An attractive young woman, wearing a minimal bikini, is washing motorcycles, while the (male, and not so young) bikes’ owners sit back and stare. Actually, the oglers outnumber the bikes being washed. And, I don’t think they are ogling the bikes.
I’m having my motorcycle serviced today, at a dealership, and waiting while the work is done. It’s a Saturday, and the dealership is as much a biker hangout as a place of business. A band is playing. Burgers and beers are free. There are as many “hanging out,” as there are shopping. But, I suspect shopping is the hope of the dealership, and the motivation for its generosity.
And, in the midst of the action, a young woman in a bikini is washing dirty old mens’ motorcycles, while they sit back and watch her work.
As a pastor, I know I live in a bubble. This isn’t my normal world. There aren’t many bikinis in my world.
And, I’m an advocate for treating women with the dignity and respect they deserve, not as objects to satisfy men’s desires. Many men aren’t.
But, in light of the recent “Me too,” movement, I’m surprised and saddened.
You might be thinking. “She chose to do this. She’s getting paid, and probably tipped!” I’m sure she did, and I’m sure she is. I don’t know why she took the job. But, I doubt it’s because she enjoys washing bikes or being ogled by old men! I doubt this is the fulfillment of her career-goals.
Maybe she needs the money. Maybe she doesn’t have many other employment opportunities. Maybe she believes her beauty is her only asset. Maybe it’s the only reality she knows.
Part of me wants to offer her a beach towel to cover up, and to tell her, “Yes, you are beautiful. But, you’re so much more than your physical beauty. You have a heart. You have a soul. You have talents, and abilities. You have potential. You have value – and your true value is not your ability to turn men on. You are a beloved child of God, and you deserve better than this.”
Part of me wants to apologize.
I won’t. I don’t know her, and I might sound like I’m judging her for her choice. She doesn’t need that, any more than the ogling. Maybe that’s cowardly. I don’t know. But, I won’t.
So, while I won’t be talking to her, I’m writing this for all of the women and men who might read this. If you think this is worth sharing, I hope you will.
Ladies – you have inestimable worth, beyond your physical attractiveness. Men may, or may not, find you physically beautiful. Men may, or may not, find you sexually desirable. Men may, or may not, pressure you to comply to their desires, or demands. Regardless, your body, your beauty, and your sexuality is your own, and you have a right to decide how you use it. If you want to wear skimpy bikinis and wash men’s motorcycles, fine. It’s your choice. But, I doubt you really do.
Your body and your beauty is certainly not all you are. You deserve to be treated with utmost respect. You deserve to know your value.
Men – just because there are women who are willing to wash motorcycles in bikinis, or present themselves in other overtly sexual ways, doesn’t mean they want to or enjoy it. Yes, beauty is appealing and enticing. Yes, lust is a difficult drive to master. But, that young woman you’re staring at, is someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, and maybe someone’s mother. She has a heart and a soul. She has a story. She has dreams.
And, brothers, we degrade both women and ourselves when we objectify them. You are more than your lust. You are more than your animal instincts. A large part of being a man is the way we view and treat women, and how we practice self-control.
Men, let’s be good men.
Please remember, she’s more than an object. She’s more than your object. She a person, just like you. Treat her with the same respect you would want for mother, sister, wife, daughter, or yourself. Treat her with respect, even if she doesn’t ask you to. Treat her with respect, even if she doesn’t know to respect herself. Treat her with respect, because she deserves it.