Not a dick: a man’s perspective on modesty

There is so much to be said about modesty – more than what can be summed up in one blog post – and after my post about modesty and yoga pants, I realized there is so much more to the topic than what I can address as a woman. My dear friend Austin has offered to share some of his thoughts, and I’m so excited for you to read them. You can find him on Twitter at @LindnerAustin and Instagram at austincarrmusic.

 

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I’m a man. And I generally like to think of myself as more than a penis.

As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s honestly how I feel whenever a heated conversation about modesty begins. The two sides of the debate form opposing lines, ready to attack the other side with thrown words or rocks at the drop of a hat. And without a doubt, whenever the “modest is the hottest” team steps up to defend turtlenecks and floor-length skirts, one of the first things out of their mouths is “Do you want men to lust after you? You know guys are more visual creatures. You know they can’t help looking. You don’t know how hard it is to be a man.

Bullshit.

This argument is used to justify too many things in today’s society. Assault, sexual harassment, rape, really anything can be pacified with a good “boys will be boys” mentality. And as one of these “boys” myself, this logic has always seemed offensive.

It implies that I am little more than an animal. That I will uncontrollably lose my cookies at the slightest mention of the word “sex,” or if I walk past a girl in a mini skirt. That my hormones and sexual instincts control my life on a day-to-day basis and I am constantly resisting the urge to mate with anything that moves.

It implies that I am stupid. That I don’t know lusting after a woman is wrong, because I haven’t been taught not to. I never had the chance to attend “Human Decency 101”, so I get a hall pass. It’s okay girls, I didn’t mean to grab your butt- I’m just an idiot.

It implies that I have no restraint. That I have no power over my body whenever a girl with yoga pants walks in the room. That I’ll turn into an unhinged rapist if a girl’s shirt slips a centimeter too low.

And the part that bothers me the most about these statements is when I hear guys saying the same thing to excuse their own behavior.

Living on a college campus, I hear things like this all the time.

“If you wear yoga pants, how can you expect me not to stare?”

“Girls should really consider how distracting they can be before putting on stuff like that.”

Growing up I understood these sentiments. Yeah, why does she have to wear that? If she dresses like that, she’s obviously a slut. Which means I can stare. Because she wants me to stare. Right?

Society told me that I wasn’t responsible for these feelings. It told me that when a girl trespasses some invisible line in the modesty department it is suddenly okay to judge her. To view her as less than a person. To objectify.

But after maturing a little more, I realize how selfish this line of thinking is, to demand that someone slap some more fabric on her body for the sake of my own comfort.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of guys comparing “immodest” women to food (go figure). These pro-modesty dudes say things like, “When you dress like a slut it’s like you are turning yourself into a big mac, and then asking us not to look at you or touch you. How can you expect us not to try something?”

Look. I get it. Big macs are the bomb. And I may instinctively want to snatch a big mac out a stranger’s hand if I’m in public around lunchtime, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to. And it definitely doesn’t mean that I have the right to complain about all these strangers walking around with their slutty, unwrapped hamburgers. Or request that everybody around me refrain from eating big macs in my presence because of my own issues and preferences.

I may love a good burger, but I’m not an animal running on pure impulses. I’m a human, and so is the burger-woman. And we both deserve to be treated as such.

And maybe a good place to start would be to stop comparing the opposite sex to inanimate junk food.

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Something that Hannah has mentioned before that I wholly support is the idea that lust is a choice, not a reaction.

I may be instantly attracted to a woman wearing a bikini walking past me at the beach. I can’t stop the quick rush of those feelings, it’s biological. But that isn’t lust, which seems to be where a lot of guys get tripped up.

Lust is turning around to get a better look. To imagine what’s underneath the fabric. Lust is shying away from her face so you can see her only as a body, an object. Lust takes time and active thought.

Since I’m not a woman, who are the ones most affected by the modesty debate, I honestly don’t know how to address this issue as a whole. Modesty is a complicated topic, dealing with things like self-expression, cultural standards of respect, public decency, and freedom of choice. The answer isn’t as clear as society often tells us, with nasty sluts on one side and respectable women on the other.

