Would you take dating advice from this man?

lookadoo

The Richardson Independent School District in north Dallas apparently thinks you should. Yesterday the  RISD brought in “motivational speaker” Justin Lookadoo to talk to its high school students about dating and relationships. In their defense, Justin is scheduled to speak at schools all over the United States and Canada this year. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.

You see, Justing has some very outdated, sexist advice for our young people.

Mr. Lookadoo is unabashedly christian (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As you know if you have been here very long, I am a follower of Jesus) however he leaves Biblical references out of his public school presentations. If you go on the Texas Speaker’s Bureau and look up Mr. Lookadoo you will find this description:

  • Top Texas Student Speaker
  • A high-energy, relevant message for the A.D.D. Generation

Justin Lookadoo is a top Texas school speaker. He was a Juvenile Probation Officer, and spent nearly six years as a Crime Prevention Specialist.  He knows students have it rough, and understands where they are coming from.  Justin is bilingual, offering programs in Spanish and English. Justin loves to talk. Go figure! He has been speaking to groups since 1989 and is excellent at what he does. To date, he has given over 3,000 speeches nationally and internationally. Just like Michael Jordan has the gift of being a great athlete, Justin has the gift of being a great speaker. And he works hard at it too! He is always researching and finding the edge that will make his programs current and relevant. Justin is a #1 bestselling author for his book Dateable and has had three other studient-oriented self-help books on the bestseller lists. Two of his books have been nominated for the prestigious Gold Medallion Award and he has sold over 275,000 books nationwide. Not bad for a kid whose two worst subjects were reading and writing.

Judging from this description, as an administrator I would think, what’s not to like? After all, he is to public speaking what Michael Jordan is to basketball. (*eye roll alert*) HOWEVER all one needs to do to find out this is a potential disaster is to search The Google and  look up his books on Amazon.com. Without even reading the reviews you will find out on Amazon that the back cover of “Datable” has these fun facts:

Girls, did you know?
– Guys will lie to you to get what they want
– If he’ll do it for you, he’ll do it to you
– If he doesn’t call it doesn’t mean he hates you
– A guy will treat you like you are dressed
– You might be talking too much
– He doesn’t want sex with you because he loves you, he wants it ‘cuz you’re a girl and you’re willing
– Guys love a mystery

Guys, did you know?
– If you’re too scared to ask her, then you’re not man enough to go out with her
– Girls will lie to themselves to get what they want
– Girls love it when you plan things
– You control how far you go
– Girls have their own kind of porn
– You can be a “real man” without becoming a “bad boy”
– Girls don’t understand you

On the Google you will learn that Lookadoo has a website (which was made available to the students) called rudatable.com (are you datable?). There you will see that there is a second book called “The Datable Rules” in which guys will learn to “live the adventure and to risk it all for God” and girls will learn “the importance of mystery and the power of subtle beauty”. Oh great, once again the boys get to have adventures and excitement. They get to write the script. And girls get to learn how to keep quiet and not draw too much attention to themselves. At this point I have to ask WHY? Why in the world would any public school have a man in to teach the students about dating and relationships whose book comes down to, men are the architects of their own lives and women are the furnishings. Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

If you are so bold as to continue on at rudatable.com you will find that you are invited to take a quiz to see how datable you are. Apparently if you buy the book you can actually determine your datability rating on a scale of 1 to 5 stars! Justin himself has a 4 and a half star rating. If you make it through the silly true/false quiz and come out datable on the other side you will be encouraged to commit to “the list”. What list? I’m glad you asked. It is the same for both genders: 1. Be respectful at all times. 2. Treat your date like you want to be treated. 3. No means no.  Oh wait. Snap. Wrong list.

The girls list says: (my comments in parenthesis after)

As a Dateable girl I will:
1. Shut up and be mysterious (in other words STFU, no one cares what you have to say or if you want to say it, no one like a girl who talks to much…sorry this one hits a little close to home)
2. Not lie to myself (I learned the rest of this is “girls lie to themselves to get what they want”)
3. Keep it covered up (What is it? Where is the line? What if I don’t? See my many previous posts.)
4. Remember that I’m not one of the guys (What the hell? What is wrong with being “one of the guys”?)
5. Know that it will not last (What won’t last? This one just confuses me.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God please help me stifle who I am to get a man. Goodness knows no one will like me for who I am or if I have too strong/too many opinions. Amen.)

