Tag Archives: sexuality

Not a post on sexism, but a post on the uncontrollable power of stories…


Don’t ask me what kind of narrative this picture communicates…

I’ve been following an online discussion between my feminist blogger friends Sarah and Dianne, and some guy called Cory Copeland, a Christian blogger that I don’t know much about. I basically agree with Cory that, whatever the story is, there is always redemption for the fallen sinner. And I agree with Sarah and Dianne that the described story is quite troubling, and full of abuse, and that the difference between consent and coercion is way too important to not be see here. I can even add from a masculist angle that I find it quite sexist to bring up the ‘boy as a dangerous sexual predator’ stereotype, and a flat character in the story. Is there any chance for redemption for him? (And I’m not even speaking of the weird ideas surrounding her virginity here)

But that’s not what I want to address here.  There is another problem, which is quite important, that comes up in the discussion under Cory’s post. Sarah comments on the part of the boy in the story, and I find Cory’s answer quite troubling:

The story wasn’t about the boy. It was about the girl and her struggles. That’s the story I chose to tell. Respect that.

The problem is that a story tells itself, and it can show things that even the narrator isn’t aware of. And the boy in the story is quite problematic:

This girl met a boy and that boy had a way about him. He scaled rooftops and smiled like the sun. He captured the good girl in his madness and she soon fell in the deepest of love. The girl held strong at first, tossing away her boy’s hands as they searched her body, seeking satisfaction. Again and again, she dissuaded him, turning a stone cold cheek and halting heavy breaths before they had pushed too far. But the boy was relentless and vile in his objections to her goodness. He bombarded her wits with fallacies of unrequited love and lacking attention. He had played this game before and he was good.

Soon, the good girl could take no more, so she stripped herself of the righteousness she held so close and took her boy into her bed. Now, she felt emptiness where love used to grow; loneliness where hope once flourished. (please read the whole story here)

You can say what you want, but this tells us a lot about the boy, even if he is just intended a flat character used as a plot device. It tells a lot about how boys are viewed, and (for an outsider) some very troubling things about American ‘purity’ culture. What is described here is a very problematic relationship. I would even say this story tells a lot of unintended things, because of all the unspoken stereotypes and expectancies that drive the 2 characters.

Stories are a powerful and even dangerous device of communication, because they’re not always tameable. If you tell a story, you have to listen yourself too. It might tell you things you didn’t know yourself. And people with other backgrounds might hear completely other things. Like with Jesus’ parables: we think we can pin all of their meaning down, and then someone from another culture sees a lot of details and makes conclusions you didn’t even know where there. And someone like Henri Nouwen has spent a whole life exploring Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, and even he could go deeper.

So, with every text we write, we should be aware with every story that we use to convey a moral, that we create an ‘entity’ that will stand on it’s own, and that will lead a life of its own. We cannot control what it will communicate to other people. The story will just tell its own story. And people will recognise the nuggets of Truth in it, but different people will see different things in it. And there is the possibility that people will see problems in it that are in a ‘blind spot’ of the authors worldview. But that does not mean that anyone outside of that worldview will not see them very clearly…

I do think telling stories is important, and a very powerful way of communicating in postmodern times. But we as Christians don’t have to repeat the same stories of the world over and over again. We need to reframe the stories in the light of Gods Kingdom. We need to tell new stories. We need to go beyond the blind spots of the cliches, and tell stories of salvation, of fallen people of both sexes who find not just forgiveness, but shine redemption in the darkest places of our world. It is darkness that dissappears where light shines! How strong is the light that we posses?

And we need to consider the implications of what we are exactly saying with every story that we tell. We do need to not further propagate the lies of  darkness that bind and destroy people, but dismantle them, and destroy light with darkness. So I applaud Cory for using story to communicate, it’s what Jesus did. But I’d ask him to be more cautious about how powerful stories can be…

what do you think?

shalom

Bram

Top-ten posts in 2010


For those to whom it may concern, these were the most popular, or at least most read posts in the year 2010 on this blog. I have no idea if my readers liked them at all, but I do pray my writings would be able to enrich peoples lives… Maybe to some my thoughts are only weird and controversial, and to others they are boring and theoretic, but like a wise man once said, there are too many people, and they’re all too hard to please…

The first one on this list is most likely the most dissapointing for people to land on, since it’s popularity is mainly from people who google for porn…

so (drrrrrumrollll) here is the top-ten:

1) on sexy porn models and human dignity
2) On praying for president Obama’s death and Christian black magic…
3) On cross-gender friendships and christians…
4) the emerging Joneses and my anarchist marriage…
5) Michael Gungor Band – God is not a white man
6) sacred unions, sacred passions I: beyond the romantic myth
7) Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you..
8) Rob Bell on atonement or the bible versus (reformed) tradition
9) Post-human broken sexuality… vs the beauty in this innocence
10) Reclaiming supernaturalism: on evolutionary creationism and angels..

