War Against Women

As women, we tend to be our own worst critics. We engage in ongoing combat with ourselves, not just about perceptions of beauty but also the result of negative dialogue that crams our brains. My post, Natural Beauty, references how one’s inner beauty reveals itself to others; yes, even when that beauty is not apparent to us as individuals.2005 CFDA Awards - Press Room

In an interview on The Blaze, Fashion designer Norma Kamali addresses another component where women struggle:  objectification. (As someone admittedly ignorant about Fashion, I’m new to Kamali.) The designer recalls her first job interview where a powerful man’s lecherous behavior evoked Kamali’s youthful revulsion. She asserts women typically keep such dreadful experiences to themselves. Believing this secrecy is harmful, Kamali developed a website StopObjectification.com (subsequent references will be abbreviated SO.com) focused on confronting and eradicating objectification.

Kamali says she’s queried numerous women and finds experiences of objectification are painfully common. (Kamali’s story even dredged up unpleasant memories for me.) In the interview, Kamali expresses empathy for any woman “allowing herself to be objectified” but acknowledges the natural drive women have for “wanting men to love us.”

Indeed, the old give-to-get adage is easily identifiable:  men give love to get sex, women give sex to get love. (For an excellent post rethinking that adage, read this at TransformingWords.)

Being treated as an object, a vehicle for someone’s self-gratification, is evil. Though it happens every day, it’s no less evil. Kamali likens it to involuntarily “giving up a part of oneself.” She’s right; love − viewed rightly − should enhance rather than diminish us! Maybe it helps (as the SO.com website suggests) for women to find “empowerment” by posting pictures of their “most powerful body part.” Maybe doing this represents a positive re-imagining to loose the bonds of humiliating experiences.

But I pose a contrary view. Women will remain vulnerable to objectification. Put simply, we can’t control how other people view us. Truth be told, our culture is rife with “empowered” women (many acting badly) who are consumed by their insatiable search for someone to love them. A sense of empowerment is only that:  a sense. It doesn’t eliminate our innate need to be loved − and if it did, I think that would be a bad thing.

When we attempt to deaden those inner impulses that make us uniquely women, we are, in effect, warring against ourselves.

Psalm 139:14 tells us:  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Our need to be loved is the way we’ve been fashioned. This need is fulfilled in relationship with … the Lover of our souls. Because the image of the Creator is embedded in my soul, I know I’m already loved and uniquely made. No degradation, no objectification suffered in this life changes (or minimizes) that identity.

So, I offer a different basis for “empowerment” in this three-pronged action plan. The battle metaphor is apt: 

Women on the front lines

  1. Engage my brain. I can’t control how other people view me, but I can control my responses. Pre-planning a battle strategy girds and prepares me for potential unpleasant situations.
  2. Reserve the sword for enemies. Negative dialogue immobilizes. I must refuse to take up the sword against myself.
  3. Wield the shield for self-defense. In combat, the shield is a defensive tool. Learning to properly wield a shield might mean studying physical or verbal self-defense technique or fine-tuning my intuition to recognize vulnerabilities.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious in God’s sight. Knowing that, what could be more beautiful … and more empowering?

Renée