Portrait of a Real-Life Feminist.

For some reason, I’ve been meeting a lot of new people lately (cue panic). As I’ve been meeting what feels like the entire world population, I’ve had to answer the following series of questions several times.

 

So, you’re a student? What are you studying?

Feminist theology? Really? At a seminary? I didn’t even know that existed!

You’re a feminist then? Oh. You don’t look like a feminist.

*facepalm*

 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, though. I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that, despite my strong commitment to and activism for women’s rights, people are so surprised that I, of all people, am so persuaded.

And then I had a “well, duh” moment.

People are so surprised because feminists, like any other socio-political group, are better known as a caricature than as real people.

A cursory Google images or iStockPhoto search will return a shocking amount of photos of female dominance over men, overly hairy (we’re talking wookie status) women lighting bras on fire, and other similar, unrealistic photos.

And, while many of the people in my life are committed feminists, I had to wonder if this is what those who do not identify this way imagine when they think of us.

So I decided to prove them wrong.

 

This is a portrait of a real-life feminist, namely, me.

I am a feminist, and I am married. To a man. I even took his name.

I am a feminist, and I enjoy quilting.

I am a feminist, and I wear skirts. And dresses. And makeup.

I am a feminist, and I have a Pinterest account.

I am a feminist, and I struggle with accepting my body.

I am a feminist, and I shave.

I am a feminist, and I wear bras.

I am a feminist, and I feel safer when I’m with my husband.

I am a feminist, and I want kids.

I am a feminist, and I earn less than my husband.

I am a feminist, and I think men are pretty great. Usually.

I am a feminist, and I am religious.

I am a feminist, and I am in seminary.

I am a feminist, and I love it when my husband brings me flowers.

I am a feminist, and I have a hard time being confident.

I am a feminist, and I have far more male friends than female friends.

I am a feminist, and I was given away at my wedding.

I am a feminist, and I really, really love being female.

I am a feminist, and I am not a caricature.

 

I am a feminist, and I believe that, whoever you are, you deserve the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else.

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Why I DON’T Use Birth Control: A Response to Rachel Held Evans and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

I’m sure, by this point, you’ve all heard about the absolute cluster that was the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case (or, in our household, that which is referred to as “The time when five middle-aged, rich, Catholic men decided that companies are people but women aren’t.”) In case you haven’t, this should sufficiently enrage you.

Today, Rachel Held Evans posted a response, including statements from eleven women who explained why it is they use birth control. This was an excellent response to a very complicated issue. I’ve long admired (read: envied) Rachel’s ability to navigate controversial topics with respect and grace, while still bringing a much-needed critical eye.

I really appreciated this. The reasons these women shared were varied, and really helped to show that being sexually active and being on birth control are not interchangeable, though they often do correlate.

I, however, found one voice not represented: that of women who are, by choice, not on birth control.

I am one of them.

And I think my voice counts, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much pro-birth control, pro-family planning, and pro-women’s health. I used to be on birth control. I was a Planned Parenthood client.

I wasn’t on it because of health issues, and I wasn’t on it because I wanted to be able to sleep with anyone on a whim without the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.* I was a newly married woman and a college student, and my husband and I neither wanted to have children at the time, nor were we, in any sense, ready.

Last winter, I stopped taking my birth control. Not because we were trying to have kids. Not because it was too expensive (I’m lucky to live in a state that covers family planning services, including birth control, for low-income women).

I stopped taking it because I didn’t want to take it anymore.

I have an anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and a bunch of other mental health challenges. I am on, between prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements, and homeopathic remedies, roughly twenty different medicinal treatments.

Being on birth control, however, seemed to counteract much of the effort put into managing my mental health challenges. I was moody, grumpy, and tired, I gained weight, I had headaches, and my periods were, at best, unpredictable.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety et. al. in February 2013, I started to pay more attention to what I put into my body. Body chemistry affects brain chemistry, and therefore a body unbalanced begets a brain unbalanced–and more susceptible to attacks.

Putting extra hormones into my body seemed like an unnecessary risk.

But more than all of that, I just didn’t want it. I was plain old tired of taking it.

So I stopped.

