I’m thinking a lot at the moment about how women’s views of themselves can be affected- both positively and negatively – by the men in their lives, or the men in society as a whole.
And I’ve thought back to the nice things that have been said by men to me, but I also feel the pain of the not-so-nice words; ones that have stuck with me even since childhood.
I have formed a new habit of watching men watch beautiful women on the tube. They just can’t seem to help themselves! And I wonder how having all eyes on her affects the Beautiful Woman. But I also wonder what effect it has on the women who are painfully aware that they are not being looked at.
Women care what men think about them. And men play an important part in how we feel about ourselves.
There’s been a lot of talk in popular psychology about the effect that fathers have on their daughters’ self-esteem. There’s a really touching blog post from US pastor Sammy Adebiyi about feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness about his young daughter’s view of herself.
“Please God. Spare my daughter from the battle against insecurity.
I never want her to not feel pretty/good/beautiful/smart enough.”
Good fathers feel the responsibility of ensuring their daughters feel good about themselves.
I did a survey earlier this year to find out what women feel about their own bodies. And I was struck by the fact that a large proportion of married women, or those in long-term relationships, felt good about themselves because their husbands often told them they were beautiful.
I am single; and I unconsciously fall into the trap of believing that I have to look the best I possibly can in order to attract a husband. So I was really intrigued to realise that the beauty issue continues even when you’ve ‘bagged a man’.
I’m reading Rachel Held Evans’ brilliant book A Year of Biblical Womanhood at the moment, in which she critiques controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll’s view (for which he has since apologised) that women need to stay as hot as possible to keep their husbands’ attention.
He wrote, following revelations that US evangelist Ted Haggard had admitted “sexual immorality” in 2006:
“It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”
I love Rachel’s dismissal of the sentiment. She writes: