We’ve come a long way, ladies.
Women of today are sexually liberated. We can sleep with whomever we like, however we like, whenever we like. We are free to embrace our sexuality and encouraged to flaunt it before this patriarchal society that kept us captive for so long. Unfortunately, making our sexuality (keep in mind it is indeed women’s sexuality and not out femininity that is flaunted, because the distinctions in male- and female-specific values/strengths/etc. are intentionally ignored) such a large piece- if not the very crux- of our identity makes it that much easier for society to view us as nothing but vessels of sexual arousal and satisfaction. In this way, we are buying in to the same lie that feminism fought against so adamantly. We are told that we are strong and independent and free, that we are capable of much more than birthing children and pleasing men…but we are also told, in no uncertain terms, that those attributes and abilities are made tenfold more valuable when they are accompanied by sexual attractiveness and ability. We are told that for all our wonderful, goddess-like capabilities and our innate “equality” with men, our sexuality remains our greatest value. My education, my career, my accomplishments, my wit, my creativity, and my insights are all valuable to society…but they would be even more so if accompanied by a body that looks and moves like the stuff of every man’s fantasy. The chains that bind us to these limiting, misogynistic ideas may be fuzzy handcuffs, but they are chains all the same. It may not be proclaimed outright, but it is shouted every hour from television, magazines, music, and nearly every other cultural consumable. In the shadows of this feminist progress remains the fact that women are expected to broadcast more sexual appeal than ever.
This cultural paradigm is frustrating enough from my perspective as a 23 year-old female, but it’s absolutely infuriating when I think about the repercussions for my two sisters (19 and 10 years-old, respectively). If the world wants to send me mixed messages about who I should be and what makes me worthwhile, that’s fine. I’m scrappy, and I’ll fight back. But if you have the audacity to tell my beautiful, precious sisters that that their inherent worth and hard-earned accomplishments are null if they cannot meet an arbitrary standard of sexual desirability, you’re on the fast track to my bad side. And make no mistake, I’ve got an Irish temper and a decent right hook.
Don’t get me wrong- it’s fantastic that the young women of today are encouraged to embrace their talents and pursue their goals in a way that no previous generation experienced. But that message of feminist empowerment is a double-edged sword. They must not only be more accomplished than the women before them, but they must also look, dress, and act sexier than ever before. So it’s no wonder that the young women of today are achieving more and earning more, but also wearing less and “doing” more (in the backseat, that is). Being successful won’t be enough unless you’re sexy, too. Does anyone remember Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent? The woman had a stunning voice, and judging from what was shared about her life outside of the show, she had a heart of gold, to boot. But with grey hair and a wardrobe of dowdy dresses, she was in no danger of being mistaken for an icon of sex appeal, and society ignored her talent in favor of those who could provide more sexuality, if not talent.
There’s nothing wrong with women embracing their sexuality. God created humans to be sexual beings, and I can tell you after spending four years at a small Christian university that one of the greatest self-sabotaging acts Christians have committed is creating a culture of shame around sex. There’s no denying that a woman’s sexuality is a part of her identity, just as a man’s sexuality is a part of his identity. The thing is, though, there’s so much more to who we are- as men, as women, as individuals- than our sexuality. To focus on only one aspect of our identity, be it sex or race or economic status or anything else, is to shortchange ourselves, our communities, and our Maker of what we truly have to offer.
Ladies, you have so much more to offer the world than a perfectly sculpted body, expertly applied makeup, and raw sex appeal. You are a woman, not just a temptress. Don’t cheat the world out of the woman you were made to be.
Men, we have so much to offer you than a nice set of T&A. When you act like gentlemen and not just animals, it reminds us that we are women, not just bodies. Don’t cheat yourselves out of knowing us as the women we could be.
A woman’s worth is not in any way dependent on the sexual satisfaction she can provide- but the world tells us otherwise.