Pastor's Corner Dec 3 2017

It's easy to treat a person like they're only a thing. This is mistreatment. For instance, through avarice, we may treat a person solely as an object for our monetary gain. Out of lust, we may treat someone as an object of our physical pleasure; through envy, an object of our gossip; from ambition, our social advancement; from anger, an object of our wrath, etc.

When on the receiving end of mistreatment, we feel "used." However, sometimes we consent (or even ask) to be "used." An obvious example is willing prostitution: both participants consent to the objectification, one for pleasure, one for gain. It's bad on both sides. This is not the only example of self-objectification.

Secular psychology, even, recognizes this. The University of Michigan conducted a study. Random college students, men and women, were each placed in a private, little room with no windows and no observers and given a math quiz. Some of each were given baggy clothes to wear, others were given a swim suit to wear. How did they do on the math quiz? The men in the swim trunks outperformed the other men by a narrow margin. The women in the swim suit did only half as well as the other women. Half!

Dr. Leonard Sax offers this explanation*: "We actually have quite a bit of research now on what happens when a girl or woman wears skintight leggings or a swimsuit. Often what happens is "self-objectification": the girl, or woman, assesses herself as an object on display for others. And the more public the setting, the more likely self-objectification is to occur." Is this such a bad thing? Dr. Sax: "Self-objectification is distracting. It's hard to concentrate on Spanish grammar when you're wondering whether this outfit makes your thighs look fat. Girls who self-objectify are also more likely to become depressed. They are less likely to be satisfied with their body. They are more likely to engage in self-harm."

Practical Conclusion of Dr. Sax: "Parents: please explain to your daughters, and to your sons, that it's not a good idea to go to school wearing revealing clothes, regardless of the policy of the school district. Don't hesitate to play the role of the strict parent, if necessary." Immodesty—or self-objectification by another name—is bad for ourselves and others. Thank you, Dr. Sax, for confirming this for us.

May God reward all the efforts of heroic parents who promote the truth under duress.

* Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., Psychology Today, Who is Distracted When a Girl Wears Skintight Leggings?

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