Tuesday, November 08, 2005

look at her

there is a place in my soul that the hopeful amphibian reaches when he forces apart the lies i learned as 'truth' long ago. he makes me a hopeful amphibian too.

at his other blog, dissonant bible, mark writes:
Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?"

Am I mistaken in this, or is it more and more difficult for men in late capitalist western culture not to look at women in ways that objectify them, make of them just one more thing to be consumed? It seems to me that our culture is saturated with images of women presented as commodity, the object of transactions to be carried out between [usually] men. And, yes, some women collude with this objectification, but most of the time they do so within male-owned, male-dominated and, I would go so far as to say, undoubtedly masculist industries (media, entertainment, advertising).

Those images are hard to escape. There's the pseudo-documentaries of late night television, there's the pervasive and accessible presence of porn on the web, there's the music magazine I was looking at yesterday and there, suddenly, the ads for mobile phone wallpapers with softcore pictures of women in different poses of availability. (Not to mention the proliferation of men's "lifestyle" magazines, selling women as children - sorry, as "babes".)

For me, for most men reading this, however hard we work to look differently, the temptations are always there. Bad news...

Which is why I need the gospel - which is why I need Jesus - which is why I need to learn from how he 'looked at' women.

Take the story of the anointing in Luke's gospel (7.36-50). It's that question Jesus poses the Pharisee, who has already been watching the woman - no doubt of that. Simon has looked at the woman and seen...what? Stripper, lapdancer, pornstar, "babe"? I wonder whether his gaze contained that exquisite mixture of prurience and condemnation with which so many religious men look at "sinful women"?

But Jesus asks him "do you see her?" Do you really see her? I don' t think you do - not as I see her, not as God [in whose image she is made, never forget] sees her. Because if you saw her as I do, there would be consequences that would turn your safe, religious world upside down and might just bring in the kingdom of God.

Jesus turned towards the woman on the billboard/video/website and asked me, "Do you see her?"
oh god, please make it so.

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