That was nearly a year ago. Thus far, I have managed to not get pregnant, but who knows what will happen.

Some of my fellow feminists may call this irresponsible. They may tell me that I’m experiencing internalized sexism. They may tell me to embrace my sexuality, that my body is glorious and that I should realize that.

And, while some of that is true, whether or not I take birth control doesn’t change any of it.

Just like being on birth control doesn’t change whether or not a woman is sexually active.

I am grateful for the women (and men) who have encouraged me, helped me, called me out, and liberated me. I am grateful that I live in a time and place in which I can easily get birth control legally, inexpensively, and safely (even though my current insurance does not cover it). I am grateful that we, as feminists, are calling out injustice, sexism, and prejudice.

But I feel like I’m being pressured into a decision all the same. Because I’m a feminist, I ought to be on birth control.

So, to everyone, to those who think birth control is a right and to those who think it’s a sin, here’s a reminder:

My body, my choice. 

 

*Not that there’s anything wrong with this. I’m just deconstructing a caricature. Get some. Or don’t. Your body, your choice.

A Cosmic Mother’s Day

Life begins with birth.

At the beginning, She strains against the pain,
Each burst a star exploding into existence.
She screams and the heavens are formed.
Each breath She breathes creates a new world.

This creation She carried for so very long,
This piece of Her, this being that bears Her features,
Pregnantly waited within Her,
A swirling maelstrom anxiously expecting existence.

And, in a moment, it is born.
She breathes deeply in relief,
Sending Her spirit forward
To protect and nurture this new life.

As She gazes into the eyes of Her newborn child,
She smiles and laughs with joy,
The former agony instantly forgotten,
And She declares,

It is good.

Choosing to be Mrs. Anderson

When my husband and I got married (two years ago, now), I took his last name.

I’ve taken a lot of flak for this decision, mostly from fellow feminists. Because taking your husband’s name is a relic of patriarchy (agreed), and because it denotes his ownership of me (disagreed), and because it claims that my life up to that point is worth disregarding (disagreed), I ought not to have done it.

But here’s the thing: I did not take his name because I had to.

I did it because I wanted to.

I chose to be Mrs. Anderson for a lot of reasons. First, my maiden name was an eastern European jumble of consonants that made no sense at all and no one (myself included) could ever seem to pronounce it right. Combined with my seemingly unpronouncable first name…let’s just say introducing myself to anyone was a nightmare. In college (and currently), I would frequently just go by my first initial, which is a lot easier, but it didn’t solve the problem. Anderson is a much easier name (especially in Minnesota), so I decided to change to that.

Second, and more importantly, when we got married I was going through the process of leaving a family in which nothing good could come of my continued presence, on either side. Significant damage had been done and it was time to move on. This change of my name was a marker for me, that I was moving on to something new, that I now had the chance to redefine family and create one that was going to function like a family should. Not normal, not sane, but loving, real, and other-oriented.

I am still a feminist, and I was then too. Having the same last name as my husband does not prevent me from this belief and practice. I am not his property, I am his companion, his co-leader, his faithful supporter, and his best friend.

If you meet a woman who bears the last name of the man she loves, think, just for a second, before you judge her, that she might have a better reason than cultural expectation for doing so. Ask for the story first.

On Misconceptions.

Hello, dear friends.

I’m in the midst of summer intensives. Which means my brain, body, and all my free time are consumed by compacted classes that are, well…intense. So this isn’t a real post. And I’m also sorry I’ve been gone for, oh, a month now? Sheesh.

But anyway. I’ve decided to address some of the common misconceptions or misunderstandings about certain aspects of my theology, or my life in general. I get asked these questions a lot, and it would be a lot easier to just point people to a post than to have to explain them over and over again.

So, when I say that I am a pluralist, what I mean is that I think no one religion has a monopoly on truth. Furthermore, I also mean that I don’t think religion or faith in a supreme being is necessary for “salvation.” (I don’t like this word, but it’s the best one for this explanation). I still do my faith and spirituality in a generally Christ-oriented environment–I go to a Lutheran seminary, I go to church, I have a degree in Bible and Theology, et cetera.

