Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In Answer to a Comment: Modesty and Pornography

From my last post Avoiding Degrading Media Influences: YW Lesson on Pornography I received a comment that I really wanted to respond to.  For some reason the comment was loaded all jumbeled-up so I could not comment easily.  So I thought this would be the best way to discuss this. Here is the comment:

"I really disagree with the idea of teaching young women that they "become pornography to young men if they dress immodestly".

Firstly, that is not the reason to dress modestly. We are taught to be modest for more than just covering our bodies: "Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19)."

While I understand the notion that men are "more visual", I reject the idea that they are unable to control themselves and will subsequently look upon a young woman who is dressed immodestly as if she was pornography. Do we not have agency? Are we not able to use that agency to look away, walk away, think of something else, etc?

It worries me that young women are being taught to be the safeguards of men's virtue, because as a by-product, what are the young men being taught? That if a woman is immodest, his reactions are inevitable, that it is her fault that he feels this way, and I fear it is the beginning of a slippery slope towards the attitude of "she asked for it, by wearing something like that". This completely absolves the man of his actions and lays blame on the woman for being female and attractive, regardless of what she is wearing.

Young men deserve more than that. They are surrounded by pornographic images, yes. We should encourage ALL of the youth to be modest, in every sense of the word. But when we encourage the girls to take on this responsibility entirely, we rob the young men of their power and ability to follow the promptings of the Spirit themselves, and make their own choices.

I think Elder Oak's talk about Pornography is a bit more clear than the sentence from the lesson: "And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you."

Some of the men. Not all. Some men DO have problems. I completely agree with that. Statistically, nearly all men will have seen pornography by age 13 or something like that. (I don't know for sure) It is important for young women to be aware of this - that the men they will date and possibly marry could very possibly have a pornography addiction.

This problem is multi-faceted, and I worry that is being painted with too broad a brush."

-My Response-

First of all....I LOVE comments and appreciate knowing what everyone is thinking!  Thank-you for your comment!! 

Pornography is a really sensitive subject!  I think we all feel very strongly about it: which is a very good thing!

I realize I wasn't very clear in what I wrote : : Make sure the Young Women understand they become pornography to young men if they dress immodestly. Because that does sound like an absolute instead of a generalization.

Elder Oaks statement which you quoted : "And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you."  Is a true principle. 

Our young women need to know and be taught that they have a powerful effect on the young men they associate with.  How they dress, act, and talk matters and sends a message. Some young women are completely clueless in understanding the buttons that a young man has.  They wear low cut, overly tight, and too short of clothes and don't understand what this does to them.  Some are innocent in this , some are not.  Those that are not, still don't fully get it.  I think if they did, they would be better.  It is my job as a mom and young womens leader to teach it.  I feel it needs to be taught in a way that they don't misunderstand truth.

It reminds me of an interview I had once with my Stake President prior to going on my mission.   He was the Vice President of the University of Arkansas at the time and interviewed, visited, and saw  many young women. Some, of coarse, were not dressed modestly at all  (no bra, for example)  As he would come across these young women, whether in walking across campus or in his office...he was going to for sure notice it!   But they do not have to look twice. In my mind I am thinking, "and he is a Stake President"  I realized then for the first time in my 20 year old mind:  Immodesty actually affects all males-even the super righteous, good ones. They may not all admit it, or tell us about it...but they do notice.

 Then he told me when he is in his office in an interview with a young woman...the door is always open.  IF for any reason that door should close, his secretary was to come into his office and hand him "something"-even a blank piece of paper- then leave the door open when she leaves. It was his rule to avoid even the appearance of evil.  That stuck with me and taught me how important it is for us females to dress modestly and cover up and to avoid even the appearance of evil. 

In no way do I believe that young men or men are sexual creatures that cannot be stopped or controlled and that we have to do all the work to keep them and us safe. Like you said, they have their free-agency, and have the Spirit to guide them and the power of the priesthood.   

The young men that I know and are friends with my daughters are GREAT young men who honor their priesthood and who have told our daughters several times, "thank-you for dressing modestly. We never have to worry when we are around you!"  They appreciate a young woman who is dressed modestly.  It enhances their attractiveness and they feel good around them.  On the other side..having a house-ful of teenage girls, I know that young women are especially attracted to righteous young men. They go all googely over a young man,  in a white shirt and tie and looking sharp as a righteous priesthood holder. It goes both ways.

When they dress modestly they are doing a great thing and don't even realize it!  The young men appreciate it and they all feel safe! Young Women have a very powerful effect on the young men!  More than they even know.

That is what I am trying to teach my daughters and the young women I have stewardship over right now in my ward calling. 

I didn't mention anything about the young men, because the post was just a rough outline of a young womens lesson, and it was to the young women specifically.

In answer to "what are the young men taught?"  I  think the young men are taught just what you mentioned: to look away, to not look twice, to honor their priesthood covenants, and to honor women.  I know they do get a lot of talks about pornography because it is a HUGE problem everywhere.   

Thank-you once again for your comment!