Image via JustJared

Image via JustJared

I didn’t watch the Superbowl, this year (or…any year) but conversations about Beyoncé’s halftime show caught my eye. On one hand, many felt that Beyoncé’s display of all-women power and sexuality was inspiring and empowering. David Henson even went so far as to call it prophetic (and I agree):

It was a dance of defiance.

For 14 minutes, women were owned by no one. Instead, for those few prophetic and powerful minutes, Beyoncé and the women onstage with her owned the night.

Last night, men, misogyny, objectification, or sexism didn’t win, even though they got most of the airtime.

Rather, last night, thanks to Beyoncé, women owned Super Bowl XLVII.

Others brought up valid criticisms, saying that they did not feel empowered by the performance and questioning what displays of power are allowed in the Super Bowl. Could a woman artist get on stage and display a less overtly sexual type of power? Probably not, and I think we do need to talk about other ways that power can be expressed.

What I can’t stand, however, are people who call themselves feminists or progressives who spent the next day shaming Beyoncé, and I saw plenty of that as I watched the Twitter response pouring in. Many said that Beyoncé objectified herself because of the way she was dressed and the way she danced.

Though I think we need to have a conversation about how few images of women are presented in the music industry, right now, I just want to talk to those progressives.

Women have bodies.

No, women (like men) are bodies.

These bodies were not made for men to conquer, steal, and objectify but for women to be.

Many, if not most women have sex from time to time using our bodies. Often we are sexual with our bodies or we use our bodies to be sexy.

This does not make us objects. Objects don’t have sex.

Men are often seen as more human, as REAL men when they are sexual, while women are accused of objectifying themselves.

But I repeat: Objects don’t have sex.

Objectification does not happen when a woman like Beyoncé decides to use her sexuality to be powerful. Objectification happens when Audi commercials show a teenaged boy kissing a teenaged girl without her permission and displaying that as bravery. Objectification happens when men doing something sexual to a woman is put on the same level as a man driving an awesome car–when women are seen as nothing more than a product to be owned as a mark of manhood (note: women often objectify men and same-sex couples objectify one another. I’m speaking about the context of the Super Bowl and patriarchy, though often the situation is more complicated).

Objectification is something one person does to another person.

Objectification is treating someone as less than human, as if their body is nothing more than a thing to be claimed or conquered or bought.

Beyoncé went on stage last night and showed the world what a talented and powerful woman she was. She sang lyrics about independence and men not being ready or able to handle her body.

Did some men ignore her songs about women’s power and independence and choose to see Beyoncé as yet another object that they could conquer in their fantasies? Undoubtedly.

But I fail to see how this was Beyoncé’s fault.

She shouldn’t have been dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model.”

Her dance moves were too sexual and just made men fantasize about her.”

Feminists and progressives, do you not realize how you sound?

I’ll tell you how you sound by quoting a conservative Christian dating book that I am reading for my research project on rape and Christianity:

“If you dress like a piece of meat, you’re going to get thrown on the barbeque.”

You sound like conservative Christian dating books promoting modesty culture and enabling rape culture.

You sound like the same culture that is telling women that dressing immodestly is like waving money around asking for people to steal it. You sound like the authors who tell teenage girls that they lose their value and dignity when they have premarital sex.

I’m done with this idea that every time a woman presents her body to the world, men get to assume “that was for us.” And you’re naive or willfully ignorant if you’re going to try to claim that objectification would not have happened had Beyoncé been more “covered up.” You’re wrong if you think a different outfit would have made a difference in carrying Beyoncé’s message.

The truth there’s nothing a woman can wear under patriarchy that will prevent patriarchal men from trying to control their bodies.

Muslim women are accused of submitting to patriarchy for covering their bodies. Beyoncé is accused of submitting to patriarchy for showing hers. Even as she’s literally singing lyrics about how men wouldn’t even be able to handle her body, men think they can claim it as an object for themselves. To say that her performance is what caused men’s objectification of her is the same talk as modesty culture which says that women must dress a certain way to keep their brothers from stumbling.

Having sex is not what objectifies women. Dressing in a “sexy” way is not what objectifies women. Women are allowed to have sex and perform sexually and be sexual and be sexy. That’s not objectifying. Again, objects don’t have sex.



Losing my purity…ring.

English: A Purity Ring made from sterling silv...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi friends! I’m over at Love, Joy, Feminism today talking about purity rings.

My cousin gave me a purity ring for Christmas in 2005. She also gave them to several other young women in our Independent Fundamental Baptist youth group. I don’t think any of us fully realized what we were saying to the world by wearing them—“I have never had a penis in my vagina!”—but we wore them with pride. When another girl would get too involved with a boyfriend but still wear her purity ring, we would whisper, and when one of us misplaced ours, we would come to church and shock our youth leaders by announcing, jokingly, “I lost my purity….ring!

