Sexualised If You Do, Sexualised If You Don’t

*Trigger warning: themes of sexual assault

I did not expect in my years of writing this blog to be covering sports. Yet, here I am, left with no choice but to bring to your attention an incident which really shouldn’t have been as inflated as it was. The Norwegian women’s beach handball team made the decision to go against the uniform for the sport and wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms. I mean, it’s not a big deal. But then you discover that the European Handball Federation (the governing body) fined them 1,500 euros (£1,295).

According to uniform regulations in the rules of the game, women must wear bikini bottoms and a sports bra when playing official games. Men can wear shorts and a vest shirt. I hate to be captain obvious, but it shouldn’t be something that they should be fined for, especially when the men’s uniforms are shorts and t shirts, showing that shorts don’t hinder their ability to play handball and the uniform codes are more to do with aesthetics and weaponising women’s bodies as a means to draw attention to the game.

You know, I’m disappointed but not surprised.

I mean, what did I expect? I’ve spent the entire year doing research on this topic. But what shocks me is the flip side of women’s uniforms. Girls being sent home from school for showing legs and shoulders as it “distracts” teachers and male counterparts, women not feeling comfortable to wear shorts in front of some of their own family members, and ten years of protesting in lingerie after Constable Michael Sanguinetti told students to not dress like sluts to avoid rape. But this case tells a case of a uniform that forbids women from covering up. So, what do they actually want women to do?

If you want my two cents (which is why you’re here), it has never really been about how much skin women do or do not show. It’s really about restricting women’s autonomy over how much skin they show. Society has this weird thing for women not being able to consent to things, not being able to make choices and puppeteering them. It’s honestly so odd. In essence, women are seen as objects, and objects don’t get much say in how they are used. If women are being forced to dress in a way that makes you feel things, you can’t help but look. Worse yet, you can’t help but touch according to this approach. But Pepper is more about Jesus than it is about me, so what’s His solution?

Gouge out your eyes.

Yep.

Matthew 5:28-29: 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Of course Jesus is not being literal here and asking you to consider self mutilation. He is showing people how stupid their reasoning is. The point Jesus is driving home is that not looking or touching if it tempts you is far easier than any other precautions you could take to avoid defiling a person who was made by God.

“It’s so hard not to look or touch them if they’ve got everything out in your face.”

“There are harder things babe. Have you tried gouging out your eyes?”

And before I get a stream of responses saying that responsibility falls on the woman too, I agree completely but only in certain contexts. Scripture tells us to be mindful of our dress so that our brothers in Christ don’t stumble. However, that is referring to cases where women dress with intent to tempt men, which would be consensual. In that case, it falls on them too. Heck, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve dressed in a certain way because I knew that a guy I liked would be present or dressed in more revealing clothing for compliments during my weak points as a Christian. But let’s not pretend that every woman looks in the mirror every morning and curates an outfit with plans to get groped and ogled at.

Of course, a Christian woman will consult the Holy Spirit for appropriate dress but you can’t expect unbelievers to do the same as God doesn’t even hold them to the standard (I’ve written about this topic before, but to summarise it you could read Romans 8:8) and their dress is not an invitation to get touchy-feely. Especially if you are a Christian man.

We live in a world where people want to have everything without the responsibilities.

Not only do men have autonomy in tempting situations but as seen in our present culture of uniform, they have some control over what is tempting them because they can choose the dress code. Beyond that, they can choose to treat women as human beings and not objectify them. They can choose to look away if a section of skin makes them feel a certain way. They can choose to refrain from making an inappropriate remark. And what if they don’t want to refrain? What if they don’t want to treat women as human beings? What if they don’t want to look away?

Well…

They can just gouge their eyes out.

-Pepper

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