that girl and want to undress her because she’s wearing a skirt and a blouse that fits close.
Which leads to number six.
Sixth, is the way words like lust, sex, attraction get defined and used.
Lust is the disordered desire for sex and/or thinking about a person and using them to become sexually aroused for their own personal pleasure. But that’s not how lust is usually defined. Lust seems to end up meaning the finding of a person of the opposite sex attractive or even sexually attractive. This definition of lust doesn’t refer to disordered desire or an inordinate focus on sex. This definition focused on normal attraction. A man can find a woman attractive but not think of her in a sexual way. This is normal however modesty/purity doctrine says just looking at a woman is almost lust and finding her attractive is lust and that’s like having sex with her which is definitely a sin.
Sex is any act that stimulates and/or involves the genitalia of a person. Just thinking about a person is not sex or lust. Finding someone attractive is not sex. Using a person for your private sexual fantasies is lust and if you self abuse, then it involves sex.
Attraction is finding qualities and/or attributes of a person that you like and possibly admire about that person. A man can find a women with blue eyes attractive. A man find another man ‘attractive’ because he admires how he treats his family and his coworkers. There is no sex involved. Just appreciation and admiration of qualities of a person. Don’t worry men, you can keep using admire instead of attractive but I’m pointing out that attraction isn’t based merely or solely on sex, if at all, in many cases. It’s largely about appreciation and admiration.
These terms gets misdefined or strongly wrongly defined and then get bantered about as if everyone agrees to the same definition. That’s a major problem.
Seventh, boys and girls are taught to be ashamed of their bodies. Girls are told that looking like a girl and having curves is a bad thing because boys look at you and therefore you are causing them to lust. No explanations. Just blaming. Boys are taught that girls shouldn’t be looked at because they might like them and will start listing after them because girls dress in a manner that invites lust and boys can’t help it if they lust.
Girl are taught that they are need to hide their shameful bodies and boys are taught to be victims and helpless. Both boys and girls are taught wrong. Neither are guilty. Both are forced by adults to adhere to their impossible standards.
Both boys and girls need to be taught and reminded that they are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. They are not objects. They are not victims. They are not demons. They are not destroyers. They are not helpless. They can learn how to treat people with respect and dignity. They can learn to treat themselves with respect and that they don’t have to hold themselves to somebody else’s impossible standards.
But it starts with parents. I’m not going to point fingers or blame. I will point out that parents are the first teachers and that they are the ones who kids will listen to first.
Teach boundaries and that they aren’t to be violated.
Teach not to judge on physical appearances.
Teach that modesty isn’t about dress codes but about behaviors and attitudes and how we see ourselves in light of our being children of God.
Teach boys to respect girls and girls to respect boys.
Model it yourself because actions speak louder than words.
Learn the real definitions of words not what you think a word might mean. You’ll be smarter and more knowledgeable and won’t make stupid mistakes and maybe better at doing crossword puzzles.
Challenge modesty and purity doctrine and how they are taught to kids and stop the focus from being exclusively on girls and how they dress.
Don’t demand behavior and dress that you don’t do yourself. Again, actions speak louder than words.
Don’t shame. Put downs only make you a bully and nobody likes a bully.
Give second chances. Nobody can change overnight.
Support and praise go farther and last longer than shaming and bullying. Applaud effort.
Remember, just because someone is selling it doesn’t mean you have to but it. Don’t buy into the lies about sex and clothing and how people are just objects to be used.
NOBODY IS AN OBJECT. EVERYONE IS A PERSON ACTUAL AND WHOLE, WORTHY OF DIGNITY AND RESPECT.