When someone says “the weaker sex,” it is assumed he’s referring to women. It would be folly to deny the truth of this assumption as far as physical prowess and ability. Men, as a class, are simply stronger than women. The design of the respective body types shows this to be true, regardless of the relative strength of particular men or women. However, men are actually the weaker sex when it comes to sexual matters.
Just as they are built stronger than women, men are also wired differently when it comes to sex, specifically regarding sexual triggers. Men are visual, responding instantly to what they see, and women are quite something to look at. A volatile combination. With the onset of feminism and the egalitarian culture in general, physical strength differences were denied, leading to (for example) a dumbing down of requirements in rescue professions to incorporate “policewomen,” “firewomen,” and women “soldiers.” What many people don’t recognize as an outworking of the same presuppositions, however, is the denial of the differences between men and women in how they respond to sexual triggers, leading to the gradual undressing of women that we see around us today.
On its own, as with all God’s gifts, power or strength is neutral – neither good nor bad. What matters is what is done with it. This strength must be harnessed and channelled into productive directions. Raw power, untamed, is useless and helps nobody, but rather becomes harmful. Therefore, physical strength must be purposely used in the service of others. When misused or untrained, as in uncontrolled rage and fits of temper, great damage and destruction can be wreaked. When strength is aimed in a negative way at those weaker, for example in wife-beating, what was given as a gift is used to destroy or damage that which it was created to serve – a doubly heinous crime.
The first step in using power for good is to recognize that it exists, and then to respect it. If Clark Kent, upon realizing he had super powers, had denied his superhuman strength and attempted to live as a normal human, he would have been a danger to those around him. A simple handshake upon meeting him might have been the occasion for a trip to the emergency room with several broken bones. If Superman is to blend in as a mild-mannered reporter, he does not have the option to deny his strength, but must rather acknowledge it and purposely hold it back until needed. To deny his strength, in his case, would be to abuse it.
It was only after being married for some time, and reading a lot of books on marriage, that I began to understand that the sexual response of a man to a scantily clad woman was linked to the same response system, physiognomically speaking, that causes the flight-or-fight response when one is jumped in a dark alley. Of course, what a man does from there is a matter of the will, just as which action the alley victim decides to take is driven by his subsequent thought process. But the hormonal reaction is God-given, and as inevitable as your racing heart when you are startled. A woman upon seeing a picture of a naked man is much more likely to grimace or perhaps laugh, than to be faced with a split-second choice of a.) giving in to lustful thoughts, or b.) looking away and feverishly reciting baseball statistics.
This all points to the way in which women are actually the stronger sex. Just as with men’s innate strength, in order for power to be used not abused, it must be acknowledged and respected. When exposed carelessly, power is sent haywire. The best possible result is that the power is not focused or targeted, resulting in loss of effectiveness; but just as likely, it will cause potentially severe collateral damage. We women own, in our bodies, weapons of another ilk. Put in these terms, it would seem that a woman dressing provocatively is the power play equivalent of a man sucker-punching a woman. Modesty, then, becomes just as important to the woman of God as self-control is to the man of God.
The age-old concept of chivalry (gentlemanliness) requires its counterpart, feminine modesty, to be complete. Both are acts of deference to the other’s weakness: Men are deferring to the physically weaker sex by putting them in a preferred position (seating them first, opening doors), and women are deferring to the sexually weaker sex by putting them in a preferred position (covering their bodies so as not to cause them spiritual harm).
When women ignore or deny the power they hold, and parade their bodies on display in clothing that is too low, too short, and too tight, they are not only diluting their effectiveness as the half of society who makes civilization possible (by using their God-given power of sex to require men to restrain their natural churlishness in the cause of civility), but they are unwittingly instigating a retaliatory effect by the men in that society. By women ignoring, denying or using indiscriminately their upper hand in this matter, they are practically begging men to do the same with their upper hand. Thus men become boors, using their power (physical strength) in turn against women in acts of violence.
Most women nowadays are simply not trained and have no idea the mass confusion they are contributing to by their manner of dress. Many think it is unfair to require a woman to wear clothing that is not “comfortable” and insist that men should “look the other way if they don’t like it.” Why should women have additional requirements and need to cover up so much more skin than men do? What’s sauce for the goose, baby! You’re not going to stick me in one of those stuffy Victorian-era shirts that button up to the chin in the heat of summer! No wonder those courtiers needed snuff! Yes, I will not deny that dressing modestly is more of a burden than wearing whatever your hand happens to find in the closet. However, the more a woman covers herself up for modesty, the higher sense of respect she has for herself in particular, and for the power of sex in general.
My husband was just telling me the other day that the only structure in the US that is required to be engineered to a building code to withstand tornadoes is the one where our nation’s nuclear reactors are held. Well, is it “fair” that there are such stringent requirements for one kind of structure over another? Do you have any idea how much concrete must be used just to ensure the safety of this fortress? It’s such an imposition! Why can’t we just stick it in a wood shed in the middle of town somewhere? After all, it’s more convenient that way. And all those people who have to work at the site can cut down their commute time, not to mention the amount of gas they would save not having to trek out to the middle of nowhere every day. And with our current gas situation… I mean, enough said, right? Wow, there are just a million reasons it would be better for everybody if the nuclear reactors could just be in a regular building like everything else. Hmm, I wonder why the government doesn’t see it that way? Perhaps because nuclear power is a very real, very scary thing, that must be respected and protected at all costs. Ya think?
The apostle Paul says something very similar when talking about the church as the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:
22 Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary. 23 And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness. 24 But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour, 25 That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another.
To respect is to honor; what we treat with higher honor we protect and cover. We go to extra effort to ensure its safety. If a woman will first acknowledge, then commit to respect and honor, the God-given power she has in her own body, I am sure she will find herself running less and less after vain fashions that expose and mistreat that which deserves protection and care, and trying more and more to return to an ideal of feminine modesty.