The boys list says:

As a Dateable guy I will:
1. Stand up and be a real man (WTH does this mean? Who sets the definition? I am sure he will tell me in the book.)
2. Not lie to you or for you (Guys, he says, lie to you to get what they want. Also, girls apparently will want you to lie for them. Why? I’m not sure.)
3. Control how far we go (So it is up to the guy alone to determine how far things go physically? Hmm. Shouldn’t that really be a shared responsibility? Also see “no means no” above.)
4. Open doors and pull out chairs (Nice gesture.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God, Please help me be a “real man” even though I am not sure what that means. Amen)

A few more nuggets of wisdom I learned with minimal research:

“Men of God are wild, not domesticated.  They don’t live by the rules of the opposite sex. ”

“Datable girls know when to shut up.”

Datable guys know…”They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay.”

“Please, PLEASE don’t tease us. To show us your hot little body and then tell us we can’t touch it is being a tease.”

“Dateable girls know that guys need to be needed. A Dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent.”

Accept your girly-ness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.”

I think this whole line of thinking is damaging not just to girls but also to boys. I cannot for the life of me figure out why schools (and before you say, oh well Michelle, you live in Texas blah, blah, blah… This dude speaks all over the country. In public schools. At camps. At Juvenile detention facilities. ) would ever dream of inviting this guy in to speak. Don’t even get me started on what kind of message this sends to LGBT youth.

Sadly, it takes the students themselves to tell it like it is. Wednesday in Richardson #lookadouche was trending on twitter (today it is trending everywhere).  Here are a few tweets from the students of the RISD:

@jkredmon
A man gets to tell us what women can and can’t do. I don’t think so. Not at RHS. #lookadouche

@InGodsArmy
Either the best prank ever or the best attempt at reverse psychology to unite an entire student body. Regardless, fire ignited. #lookadouche

@emisccaffetti7
#lookadouche has many problems in the head.
@BmanToler23h
Don’t let some random guy who spoke at school with no ethos determine how you feel about yourself or objectify you. #rhs #lookadouche
@GreenEyedLilo
As a woman w/food allergies, I love that Justin Lookadoo thinks we should suffer in restaurants instead of telling our dates.
@irishfries13
still shocked at @JustinLookadoo ‘s presentation, gender stereotypes all around #lookadouche
@NateBeer
At this rate, our speaker on Friday will be Ritchie Incognito
@Megeramarie
I love that RISD has a no tolerance on bullying and they brought in a bully to motivate us.
These few tweets represent many many more which you can find for yourself on twitter at #lookadouche. These young men and women have renewed my hope that the tide against this kind of thinking is growing and that young people are beginning to recognize that this type of thinking helps no one and in fact hurts us all. Way to go Richardson Eagles. You guys rock. Way to stand up and speak out. #ROAR

A 20/20 view of the Manosphere

puerarchy

So, the Manosphere: It’s a thing and they would like you to swallow the “Red Pill”. Yes, like in The Matrix except not like in The Matrix. The bros of the manosphere have appropriated this phrase from the popular film franchise and use it to refer to waking up to the “truth” that it is men who have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history. The manosphere is an online community of loosely affiliated blogs and websites that guide you through life after swallowing the “Red Pill”. Most of these sites encourage men to become dominant “Alpha” males and develop “game” by which men will be able to have the most sex possible and/or that through dominating, shaming and gaming women you can get what you want, the world will be saved, women will actually be happier and families will stay together.

To hear them tell it the “Red Pill” is the new cure all wonder drug for men.

Until recently I didn’t realize that this corner of the internet existed and because of it I am experiencing a new appreciation for the phrase “ignorance is bliss”. However, remaining ignorant will never bring change. If we do not know we have walls full of vermin we will not call an exterminator. (No I am not advocating exterminating anyone. I am advocating extinguishing a damaging dogma and replacing it with love and respect.)

Tonight at 10 EST on ABC’s 20/20 they will be running a piece on the manosphere. My DVR is set. Perhaps after that I will do a follow up post. We shall see. In the mean time, if you would like to educate yourself on the inner workings of the manosphere you can check out the links below. I will try to divide them into their different focuses. You may want to have a puke bucket for when you feel nauseous, a stress ball for when you feel frustrated, a tissue box for when your heart breaks.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

PUA (pick up artist)
claim that by responding to natural cues women give off signaling what they as women actually do want, men can gain great power to seduce women

Return of Kings

Matt Forney (His tag line is ironically, “The man who shouted love at the heart of the world”). I don’t think he knows what the word love means.

