Monday, November 27, 2006

"We Burnt Our Bras for this?"

Surrounded by packing cases last week as we began preparations for our house move, I was so looking forward to a relaxing hour at the hairdressers when I could chill out and de-stress. On the way, I dropped into a local newsagent and picked up a copy of Good Housekeeping magazine – one of the more responsible women’s magazines with handy hints and interesting articles, but within a couple of minutes in the hairdresser’s chair I was ‘pulling my hair out’. Half of me was raging, and the other half frankly wanted to cry.

One of the articles was entitled “We burnt our bras for this?”, the main photograph of topless model Jordan, and the opening paragraph went like this-

In the 1960s and 1970s, women fought to have the same rights as men. Today the battle of the sexes looks like a topless mud wrestle, with young women claiming the right to parade their sexuality rather than equality. Is this raunch culture a modern form of feminism, or are we back to square one?

The writer, Decca Aitkenhead, interviewed two glamour models and their mothers about their career choice, and debated whether this was feminism re-inventing itself in a new ‘raunchy’ form. Apparently teenage girls are now uploading topless images of themselves onto Internet websites, send topless photos of themselves to men’s magazines and tell pollsters that their role model is Jordan.

Champions of this new raunch culture have two different ways to explain why acting like a porn star is the proper way for feminists to behave – the first is that, deep down, women have always been wild, and raunch culture is what true women’s liberation looks like. The second is that any girl who calls herself a feminist should do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And if that means acting out a man’s fantasies, well, she’d be stupid not to get her latex cat-suit on.

Some of the comments in the article show how deeply embedded our society now is in it’s twin mantras of ‘freedom of choice’ and 'rights’. Although both the models’ mothers expressed disappointment at their daughters’ choice of career, they both defended their daughters’ freedom of choice. And the writer of the article makes this comment – because this kind of behaviour is seen as female empowerment:

It’s hard to know how to object. If you question the merits of Abi Titmus as a role model, or worry about BB contestants having sex on national TV, you run the risk of sounding prudish. You don’t want to seem ‘anti-choice’. If this is what women choose to do then what exactly is your problem?

How sad – how incredibly sad – that in the pursuit of women’s freedom of choice and rights, any idea of modesty, decency or morality have gone out of the window. Ask yourself how often we hear those words spoken today? It seems that in the latest re-invention of what it means to be female, women have surrendered the simple dignity of what it means to be a woman by manipulating men in order to get what they want and earn money. Why are so few people counting the pay-back price that comes with this behaviour?

Sharon James in her book, God's Design for Women, put it beautifully when she says:

Women have not been liberated by modern feminism, they have been betrayed…It is time to point to those around us to what God says about sexuality, and about how to live a truly happy and fulfilled life. While multitudes of women around us are hurting and unhappy the Bible points to the dignity and beauty of God’s design for women.

I’m struck yet again by the fact that the young women of our church are growing up in this environment and need positive role models of what godly womanhood looks like. And the buck stops here – with the ‘older women’ in the church. We have a responsibility to live out and to speak out about what true womanhood is. So in the midst of my packing boxes, I’ll somehow try to find time to respond to Good Housekeeping’s invitation to comment on the article “We burnt our bras for this?”

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