Wednesday, October 29, 2014
What do you want to reflect?
DISCLAIMER! This video does have some language it I would rather not post. So please don't listen with young ones in the room and with discernment. I would rather not post it, but yet I think the lessons drawn from it are worth it. So I am hope that outweighs my choice to post this.
I came across this on CNN today. I linked directly to the youtube video here. The person created this video by having someone walk in front of her with a camera in their backpack and then she carried a couple microphones in her hand. Then she walked around the city for a hours. They want to bring attention to the street harassment women go through.
I admit, I was really surprised by how many called out to her. Also by the sleazy nature of the call outs. When I went to copy the link to embed the video in this post I also seen some of the comments on it. Many were arguing that they fellows were just being nice and friendly?? Really? Comments like "how else do you expect men to meet women?". They chastised her for not speaking back and bring friendly. Yet, I suspect if she did, then she would have been accused of flirting. Many of the comments were loaded with rough language so I don't recommend reading them. My brief glance was bad enough.
Anyway...I have some observations. They may not be popular. First, I am in no way condoning any of the actions of the men in this video. That fellow who walked right beside her for 5 minutes, that was just creepy behavior and it gave me the chills and thoughts of self defense classes. I really felt bad for her there. I think these men are not "just being men". Such behavior shouldn't be excused or dismissed casually.
I am absolutely all for manliness in it's own right. I enjoy seeing the difference in how God made men versus women. I know men are different. That is okay. The behavior in this video, to me, is not okay. You can tell a lady "polite hello". You don't have to be catty about it. In her defense, she is walking through there with no eye contact. She is not looking to be friendly. She is not looking to chat. There is no reason to call out. If she had been making eye contact and smiling at them all, it might be different. But she wasn't. The 'tone' of the many call outs says everything. Clearly, they are 'cat calls' as folks call it. There is a difference between being a man who is friendly versus a man who is being forward. These men have to answer to God for their ungentlemanly behavior. I am not their authority. I only mention as if I don't, folks might assume I condone their actions. I do not. This blog is not written to men. It is to my sisters in Christ.
So that said... What can we sisters learn from this? What is within OUR control? What can we change or do differently? What areas can we improve? Let's look at a couple things here. Demeanor, such as eye contact, smiles, gestures. Also, let's look at attire. I do think for the most part I didn't see much of anything "wrong" in her demeanor. If anything, she was what folks around here would find cold. She did not seem to be trying to get attention with her actions.
I am used to at least giving a half smile and nodding when someone acknowledges my presence or eyes happen to meet. I don't intentionally seek out to be forward. I will say, I have never experienced the level of attention she did. Even in my thin days and with very different attire. The area I live in just isn't like this. I have never seen that many men be so ungentlemanly in those kinds of numbers.
Now I have experienced Muslim men being forward with me when I have accidentally made eye contact and innocently smiled. To me, growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians, it is just normal to look someone in the eye, smile and say good morning! How ya doing today?! Nothing is meant by it other than simple polite manners.
However, up in where in the city I currently live, I learned to be more careful as other folks have different customs and my eye contact and smile have different meanings. Add to it the veil I wear, which I guess piques the curiosity....I have been approached by multiple Muslim men over the years. I have leaned to look down or away if I think a man might be Muslim. I don't want to take chances. I don't mean to offensive to anyone. I just do not wish to ever have anyone think, even for a second, that I am being inappropriately forward.
Back to the video. Her attire really isn't too bad in comparison to most of the world's standards. A majority would probably say her attire is fairly "normal" I think. A fitted tee shirt and jeans. To me that is pretty tight, but there wasn't a lot of skin showing as some women do. I would have a lot less sympathy if the top was low cut paired with a short skirt or something. All in all she was dressed normal.
It 'normal' for the world okay by God's standards? I don't believe God has a uniform for us. Some people seem to think I believe that, but I do not. He gives us a lot of freedom in our clothing! He tells us back in the Old Testament that men should dress as men, and women as women. He also tells us to be MODEST in our attire. How modesty is defined is a highly subjective topic. What many find modest, I may not. He does require that his people be set apart from the world. In the world, but not of it. I don't think this is just actions, but in ALL things including clothing.
The thing I have encouraged sisters to do is DIG INTO THE WORD. Don't look at my idea of modesty...look at God's! What constitutes nakedness in the scriptures? What level of decoration is appropriate? How are Godly women described? How are unGodly ones described? Look it up and pray over it. Talk to your husband. Seek out his thoughts, wishes, and directives.
As I once heard Mrs. Michelle Duggar phrase it, "dress to draw attention to your countenance". I liked that way she said it. Dress so the eye goes upward to one's face. Not to anything below the neck. No you don't have to put on sackcloth as I have heard accused. But as a believer in Christ, you are require to examine yourself in all things! You are required to be modest! It is a very black and white command. How you carry it out is between you, your husband, and God.
Now, the big question here....... could the woman in the video have lessened the 'cat calls' by wearing different more loose fitting attire? Ultimately, that is between her and God of course. I am not here to call her out. I don't even know her of course. She is trying to raise money to bring attention to this. (no comment on that part) But I am glad she done the video, as I found it enlightening on many levels. I truly had no idea it reaches this level.
But since the video is out there, I think it serves as a good example to use for our personal guidelines. I think there is room for improvement. Why? Because I, like many women, who changed to modest loose long dresses, long skirts and tops and I found quite a difference in how I was treated out in public. I have many times experienced men giving a respectful kind nod, and being sure to open doors or be extra polite. In my case, I realize people see me and think "religious freakazoid", frumpy, ugly, fat, out of style, Mennonite, Amish, Pentecostal or whatever pops in their brain. Shucks I have also been asked if I was a nurse or Covenant Nun. I try to be feminine, modest, plain, and comfortable as best as I know how. I do realize that I am in no way 'in style' or anything like that. I stopped caring about fashion quite a while back. I dress in a way my husband and I are both at peace with it. Other may not find beauty in it. While most of the world doesn't find it appealing or appealing my husband does. It is old fashioned, yes. So what. There is actually a lot of freedom in tossing off the worries of 'fitting in' or 'being in style'. Yes, I wear tennis shoes with dresses. You know what, it's awesome! You might carry out the same Biblical directives a bit differently than I do. That's fine. The point is to carry them out.
Finally to end this, I know some will want to chastise me that men are responsible for themselves and they should keep their eyes to themselves and their mouths closed. There is truth in that. However, we are responsible for what we put on. The Bible even says we are not to be a stumblingblock to others. Dressing immodestly is a stumblingblock to men.
If you are getting 'cat calls' especially on the level witnessed in that video, I would suggest you take time to study the Word and see if you can find ways and areas to improve in. You might be the most modest lady ever when it comes to attire. Your actions and demeanor may be where you need to be more ladylike? I don't know. I know sometimes I still struggle with my own actions and have to take extra care. I know it the past I wore some things that by my current standards were extremely immodest. I blush to think of it. Again, as in many things, I am thankful for His grace and mercy as I have tried to figure things out.
The point is to examine our hearts to see where we can each improve to be the best witness for Christ and not make our brothers stumble. Your heart is far more important that what is on the outside. Clothing is just clothing. It is a reflection of what is on the inside though. What do you want to reflect?