Alpha Game

The Red Pill Room

Men’s Rights Activists
emphasize the injustice against men in areas like: anti-male bias in family law, and draconian domestic violence legislation that women demonstrably use as a strategic tool to attack innocent men, and how the misguided assumption that males are privileged contributes to men’s significant legal disadvantage

The Spearhead

A Voice for Men

Red Pill Traditionalist Christian
focus on using Red Pill concepts to empower women to protect themselves from feminist propaganda that will lead to unhappiness

Dalrock

A Voice for Men

Patriactionary

Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)
claim that the anti-male injustice is endemic to society and can only be addressed by its collapse, or simply that the emasculation of relationships with women in a feminist society, and the risks of marrying, having children, or even in some cases engaging relationships with women in a society with feminist laws are not worth the rewards

fedrz blog

MGTOWS forums

No Ma’am

Manosphere Economics and Political Philosophy
point to the inherent economic instability of feminism and the eventual social and economic collapse it will engender.[2]

Captain Capitalism

Vitas Brennus

The Rational Male

Female Manosphere Bloggers (yes, this is a thing too)

Sunshine Mary and the Dragon

On the Rock

Unmasking Feminism

Red Pill Wifery

Red Pill Marriage
run by men who provide instruction on using the techniques of Game/Seduction to build and maintain attraction within a marriage

Married Man Sex Life

Average Married Dad

Other

Viva la Manosphere

The Puerarchy

Boycott American Women

There is a blog called The False Rape Society. The Southern Poverty Law Center offers this description, “The False Rape Society is an Internet news aggregator, subtitled “Community of the Falsely Accused,” that features stories about allegedly false rape accusations and “feminist”-crafted “anti-male” legislation. While the site focuses heavily on news stories about false rape allegations, it frequently veers into such posts as the New Year’s Day item attacking a female supporter of then-presidential aspirant Michelle Bachmann for telling a reporter, “It takes a woman to get things done.”

Alcuin in Wonderland is a site that has gone private but you can read about them here.

RooshV

The Red Pill Society Pinterest page

The Red Pill Reddit

Marky Mark’s Thoughts which is also private but here is a screen shot from the google search:

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 5.11.29 PM

What Others Are saying

Business Insider: Inside Red Pill, The Weird New Cult For Men Who Don’t Understand Women

Southern Poverty Law Center

Manboobz

*credit to Wikipedia for my category descriptions

Coming Out As An NALT Christian

nalt-logo-mediumSo there is this new thing called the NALT Christians Project. According to their web site, the purpose of The NALT Christians Project is,  “To give any and all LGBT-affirming Christians a means of sharing their belief that there is nothing anti-biblical or sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The project is a joint venture of Truth Wins Out Two and John Shore. It is inspired by Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.

So far there only have been 105 videos uploaded. I felt like it was important to add my voice to theirs.

I did this for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • I care deeply about this issue because I care deeply about humans.
  • I believe Jesus meant it when he said to love my neighbor as myself, therefore when I see people being mistreated, hated, bullied and denied equal rights I must do something.
  • Publicly stating my beliefs on this issue both here, in my video and anywhere else I have influence may by some chance influence another to be more loving and accepting. Without others who have gone before me making such public declarations and being willing to have open respectful conversations I may never have come to this place in my personal evolution.
  • Someone from the LGBT community may see it and feel more loved, less alone and like God loves them.
  • By creating a welcoming and affirming atmosphere in the church, LGBT persons may feel more comfortable sharing their stories
  • The good news is for everyone. Jesus is for everyone. Love is for everyone. No if, no until and no unless.

Some people believe that making a video like this is taking “the easy way out” in terms of being an LGBT ally. They worry that some will simply make a video and think that is enough. I agree with them on this point, making a video alone is not enough. We must also show our love and support to our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community with our actions. We must (among many other things):

  • Speak up when we hear others being bullied
  • Speak up when people make insensitive or bigoted comments or jokes
  • Use our votes and our voices to advocate for equality
  • Listen to the stories of the LGBT people in your life. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself how you can love them like you would like to be loved.

Other folks believe that we don’t need to make videos to show people that we are “Not All Like That”. They believe we just need to live out what we believe with the people in our lives. I disagree. As I said above, I need to do both. I need to use whatever voice I can be it online or face to face. Others still believe that the LGBT community doesn’t need to hear this message, that it implies they somehow need validation from CIS Christians. I couldn’t disagree more. This project isn’t about giving LGBT folks our blessing or validation as if they needed our stamp of approval. It is about counterbalancing the voices in Christianity that proclaim hate and inequity as God’s own truth. When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a mind-blowing 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. This statistic, along with the rhetoric from people like Pat Robertson and organizations like the American Family Association, make the choice for me to participate in this project a no brainer. I hope you will consider joining me…and Jesus in becoming NALT Christians.