When I say that I don’t identify as Christian, what I mean is that I don’t ascribe to the “branded” or, if you want to use fancy words, systematized Christianity that currently exists. Additionally, Christianity has some core dogmas that I disagree with, and thus I do not align with that title or group in order to promote harmony. I’ve found people are less offended by what I say when they know I am not trying to say it as a member of their religious tribe.

I am not “lucky” because I got married at 18. My husband and I chose to get married young because we love each other and we saw no point in putting it off until we were older. It may not have been the wisest decision, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. But, and please, please hear me, being married does not make your life better or easier, and it is not some box to check off on your list of life accomplishments. Our two years of marriage together have been really, really hard, but it’s been far more than worth it. We’ve both grown so much, both individually and together. So, when you find out that I’m 20 and have been married for two years, don’t say I’m “lucky” or I’m “ahead of the game.” I made a choice, which I am thankful for every day, but it didn’t flip some magical switch that suddenly fixed all my problems.

When I tell you I have Asperger’s (or what is now known as high-functioning Autism), don’t tell me that I seem so “normal.” I’ve had 20 years to learn how to cope, and a lot of what I do is not instinctual, but is learned behavior. For instance, I apologize when I say something that someone might find offensive (theologically speaking), because I’ve learned that grace and humility build harmony. Or, I look people in the eye when I speak with them because I’ve learned that conveys respect and attention. I’ve learned how my husband acts when he’s mad, or moody, or antsy, or amorous, not because I can sense it, but because I’ve studied him intensely. If I commit a social faux pas, please know that I’m not a massive jerk–I simply haven’t yet learned what to do in this particular situation. Calmly explain what offended or upset you, and I will make amends and learn from that event.

When I say that I believe in works righteousness, I am not saying that I think I can buy or work my way into Heaven, or that I am capable of saving myself. What I am saying is that I don’t believe faith has anything to do with salvation. Living a life in pursuit of letting love abound and continually choosing selflessness over selfishness with care and respect for all of creation is what “saves” a person, not whether or not they happen to believe in the “right” God. Do I succeed at this? HELL. NO. But if God is real, and God is love, and God knows our character, then God will know what I tried (and failed) to do with my life, and count that as righteousness.

When I say that I am a socialist, I do not mean that I want the government to control everyone’s paycheck and that we all should get the same amount of money regardless of how much we work. What I do mean is that I think wealth needs to be spread more equally, so that all people have the ability to meet their basic needs and work towards living a full life. This means that higher education and healthcare would be socialized, banks would be more heavily regulated, and individuals would have a right to housing. Also, and I’m sad I even have to say this, being a socialist does not make you a communist. They are two very different things.

When I say I am a feminist, I do not mean that I hate men, or that I want to reverse history and establish matriarchy. What I do mean is that I believe in equality for the sexes, which requires (at this time) measures directed towards women to bring them up to the socioeconomic level of men.

When I say that I am nonviolent, I don’t mean that I hate soldiers. Also, I would like to point out, pacifism is a specific set of beliefs, nonviolence is a practice. I eat meat, I yell at people, I know how to fight. What nonviolence actually means is that I do not believe in the use of violent force against another human being. So, to make this practical, I don’t support the military, but I am comfortable with the National Guard.

I hope this clears some things up. If there are terms you’d like me to clarify, let me know.

On Death, Red Lipstick, And My Affection For Communion Wine, Part II

Originally, this post, the one that precedes it, and the one that will follow it were supposed to be one post. I forgot that I am, in fact, very long winded and thus the three parts to this post are split over three different posts. For the previous post, you can go here. For the next installment, check back tomorrow, provided I remember to post it.

Part Two: I read a blog post recently that stated that every woman can wear red lipstick well. As a person who has never really been into wearing a lot of makeup, especially lipstick, and being very pale, wearing red lipstick never seemed like something I would try.

Added to this, I think the idea that women need to wear makeup in order to be beautiful is simply wrong. I wear makeup most every day, yes, but very little, and I have been trying to wear less (or, at least, not feel like I need to wear it constantly). That mentality objectifies women and creates a gender binary that is not only unnecessary but can also be damaging.

