i awoke this morning to the bbc news and heard the report of this article where a muslim cleric in austrailia uttered this:
Australia's most senior Muslim cleric has prompted an uproar by saying that some women are attracting sexual assault by the way they dress.i see very little difference (other than the degree to which we are to be "covered") between this and the christian fundamentalist belief that women are responsible by their dress for men's inability to control their thoughts and themselves sexually.
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat".
i was raised with this. i know that i have 100 lbs. on my body of extra weight because i still believe to some extent that this is true. i somehow was responsible for the rape in my childhood and i must protect myself from it ever happening again.
how and when did we begin to blame others for our own personal responsibility. i'm sure this has it's roots in victorian and puritan thought. it needs to be purged if we are ever going to get to the place where women and men can dwell together in unity.
by blaming someone else for my inability to control myself i am never going to be stronger than i am today.
i am raising a son and daughter in a world where it will be very hard for them to keep their self whole. but it is their responsibility to build those muscles mentally (just as it is for me) that prepares each of them to navigate our culture without being diluted by it or sequestering ourselves in fear.
this is a learning curve for me. i want to wrap them in gauze and lock them away. but i can't do it. there are billboards on every highway in america that promote strip clubs. lewd, nasty, larger than life images set amid the countryside that call to our hearts and minds to escape and come away. i'd love a couple pair of blinders, but i don't have them for myself, and can't install them on their heads either. they are each told that their thought life is their own.
if they begin now to 'take every thought captive' they will be building muscles they will need later in life to navigate adolescence and adulthood.
i also teach them to dress modestly. but not for the reason that they will stumble others. it is for themselves. knowing that they are responsible for their own bodies and how they present them to the world helps them understand that they are navigating culture too.
when we try to use external controls for internal change we will never receive the empowerment and healing we so long for. a head scarf or even a one piece bathing suit will never give my son the self control he needs to live a life of wholeness. if he (or me) needs others to comply to his/my sense of morality to succeed we fail before we even begin.
guarding our own hearts and taking our own thoughts captive is truly the only way we will ever be able to bring healing and wholeness to our sexuality, and have the respect we need for the sexuality of others.
UPDATE: ze frank has some thoughts on this subject here (not for the faint at heart)