Read the rest here!


Rape does NOT equal sex, Jeff Bethke!

Trigger Warnings: We’re talking about rape again today.

A couple weeks ago, when the “Jesus vs. Religion” video was making it’s rounds on the internet, I decided to respond with my opinion that, religion really isn’t such a bad thing. That Jesus and religion can get along. Back then, I wasn’t angry at the video’s creator, Jeff Bethke (though, perhaps I was a bit annoyed at how much he was clogging up my Facebook newsfeed). I was just trying to figure out for myself what place religion had in my life.

And Jeff responded to the myriad of criticisms that he recieved with humility and grace, and I respected him for that.

So I’d like to think that he’s a good guy. I’d like to think that he means well and that he wants to use his talents to help people, and that, like all of us, he sometimes misses the mark. 

That being said, I’m going to criticize him again.

Jeff Bethke, if you happen to read this, this is a bit more serious than the argument over semantics that was the last criticism. I need you to know–seriously, need you to know, that rape does NOT equal sex.

What elicited this blog post is the following video:

In it, Bethke states:

So take a rape victim for example and once it’s revealed
When her bruises go away is she totally healed?
Nah, the damage is lasting you can see it in her eyes
But if it was just a view as recreation why did it ruin her life?
I mean if sex is just for fun why does it take such a toll?
Maybe it’s cause you don’t just have sex with a body, you have sex with a soul.
Which means for me there ain’t no premarital lovin.
And it ain’t just cause I don’t want a baby in the oven.
Its cause I’m staying pure until the day that I’m a husband.

I watched it and first I was all:

Then, I was all:

And, then, I was all:

But, now, I’ve slept on it. I’ve calmed down, and I’m ready to talk about this civilly. But I have to repeat myself, one more time for the people in the back:

Rape does NOT equal sex.

Now, Bethke isn’t the only person who needs to hear this (looking at you, Fox Sports, and many others, which referred to the horrific events at Penn State as a “sex scandal“). In fact, in the abstinence-only high school that I grew up in, the stories of rape victims were often used as an attempt to scare us teenagers away from anything and everything having to do with sex.

I almost don’t even know how to begin to tell you all how horribly wrong this idea is. But here are some scattered thoughts on the subject:

Let’s start with the basics: (most) Women like sex too. Sometimes we even, you know, pursue sexual partners. Sometimes we even do this without wanting a marriage or a relationship with a person. Sometimes women have sex for recreation too. At the moment, I don’t want to argue about whether this is right or wrong for Christians, but I have to say that just because a man has premarital sex with a woman does not mean that he  forced her. Not all women who have recreational sex are rape victims (though, please don’t jump to the other end of the spectrum and think that women who do have recreational sex cannot be rape victims. Rape does not equal sex, remember?). We women can make our own choices regarding our sex lives. We have a say in the matter. We’re not helpless creatures whose vaginas must be guarded until marriage. We’re humans who have the mental capacity to choose what we do with our bodies. Got it? Okay, moving on.

Why did “sex” take such a toll on that rape victim’s life? Well, with the fact in mind that rape does not equal sex (Yes, I am going  to repeat this until people start to catch on), rape is about power. It’s about a rapist looking at another person as an object to be dominated, to be forced into subjection. It’s about stripping another person’s humanity away. Putting another person in a position where he/she is unwillingly exposed. Trespassing on another person’s body. Rape is a horrible, horrible event that leaves its victims feeling helpless, worthless, violated, and inhuman.

And, sex? Well, it should not a horrible, horrible event that leaves its victims feeling helpless, worthless, violated, and inhuman. If sex does leave one feeling that way, then there’s a problem. Maybe part of that problem is people like Bethke who insist on comparing rape with sex. I’ve talked to far too many women who grew up listening to abstinence-only education programs compare rape and sex, only to get married and feel afraid to love their husbands. When every discussion you’ve ever heard about sex is really describing rape, well, there’s a good chance sex is going to trigger some feelings of fear for you.

Sex, yes even premarital sex, shouldn’t leave us feeling raped. 

Sex (yes, even premarital sex) can leave us feeling healed, comforted, loved, and fully human.

Does it always? No. Are people who choose to have sex sometimes going to regret it later on? Yes. Sometimes, it can even leave us with a broken heart. Sometimes it can leave us feeling used. Sex can have negative consequences.

But it doesn’t strip us of our choice and of our humanity the way rape does.

There is no comparison.

Rape does NOT equal sex.