So, for most of my time in college, I was the girl who lived in t-shirts and jeans and limp, straight hair with an almost indistinguishable amount of makeup on. Part of this was that I was a theology major–it’s sort of a boys’ club still at my university, which is stupid, but I wanted to be one of the best in my class and to do that, I couldn’t be too concerned with my appearance. However, it was mainly that, as a feminist, I didn’t want to fall into the trap that my beauty could be bought from Sephora.

But I was intrigued by the concept of red lipstick. So I decided to give it a go.

And I really did feel so much more confident. I also dyed my hair from its previous washed-out-cedar color to a striking walnut (why are all of my colors wood?) and bought jet-black eyeliner. I raided my closet and pulled out a couple more fashionable outfits that did not include a Target v-neck t-shirt, my staple of the last three years.

It’s all beginning to make me think that, just maybe, looking good and feeling confident, or even (God forbid) sexy isn’t such a bad thing. Because now I feel like people don’t look at me and see some college kid, but a woman, and one worth respecting and listening to. And I’m pretty sure it’s because I feel like I look like one, and so I act like one.

And maybe, just maybe, having confidence in my appearance might help me to have confidence in myself.

Domesticated Feminist

We’re entering into a whole new phase of life, my husband and I.

I just graduated a week and a half ago. We moved five days ago. He started a new, much higher paying job yesterday. And I turn in my last timesheet for my old job (which ends with school) today.

His income is now more than enough to support us. And since I’m exhausted from school and don’t have a job lined up, I’m taking some time off.

I thought this time would be super relaxing. I was looking forward to catching up with friends I had neglected throughout the school year. I was excited to build a couple pieces of furniture and revamp some pieces we already have. I couldn’t wait to get all our stuff unpacked and try to make our new place feel even half as much like home as our old place.

I thought that I would enjoy a little time off.

But honestly? It’s really hard.

Because I feel like I’m not living up to my own standards. I have fought and continue to fight really hard for gender equality. I get excited with women who can’t wait to do something amazing in their careers. I love it when women aren’t afraid to be bold, aren’t afraid to take charge, and aren’t afraid that, if they make more money than their husbands, they’ll be doing something wrong.

I know it’s not for everyone, and that’s cool. But I still get excited when I encounter such women. And I want to be one of them. I want to do something radical in my career.

Yet, where do I find myself? Sitting at home, cleaning, without so much as a bike to get myself around (our bikes are still in a few different pieces, in our car, which my husband takes to work). I’m in a new city and I only know how to find Target and a coffeeshop (priorities), so even if I had a mode of transportation, I don’t know where I would go. I have nowhere to be anyway, so even if I had a mode of transportation and an idea of where things are, I don’t know why I would bother going to them.

Yesterday, I didn’t leave our apartment until 6:30 p.m.

I am, currently, the definition of what it means to be domestic.

And as a feminist, I’m having a really hard time being okay with that.

Now, I know this is temporary. I’ll find a job in a few weeks when I’ve had time to rejuvenate from the last 16 or so years of perpetual schooling. And eventually I’ll remember to drag my bike out of our car and find some places to go so I can at least travel a little during the day. I’ll make plans and do things and get involved in some sort of mischief, I’m sure.

But, right now, in this moment, I am doing exactly what I swore I would never do.

Now, I’m hesitant to think that God ordained this, because it seems like a minor detail in the grand fabric of existence and it’s easily explainable. But I have no doubt that God is using this time. If you’ve met me, you know that my ego rivals Jeff Winger’s. I am not a humble person. I’m not saying that’s okay, but it is the truth.

Yet I’m currently taking one of the greatest blows to my ego of all time.

God is constantly reminding me that, yes, egalitarianism is a biblical picture of marriage-love, that there’s a reason I want to do something with my life (and my career) and it’s a good thing, that I cannot stop fighting for the equal rights of my sisters, but that doesn’t mean I have to be a 60-hour-per-week breadwinner career woman.

Feminists can fight from the home, too.

And God reminds me of all my sisters who have fought and still fight for the same things, but are most content in the home, whether raising a garden or raising babies, cultivating life in its functional locus.