* Wait…WHAT? Did I just say Jesus was a NALT Christian? (More like and NALT Christ if we are getting nitpicky) Consider if you will something I say in my video for the project (which you can see here: NALT Christians Project: Michelle from Texas)…

When Jesus told the accusers to cast the first stone; when he allowed the woman to wash his feet with her tears, when he forgave even those who were killing him, what he was really saying was, hey I’m not like that. And when he taught Peter not to call people he loved unclean…What he was really saying was that we are not to be like that either. I think the way the church has deemed some people unworthy of his love is anti-christ. I think the lines have been redrawn around Jesus and fortified with walls and barbed wire and moats and I think Jesus wants us to tear them down.

Aside

No Longer Praying Out The Gay

love wins

 

 

Please go check out my interview with Phil Shepherd aka The Whiskey Preacher on Patheos.com:
No Longer Praying Out The Gay
Phil and I recently sat down and did interviews with each other in his home studio. Besides being a blogger, Phil and his wife Stephanie are co-pastors at The Eucatastrophe, an emergentish, missional faith community in Fort Worth, Texas.

If you missed it, you can catch my interview with Phil about living and ministering with chronic pain here:

First Ever Interview: Living in Chronic Pain with the Whiskey Preacher

Well cut my hair and call me apostate! *to be said in your best Texas accent*

apostate

This week Attorney Matt Barber, president of Liberty Counsel Action, had anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera as his guest on his “Faith and Freedom” webcast. Their topic? John Shore & Dan Savage’s NALT Christians Project. The gist of their hate fueled ramblings is this:

“To have vile, anti-Christian bigots, who are pushing a radical, dangerous sexual anarchist agenda, presuming to lecture Christians, and have people — self-identified Christians, liberal so-called Christians — upload videos about how they support something that God calls an abomination — there’s no other word for it — it’s apostasy when you have self-described Christians do it.”

This week I was also a guest on a web interview blog…Outlaw Theology with The Whiskey Preacher on Patheos.com (I will be posting links as soon as they are up!!). Full disclosure: you will not be seeing either Peter LaBarbera or Matt Barber interviewed there anytime soon. Although, I am sure Phil (aka The Whiskey Preacher) would have lots of great questions for them. 🙂 Funny thing is, my interview was actually about my personal evolution in becoming a welcoming and affirming christian/pastor/blogger. When we were done, Phil was also kind enough to help me make my very own NALT video (Which will also be up soon!!!!). I am sure Mr. Barber and Mr. LaBarbera will be very disappointed with what I had to say.  But that’s okay because I am very disappointed with what they had to say. They are upset that we NALT (not all like that) christians are making videos supporting something the Scriptures call an abomination.  Well, I have news for them, I support several things the Bible calls an abomination and some it just says are wrong. GASP! Say it isn’t so!!! (I bet my friends from the beginning of the article probably also support some of these given I have seen their sideburns). That’s right lovelies, along with fully supporting my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I also support:

  • Eating shellfish
  • Having sex with a woman (you are married to) who is on her period (if she is consenting, OBVIOUSLY)
  • The menswear look for ladies (hello, Diane Keaton)
  • Kilts for the dudes
  • Cutting your sideburns
  • Re-marrying someone you divorced (I have known several couples who have done this)
  • Marrying someone new after you get divorced
  • I am decidedly pro bacon, pepperoni, honeybaked ham, carnitas and pork chops.
  • Wearing clothing with more than one type of fiber
  • I am down with crop rotation (I come from several generations of farmers)
  • There is a bunch of stuff the Bible says you can’t touch, some are kind of gross but I am cool with you touching them (for instance I am for you touching a dead pig for the purposes of playing football)
  • Tattoos, even though I don’t have any
  • Long hair for men and short hair for women
  • Women praying with their heads uncovered
  • Women teaching men and/or boys and/or other women/girls (yes, even in church)
  • Women NOT being property of either father or husband or brother or dead husband’s brother
  • I am cool with it if you don’t want to marry your rapist
  • If your husband is getting mugged and you think you can stop things by grabbing the guys junk really hard…I promise I won’t cut off your hand
  • I won’t be mad if you don’t stone your kid for dishonoring you
  • I am even good with you working on Saturday or Sunday or even paying someone else to work by serving you lunch after church (I know I do)

Here is the thing, these two guys do not follow every instruction given in the Bible. They. Just. Don’t. They interpret. They pick and they choose. And I am sure they use all sorts of things to support their beliefs. So do I. So do I. I don’t know about you but when I read scripture, some things are crystal clear, some are blurry and some are downright opaque. The clearest thing I can find is that I am supposed to love God and love people, ALL PEOPLE. No if. No until. No unless. I just don’t think Jesus gives me another option.

