Monday, May 14, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 3

It should be a red flag that when reading the afore-posted bikini posts (one and two), our first reaction is:
"Hey! What about the men?!

That was my first reaction when reading this piece on Marcel Lejune's Aggie Catholics blog. I thought, "Wow, I'm annoyed that this girl is hearing men say that they can't help thinking about women in their bras, just because they wore a white shirt. What about men?! What are they doing for us?!"

Oh. Christianity. It doesn't work that way, does it?

When I was swimming year-round, I was at my teenage, hormonal peak, surrounded by perfectly-toned, strong teenage boys in Speedos. Yes, it was nice. But I also got used to it to a point where I could go to the beach and look around as if everyone was walking around in sweatshirts instead of bare skin.

Today, however, after years of being around fully-clothed men, I notice when men are shirtless. I notice and I get a little sheepish about it, I can't lie.

When I considered what Paige and Katie were saying on Twitter a few days ago about how no one is calling for men to be more modest, I thought, "Yeah! Why do the guys get to tell us what to wear when they get to go shirtless and that's not considered immodest?"

I stewed over it and thought about other things that men could change in exchange for me not wearing a bikini.

They could stop looking so darn cute all of the time when they hang out with little kids! Seriously, stop it. Hey, beau! You could stop being so wonderful to me, please. It's ruining my emotional chastity because I want to pin wedding details all day, m'kay?

Then I remembered, again, that I'm a Christian during the annoying times, too.

I'm so drawn to the desire to wear a bikini, partially because I've lost weight in the last few years. In these last two months, I've been convinced by both camps (pro and anti-bikini) over and over again. Some of the pro-bikini points have actually convinced me to be anti-bikini and vice versa.

Why do I want the pro-bikini arguments to win over my mind? Because I want to be desired. It's so easy to say that we're in a different time and it's not a big deal to wear an appropriate bikini in an appropriate setting (i.e., pool or beach). It's so easy to wonder what "the other side" will do for ME if they are expecting me to avoid wearing something that makes me feel beautiful for them.

This isn't marriage, but it's all Pinterest can find.
It's easy to ignore the fact that men are more visually aroused and that yes, what I wear plays a roll in that initial thought of lust that pops into their heads.

True, I can't control if they continue to entertain those lustful thoughts, no matter what I wear. Men, that's on you.

Similarly, and this is something I will expand upon in a future post, there has been a call for men to be more manly. Men, be MEN, we say! We want to expect more of you. We want you to avoid teasing our emotionally-queued brains by flitting around with emotionally-charged language with no consideration for our hearts.

We can't do a virtue exchange.

It's not possible because no woman can truly know what it's like for a man to look up on a scantily-clad women (or for him to hear her speaking romantic to him). Likewise, it's not possible for a man to know what it's like for a woman to hear romantic words from a charming man (or for her to look upon a shirtless male chest). But we can err on the side of visual and emotional modesty, right?

This discussion isn't over. I still don't think my opinion has fully-formed and I may write from a more pro-bikini stance tomorrow. If you wish to formally participate and write a response, I'll post it. Email me here.


Anonymous said...

I posted this on #1 also.
Some thoughts I had reading this and being around some basically naked girls over the course of time in a variety of situations.
Basically when a girl is in a form fitting or barely there swimsuit a guy has to dress you himself in his mind if he is trying to be chaste and is feeling the lacking of some kind of femininity in his life. It is difficult at this time to overlook the physical.
If he is completely attached to a particular girl, and isn't porn addicted, all other girls can be completely naked and it wouldn't be a problem for him at all.
I've also noticed when a girl strikes one as attractive she can be in burqa and still be seen as if she were inspiring lust (which she could be). If a guy hasn't seen a woman in a while and is suffering temptations of the flesh no clothing is enough. There is the animal instinct that is in both men & women that is the thing that has to be beaten & trained. The spiritual side is helped by modesty in clothing but it is not any kind of cure for the bestial.

Thomas at Listening for the Shepherd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alicia Therese said...

Interesting! I agree that there's definitely been an increase in the call for men to be more virtuous as well. I think that they go hand in hand - women stepping up as well as men. I've heard some people say one has to go first, as it were, and I'm just not sure that's true. We are meant to help each other, although, I do get that men are supposed to be spiritual leaders. I don't know. Like you, I'm still forming my opinion! Love this series, btw!! :)

Katie@NFP and Me said...

Just to clarify: I'm not saying women shouldn't wear more modest things because men aren't doing the same. I hope I haven't been coming off that way this whole time. :)

Instead I'm saying that women cannot control men and their thoughts. We're adding an extra burden to our already over-stressed and over-analyzed life if we add yet another thing (especially one as materialistic as what we're wearing.)