It’s really hard for me to accept. But, little by little, I’m learning that it takes all types–yes, even domestics–to fight for equality. If I don’t acknowledge their work, I pass judgment on them and I render their efforts useless.

So I thank you, stay-at-homes, work-at-homes, or for-some-other-reason-at-homes, because your work is important too. Don’t forget that it’s your choice, not your role, to be there, but keep fighting the good fight alongside your sisters who find their place elsewhere.

Because whether male or female, domestic or employed, we’re all one in Christ Jesus.

Upcycled Final Essay.

I’m all about repurposing, even when it comes to blog content. I wrote this as a part of an essay on feminist biblical criticism for a hermeneutics class I took last fall. Apparently I think I am both witty and intelligent, so I’m posting it here. Enjoy.

In this story (Numbers 12:1-16), Aaron and Miriam confront Moses and God about who has divine revelation and who doesn’t, essentially asserting that they too hear the voice of God as much as Moses does. Miriam does not have any overt speaking parts in this account, but her presence is still worth discussing.

Miriam’s place and occupation in this story is a little difficult to figure out, as she appears and then quickly disappears in the middle of Exodus. Her place was probably similar to that of most Israelite women, namely, as secondary beings to men, though she may have had some notion of a higher status being that she was related to Moses. The best idea one can come up with as to her occupation is that of a worship leader, and even this is based on very little strong evidence (because there is very little strong evidence about anything concerning Miriam). Miriam is out of place here, though, in that she is approaching Moses directly and with anger, and thus, presumably, without much deliberation. The fact that she is with Aaron lessens the impact this fact might have, as one could easily say that she is merely following her brother along. Nonetheless, she is present in a place she would not normally be.

As previously mentioned, Miriam does not have a clear voice in this text, but it is easy to infer that the one line not spoken by Moses or God (Numbers 12:2, And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?”) at the very least included her (note the plural “they”), but, perhaps more likely, was her direct speech masked by writers who did not want to acknowledge such a bold and defiant act on the part of a woman. Being that, later on in the story, it is she and not Aaron who gets leprosy, I posit that the aforementioned speech was her, and not both her and Aaron. One can imagine that everyone present was shocked by her speech and the audacity with which she probably delivered it. The fact that her voice is completely edited out (and that all the pronouns in God’s speech in defense of Moses are masculine singular) speaks volumes about the patristic nature of Israel in that time.

The theme of power and experience defines this story. It is, at its most basic level, about Aaron’s and (for the purposes of this essay), more importantly, Miriam’s experience as subjects, so to speak, of Moses, who wields great power. It is easy to picture Miriam expressing to Aaron her frustration with how “high and mighty” Moses has been lately, and doesn’t God speak to us too? And telling him how tired she is of always having to do everything he says, and what, does he think that, just because he’s a man, he can tell her what to do—she is older, after all, finally asserting that she is going to give that brother of theirs a good talking to. Whether or not it is shown in the Bible, it can probably be said that many an Israelite woman had similar thoughts about a man in their lives at some point. However, Miriam’s response is unique, in that she actually does something about it—she confronts Moses—and is responded to by God, who is seemingly using power on behalf of Moses. God upholds him, and gives Miriam leprosy as a result for her actions, likening it to “spitting in her face.” The only possible conclusion that both affirms Miriam’s role in this story and does not claim that God prefers men over women is that God was standing up for Moses, the messenger, trying desperately to just keep Israel united enough to survive.

Theological War Zone

I am a college student.

I am a senior Bible and Theology major in my final semester.

Thus, I am dealing with the perpetual hell that is senior seminar. Apparently I’m enough of an idiot to choose to do the GREEK senior seminar. Don’t ever do this. EVER.

Really, though, the work itself isn’t that bad. If it were just that, I’d be fine.

The problem is my classmates.

There are five of us, plus the professor. I am the only woman. I am also one of two egalitarians in the room. Three of the students attend Piper’s church. I go to Boyd’s. My professor has openly stated, as if it were fact, that women ought to submit to their husbands, that it is not possible to defend both Christ and homosexuality, and that everyone knows socialism is wrong.

