Thanks to some links on my daughter’s fb page I’m thinking about modesty, sex, and what we teach our daughters.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes in our attempt to raise modest daughters we inadvertently teach them that they should be ashamed of their bodies, that men are animals, and that sex is bad.
(And here I nod to Miss Kiki’s Journey and a wonderful post called Modesty, Lies, and Making People Mad.)
Children of conservative families are sometimes surprised to visit our house. I kiss my husband in front of my children and their friends. We flirt in the kitchen. We hint at the privileges of marriage. This is an intentional choice. Part of it is purely selfish. It’s fun, and Jerry and I like it! Flirting in the kitchen makes the day a little brighter and sometimes leads to a bit of fun behind closed doors later.
But I have another reason for my kitchen flirting. I want my children to embrace the idea that marriage is fun, and tat sex in marriage is a fabulous gift, one to treasure and look forward to. We don’t avoid the topic at our house because sex in marriage is right and good and God-designed.
I still remember one of the first times I hung out with Jerry’s parents. They were a very conservative couple who fit the traditional 50’s image of pastor and pastor’s wife. You rarely saw Ray without a tie, and Fencine is one of the most proper women I know. They were a deeply loving and spiritual couple with very conservative values.
We were in the home of Jerry’s brother and his wife. It was a family setting, no other guests, so things were a little more relaxed. Already grandparents several times over, Jerry’s parents must have been married close to 40 years at this point.
You have the set-up; here’s the punch line. As we headed into the kitchen for lunch Ray popped Fencine on the bottom! Just a little, affectionate, flirty swat!
I was shocked, but I treasure that memory of how a couple who’d been married that long were still flirting in the kitchen.
I don’t mean to be trite. Modesty is a real issue. I do believe men are wired more visually than women. (And frankly, under the clock of married love this can be a lot of fun.) What I don’t believe is that women are solely (or even primarily) responsible for how men respond to what they see.
Here’s another lesson I learned from Jerry’s dad. We all went to Schindler’s List. There is a scene that is not sexual at all, but the women in the concentration camp are stripped naked so the guards can decide which ones are strong enough to continue living. Jerry’s dad very quietly left the theater until the scene had passed. A real man respects a woman’s privacy.
As a mother of sons I expect my young men to be responsible. I applaud Kiki who said, “Boys are capable of looking at a woman without lust. Boys are not animals and we must stop putting it in their minds that they are. Also we need to stop telling that to girls. Men are not to be feared. Every man’s mind is not full of lust 100% of the time. They are intelligent and wonderful . . .”
That’s not to say modesty is not a real issue. We need to teach our daughters that their body is a beautiful treasure to be unwrapped at the appropriate time. We need to teach her she is more than her body, that the sexy images on the big screen and glossy magazines that stress only the body are not accurately portraying the main reason for a woman’s existence.
We are not objects, but we are a work of art. We need to celebrate our daughter’s full person, not chop off the body as the shameful part in our efforts to help her learn self-respect and wisdom. Modesty should not be stressed in a way that makes our daughters think their bodies are shameful, men are scary, and sex is bad.
Sex is good. Sexy behind closed doors between a husband and wife is fun. I want my children to enjoy their marriage privileges without shame. I want my daughter to be comfortable with her body. I want my sons to know that thinking a woman is beautiful is normal.
It’s why I flirt in the kitchen.
(Jerry just read this and said I flirt because he is irresistible. That, too. ;o))
Tagged: being real, flirting, inside out weight loss, marriage, modesty, parenting
I agree 100% I want my boys to know that there aren’t animals, that it is good to find a woman beautiful, but that they are responsible for respecting her.
I also want my daughter to know that she is not to take advantage of the power she is capable of over a man. She is to use it wisely. And I also love flirting in the kitchen for all the reasons you mentioned! More woman need to speak up on this.
Ooohhh!! Good one. “I want my daughter to know she is not to take advantage of the power she is capable of over a man . . .”
That thought does bring some balance . . . it’s not that men are incapable of self-control, but healthy choices are a two way street . . .
Love this post and Miss Kiki’s as well. My Mom & Dad always flirted in the kitchen, And held hands. And kissed each other hello and good bye in front of us. Although Mom now has dementia, they still do. The dementia changes that slightly, but it’s their way. I love that about them.
What a sweet story, Joy. I love the picture you’ve painted of your parents.
I’m with Jerry’s comment (in an empathetic way)! 🙂
What a lovely balanced, commonsense, open piece of writing. Here we know we are doing something right when the children (or adults as they are now) go – even today – “Yeuch! Get a room!”
(And a thought: the “bad times” – a personal view for similar reasons is not too hide the bad times away in secret. Firstly, they will know from the vibes/atmosphere anyway – so “pretending” sends very confusing messages in its own right. And secondly, it allows them the chance to see the fixing/coming together/ups and downs – that relationship is not always rosy and sexy – nor is it broken at the first falling-out, or second, or third, or … And as with flirting, there is always the bedroom for the nitty gritty – sexy or very not sexy)
I really like your thoughts, Paul. It’s true. And really about being real, isn’t it? And when we’re real (not unwise or undisciplined, really like the idea that the nitty gritty stuff is behind closed door even as we are not hiding reality) we model navigating real life. Thank you.
I can’t agree more that men are not the animals society and the church make them out to be. I think this cultural insistence only leads men to behave as expected. I also am very upset with the church (some) insisting that men and women are so different and these “differences” are constantly highlighted and the groups always separated. My view is that this attitude only causes problems. Encouraging us to see how we are alike seems more helpful and will lead to happier relationships. We’re all human and we must get along and like each other. I’m not saying there aren’t differences, but I think many are purely cultural, not actual. It’s the same as with race.
Thank you, Cynthia. I’m always blessed when you post. You have me thinking . . .