February 24, 2014
An excerpt from Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kim Gaines Eckert
After getting my kids to bed and collapsing onto the couch last week, I grabbed the remote to wind down after a long day of managing sibling tiffs and power struggles. A familiar sitcom with sexually charged banter and dialogue flashed onto the screen. A man in his 20s, speaking to a buddy about a mutual female friend, stated confidently, "I'd do her!" This phrase gave me pause. How many times have I heard folks, men and women alike, reduce God's gift of sexual union to a mere behavioral release: "doing it," or the even more dehumanizing, "doing her" or "doing him?"
Lately, I have been struck by how folks are tossing around the word, "sexy." Instead of this word being relegated to descriptions of men and women who are dressed or behaving in particularly erotic ways, it is being applied to a wide range of activities or objects. Ariel Levy notes this pattern in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she challenges ways that women have internalized the culture's hypersexualization: "For something to be noteworthy it must be 'sexy,'" Levy writes. "Sexiness is no longer just about being arousing or alluring, it's about being worthwhile."1
I have heard church pastors apologize that their church activities are "not very sexy." I have listened to academics discuss certain research topics as more "sexy" than others. I have overheard techies talking about how one computer operating system is "sexier" than another operating system.
When did the word "sexy" get co-opted by the general public to mean something that has seemingly little to do with sex? It appears that in our current day and age, the word "sexy" is synonymous with cool, interesting and worthwhile.
This has broad implications for how we think and feel about sex. If sexy = something that is valuable or worthwhile, then sex = value or worth. What does it mean for us if we equate the value and worth of objects, people and activities with their "sex appeal"?
Too often in our culture sex is depicted through language and imagery that has little to do with beauty, love and intimacy; rather, sex is presented as a depersonalized and even desexualized act of self-pleasuring involving some other person or even thing. Sexuality becomes simply appetite, friction, desire, or even demand. Hypersexualized advertisements and pornography depict women not as human persons, but as long legs or large breasts - objects of fantasy or pleasure.
But this is not the way it's supposed to be! This is a counterfeit of sexuality as God designed it. We live in a broken world, which has far-reaching effects on our physical bodies, as well as our ideas about sex and gender. We can, however, live out our sexuality in redemptive ways.
In God's economy, sexuality should always make us more human - not less so. When our sexually motivated actions or language lead us to detach from ourselves, others or God, we know we have separated the gift of sex from the giver. When men joke about "doing her," this debases both the gift of sexual union and the wholeness and integrity of females. How we talk about and understand sexuality matters. Instead of listening to or using words that degrade and dehumanize, let us use language about sexuality that whispers of its God-created goodness, mystery and grace.
1 (2005). Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. New York: Free Press, p.31.
Dr. Kim Gaines Eckert is a licensed psychologist in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she maintains a private counseling practice at the Relationship Therapy Center. Dr. Eckert came to Tennessee in 2002 to join the faculty of Lee University. She now teaches at Lee on an adjunct basis and is the clinical director of the Lee University Play Therapy Center.
Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at 4:27 PM