BONUS: DID YOU NOTICE APOSTATE LITERALLY MEANS “RUNAWAY SLAVE” IN THE GREEK. I KIND OF LIKE THAT.

If you would like to know what I do with any of the “clobber passages” you can check out the series I did awhile back. I addressed them all. or If you would rather watch a video check out Matthew Vines. He rocks.
You can also see the response of the creators of the NALT Christians Projects here.

So there is an article about the “8 Reasons to NOT send your daughter to College” on the interwebs and it makes my head want to explode.

Photo © News4Education

Photo © News4Education

Here is a link to the article (which I heard about from David Hayward and his thought-provoking cartoons of awesomeness) should you be interested in having your brain leak out your ear… 8 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College.

It is full of gems like #1 She will attract the wrong types of men.  or #3 She will not learn to be a wife and mother.

I. JUST. CANNOT. EVEN.

As you can imagine, my first instinct was to write a snark filled response going through each item one at a time.

example: #1 You mean like college educated men who value her for something more than her tuna casserole recipe or her child-bearing hips? See, not a good idea. Not loving.

I also thought about just reposting the list with the gender pronouns reversed.

example (emphasis added):
His: “So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?  This is no small matter we’re dealing with here.  Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter’s purity, dignity, and soul?  Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey [notice this is a FEMALE doctor who presumably went to a TON of college] notes that a woman is naturally very observant of a man’s faults as long as she is in a platonic relationship with him.  Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him.”
Mine: So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?  This is no small matter we’re dealing with here.  Is a degree worth the loss of your SON’S purity, dignity, and soul?  Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey notes that a man is naturally very observant of a woman’s faults as long as he is in a platonic relationship with her.  Once he becomes sexually active with her, he releases hormones that mask her faults, and he remains in a dreamy state about her.

Instead lovelies, I am simply going to give you EIGHT 20 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY SEND YOUR DAUGHTER (and son for that matter) TO COLLEGE.

  1. A college education will provide her opportunities to learn and experience things she may not otherwise be exposed to.  College provides not only classroom learning opportunities, but also opportunities to meet people from other cultures and faith backgrounds, which will make her world simultaneously bigger in her understanding and smaller in that she will make personal connections with people from around the country and the world. When she spends time with people different from herself it will make her richer and helps her realize that the image of God is present in all people.
  2. A college education will teach her to question things she has been taught are truth. This is always good because all truth is God‘s truth and truth has nothing to fear of questions.
  3. A college education will give her the confidence and security of knowing that come what may she can take care of herself. This will give her the power to leave an abusive relationship, survive the breakup of her marriage (God forbid), help to provide for her family, or provide completely if her husband dies.
  4. A college education means that she is more likely to marry, to stay married and to be happy in her marriage. She is also more likely not to say the #1 benefit of marriage is financial security.
  5. A college education will help her find her passion in life and help her to pursue her dreams even if that passion and dream is to be a stay at home mom.
  6. A college education will open doors to her that would otherwise be closed and she will be able to earn more money for any job she takes.
  7. Her children (your beautiful grandchildren) will be happier, healthier and more likely to get an education themselves. For example, obesity rates for children of college educated people are approximately 1/2 of that of the children of high school graduates.
  8. Education is its own reward. Your daughters as well as your sons will benefit far beyond their ability to get a job.
  9. The unemployment rate for people with a college degree is half of what it is for people with a high school diploma and one-third of what it is for people who didn’t graduate from high school.
  10. She will be less likely to smoke. “The percentage of four-year college graduates who smoked declined from 14% to 9%, while the rate for high school graduates declined from 29% to 27%.”

