#MeToo Cultures Don’t Spring Up Randomly

I’m the dad of 3 girls and am afraid of the world of sexual harassment and abuse my daughters are going to have to navigate.

I’m also the author of Beyond the Battle: a man’s guide to his identity in Christ in an oversexualized world, a book that, among other things, helps men rewire their minds so we don’t become sexual harassers or abusers.

Needless to say, I think (and write) about this subject a lot.  I also live in Lansing, MI, where every day there are new headlines in the paper about Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics’ Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of hundreds of girls and women athletes over a span of decades.  Those could have been my daughters had things been off by a few years.

I put the phrase “an oversexualized world” into the subtitle of my book very intentionally.  No one can argue that our world isn’t oversexualized.  My question is, why aren’t more people doing something about it?  I’m convinced that as a society as a whole, we want the best of both worlds.  We want to have our cake and eat it too.  We want to do whatever we want sexually: have sex before marriage, have casual sex, have porn in our popular movies and Netflix shows, look at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and have a general culture that “if you want to have sex, then have it.”  To argue against this puts you in what feels like a small, unpopular minority.  But when this mindset toward sex produces its inevitable result: broken hearts and broken spirits, let alone sexual harassment, rape, and sexual abuse, we are all dumbfounded as to where these things came from.

When you combine a casual sex culture with a culture that puts sex and nudity all over almost all of its movies and TV shows, you are going to have major problems.  I’m defining “casual sex” as a place where 34% of singles have had sex before a first date ever took place.  Where sex was the proving ground if this person was worth going to dinner with.  Casual sex is where it’s automatically understood that a boyfriend and girlfriend will have sex and that the only real purpose marriage serves is to raise kids.

Before I say anything else, I want to clearly say that it is never the fault of a sexual abuse or sexual harassment victim, and the culture we live in is not an excuse for men to be harassers or abusers.  These perpetrators are each culpable and personally accountable for their actions.

I remember a few years ago when oft-nude Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke made news for saying she wanted to be known for her acting and not her breasts and that she couldn’t stand the sex scenes on Game of Thrones.  She was requesting not to be seen naked on screen anymore, nudity that helped make her, and the show, as famous as they are today.

With that in mind, listen to a Game of Thrones director, Neil Marshall, quoting an unnamed show producer on the Empire.com Podcast:

This particular exec, like, took me to one side and said, “Look, I represent the pervert side of the audience. Ok?  Everybody else is the serious drama side. I represent the perv side of the audience, and I want full frontal nudity in this scene. So you go ahead and do it.”

Honestly, I’ve got to ask why Emilia Clarke would do these scenes in the first place, when they obviously go against her conscious and what she thinks is right?  I suppose many would do these things for millions of dollars and success in our careers.  But can you imagine having to work for this “perv side of the audience” producer?  That’s scary to me.  How does that guy get away with saying that?  How are we all okay with it, continue to watch this show, and continue to shower it with all of the most prestigious awards this world has to offer?  Heck, my favorite baseball team had a “Game of Thrones” day this season, where they handed out dragon bobbleheads.  Like this sort of nudity is as normal and American as Star Wars Day or “bring your pooch to the park” day.  Sadly, that’s how normal it truly has become.

Several of the famous #metoo stories have come from Hollywood actresses.  Again, these women are not to blame for the harassment and/or abuse they’ve had to endure.  The point I want to make is how can we say we don’t like the results of the system, but we like (love) the system?  Because we do love the system!  No one is lining up to stop watching these sex-filled shows and movies and no one is lining up to stop making them.  Women’s breasts are some of the best revenue producers in the entire world, and that is a financial fact.  And it’s sad and dehumanizing and does not come without large societal ripple effects.

I understand that in an actor/actress’s mind, what happens on the set is acting, not real life.  That if the actor she is “lovemaking” with on set were to try the same moves on her in his trailer, that would be the next #metoo story, and rightfully so.  (Which, speaking of the causal sex culture, it’s ironic that so many Hollywood couples have met on set!)  These are the exact accusations coming out against actors, as well as producers and directors.  These men liked what they saw on set and wanted a more personal encounter with it.  The flaw here is the assumption that a clear distinction can be made by all between acting and reality.  If a woman is naked and she’s acting, is she still naked or not?  She is.  You can’t “act” that.  Those on set are to understand the purpose of the nudity isn’t to get them aroused…yet isn’t that 100% the intention for the millions of viewers who will be consuming the finished product on screen?  Of course it is, which is why these scenes get put into movies in the first place.  Because we want to have our cake and eat it too.

