When we see women in ads or stories, we don’t really think of them first and foremost as people. The purpose of the ads is to simply stir up our sexual desire or use it to make something more attractive. When we take in that story or ad, we don’t see a person.
We see an object.
I’m not trying to lower the value of women. I believe that ALL women are eternal beings made in the image of God. They deserve such a high level of respect and honor that I would struggle to communicate in this blog.
In other words, they’re a really really big deal.
On the other hand, the use of sex to sell something is not a big deal. Most guys like myself develop a thick skin or cynicism on the subject. Seeing women in underwear ads or movies that focus on their sex appeal has become a commonplace part of our lives.
Most guys get used to seeing a sexy advertisement and trying to having to fight off any lustful thoughts. Instead of feeling appreciation or respect for the beauty of the woman, we have a little mental battle. I have to deal with this so often that I had to come up with defense mechanisms to fight off the lust.
Guys like myself understand that the women in those images or movies are real people. That truth is shoved to the rear of our minds by our sex drive and the battle that we fight against it. The identity of the woman and all that eternal glory I was talking about become collateral damage while we’re fighting that battle.
Simply put, we don’t think those images represent people because the ad’s focus on sex crowds out that truth. We see them as objects meant to sell us something or draw our attention instead of people. This creates more destruction than we realize.
If I only saw a sexualized image of a woman once every couple of months, I don’t think it would make a big difference. Unfortunately, I see a few of them a day. This daily barrage slowly conditions my brain to see women differently.
Now, I occasionally catch myself observing a woman and not thinking about her immeasurable worth. I analyze her obvious characteristics and what she has to offer. Basically, I treat her like an advertisement and just think about what she is trying to sell me.
While I’m usually not objectifying the woman in a physical way and it’s always a passing thought, it’s still a knee jerk reaction from my cynicism and defense mechanisms. It’s very possible to objectify a woman you’re not lusting after. I am looking for a woman to marry and definitely not one to hook up with.
That may sound noble, but I’m still objectifying the women that I look at.
Many of the times that I see a beautiful woman at church, I see her as marriage candidate and not a daughter of God. Basically, I wonder if she’s the one who will finally help me get to the pot of gold that I call marriage. That’s not the absolute worst thought to have when you see a woman, but it’s also not what I should be aiming for.
Bye Bye Reputation
Now that I’ve admitted to struggling with objectifying women and ruined my reputation, let’s move onto how we need to deal with this problem. We need to actively fight against the way our minds have been conditioned. The first step in that battle comes from calling out the problem.
We like to say that sexy ads or overly sexualized characters in movies don’t affect us. While some of us notice a greater effect than others, those ads and characters have an impact on all of us. Even if each image only gives our perspective of women a small nudge, this effect will build into something truly dangerous after a few million images.
After a few million images, we see women from at least a slightly different perspective. A change in perspective, even a small one, will make all the difference in the world. It makes a large difference because it waters down the truth.
Every slight change in our perspective makes us see women less like the eternal creatures of wonder that they are and more like the objects that world wants to use to sell their stuff.
It’s kind of like wearing sunglasses. When we wear sunglasses we still understand that the sun is bright. After a few hours of wearing the glasses your eyes adjust to them and the brightness of the sun surprises you when you take off the glasses. The same effect happens in our relationships with women.
Many of us assume we have a workable grasp on women and we can handle dating one. Then we get into a relationship or a marriage and realize that we completely underestimated the complexity and wonder of the woman at our side. Our slight change in perspective causes us to take the grandeur of women for granted and makes us think that being in a relationship with one isn’t that complicated.
It’s assumptions like this that show the incredible danger of our altered perceptions.
If we want to approach women with the respect that they deserve, we must take our perception of them very seriously. Soldiers don’t put off training until they’re in the thick of battle and we should prepare ourselves for marriage well before the honeymoon. We need to acknowledge the effect of sexualized imagery and actively fight against its subtle impact.
I understand that a part of our hearts and minds have been hardened by sexy ads and bikini models in movies. We must daily take our hearts and minds to God and ask that He make them new. We need God’s new hearts and minds in order to truly appreciate and serve His beautiful and wondrous creations.
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:16
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26
Image Copyright: mac_filko https://www.flickr.com/photos/mac_filko/1748106558/in/photostream/by