  11. She will be less likely to be obese and will be in generally better health. According to BMC Health and Carnegie Mellon, A high level of education has been linked to lower blood pressure and that college degree holders have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, compared to people with less education. Also according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men and women who earned a college degree are also at a lower risk of developing colorectal, prostate, lung and breast cancer.
  12. She will be more likely to have health insurance coverage. (According to a 2008 report by the College Board, nearly 70 percent of college graduates had employer-provided health insurance, while only 50 percent of high school graduates had benefits.)
  13. She is more likely to report high job satisfaction according to the Education Pays survey.
  14. If she is college educated she is more likely to marry someone who is college educated. When both parents are college graduates, their children (your grand babies, God bless them) will be more likely to go to college and reap all these benefits. It is a cycle of awesomeness.
  15. She is less likely to be incarcerated. Only  .1% of all college graduates are incarcerated compared with 2% of the general population.
  16. She is more likely to volunteer and will spend more hours doing it. According to the Education Pays survey:

    “Among college graduates, the volunteer rate is 46 percent, over twice the 22 percent rate for high school graduates.”and”Among those who volunteer, the median number of volunteer hours increases with educational attainment, with the 46 percent of college graduates who volunteer averaging 60 hours during the year, compared to 52 hours for those with some college, and 48 hours for high school graduates and for the adults with less than a high school diploma who volunteer their time.”

  17. She will be more likely to vote and have her voice and concerns represented. Again, according to Education Pays:

    In the 2000 presidential election, 74 percent of U.S. citizens who were college graduates between the ages of 25 and 44 reported voting, compared to 45 percent of high school graduates. Among citizens between the ages of 65 and 74, 86 percent of college graduates and 72 percent of high school graduates reported voting.

  18. She will be almost 3 times as likely to donate blood to help others.
  19. According to the CDC she will live longer; almost 9 years longer than people without a high school diploma and about 7 years longer than those with only a high school diploma.
  20. And believe it or not, she is more likely to attend worship services regularly. A survey from the Association of Religious Data Archives shows that college graduates are the educational group that’s most likely to regularly attend weekly worship services.

The Hall Boys, Miley and the Moral Compass.

madonnaSo this week I watched as my feed filled up yet again with talk of modesty. The cascade of digital atta girls, also known as reposts by people I know and love were of an article by Kimberly Hall called, “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)” (If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out. I will wait right here).

These reposts were prefaced by statements like,

“parenting win”
“it’s about time”
and
“as a mother of sons, thank you”

I was also encouraged by a number of response articles. Some grace filled, some snarky; some from other christians and some from non or former christians. Posts such as Seeing a Woman by Nate Pyle, which said in part:

Unfortunately, much of how the sexes interact with each is rooted in fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of abuse, fear of being out of control.  In some ways, the church has added to this.  We fear each other because we have been taught the other is dangerous.  We’ve been taught a woman’s body will cause men to sin.  We’re told that if a woman shows too much of her body men will do stupid things.  Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you.  Her body will not cause you harm.  It will not make you do stupid things.  If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things.  So don’t contribute to the fear that exists between men and women.

A woman’s body is beautiful and wonderful and mysterious.  Respect it by respecting her as an individual with hopes and dreams and experiences and emotions and longings.  Let her be confident.  Encourage her confidence.  But don’t do all this because she is weaker.  That’s the biggest bunch of crap out there.  Women are not weaker than men.  They are not the weaker sex.  They are the other sex.

I’m not telling you to not look at women.  Just the opposite.  I’m telling you to see women.  Really see them.  Not just with your eyes, but with your heart.  Don’t look to see something that tickles your senses, but see a human being.  

My hope is that changing how you see women will change how you are around them.  Don’t just be around women.  Be with women.

Or this gem from Renegade Mothering (Language warning): FYI (If you’re a Hall boy)

In other words, it places the responsibility of YOUR morality on the shoulders of others, and that is wholeheartedly idiotic. I mean, how could anybody ever be a decent person if circumstances beyond our control determined what we think and how we behave? It also, incidentally, fuels what we like to call “rape culture,” wherein the girl is raped by the boy because she was a “slut” and therefore “asking for it.” The boy was the real victim because he was rendered powerless by her unprotected vagina and lack of bra. Your mother’s idea that GIRLS need to cover themselves so YOU can behave like a gentleman is the exact same mentality that fuels rape culture, and results in things like Steubenville or 30-day sentences for pedophile rapists.

And this one. THIS ONE. I want to post it in its entirety because it is just that good. But I trust you, go read this one yourself. It is called An “FYI” to My Daughters by The Lippy Lactator. Here is a small taste of the greatness:

Don’t get caught up in it all, my darlings.  Don’t wear that mini skirt because you want the attention of that guy.  If that guy is worth your time, he will like you regardless of what you wear.  Sex obviously sells, which is a sad thing.  You see it everywhere, I know you do.  Remember that you are MORE than just sex to the world.  You deserve to be treated that way, and the way you dress doesn’t make you any less deserving of that.  However, if you love how confident you feel in that mini skirt, or that bathing suit is *just* your style…by all means…rock it, sister.  Wear the clothes you love for you.  But be sure to take the time to get to know you.  Take the time to learn to love you.