I feel like I’m seeing connections, causes and effects, that many people are choosing to be blind to.  We are parading the most beautiful women in the world on the screen, naked and sensual, showing millions upon millions of viewers that this is how women are.  These women specifically, yes, as well as all women.  Not only is a man going to fantasize about having sex with this specific actress, but his brain is going to be shaped by what he’s viewing.  He is going to understand that this is how women are.  What he’s viewing is telling him that the purpose of women is sex.  That they are objects for him to consume.  When he watches dozens and dozens, and hundreds and hundreds, and thousands and thousands of these scenes, why do we not think it’s going to shape how he views women in real life?  Why do we think he’s going to be able to cleanly distinguish between acting and reality?  Both are showing him women.  Why do we think he’s going to be able to turn this switch off?  Especially in a casual sex culture where our culture has already told him it’s completely normal to pursue women simply for the purpose of sex, as long as she’s up for it too.  And the only way to find out if she’s up for it is to make some initial advances.  Which usually is sexual harassment if she’s not up to it!

Or what about the many men who aren’t technically harassing or raping, they are just staring at a woman’s butt.  Doing double and triple takes.  Glancing down at her breasts instead of making eye contact.  If you are a woman, do you like that?  Does that make you comfortable?  Does it matter if the guy is cute or a creep?  What happens when the cute guy is the creep, but you just don’t know it?

What I’m hoping is that all of this public awareness about abuse and harassment might be a watershed moment for us to rethink our values.  To realize if you have the cake of a casual sex culture, you’re going to get the indigestion and cavities that go along with it.

You don’t have to listen to me, I’m not your dad.  But here’s the advice I’ll be giving to my three daughters as they grow up in this oversexualized world:

  1. Save sex for marriage.  Follow God’s design for sex, not this world’s.
  2. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  3. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  4. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  5. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  6. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  7. Only date guys who are saving sex until marriage.
  8. Don’t go to parties, drink, or hang out with guys who are not saving sex until marriage.
  9. If you want perverted guys to stare at your butt, legs, body, breasts, etc., while imaging they are having sex with you, wear skimpy clothes.  If you don’t want this, don’t wear skimpy clothes.

This isn’t to shame women who have been victimized, it’s to be realistically sober about the tragic world we live in.  I wish this blog post would change the world, but I know it won’t.  The world is only going to get darker and darker when it comes to men objectifying women.  There is no way to fully avoid this.  But if men and women alike would save sex until marriage, which is increasingly rare in our culture, many hazardous situations could be avoided.  This is not a problem with women, it’s a problem with men and with our culture.

This will not guarantee that my daughters won’t be sexually harassed, abused, or raped.  But it will make a huge difference.  It’s a loving warning to not walk around in a forest full of wolves unarmed.  You can pretend that the wolves aren’t there, but that isn’t going to end well.  This won’t remove the wolves, but it will allow you to have your guard up against them.  And larger than all of this, I hope this article shows that our culture is creating these wolves and everyone is just applauding, clicking, watching, and awarding it, and that needs to stop.

If I had a son, I’d give him the exact same advice: save sex until marriage and only date women who have made the same commitment.  In addition to why he needs to avoid pornography and shows like Game of Thrones so that his brain isn’t conditioned to objectify women.  This will put him way ahead of being in control of his sexual desires, rather than letting them control him.

We can’t have our cake and eat it too.  We can’t follow the world’s recipe for sex, which has the worst track record imaginable, and expect the happily ever after scenes that its fantasies promise.

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3 responses to #MeToo Cultures Don’t Spring Up Randomly

  1. Is it me or is the current cultural fixation on calling out sexual abuse a little hypocritical? Not that the sexual abuse of anyone shouldn’t be condemned, it should. But there’s an intense cultural self-righteousness and outrage at the the moment that isn’t tied to righteousness at all. Aren’t you kinda expecting the flood of stories to diminish and society’s interest and outrage to move elsewhere without any lasting change? But maybe that’s being too cynical.

    Thanks for being a clear voice on this. It’s real hard to hear any voices, religious or otherwise, in public life today saying, not only is abuse is wrong, but that what’s pure is not only right but better. Ya can’t be swimming in the mud and convince me of the spring.

    Book, book, book…:)

    • What I’m thankful for is that for the first time that I can remember, our society as a whole is punishing people and businesses if they are immoral (Where usually it’s the opposite…where punishment comes if you try to uphold biblical morality when it comes to sexuality). What I hope is that this shows people how deep the problem is, and that people finally look to Christ as the solution.

      And hey great news, my book should be for sale next week! Stay tuned.

  2. That’s really good news about your book being released this week. It’s been a long haul, it must be the best feeling to reach this point.

    You make a good point about immorality and society but you’re more optimistic than I am. What’s happening now may just be human nature and people wanting to jump on others. Hopefully it makes it to the level of cultural self-awareness and real change, but a lot of times it never gets to a personal level and seeing how deep the problem is within themselves just others. But I’m feeling cynical saying that and I know it’s not a good thing as a Christian. Hope you and your family had a great Christmas.

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