Last fall God told me something that I was initially offended by, and it was these three words: “You are precious.”
The offensive-ness of that statement may be a bit more subtle to you than it was to me, and that would be because I was taking it the wrong way. I was equating the word precious to the word cute. Precious as in “Oh what a precious baby, she’s so adorable.” Precious like, “Oh you’re such a doll.” Precious like sweet, innocent, naive. And I… do not like being treated that way, by anyone, much less by the Lord.
But then.. I realized that was not what He meant at all. When God said precious, He meant precious like a jewel. Rare, strong, beautiful, & sparkly. When I realized that, well.. I wasn’t quite so offended anymore.
I was reminded of that story just now, as I reflected on an experience I had today that made me feel exactly the opposite. I overheard a guy say something to some other guys about my body, more specifically my body without clothes. And I thought it was immature and stupid but not until I was walking home from work and some guy honked as he drove by me and later another guy yelled something at me from his car did it really start to bother me. Because behind these actions, which are sadly normal and expected, is an attitude that is the same.
It probably seems like no big deal, no big deal to assign a number rating to a woman’s body when you’re describing her to your friends. No big deal to watch her walk away or imagine what’s underneath her clothes. Even pornography, which nurtures an underlying belief of women’s bodies being sexual objects. No big deal.
But, WHY. Why is that okay?
In Mexico City there are separate Metro cars for women during rush hour, and it’s easy to joke about it being because of the “gropers.” But I remember the first time that happened to me, when a man on the subway grabbed me and I moved away and he touched me again and I moved away and the third time I felt his hand on me I just wanted to scream at him, but I couldn’t.. because I was ashamed. I felt shame. It wasn’t logical but that’s what happened and for the first time I understood why so many rape victims remain silent.
That man’s attitude towards me in the metro was the same as the guy who made that stupid disgusting remark today, and I didn’t say anything to him either.
I began crying as I walked home because I started thinking about one of the things that breaks my heart more than anything: all the little girls, all the teenagers, and all the women, all over the world who have been trafficked into the sex-trade industry. Women who are precious, beautiful, strong, and rare, but whose bodies are bought daily, hourly, by someone who sees them as no more than something to be used, and enjoyed. That is not a belief system that develops from one day to the next, one day respecting women and their bodies and the next day not.
It’s a way of thinking that escalates from the little things that seem like no. big. deal.