All I know is I plan to view members of the opposite sex as people, even when it may seem easier to objectify. Even when I have a society-supported excuse to act like a bundle of sexual impulses.

But I know that as a man, I am more than my genitals. I don’t need to be coddled because of my sex. And one day, I plan to teach my future sons the same thing. Not to see themselves as boys being boys, but as men who respect the people around them, no matter what they are wearing.

 

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_MG_0601I’m a college student studying journalism and music. I try to tell the truth in a funny and genuine way. I love fast walks on the beach and collecting sharks’ teeth to throw at my enemies. Also I Boggle. 

 

1 thing adults should know: Thoughts from a Millennial

I’ve seen so many posts lately titled things like “Why You Shouldn’t Get Married Young”, “Why College Students Are Disengaged in the Classroom”, and “Reasons Why Millennials are Obsessed with Technology/Leaving the Church/Angry with the World”**. I used to read them out of curiosity, but I’ll be honest: I don’t even bother to click on most of them anymore. They all say something along the same lines: “we” (either Generation X or older Millennials) see similar behaviors occurring in this age group but we don’t know why, so we’re going to formulate an explanation on their behalf.

Speaking to an entire generation is really dangerous. Whenever your audience is a whole age group, you have to allow for many exceptions. People have entirely different backgrounds, family situations, and life experiences by the time they are even in high school. I rarely relate to the majority of nineteen year olds, regardless of the fact that we’re all the same age. Whenever I see articles directed at telling me things, they’re usually assuming I’m immature and telling me stuff I already know.

So, from a nineteen year old girl who is a Millennial: please stop.

Stop telling me why I have a problem, whether or not I have a problem, and who is responsible for my problem. I appreciate that you care, and I appreciate that you want to help, but the beauty of advice is that it is most meaningful when sought out and asked for. I remember very few blog posts that told me how to live my life, but I remember almost every conversation when I asked for the opinion of someone I admired and they told me what their life experiences taught them. When you have a personal relationship with someone, it frames the background for a deeper understanding of their advice and the life choices behind it.

When an opinion is given as a fact, or as a recipe for a successful life (“Follow these 5 steps to have [fill in the blank]!”), there is no allowance for the fact that life does not have a One-Size-Fits-All. What worked for you might not work for somebody else, and that isn’t anyone’s fault–it’s just the recognition of reality. We’re all different. Let’s celebrate that instead of fearing it.

Instead of sitting around speculating about why we behave the way we do, feel free to ask us. I, for one, would be eager and completely willing to share my thoughts if I believed it would increase my chances of being understood instead of criticized.

I’m not saying you can’t be an adult and share your life experiences in the blogosphere with a younger audience–it’s how you do it. If you’re preaching, chances are good that no one will hear you out. If you’re telling your story, an experience that is yours to tell and what you learned from it in a vulnerable and genuine way, you could make a huge impact. It’s all in the delivery. I can’t speak for all Millennials, but I know being preached at feels completely different from reading someone’s story. It’s the stories that make an impact.

I recognize that this blog post would be entirely unfair if all of the blame was cast on the older generation. I acknowledge and accept responsibility for the fact that Millennials can be childish, entitled, ignorant, and cocky. Sometimes I think I know more than I actually do. But everything we learned as children, we learned from you. If some Millennials are disengaged and can’t maintain healthy relationships, chances are healthy relationships were never modeled for them by the adults in their lives. If some are lazy, chances are they were never taught to have good work ethic. The older generation is not entirely responsible, but it would be ignorant to cast all the blame on “kids these days”. If you are concerned and frustrated with the younger generation, remember that it is a two-way street.

I know letting us speak for ourselves takes a lot of faith and trust, and maybe you don’t have that in us. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. There are a lot of immature children in my generation. But there are also a lot of awesome young adults aspiring to go above and beyond where the bar has been set. Just like any other adult, we need trust and encouragement, but we also need to be able to make mistakes. Trial and error is the best way to learn, and my favorite way to learn, even if it hurts sometimes.