[I always love how the code makes a smiley out of the 8 in this kind of lists…]

other posts worth reading from 2010:
Avatar and the core of the christian view on marriage
‘Male christianity’ vs Mother Teresa
Rethinking my childhood atonement theory
Christian music as a genre?

I hope to meet all my readers and commenters again in the new year for new discussions, and for growing towards Christ together. We all can learn a lot from each other…

peace and love

Bram

on sexy porn models and human dignity


Last night in a dream I suddenly had clear and developed plans to make an awareness system for pornography, which at least in my dreamy state seemed perfectly possible to do. When I woke up a lot of the ideas was lost, and it also seemed a lot less practical and much less obvious to do in the real world than I had imagined in my dream, but nevertheless I thought that I could try to just  write it down the way I remember it, and share with the world…

Even without taking my faith as a christian as a factor, I simply as a human being find the concept of porn a very bad idea that enormously devaluates human dignity. Getting yourself sexually exited on a picture of someones sexy body generally goes together with the reducing of thet person to just her body, and the reducing of that body to just some organs that can give you sexual pleasure… No woman (or man) deserves to be robbed of her humanity that way, and it’s extremely low to make money using people in such a way.

The use of images of sexy women to sell something that has nothing at all to do with them is totally degrading for both sexes. It’s not only woman-unfriendly, but also sexist to the other side. It is just assumed that I as a man will follow my natural urges and buy whatever crap they sell just because those women arouse me. sorry, but tend to I find this very offending! it’s an insult to her, and to me, and it devaluates humanity for everyone who would be conditioned enough to fall for it… For a long time I have been thinking that I should not take this nonsense, but still what can I do about it? I am not the type to write letters and stuff. and I’m not a knight who can fight wind will, let alone real dragons…

(and I’m not even talking about teens in their puberty time who are filled with unrealistic pictures of the female body and sex before they even have sex, which can be very destructing for their relationships later in their lives. I know there are already age limits for porn and that they don’t make any difference in real life, but maybe awareness raising in school suring lessons about sexuality may be a good idea… )

Every woman or man is a person. (As a christian I would add that we are created in Gods image, but that’s not an argument that I can use to convince people who believe differently) so even speaking just from a basic humanist position, every person deserves respect as such, and a whole industry that is built on the abuse of the human sexual integrity should not be allowed to just do anything. At least they should be balanced with warnings and reminders.

Like the warnings we have here on packs of cigarettes, there could be awareness stickers on magazines or other publications of a pornographic type. Just a reminder that the people who are shown are human just like the reader. I had a cool text in my dream, but I lost it.. Something like “All men and woman shown here, are humans just like you are! They don’t only have a sexy body, But  also  a  personality,  and  human  dignity, friends and family, hopes and dreams, and they need love, friendship and happiness just like you and everybody”. The same kind of reminder sticker could be used for publicity and advertisements with (almost) naked women (or men) used to sell something that has nothing to do with sexy human bodies. And naturally also on the boxes of pornographic movies such a warning could be put… And the films could be preceded with a small awareness video clip (like the anti-piracy vids) For example starting with the sexy picture of a model, and then parts of an interview where she is in normal clothes and without make-up, telling about her family, her time as a child, her hobbies, her hopes and dreams, to conclude with a photograph made with ‘aging software’ to show how she might look within 40 years… and then al last slogan as ‘sexy models are as human as you are’

The same could be done to certain music videos (cough, cough, R&B)…

No I’m not a conservative puritan, far from it. And it’s not that I would want censorship as it exist in the USA (which is extremely irritating), just a very personal reminder for the uncensored versions that everybody, also those with a sexy body that make money with it, are much more than their body. and that it is not fair to treat anyone like a sex object. Human dignity is something we should not trample. Not in war and torture, but also not in all this commercialising of sex!

But I guess I’m just being naieve, and my imaginary activism will never do anything in the real world…

shalom

Bram