There’s part of me that hesitates to write this because I genuinely do fear saying the wrong thing or wording it in a way that gets misconstrued. I rarely take such controversial topics to The Southern Sooner because I like this to be a fun place and not something that makes people feel attacked, offended, or uncomfortable. But in light of a recent tweet by Cardi B, there was something in me that stirred and felt convicted to share my opinion on.
I know I might receive backlash – because in era where conservative millennials are becoming more and more rare, I’m choosing to stand up for some of the values I believe in.
To those of you that gather your first impression of me from this post or don’t know me well enough to know my heart and my personality, I cannot emphasize enough that I am not a hateful, staunch person.
I can already feel a few of you thinking, “isn’t that what hateful, staunch people say?” Whatever you want to think of me regarding this post is out of my control. But I know deep in my heart that I serve a loving, merciful God that does not preach hatred and anger. He has taught me to love my neighbor as I love myself – but He has also told me to serve Him with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength, and I believe this is one of those moments where I have to stand up for some of my values, despite it meaning that I step on a couple toes to get it out there.
However, if you’re reading this, I hope you read it knowing it is, what I believe to be, my level-headed opinion. I’m not trying to approach it to be up in arms, I’m not approaching it as a way to be in anybody’s face. In a county that feels flooded with polarized ideologies, all I strive to do is state an opinion, plain and simple. After all, Cardi B has already asked the question, “what does a conservative woman like you think?” I’m here to answer just that.
I am a twenty-four year old conservative-leaning Christian. I chose to say conservative-leaning because while I feel convicted regarding my traditional values, I don’t like feeling associated with (any) polarized end of the political spectrum that sticks their nose up in the air the second they hear something they don’t agree with. I believe in hearing people out. I believe in being surrounded by a diverse group of individuals, because life was never supposed to be black and white, therefore I shouldn’t keep myself in a black and white bubble.
I was homeschooled, and then finished out my middle school + high school career at a tiny little private school where dress codes were strict. I remember having to buy jeans a size too big. I couldn’t have shirts that had too low of a cut. Spaghetti straps? Had to have a cardigan. Dress too short? Leggings underneath. Bikinis? Unheard of.
As I hit 18, I took advantage of my newfound adulthood and started to adopt a “more mature” wardrobe, so to speak. In my heart I know it wasn’t out of defiance or rebellion. To put it simply, I was tired of feeling like a burlap sack.
The thing is, a lot of people can admit that the female body is beautiful. God designed it to be. I believe it’s alright to want to own it, to an extent. I know the concept of modesty is incredibly subjective. On occasion I’ll post a story on Snapchat before going to hang out with some friends, and I’ll receive some messages from other girls criticizing my outfit decisions, while other girls cheer me on. I can be transparent and admit that some of my outfit choices may not be “the best,” but I also believe that there is a point in which women can go too far in the name of being “strong independent women” that should get to do whatever they want without the backlash.
I am fortunate to be able to say that I have never been a victim of sexual assault, and I pray to the Lord it stays that way. But just because I haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for + alongside victims and admit that rape is never okay. No man, woman, boy, or girl deserves to be violated. Sex was designed by God to be something beautiful in the right setting, and it is heartbreaking to see it used so aggressively, hatefully, and selfishly.
But just because it is never deserved does not mean that modesty should be thrown completely out the window, because quite frankly, I think it’s a counterproductive way to deal with the issue. While the female body is beautiful, and is allowed to be beautiful, it should also be sacred. I believe there are parts of us that shouldn’t be flaunted for the whole world to see simply because we feel like we can, want to, or should. I am all for women having confidence in their bodies and rocking that cute dress, cute outfit, their newest swimsuit… but it is challenging for me to understand why twerking while nearly naked is a supposedly a necessity. I struggle to understand why sexualizing ourselves further, and so publicly, is the solution to gaining respect.
No DOES mean no.
I try to see where these women come from, and a part of me does. But the majority of me wonders how we can demand respect when we are feeding into the very fire that’s burning us. By continuing to sexualize female culture, we further create the image that maybe that’s all we’re meant to be – sexual.
I grew up learning there are consequences for my actions, and while rape is so so so incredibly far from the consequence anyone deserves, our sexuality was never designed to be flaunted. I personally perceive fighting sex culture with sexuality to be like fighting fire with fire – in the end, we’re only going to end up with a bigger fire. And I believe the consequence here is that in our attempts to end rape culture by making our sexuality a show in which we assume no repercussions, we may be further perpetuating the problem by fanning the flames.
I admire women’s ability to stand up against their experiences and speak out. I agree that no means no. I agree that rape is wrong and that no one deserves to go through that trauma and the suffering that follows. But as I continue to see retweet after retweet of Cardi B defending her music video as a way of standing up to rape culture, I cannot help but disagree.
I know not everyone will see eye to eye with me on this topic. Sexuality has exploded and is often times applauded in today’s culture. We have grown so calloused to the publicity of it that we find ourselves cheering it on.
But to Cardi B I say: I see your heart, I see your message, but I simply cannot agree with the execution. You wanted to know “what a conservative woman” thinks, and this is it. Rape is by no fault of anyone else but the ones who justify their horrific actions to violate another human being – and I think that’s something you and I can both agree on. No means no. And I don’t aim to say “your music video causes rape culture,” because that’s not it either. But I believe respect of our bodies and how people perceive that respect is not done by sexualizing ourselves even further. I believe we owe it to ourselves, to other women, and to the men that question us that we deserve to be recognized as more than sex objects – that we aren’t here to further play into their warped fantasies that we exist to please them how and when they see fit. We are humans, we are women, and we are worthy of the respect we deserve past what our bodies have to offer.