Needless to say, I don’t belong there.

It’s like walking into a war zone every time I go to class.

I’ve realized, though, that this class is much like life for me on a daily basis, when it comes to theology.

I am a feminist. I support gay rights both inside and outside the Church. I believe in socialism and I think everyone deserves decent healthcare and education without spending the rest of their lives in debt. I don’t believe in violence and I think that using it in efforts of making peace is contradictory. I think what we do matters just as much as who we believe in, and sometimes I’m persuaded that works matters even more than faith. I believe that God is after every person’s heart and is open to influence and change. I think that we ought to live simply and wealth is not something to be gained, but something to be shared. I believe that it is our job to advocate for the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized, and that we have to break down ethnic, sexual, and religious discrimination. And I believe in a God who is on our, and everyone else’s, side.

I know that when I take these stances, I put myself on the outside. I know I’m going to face opposition. I’m okay with that.

The problem is when this opposition doesn’t take the form of dialogue, but instead turns into dismissal. It isn’t that someone disagrees with me, but that they refuse to even listen to me.

When I have to raise my hand in a student-led, discussion-based class every time I want to say anything, and I still end up waiting three or four minutes to speak, I don’t feel as though my opinions are valued.

When my professor and all but one of my classmates use gender-exclusive language, I feel  like I don’t belong.

When I bring in sources by Gutierrez and Bell and Boyd and nearly the whole class is spent attacking them, I spend the rest of the day wondering why my heroes, the people whose words and actions inspire me and renew my faith in Jesus, aren’t even worth consideration.

When I am mocked, picked on, and disrespected, and it is written off as playful banter, I wonder if I made the wrong decision in my choice of this class, this major, and even this school.

I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled up the websites of other schools that I know would have been a better fit because I so badly want to transfer. And, honestly, if it weren’t my final semester, I would.

There’s something wrong with that. That I feel so unwelcome that I want to switch schools less than three months before graduation. That, because I made my stances (listed above) public, I lost my leadership role in a campus ministry and I was nearly kicked out of a pre-vocational ministry program. That I start to get nauseous and wheezy and panicky before every senior sem class. There is something wrong with this school when a senior theology major who has invested years of her life and countless hours of studying, writing, discussing, reflecting, and praying about her theological beliefs can’t even voice those beliefs without being responded to with anger and disrespect.

I had a friend tell me recently that this opposition should only encourage me to fight harder. What about when that opposition and disrespect comes from my friends? What about when I point out a sexist remark in a conversation or a reading assignment and it is met with mockery? What about when that opposition is so fierce that I have to leave in the middle of class because I’m either about to throw punches or there are already tears building up in my eyes?

It is impossible to fight harder when the other side won’t even engage the battle. When you aren’t even respected as a worthwhile opponent.

I feel like David against Goliath. But I don’t have the Israelites behind me and instead of Goliath stepping out to fight me, he says, “She’s not even worth fighting,” and the army just camps out right there on the hillside.

This post won’t end with a resolution, because I have no resolution to offer. I am stuck in a war zone. Though I wish we could discuss our theologies like equals and be okay with the disagreements, I doubt I’ll ever gain that kind of respect here. Until then, the fight continues.

Badass Is The New Black.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard pastors talk about how important it is for Christian women to be modest.

Incidentally, most of those pastors were men.

I heard things like, “Don’t be a stumbling block to your brothers in Christ,” “Modest is hottest,” or even “You don’t want to be like Bathsheba, do you?”

Or, worse, posts like this. Seriously, what the hell is that even about. I went on a rant for two days about that damn thing; ask my husband if you need proof.

Now, I have to preface this by saying that I think modesty can be a good thing–for both men and women. Our bodies were created by God (Psalm 139:13), and we ought to present ourselves in a way that honors that. This goes far beyond modesty, though, to such things as eating nutritious, healthy food, staying active, and maintaining proper hygiene. If you dress in a way that does not line up with the fact that your body was literally created by God, then you’re not doing it justice. So, don’t dress like a prostitute, you’re better than that.

