Friday, July 11, 2014

The Myth That Women Are To Blame For a Man's Lust

A while back, another blog posted a metaphor for how men struggle with lust - due to women who dress immodestly. I think there is some merit to it. I am paraphrasing, but the metaphor goes something like this...
Women who are concerned with good health and exercise have to really struggle not to eat the chocolate (or other tempting food they like) which is sitting out on the counter. It takes all the will power a woman has to say no, stick to healthy habits, and put the chocolate aside. Now, imagine if someone followed you around every day, with chocolate, and offered it to you. Over time, your will power might break down, unless you were constantly vigilant. This is what it is like for a man struggling with lust due to women who dress immodestly.
While there is some merit to the analogy, I want to point out that if someone is following you around and tempting you there is always the St. Paul option (see Acts 16:18).

Second, it is always a choice to say "yes" to the chocolate and allow the temptation to fester. The desire, itself, for chocolate is not the problem. It is what you choose to do with that desire that is the problem.

Finally, women aren't generally following men around and tempting them. Rather, the man's eyes are wandering and the man needs to have more custody of them.

I have heard many excuses for the men who can't control their lust:
  • "If she didn't dress that way, then she wouldn't be seen as an object."
  • "Men can't control themselves when women dress so provocatively" 
  • "Just boys being boys"
  • Etc
This mentality is a lie. It is an easy way out which we men sometimes wish we had so we didn't have to control ourselves. Yet, the fact is - LUST IS A CHOICE!

In order to be clear, let us define lust. Some think it is any sexual thought about someone else. It is not. Rather, lust is the entertainment of sexual desires for a selfish satisfaction.  Here is how JPII put it:
"Reducing the riches of the perennial call to communion of mere satisfaction of the sexual 'need' of the body."
In other words, lust is using another person sexually (whether they know it or not).
The Catechism says:
"2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes."
So, lust isn't just a thought that pops into your brain without you choosing it. Rather, you take that thought, entertain it, and use it as your own. This makes the thought an act of your will - you choose it. If you don't take ownership of it, then you can't be forgiven nor can you start to work on real chastity.

So, regardless of a woman's ignorance, imprudence, lack of modesty, and bad choices - it is NEVER A WOMAN'S FAULT YOU CHOSE TO LUST AFTER HER!

Let me say it again - despite a woman's reckless behavior, lack of concern for your chastity, failure to show charity to her brother - the man who lusts is the one who is to blame for the lust.

This is not to say that women should wear immodest clothes (see this post for the argument against immodesty). In fact, immodesty can be sinful, just as lust is.

Rather, it is an argument that shifting the blame of a man's lust to women who dress in a certain manner is a lie. The truth is if we love our sisters, we men will step up and take responsibility for our choices and our need to work on self-control.

**Internet + Bathing Suits = Bad Idea
**Top 10 Reasons Men Should Practice Custody of the Eyes
**Top 10 Reasons Women Should Dress Modestly
**The Impact of Porn Through Stats
**Reflections on the Question of Modesty


Luke Hankins said...

I don't know how I feel about this article. On the one hand, no, of course a man's choice isn't 100% the woman's fault.

But if women would take that extra step and dress in modest unrevealing clothing, they could go very far in helping protect us men and keep us pure.

As hard as it is to be a woman in this world, it is certainly hard to be a man as well, what with all the temptations thrown at him on a daily basis. Women could do more good than they know, if they didn't display themselves as a walking temptation, because immodest and revealing clothing is hard on a man, regardless of where the blame lies.

Saying that it's not the woman's fault, I don't know, it seems that of course it's not 100% her fault, but it certainly does seem like she enabled the entire problem with provocative clothing. Like the chocolate example, it can't be said that it is 0% the chocolate giver's fault - yes, not a 100% because there was still choice involved, but some blame must be assigned to the enabler of the sin. It is said in the bible that those who sin will be forgiven, but those who cause others to sin will not. If a woman puts on immodest/revealing clothing with the full knowledge that it WILL be hard on every man that sees her and MAY be an action the results in a man lusting, how can you say that there is no fault in that?

If I sent someone a link to porn, and said "this link contains porn", and the person didn't have the will power to keep from looking, yes he is very much sinning by choosing to look, but am I, the enabler, completely innocent? NO WAY.

Marcel said...

You are assuming your choice is somehow not your choice.

I am clear that a woman can sin by dressing immodestly. That does not reduce the guilt or freedom to choose of another.

Stephanie said...

Thank you. I feel like you said something I have been trying to put into words!

I recently read a quote: "When a culture of ladies arise, a culture of gentlemen will follow." While I generally love the author of that quote, I hadn't really been able to verbally express why that particular quote sat with me wrong. Yes, I agree that women should dress modestly (and that modesty isn't just a hemline but it more of a frame of mind), but I don't think that we can expect men to be gentlemen ONLY IF women are modest and "lady-like." It's not just the women's job! Our sons should be taught to respect a woman no matter what she is wearing or how she is acting.

I'm teaching my daughters and sons that we are all responsible for our actions, and that the behavior of someone else doesn't give us permission to act immoral or unethical.

I wish it wasn't so difficult for our sons to be gentlemen, but in a culture that praises skin and suggestiveness, they have to be strong!