Modest Hopes for My Two Girls

It’s been about a year since I started blogging more intentionally, and during that time I have learned so much.

And I’ve learned so much from you, the readers (many of whom are brilliant writers) who comment and engage and challenge and inform me as I put my ideas and experiences out there.

For some reason, a lot of what we’ve talked about here (and on Facebook and Twitter) has revolved around gender dynamics in the church, family, and culture. Some of the things I’ve learned instinctively and experientially from difficult experiences in Christian bro culture have been indicative of larger cultural phenomena, such that misogyny or oppression or rape culture or modesty culture or shaming may be happening at a microcosmic level in the church but are also raging on a macro level out in “the world.” Thus, in recent headlines we see one bold female pop singer oppose vicious and pervasive misogyny online, while we see another (arguably) bold female pop singer shamed by an ex-bold-female-pop-singer for excessive immodesty and being a pop-culture prostitute. (Oh yeah, and then we see another bold female pop singer mediate via ukelele.)

And honestly, all of this writing, thinking, and headline-watching has got me hoping - for the way my two little girls, Gemma and Pippa, will handle such a crazy world, with so many challenges for their gender, as they grow up.

In a nutshell, here’s what I hope:

I hope my girls will never shame other girls for the way they dress, or associate showing skin with selling sex (or demonize people who sell sex). I hope they will see that shaming only makes the world more dangerous for women by supporting the perspective that they are the problem and male sexual aggression is their fault.

I hope my girls will regard themselves as equal in every way, and fight for the same regard for all other women (and people). I hope that part of this equality will include an ownership of their sexuality, so they don’t feel sex is a danger or liability for them but a powerful gift to be experienced in the fullness of their humanity.

I hope my girls will form a holistic standard for themselves regarding an appropriate, respectful, empowering, artful, and awesome style of dress. I hope they won’t be bound to a rule-based, fear-based view of “modesty” in how they wear clothing, but will instead seek to express themselves as whole people through what they choose to wear.

Finally and most importantly, I hope that my girls are so grounded in the love of God that they cannot help but love and forgive themselves. (This, I think, is the only way for any of us to avoid the kind of self-loathing or self-absorption that leads to more unhealthy decisions.) I hope they are filled and surrounded and absorbed in the presence of Jesus in such a way that their whole person – spirit, soul, and body – is being sustained and supported for a life of flourishing.

These hopes may seem modest – or they might seem impossible.

In any case, they reflect what I’ve learned, and I have many of you to thank for that.

 

…Oh, wait, one more hope.

I hope that I can be the kind of dad who helps these hopes come to life.

By God’s grace, let it be so.

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • marciglass

    Amen. Have been thankful for your voice this year! Blessings to your daughters (and everyone else’s daughters too!).

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      Thanks so much Marci :).

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    pippa and gemma are fantastic names.

    this is beautiful. let it be.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      thanks friend.

  • Tim Meloche

    Well stated. As a father of two girls myself, I share in your hopes.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      thanks tim, that’s awesome.

  • Ian

    Nicely said. One thing though… “(or demonize people who sell sex)” Ummm… what? Maybe I’m just stuck in my sexist tendencies here but I would think that the use of womens sexually to make things sell is not good. Doesn’t it send the message to women that their bodies are to be used by others for profit?

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      Hey Ian, so I was specifically referring to prostitution or sex work, not “sex sells” advertising so much (though the two are often conflated). I was saying, don’t equate showing skin with prostitution (using slurs like “whore”) and don’t demonize prostitutes either (because Jesus didn’t).

      • Ian

        O well that makes a lot more sense and I agree. Also I’d like to thank you for being outspoken on these kind of issues. Ive been foloowing the blog for a while and your writing has to helped me think trough these issues and given me helpful ways to speak with people about them in a constructive way.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

          thanks ian, i appreciate the encouragement!


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