Parents need stop with the gender stereotyping.  They are doing much, much more harm than good.  They teach their boys that girls who dress a way they don’t find appropriate aren’t worth the time and acceptance of their son.  They teach them that girls are just temptresses out to muddy the thoughts of their precious little boy.  They teach their children that it is OK to sit down as a family and scroll through their social media and shame anyone who doesn’t fit in the tiny little box they keep them in.  They teach them that girls who act or dress or believe differently than them have no character.  No self respect.  No right to be respected by others.  They are doing nothing but perpetuating this horrible cycle.  And trust me, no matter how much you try to be *perfect* for their son, this type of person will always find something “wrong” with you.  No girl will ever be deserving of their perfect little son.  Ever.

Now, let’s flashback to the VMA’s of a couple weeks ago when my feed was full of Miley & Robin. Well, actually if we are being honest, it was full of Miley, because frankly we all know Robin Thicke had nothing to do with what happened to him on that stage. He was the helpless male totally at the whim of Miss Cyrus and his own libido. I mean if presented with the opportunity no man alive would have the power to make another choice. Nevermind that Ms. Cyrus was nowhere to be found when he made his Blurred Lines video. But I digress.

I have been thinking about writing about “The Performance” on and off since it happened. Part of me was exhausted by just the thought of trying to organize my thoughts on the topic and part of me was just bored of it all. I mean, a shock value performance on the VMA’s? Ho Hum. Hasn’t that been happening like, forever? First there was that grandmother of all shockers, Madonna, then came her offspring… Brittney, Christina, Gaga and Miley. [Special mention to Prince and his assless pants: what you don’t remember that?] I guess the girls are the ones we remember most] Its like 4 generations of powerful women shocking people all the way to the bank.

Admit it. America kind of gets off on feigning shock and outrage over these performances. And yes, I agree they don’t do much to elevate the conversation on gender equality. Except, I suppose, when they shine a bright light on our tendency (as made blatantly obvious by the general pass given to the married, 36 year old father, Robin Thicke) to throw out the boys will be boys cliché and make sure we tell the women involved to cover up and be a lady.  I mean, Mrs. Hall, back me up on this one…have the women of our generation who ran around dressed like Madonna in bustiers, crinoline and rubber bracelets forgotten that a little rebellion and a little sexuality didn’t kill us like so many thought it would? Or that most of the women who were doing that are now grown up productive members of society, some even of churches?

This morning I read a piece by Christian Piatt over at Patheos in which he discusses the Miley post fest and I couldn’t help but think of it in light of Mrs. Hall’s letter to teenage girls. He writes:

Although in some respects, women and girls have made strides toward gender parity in our culture, there is still a persistent, if sometimes subtle, subtext narrated to our girls, which is that sex is the most efficient and potent mean of access to power they have. Yes, my daughter is told now at such a young age that she can be anything she wants when she grows up. And I hope that is true, but I already hear the comments from friends, family members and teachers about her appearance and anticipated future success with boys, and how it affects her behavior. and honestly, it only gets more pronounced as girls reach puberty and beyond.

So perhaps, rather than men in power resisting the progress of women being the greatest current barrier to parity, it now is the unpleasant reality that sexualizing young women works for innumerable purposes in our world. None more so, perhaps, than the popular music industry. So it’s really a bit disingenuous of us to express shock or disgust when Miley Cyrus fondles herself or engages in orgiastic dance numbers in front of an audience of millions. After all, the culture set up the rules of the game long ago and, in spite of our assertions to the contrary, the economies of power, money and fame depend heavily on appealing to our baser instincts.

So judge Miley if you must, but in doing so, realize that she is only a speck that is part of a much larger log in our collective cultural eye.

Do you see lovelies? When Miley states that she told people her performance was going to make history and then it becomes one of the most tweeted events ever we expose our morbid fascination with the perceived sins of others. We are all stuck with Miley on a merry-go-round that is very hard to get off. The cycle goes something like this:

  1. Women/Girls are slut-shamed and told they are responsible for the sins of men and protecting their morality –>
  2. Women/Girls act out in an attempt to grasp power not afforded to them in equal measure by other means –>
  3. People say “see, Women/Girls really are sluts at heart and must be told to cover up before they corrupt men who are just being who God/nature made them (visual creatures who are compelled to spread their seed and are slaves to their anatomy)” –>
  4. Society believes and perpetuates through feigned shock and shame that women/girls are responsible for the sins of men and protecting their morality.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.

