Updated: Feb 5
Whilst some people have thoroughly enjoyed them and praised those who have taken part in it, others are less than impressed and believe these challenges have gone one step too far, in terms of over-sexualising women. Furthermore, some have added that if women keep showing their bodies, the world won't perceive them for more than that.
Some of these comments came from your everyday people, some came from the church. I believe they are more layered than meets the eye and I'd like to dissect them.
The main issue seemed to debate "women are complaining about being sexualised and/ or harassed, yet taking part in "sexualising" challenges". There's a clear difference between these two instances and this difference is consent. One is empowering and birthed from choice, whilst the other is rooted in entitlement and is oppressive.
As a curvy Christian woman, I understand and have experienced heavy policing of my body, growing up. My body, even when fully clothed attracted unwarranted sexual attention from some men and envy from some women who perhaps looked different to me, due to the perceived sexiness often associated with curves.
"Don't wear this"
"Don't dance like that!"
"What are you trying to do?"
If you know, you know.
Subtle messaging about sexuality and how our bodies are perceived can have big effects on the psyche of a Christian woman.
Situations like these can cause some Christian women to cover themselves/ hide and as a result, struggle to embrace their sensual side even when they get married.
Can a woman’s boy be admired without being sexualised?
I think Christine, a Christian relationship blogger, asks a necessary question and answers it so well.
It is a matter of if we want to and/ or what we are used to.
I think we need to be honest with ourselves about why others embracing and expressing their sexuality offends us because it's not always about "modesty".
For the Christian man/ woman:
Is it that you’re defending the gospel or do you as a man still have self-control issues to deal with that gets triggered when you see a sexy woman? Or perhaps you secretly want a woman as expressive as her but you feel like the path you have chosen and/ or your morals do not permit you to do so and this upsets you.
Is it that you’re defending the gospel or do you as a woman feel insecure or not as attractive as the sexy women you are constantly trying to humble? Or perhaps you secretly want to be as expressive as her but you feel like the path you have chosen and/ or your morals do not permit you to do so and this upsets you.
I was scrolling through Twitter this morning and found Riana articulating my thoughts on this quite well too.
I’ve never encountered a man that has mastered or is taking responsibility for their self-control that is going round policing women into modesty, lest they fall into temptation.
Whilst the bible says we should be careful not to let our brothers fall, Jesus also reminds men that if they so much as look on a woman lustfully, they have committed adultery. It's a matter of the heart. Your Christian sisters may not have posted a challenge, but the world doesn't give a heck. You cannot police everyone, meaning you have to learn to guard your heart and control your lust.
I’ve also never met a woman who is confident in her body, sexuality and chosen life path, that is trying to get other women to stop being so sexy, lest they outshine them and/ or they miss out on some of their deep desires to be as "free".
Now, preaching modesty is a valid precept found in the bible, but it is important to note that it is not limited to women and is actually a matter of the heart. It is also important to analyse within ourselves why and when we choose to preach modesty.
Is it truly to defend the gospel or because of insecurities and/ or issues, you may or may not be working through within yourself as highlighted a few paragraphs above? Also, do you only remember to preach modesty when other women are getting attention for their bodies or when women showing off their body is exacerbating your self-control issues?
Additionally, when we do speak on modesty, I think it's important to stick to what the Word actually says and not add dangerous ideals formed in secular culture, such as misogyny.
Such was the case of Mike Todd, who was heavily critiqued, this last week. He said, "I challenge you, young lady, not to do the Silhouette challenge and not be impressive with your body; they don’t even know what’s on your mind no more cause you’ve showed them what’s under your clothes."
Linking a woman's worth and/ or determining how they will be perceived under the male gaze to what they choose to wear or not wear, is very problematic. Again I believe, regardless of what you are wearing or doing, how people perceive you, is more on them, than you.
The standard should be Christ, not the male gaze.
I also think it's ironic as men were also taking part in the challenge but there was no commentary about them over sexualising themselves. This illustrates how sometimes the balance is skewed when it comes to encouraging "modesty". Additionally, as far as I know, no Christian woman was uploading a silhouette challenge. This can be seen as yet another scenario of the church attempting to police people outside of the church and being shocked by the negative response.
I like how Daniel articulated his points surrounding this. I am also really happy it came from a guy.