For those of you who have put your trust and faith in me, let me screw up sometimes, and didn’t tell me how to live my life: thank you. Because of you I am well on my way to adulthood, and your trust in my intelligence and wisdom is what gave me the confidence I needed to make it. I wouldn’t be able to become an adult without you.

 

**None of these are actual articles, but made up titles that are very similar to ones I have actually seen. My intent is not to point fingers or cast blame on specific bloggers, but to give examples.

I am refined by fire

This has been a hard season.

I don’t really like to start a blog post with the tough stuff, but there it is. It’s been a hard season. Health issues, homework, and other stressors add up after a while. It’s been hard to keep going. It’s been hard to keep my chin up on some days.

However, hard ≠ bad. And this season has been a good one. I am learning, getting stronger, stretching new muscles I haven’t used before. College is teaching me who I am when everything I’ve ever known is stripped from me, and I’m discovering that the person in the mirror is actually halfway decent.

This is what I’ve found, when the tough seasons come: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. This phrase is 100% true in my life. When the hard times hit and the strain bears down on me and I feel the pressure, I’m also reminded of who I am. I never feel more like myself than in the moments when the core of who I am is challenged.

These seasons come and go, and that’s probably good. I don’t think I can handle the pressure all the time. But I’m growing to love these seasons, the ones that make me flop into my bed at the end of the day like I ran a marathon. The ones that force me to sit down and think about where I’m headed. The ones that demand that I ground myself, put down roots, hold on for dear life during the storm. Your muscles grow weak if you never have to grasp tightly.

It’s days like these, ones where you are asked, are you really who you think you are? are you really the person you claim to be? that become worthwhile when you climb in bed at night and whisper, I was me today. I was the most me that I can be.

I learn that friendship happens offline

I haven’t been posting very much lately. I’d like to say I’m sorry about that, and I am a little, but I’m mostly not. I’m thinking just as much as ever, living just as much as ever, but differently. More quietly.

I’ve been online a lot less because I’ve been spending time with people a lot more. We have adventures, laugh hard, play cards, have “sharing circles” late into the night. And I love them for what happens off the screen, who they are behind the closed doors of their hearts. They are souls, wrapped in stories, tied with string. They are living and breathing, more than a profile picture, more than a quote or comment on a status. There is more to them than what you can see on a screen.

Friendships don’t grow when you sit next to each other in front of your laptops. You don’t learn to make eye contact when you’re looking down at your iPhone. And you’re doing something wrong if you feel like you have to update your Facebook status or post a picture every time you hang out to prove to the world that you have friends.

If they’re really your friends, you shouldn’t feel like you have to prove something.

Why do we do this? Why do we attempt to fit our 3-dimensional, incredible relationships onto a 2-dimensional screen? Why do we feel as though our only worth is determined by the impact we have online? Life is so much more than what we can fit into an 140-character tweet or a caption on an Instagram photo.

I’ve been feeling guilty as I check my blog and look at the number of weeks it’s been (yes, weeks) since the last time I posted. And then I wonder, why in the world do I feel guilty? Do I really think I’m a failure as a writer if I don’t blog more often?

It’s hard to find time in college. It’s hard to write for fun when you’ve been writing papers all day and you don’t want to look at another Word document ever again. And it’s hard to say yes to writing when you want to say yes yes yes! to other things, spending time with people you care about, taking the time to be present and sink into your real, offline life.

Abby P is so funny she makes me cry, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Austin is snarky but secretly really kind, and wonderfully strange. Abby F is clever with a little bit of sass, and can break it down on the dance floor with the best of them. Logan is sarcastic, thoughtful, and will stick with you until the end.

And the best thing about these people and what I know about them is that I didn’t learn any of it from a computer screen or a Facebook page. I learned it from their hearts.

I learn to take photos

It’s been a little while since I posted last…oops! My time has been filled to the brim with all sorts of adventures, from trips to Indianapolis to music video shoots to enjoying homemade Greek food. It’s been busy and hilarious and just plain legendary. These college kids make me laugh so hard my ribs ache.

