After my divorce, the "church" taught me something I hadn't known...nor, to be honest, ever suspected.
I was dangerous.
I must say, this information came as a surprise. I'd never thought of myself as dangerous. At least not to others...in my crazier days, there were times I was a danger to myself. But I couldn't think of any time I'd ever been a danger to anyone else. (I know what you are thinking...but a bowl of ice cream doesn't count as "anyone")
But here was the situation. I was just hitting 30. Divorced. Not unattractive. And a somewhat sympathetic figure as the wronged wife left alone with two young children.
To my shock, I found that I was in a perfect position to cause church going married men to "stumble" (read, lust after the pathetic female) and I must do everything in my power to protect them.
I must be careful how I dressed, how I smiled, how friendly I was...
I must never be alone with a married man in a room, house, building or forest (okay...no one ever said "forest" but...you get the drift). I must never ride alone in a car with a married man.
Because, just by being me I was dangerous and apparently the church going married men could only defend themselves so long before they "stumbled" into sin because of me.
Before I go on, let me tell you that I believe in healthy boundaries. I actually do my best not to be alone in rooms or cars with married men. I am rarely friends with them on Facebook if I'm not also friends with their wife. And basically...just use common sense.
My problem isn't with the boundaries. My problem was with the extremity of the boundaries and the focus. The focus was never about avoiding the "appearance of evil" in Biblical sense or protecting me...or even both me and the married man.
It was about protecting him. From me.
Because apparently he doesn't have responsibility for his own actions after a certain point. He "stumbled" into sin while it seemed I ran into it...pushing the poor hapless male along the way. Guys are supposedly the stronger sex so how is it the female's responsibility to keep them from sinning?
Years ago I allowed my daughter to attend a youth conference that included a talk from an older teenage boy on the way girls should dress. He told the girls that when they showed their bra strap, the guy didn't just think "bra strap" but his mind went down to what the bra strap held. The moral of the story...don't show your bra strap. Incidentally, my son was at the same conference. At no time did he attend a talk from an older teenage girl about what guys wearing tight pants or going shirtless did to girls. He was also never told how to take his thoughts in control when he saw a bra strap.
A few days ago a father brought his two sons into the shop and arranged to pick up a surprise for his wife on Friday. That particular day I looked and felt like crap. Several people mentioned I looked sick but mostly it was just the exhaustion from moving. Yesterday, I felt much better...but I hadn't gone to any big lengths. My hair was in a pony tail, I wasn't wearing makeup, I was dressed in a shirt that showed no skin and a skirt that comes to my ankles. I tell you this because it's important. Because of what comes next. Because I need you to understand that I was as friendly as my job expects me to be but nothing else and I wasn't dressed in any shape, fashion or form that would cause a man to "stumble". Because when I tell you that two hours later that husband and father called me on the business phone to proposition me, some of you are going to immediately wonder what I did to make him think it was okay. And I know this. I also know that when I hung up the phone shaken and disgusted, the first thing I asked myself was
"What did I do to make him think this was okay?"
I know that when I ranted about it on Facebook, I told people what I was wearing in order to circumvent having to defend myself. And I know that it impacted one of the teenage girls that I love and "mother" that I did so.
I am dangerous. Just by being me, that man thought it was okay to disrespect me, his wife, his boys, himself. Just by doing my job. Just by breathing.
I don't know what to tell you. Maybe, since there is no defense against my lure (even when I haven't waxed my upper lip or pulled out those little hairs on my chin for weeks), what we need to do instead is equip men to take care of themselves in such a way that they learn to control their thoughts and actions.
Maybe we start holding them responsible.
Then maybe, I won't be such a danger. Because, as exciting as being "dangerous" sounds, I don't like it. I don't like being eyed, whistled at on the street or propositioned. I don't like being viewed not only as an object but as an object some man is entitled to have. I don't like seeing women objectified in every source of media and hearing "what can you do?" as people shrug their shoulders.
Here is a hard cold truth for you. The media is controlled by their audience. And they are selling what you are buying. And if you are buying, it is not their fault. But your own.
Stop using the media as a convenient excuse for the fact that women are objectified and treated disrespectfully. Stop pointing the finger at the billboards and women in yoga pants who just want to freaking be comfortable and start pointing the finger at yourself.
Because I am only as "dangerous" as you allow me to be. And people generally "stumble" when they aren't looking where they are going. And I'm tired of being told that being treated this way is somehow my fault.