I have a daughter who is 9 years old. She’s a beautiful girl–happy, vibrant, full of love. She loves to play outside and pick on her brothers and walk around the house in my high heels and fancy scarves. She is all girl, and I love her for it. Occasionally, I see glimpses of her womanhood, growing closer as she grows older, and I’ll be honest. It scares the hell out of me. It scares me because there is a battle raging in our world–a fiercely brutal, demeaning war that has the potential to rip the value and sanctity of womanhood to shreds. It exists in the magazine covers that objectify a woman’s body. It exists in the filthy, shadowy corners of pornography. It exists in court rooms where defense attorneys suggest that a woman who has been raped was “asking for it” because of how she chose to dress, or what she chose to drink.
I have a message for my daughter, and for all young women, everywhere. How you treat your body–how you dress, how you behave yourself–it isn’t about men. Your body is not to be owned, or used. You are MORE than something to look at, something to lust after. You, all alone, are important enough, valuable enough, powerful enough that you don’t have to think about what a man might think when you look at yourself in the mirror. Your value is not connected to the opinions of any boy.
I’ve heard it said before that a young woman should consider what her clothing choices mean to the young men around her. Is it fair to wear something revealing if it will tempt and torment? Do you want the young men around you to have impure thoughts? Worse yet, do you want a young man to get you drunk and in the hazy and forgetful shadows of alcohol, violate you, both body and soul?
Let me bold. You are not responsible for the thoughts and actions of boys or men. If they misbehave, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.
Don’t misinterpret my meaning. Every woman has a responsibility to protect herself. The sad truth is that we live in a world where people will take advantage. If you dress or behave like you do not value your body, or recognize your worth, you will tell others, by your clothing, that you are looking for a certain kind of attention, the kind of attention that doesn’t value your body, or your worth. By doing so, you cheapen yourself, and disrespect those men around you that are trying to do the right thing, that are trying to respect you. But that still doesn’t justify the poor behavior of others. Not one single bit.
Just like you, men both young and old, have a brain. They have a choice every morning when they wake up and look in the mirror. They can decide just like you, how they are going to behave. They can choose how they are going to treat women. And good men–Godly men–they choose to respect and reverence the women in their lives. They choose to rise above the pervasive ideas that society sells, the idea that a woman’s body is simply an object, something to own, or conquer.
Sex is a funny thing. At the right time, in the right place, with the right person, it is powerful beyond words. It unites a man and woman together in one of life’s eternal rhythms–a blending of heart and body that elevates and lifts and strengthens. On the flip side, it can be turned into something cheap, something tawdry and worthless, a carnal act meant only to satisfy in the moment, then be forgotten.
My dear daughter, (and all daughters) don’t ever forget that you are MORE than a worthless moment. You are a powerful creature, not because of how your clothes fit, or how much skin you choose to reveal. You are powerful because you are a woman–because you have so much to offer this world. You are strong–a vessel of life and love that can and will do amazing things.
When you get dressed in the morning, I hope that you will choose to be modest because you know what you are worth. Because you don’t feel the need to buy into a society that sells sexuality–that tells you the size of your jeans or the size of your breasts are what define YOU.
You define You.
GOD defines YOU.