And around and around we go.

side note: I actually read one article today posted by a friend that made many good points. But then he lost me. He kept saying that the reason the church is obsessed with modesty is because of get this, “the church has become feminized”! Once again, it is made the fault of women. The reason women are told to be more modest is because we have believed the lie that we have power over men. He says,  

“I believe the Church has become feminized in this: we talk about the Woman as being in control over the Man.  She can dress one way to seduce him, or dress another way to leave him free to choose.  This is not so.  The Man chooses to be seduced or not seduced.”  

While I agree that the man is free to choose, I emphatically disagree that this is the result of the feminization (the shift in gender roles and sex roles in a society, group, or organization towards a focus upon the feminine) of the church. This idea that women are responsible for all sexual sin including having the power over a man’s impure thoughts comes not from women or feminism but from the church fathers. Look it up. John Wesley, Tertullian, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Saint Augustine and many more including scads of popular pastors even today espouse this very doctrine.

Honestly it is hard for me to blame Miley (as uncomfortable as her performance made me). She has followed the script and played a role played by many before her. She has taken the reins of power away from the people who have held them in her life and is attempting to chart her own course. Yes, IMHO she is making the mistake of confusing notoriety for respect and fame for admiration. But it is a mistake I have seen over and over. People who were given little or no freedom or autonomy to make decisions, and yes even mistakes (PKs, Quiverfulls, Ultra Conservatives, Child Stars and kids with over protective helicopter parents and yes, perhaps even the Hall boys) sometimes, when they finally get an opportunity to taste freedom, make some pretty destructive choices before they figure out how to lead a balanced life and what course they want to follow. For child stars, children of politicians or mega church pastors they have the unenviable lot of having to do it in the public eye. Their mistakes and missteps while trying to figure out how to live a life of freedom that doesn’t lead to destruction can be very difficult and some sadly won’t live through it. [Here is a question, how could we actually increase the odds that they do live through it? Perhaps a little grace or maybe even just a little less judgement?]

For me lovelies, it comes down to this: Growing up is hard. Raising kids is hard. Stopping the cycle mentioned above is hard. I certainly don’t have all the answers. I empathize with Mrs. Hall in that she really thinks she is helping by joining in the chorus of voices telling girls to cover up and blocking people we deem unworthy by virtue of their perceived shortcomings. But here is the thing: We do not learn to make good choices by turning over our moral compass to someone else to police and we cannot teach our kids to find their moral true north on their own by never letting them hold their own compass. We do not do them any favors when we tell them that an entire gender, a preacher or even we can read the compass for them and that if they follow the bearing of our denomination, gender philosophy or political party they will be safe. Sooner or later they grow up, and they must navigate the often choppy waters of this life for themselves. Hopefully by then the compass we give them has a needle that points them straight to the true north of love, grace and mercy for others and for themselves. And hopefully they know how to read it for themselves.

In the end, it is for me like this song…and I pray that what we have taught both our daughter and our son is enough. That they use the love of Christ as their compass. Love that covers a multitude of mistakes. Love that forgives and keeps no record of wrongs. Love that sees past twerking and selfies and awkward teenage hormones. Love that speaks truth and healing. Love that gives second, third and ninety-fifth chances. Love that says we are all valuable and equal and bear the image of the living God.

The Boat
Billy Falcon

I built this boat
The best I could
With hands of love
From the finest wood
I braced the bow
I stitched the sail
I blessed every brass screw and nail

Lord, go with her when the sea is angry
Lord, go with her in the raging storm
Lord, go with her when the days are cruel
Lord, go with her when the night’s too long

Studied the stars, searchin’ to find
The safest course, and the kindest tide
Lifted her down the stony trail
I set her in the water, and raised her sail

Lord, go with her when the sea is angry
Lord, go with her in the raging storm
Lord, go with her when the days are cruel
Lord, go with her when the night’s too long

Worrying from the watchtower
As the red sky fades
My heart drops to my stomach
As she tumbles through the waves
She slips past the horizon
That’s when I realize
She was always yours
Never really mine

Lord go with her when the sun is golden
Lord go with her when way is clear
Lord go with her when the whole world loves her
Lord go with her When I’m. no longer..

Lord go with her when the sea is angry
Lord go with her in the raging storm
Lord go with her when the days are cruel
Lord go with her when the night’s too long

P.P.P.P.S. This is a thought provoking article called The Moving Target of Morality. I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in so I am just tagging it on as a value added bonus.