Hoe. Slut. Whore. B*tch. Trick. Thot….
The words that filled the board made my heart sink and my stomach curl. Reading aloud one by one, I just couldn’t hold back my tears.
That night, I was speaking to a group of young women about the concept of identity and self-esteem. In the middle of the talk, like I often do, I asked each woman to come up and write down a label that had been placed on her by someone in her life.
These are the words that filled the board. Words of shame, words of pain. Words that degraded and abused. Words that would instantly strip a person of their power, of their purity, and of their pride.
I couldn’t help but get angry as I thought through this list, this sickening list of words so freely used on women in our society. I’m not even exactly sure who my anger is directed toward just as I’m unsure that finding someone to blame would do any good.
But one thing is for sure- we live in a society that seems to be perpetuating this horrific double-standard.
A double standard in which women are encouraged to flaunt their body and use their curves to get attention.
A double standard that fools them into finding value in their temptress abilities and seduction.
A double standard that pressures them into seeing their sexuality as a commodity to be given as a way to earn something they may not otherwise achieve.
A double standard that views them as trophies, as objects, and as rewards.
A double standard that praises and applauds them for their sex appeal and promiscuity in one breath- and then uses it against them in the next. Hoes. Sluts. Whores.
It boggles my mind how this barbaric view is still so easily accepted in our society. Even in 2014- we still resemble the uncivilized ancient era – in which a sexually promiscuous woman would be stoned to death while her male counterpart looked on, and worse yet, took part in the stoning ritual.
While we may not be holding stones, still- we call our women hoes. But our men…men are considered the “players”- a verbal pat on the back. Our terminology is latent with gender-biased shame.
And even in the church, there’s the same dangerous undertone. Why is it that our “say no to sex” and our “modesty” campaigns seem to revolve around the female gender- while the responsibility of the male gender often gets overlooked and ignored?
But here’s the thing. I don’t just want to rant about what is wrong, because this is about so much more than blame, it’s about change.
Somehow, someway, we have to start doing this the right way. I look at Jesus in the New Testament, and I’m filled with hope as I look at his approach toward women.
The ones called prostitutes, he calls loved.
The ones considered promiscuous, he befriends.
The ones shamed and ignored, he redeems.
And when face-to-face with the adulterous woman- instead of casting the stones…he calls out those throwing the stones.
Go….and sin no more. Because Dear One- You deserve so much better than this.
Our society is in need of a desperate change. I don’t know how, and I don’t even know where to begin. I just know that this change has got to begin with me.
It’s time to shift our societal norms and pressures, starting from what we believe all the way to what we watch, discuss, and listen to. It’s time to say no to the entertainment, the magazines, and the media that reinforce the sexualization of women- and instead remember that our value is rooted in SO MUCH MORE. It’s time to balance the responsibility that we place on our young men and our young women– calling them to be brothers and sisters of grace, of honor, of purity, and of respect.
It’s time to rip off the false labels that praise men and yet pound women for their sex drive- and instead, see our sexuality as it was meant to be seen- as God’s incredible gift. A gift that is worthy to be nourished, to be valued, to be saved and then to be SAVORED- at just the right time in just the right way. Jesus came to set the captives free by BREAKING societal norms- it’s time for us to do the same through His Spirit, here and now, in our very own lives.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!