I have nothing against the concept of modesty in and of itself. What I do have a problem with is the ways it is addressed in western Christian society, first of which is the idea that it is a woman’s responsibility to be modest so that her brothers in Christ do not sin.

Yes, the Bible does say that we’re not supposed to be stumbling blocks for one another, but that is both addressed to mixed-gender crowds, and is not referencing attire. If we want to use this phrase, then we have to also call men to the same sort of modesty, and it has to be about more than clothing. The way we act, speak, dress; all of it needs to be done in a way that does not deter our brothers and sisters from what we’re actually trying to accomplish.

What I want to know, however, is why it is a woman’s responsibility to make sure that a man does not sin, instead of it being his own responsibility. Take that post from earlier. If that weren’t complete BS, I would have to be constantly focused on whether or not the way I walk, or sit, or even just stand, let alone the way I dress, is making any man sin, instead of focusing on more important things, like, I don’t know, everything else.

Seriously, if just seeing a woman sit without her legs crossed makes you start lusting after her, you have bigger issues that you need to deal with. It is not her doing that has made you sin, it is yours. Get some help. Pray. Work on it. Do whatever you need to do so that you can look at a woman without automatically thinking about sex. But do not blame her for your own problems.

Let’s look at that Bathsheba bit earlier. I often hear that the whole David-and-Bathsheba scandal was really her fault, because she shouldn’t have been bathing on her roof, and a righteous man like David would never have sinned if it weren’t for that. However, Bathsheba would have been totally justified in bathing on her roof–it was spring, and very sunny, and she would have gone up to her roof to bathe in order to dry off quickly. David, however, was not justified in being in his palace–his army was at war about 30 miles or so away, and he should have been with them instead of spying on naked women from his deck. Even disregarding this, he by no means had to have sex with her just because he saw her naked. He could have seen her and promptly have turned around or have gone back inside. He did not have to stare, and he definitely did not have to send his guards to go get her. He most likely would have had them tell her he wanted to have her over for dinner, or something of that ilk, and led her on with false pretenses. He also probably got her drunk before having sex with her, making it not just sex, but rape. And, if it had really been her fault, he wouldn’t have had to try to cover up her resulting pregnancy by asking her husband (proven a righteous man by the rest of the story) to sleep with her. Altogether, David’s sin was not a result of Bathsheba’s action, but of his own jackassery.

The second problem I have is that this assumes there is no GLBT community in the Church. This whole notion is based on the idea that if straight men see straight women doing or wearing just about anything, they’re going to sin. Would it be okay for a lesbian woman to see another woman dressing or acting immodestly? How about a gay man seeing another man doing the same? Could a gay man (or a lesbian woman) see a straight woman (or a straight man) this way? Could a gay man and a lesbian woman see each other being immodest? And what the hell should we do when our bisexual brothers and sisters are around? Should we check every person’s sexual orientation before we let them see us?

This concept falls apart very quickly when reality is factored in.

Third, and this ties in to the first a bit, is that this idea that women are in charge of making sure that men do not sin. This is nothing but another instance in which women are seen as servants of men. Clearly, a man would not lust after a woman if that “sick she-ass,” to quote John Damascene, hadn’t caused him to do so. Instead of calling him out on his sin and finding ways to help him get past it, she ought to submit to his reality and his rules. This mentality puts a bandage on the problem instead of fixing it. Women, as equals to men, ought to stand up for themselves and say no, we will not submit to your rules. We will act and dress in a way that speaks truly of who we are as created beings. If that causes problems for you, then those problems are greater and deeper than just the way we dress, and it is you, not we, who needs to fix them.

I suggest an alternative. Instead of saying “modest is hottest,” (which is a contradiction, but that’s not the point) let’s define modest as badass. This shows that our concern is not for what other people see, but what we believe about ourselves (i.e. that we are created beings), it gives women power and authority instead of making them submissive, it gives the sense of having a greater purpose in our lives, and it states that there is more to us than just how we look. It says, “I am a force to be reckoned with. I am so much more than a body: I am also a brain, and a heart, and a soul. My body was not made for gazing upon, but for action. And I don’t care what you think of me, because I’m fixed on something greater.”

Go be badass, friends. You might just shake things up a bit.