Nine-Year-Old Sluts and Masturbating Dinner Guests

While searching for an image to use to illustrate the concept “modesty,” I came upon this image:

I noticed that the image was from www.nogreaterjoy.org, so I clicked through. The article was titled “Sobering Issues—Modesty.” It began with a letter from a woman who had read Created To Be His Help Meet and disagreed with Debi’s treatment of Lydia in the story titled “Bad Bob.” If you remember, Lydia, the youth pastor’s wife, wore a tight skirt which, well, as the story tells it, basically ruined Bob’s life. You can read more of this story here.

Anyway, in the article on the website, Debi allows a man labeled only as “a friend of the ministry” to offer his response. He describes struggling with a desire to view pornography and and discusses how he views women—especially strange women. It’s not a pretty treatment, and includes this stunning example of female objectification:

A man’s eyes are drawn to pleasing shapes: the curves of a Corvette (the 1971 Stingray being my favorite), the flowing stream as it goes around a bend, or the hips revealed by a tight clothes, tight enough to reveal whether the “lines” are there or not.

Cars . . . streams . . . women . . . you know, all things with curves. Got it.

But what really hit me was the author’s last paragraph:

My daughters won’t dress like a strange woman either. Mine, at only 9 years old, knows that she should keep her body from a man’s eyes, reserving it for her future husband. In the grocery store one day, when my daughter was wearing a skirt that flowed around her ankles, she heard another little girl (dressed in shorts) point to my daughter and comment to her own mother, “Look, Mom, she’s beautiful!” Why not dress beautifully rather than like a slut? You should get out of your ignorance before your dinner guest looks at you or your daughter then visits the bathroom. Well, that’s probably already happened.

That’s right, he just said a nine-year-old girl wearing shorts at the grocery store was dressing like a slut. Because, you know, shorts. And yes, he just said you’ve probably had a dinner guest masturbating in your bathroom to thoughts of your young daughter.

And this is from a person who thinks it’s the mainstream world that’s messed up. Right.

It is not normal for a dinner guest to go into your bathroom and masturbate. Period. Dinner guests come to spend time with the hosts and the other guests, not to masturbate in their bathrooms. Seriously, who does that?! That this author would think this is normative . . . what world is he living in?!

And the idea that nine-year-old girls need to be protected from the male gaze? Really?! Yes, pedophiles do exist, but that doesn’t appear to be who the author is talking about. He seems to think that it’s normal for men to look at a nine-year-old and see sexy. Well guess what? The vast majority of men do not find children sexually attractive. That this author thinks men lusting over nine-year-old girls is normal raises serious concerns about, well, the author himself.

The most devoted advocates of purity culture often seem to hold a twisted understanding of normal male sexuality or psychology. Men like the author of this article probably think that women should feel especially prized and safe around them, because unlike other men, they are careful to control their thoughts and impulses. But in fact, for me at least, the opposite is true. When I see men like this author talk about men lusting after nine-year-old girls or dinner guests masturbating in the host’s bathroom as though these things are normative, when I know they’re not, all sorts of red flags go up for me.

Two final notes.

First, my five-year-old daughter looked over my shoulder while I was writing this post and saw the image above. Her immediate response? “Mom, can you get me a dress like that? I want one like the girl sitting on the ground with her skirt flowing all around me!” As I think about my daughter’s summer wardrobe, I will definitely keep this in mind. Because you know what? I don’t have anything against girls wearing long flowing dresses. But then, I don’t have anything against girls wearing shorts either.

While I don’t have anything against girls wearing long flowing dresses, I very much have a problem with girls being told that if they don’t wear long flowing dresses grown men will lust after them. It’s not the girls wearing dresses that’s the issue here. It’s what the grownups in their lives are telling them. And ironically, these are the same people who argue girls are sexualized too early these days. Just who is doing the sexualizing here?

Second, it’s worth noting that the author’s equating of long flowing dresses with being dressed beautifully speaks to a specific performance of femininity. It is perfectly possible to be beautiful and be dressed in shorts and a tank top—unless, of course, you make beauty synonymous with a very specific traditional conception of how women should look and act.

In the end, the author of this article on the No Greater Joy website likely thinks his daughter is lucky to be so protected. He probably doesn’t realize that after reading his article, I’m more worried about whether his daughter is safe from him than anything else.

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