My friend Logan Evans has a fantastic camera that he has been teaching me how to use. The goal is that I would be able to purchase my own sometime soon–fingers crossed! In the meantime, here are some photos I’ve taken to sum up my adventures.

 

 

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It’s a good thing I have such good-looking friends that are so easy to take pictures of.

There will be an actual Hannah-wrote-something post in the near future, I promise.

Grateful for you always,

Hannah

I am in awe of the mystery

All the angels cry out

“Holy is the Lord”

All the earth replies

“Holy are You”

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People are standing, hands outstretched, reaching for something they cannot touch with their fingers.

I’m standing among them, hands grasping the chair in front of me, tapping the rhythm of the music. My eyes wander, watching these people who are so focused on their own worship that no thought is given to judging the people around them. There is a freshness, a realness in the air that makes me breathe lighter.

I am taking Biblical Literature II over the month of January, which means I spend every day studying the New Testament for a grade. No surprise, then, that by the weekend the last thing I want to look at is my bible. Last week covered all four of the gospels, and as I spent each day studying Jesus’ character and passion, he came alive. He leapt off of the cartoon picture bible I had as a kid and became living, breathing, feeling. He became human to me for the first time. He was a person I was beginning to understand.

It is the first time I have been to church since the beginning of the January term. My head and heart are both here, listening, processing. It is the first time I have been fully present in church for months–maybe even years. I have fought and struggled to reconcile the God I am supposed to know in the church, large and powerful and demanding of our respect, to the friend, artist, and companion I know when I leave the building.

I realize I am finally making progress.

The worship draws to a close and the pastor asks us to pray with him. He closes his eyes and begins to speak earnestly, and I shut my eyes.

And I think, about this Jesus who had no qualms about rocking the boat and the status quo, so much so that people would rather see him dead than feel the way he made them feel. A man who defied gender roles and challenged authority. Whoever believed Jesus had no fire in him was definitely wrong. Jesus wasn’t fireless, he simply knew how to channel it.

I close my eyes and try to connect them, this human I have grown to know and love more than I ever have before, and the king of the heavens that created gravity and invited the world into being.

And suddenly it clicks. And the tears burn under my eyelids as I stand in awe of the heavenly man who gave everything, even himself, to push us and grow us and love us with more ferocity than we ever knew love could be.

Love runs through his veins, pulsing for us. He will rant about our stupidity and be (rightly) furious with us, but the love never stops.

The love never stops.

This is my worship, tonight, this awe.

Worship with me?

Cafeterias and being beautiful

A boy looked at me today.

Fork in one hand and a glass of lemonade in the other, I turned to my friend to make a joke and saw him, 20 feet across the crowded dining commons, sitting at a table with his friends, looking at me.

He is not a stranger. We have had a conversation or two, laughed together at dinner tables among mutual friends. But his interest was foreign to me. His gaze was a new thing entirely.

Boys ogle, drool, eyeball, gawk, and leer quite often. It’s not uncommon for me to encounter a man who is quite rude in his glances, who thinks he has a right to play games with me in his mind. But it’s not often that I meet a man who simply looks. Who might study rather than undress. And who isn’t so afraid of me that he would not dare meet my eyes for fear of feeling something he would prefer not to discover.

When did I become a dangling treat for a dog? When did I become so provocative that most “modest” men would rather glance away when I walk by then simply look? When did I become the problem?

I met his gaze, and he did not flinch. His reaction told me that he knew he had nothing to hide. Instead, he met my eyes, unwavering. And suddenly I felt bashful, looking at him.

His eyes did not want what he could not have. He did not make me feel like I was standing naked in front of him. They said I see you. I notice you. You matter to me, right now. Out of the crowd of girls in this room, some more stylish or having a better hair day or any other excuse you might choose for me to look elsewhere, I am looking at you. You are the one that held my attention.

Something tight loosened inside of me, and I sat up straighter, ran my fingers through my hair, and turned back to the table. I continued my conversation, but a piece of me shifted. For the first time in longer than I realized, I remembered that I was beautiful.

All because a boy in the cafeteria didn’t let me forget.