Instead I think that a woman should prayerfully discern what she feels comfortable in and called to wear. Should it happen to be a two piece then it's a two piece. If it's a one piece then it's a one piece. Again I don't think the 5 inch span of skin tight lycra is what's going to stop a guy from thinking lustfully.

Ok...I'll quit now because it's starting to ramble and I need to just make a freaking post about it already. ;-)

Paige said...

My question all along will remain as "where does it end?" I may be my brother's keeper, but why is it my duty to make him have custody of his eyes and remember that women are not objects. Let's say that I put on my one-piece and a man says to me "you look awfully great in that one-piece" *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*. So I put on a cover-up. But what about when I get the *wink wink nudge nudge* about something else. The example I gave was: some men are turned on by necks or earlobes. So the next thing is I wear no earrings and grow my hair long and always wear it down. What about men who are turned on by feet? I will only wear closed-toed shoes. And say all women start doing this. Then we will have to stop wearing any make up or physical adornment whatsoever. At what point does a man's lust become his own sin and no longer my sin? If a man in a swimsuit with a great tan and good abs makes me sin, is that on him? Or is it only on me to wear modest clothing? I understand that men are more visual than women, but no one seems to be calling for an overhaul to men's clothing. Let's not forget that some men go out with their underwear (actual underwear) showing routinely. We are called to overcome temptation, to subjugate the needs of the flesh in favor of helping the spirit. If every Catholic woman in the world stopped attending co-ed swimming pools and boycotted the beach entirely, there would still be women out there in bikinis. A Catholic man has to learn to say a Hail Mary or look away.

Katie@NFP and Me said...

To continue on Paige's comment:

They need to learn to say a Hail Mary, look away, or quit going. It's no different than an alcohol addict going to the bar. We would say that's ridiculous. In the same light some one so afflicted by lustful thoughts should quit going to the beach. He knows his weaknesses, not me, and therefore he is responsible.

Louise said...

Elizabeth, I'm so glad you wrote this post. I especially appreciate that you say that you want the pro-bikini arguments to win you over because you want to be desired. Ultimately, that is what I realized was in my heart, too. Once I realized that was what was in my heart, I didn't want to wear a bikini anymore.

bmmg39 said...

My thoughts:

1.) As a guy, I consider myself rather modest, from head to toe. I often wear shorts, but I pretty much always have shoes on, even when I'm alone. And I wear a shirt, even in a pool. It's not part of a movement; I just feel naked when I don't have all three components on. So I either have all three or else I really AM naked (shower time, et al); there's not much in between.

2.) People, overall, should wear what they feel comfortable wearing. For some, that will be something on the modest end of the spectrum; others are more comfortable with less fabric. And, of course, there are some parts of the Western world where entire families go to the beach or the lake wearing no more than they were born with. That doesn't mean that anything sexual is going on or implied; they're doing what everybody else does at the beach. They're wading in the surf, they're playing frisbee, they're sitting on a blanket, talking, they're sleeping, or they're reading books. They're just not wearing bathing suits at the time. But nudity isn't the same as sex.

3. Whatever is good for the goose is good for the gander. If we ARE going to tell some young women that they need to be covered pretty much from shoulder to below the knee, then young men should be wearing a similar get-up. It isn't as though women aren't affected by the sight of an attractive man's body. I've seen it. (Just not about me. Heh.)

Liesl said...

Kind of off topic...

but I loved this part:
"They could stop looking so darn cute all of the time when they hang out with little kids! Seriously, stop it. Hey, beau! You could stop being so wonderful to me, please. It's ruining my emotional chastity because I want to pin wedding details all day, m'kay?"

Mostly I can just picture you saying it. And also, I feel like we discussed this as a blog post topic at one point - what not to do to distract me at Mass. haha.

Also, I really liked this part too:
"Men, be MEN, we say! We want to expect more of you. We want you to avoid teasing our emotionally-queued brains by flitting around with emotionally-charged language with no consideration for our hearts."

I think you know why... also check out my lovely friend Mary's post on this topic... (I have absolutely no idea who inspired this post for her...)

Anonymous said...

Why did you post a picture of Christ's passion on an article about your bathing suit? You realize Jesus doesn't give a shit about bathing suits. There are more important things for young Catholic ppl to be doing than worry about bathing suits. You give Christianity SUCH a bad name, girlfriend. Honestly, get a life and go talk to a hooker and hear her story and show her compassion and maybe she can learn to let Christ in her life, but how you gonna spread the faith if you're worrying about the length of your bathing suit? No one who needs Christ in their life needs to worry about bathing suits. Get a grip.

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