Yay, Constructive Engagement

Allow me send you over to Karen Swallow Prior’s critique of my observations on beautiful women, which can be found here and here. She provides an example of thoughtful engagement, as opposed to what frequently happens to me on such topics. I appreciate it very much.

CT picked this image to go along with an article about pretty women. I wouldn't know myself . . .
CT picked this image to go along with their article about pretty women. I wouldn’t know myself . . .

I will probably respond more fully when I have a moment, but for now let me say why this kind of engagement is good and healthy. Prior is appealing to a standard I submit to (Scripture) and to a principle derived from Scripture which I affirm and agree with, and try to live by. That means we can actually get somewhere in a discussion.

When Carl Trueman responded to me, it was with a standard I reject — i.e. that one counter-example vitiates a generalization. That is what causes arguments, as Billy Preston might say, to “go round in circles.”

The only thing in her post that jarred it was the link to Rod Dreher’s piece. I explain why in the post just prior to this one.

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Jerry
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Jerry

haha good caption. And good articles. You really can’t say anything about women these days without starting a hashtag rebellion. I don’t get it. It would be refreshing to read an article written by a woman saying that Christian men radiate more handsomeness than their secular peers. But perhaps that’s NOT the case. It’s not hard to figure out that women have “standards” for men too. And yes, even in the looks department! It’s called reality, people. Get used to it. Also, I Was at the Illinois Family Institute’s event recently, and you and Prof. Esolen were excellent! Regards.

Susan Gail
Member
Susan Gail

I think Christian men in general don’t have that “hard” look on their faces.

drewnchick
Member

So here are the rhetorical questions I think run concurrent to this new brouhaha. 1. Why do women take offense when an honest answer is returned to the question, “How do I look?” 2. Why do women take offense when a comment about her looks is proffered without prompting? 3. Why must men (as Ms. Prior says) abstain from making comments to particular women about their looks? 4. Why are men barred from instructing women on outward adornment? 5. Why is this a Catch-22? 6. Why is this even a discussion? I’m reminded of the rebellious, young, Black meathead rapper… Read more »

Job
Guest
Job

White males are the bourgeoisie in the current Cultural Marxist understanding of things?

Laura
Guest
Laura

1 How many women ask your opinion about their looks on a weekly basis?

3 If 2 is a given, there is your answer.

4 Because it’s not your business. Looking to your own righteousness ought to keep you busy enough.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Good Morning! Gorgeous!

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

1 Where did he say anything about a weekly basis? What would be your answer to his actual question?
“3 If 2 is a given, there is your answer.” I agree, for pragmatic reasons if none other. That still doesn’t justify feminine snottiness.
4 Except, under some circumstances it is.

Laura
Guest
Laura

1 I am just trying to understand his experience. I don’t go around asking men’s opinion as to how I look and I don’t see other women doing it, so I am trying to get a feel for how widespread this problem is.

3 I guess snottiness is in the eye of the beholder.

4 Yes, if she is still a child and he is her daddy. Better if she has a mom to handle this, just imo.

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

What if he’s her pastor and he’s preaching on 1 Timothy? Or he’s her pastor and he notices that her appearance pretty plainly doesn’t comport with that, and wants to give her counsel for the good of her soul?

Those situations have to be handled with great wisdom and delicacy, but they do have to be handled.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I don’t really equate counsel with instruction. I guess if a woman came into your church wearing a bikini, it would be OK to tell her that’s not really the dress code. The same would be true of a man coming in without a shirt on. The thing I got from the comment is men instructing women on their appearance, which without context doesn’t make a lot of sense, because really, who asked them. Are men instructing each other on their clothes? If I tell my husband, that shirt doesn’t go with those pants, am I instructing him on his… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

Maybe the woman is unaware of the plain text? Not everybody walks into church and immediately knows the whole scripture. You asked for a reason why a pastor would instruct a woman on appearance, and when I gave an example, you concocted a scenario where it would not be necessary. I was speaking of an situation where it would be. And please, why must you create a situation where the pastor uses the most specific and obnoxious language possible? How about if he’s tactful and keeps his comments in the context of biblical concepts of modesty? What if he’s not… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

1 I have been asked by women. Occasionally, not weekly. As ignoring the question seems ruder than any answer I could give, I answer the question. Anywhere from polite and positive to frank and (what I hope is) helpful. Depends on the facts and how well I know the woman. And what/why I think she is asking. 3 Well, no, snotty is not that hard for an objective person to recognize. 4 Or if he is her Father, whom she is to honor, period. Yes, of course, her mother, whom also she is to honor, and again, regardless of the… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

“Man or woman, you have the right to call everything in your life nobody
else’s business only if you can live as an isolated hermit with no
impact on anyone else anywhere.”

Or, if you don’t believe in the communion of the saints. But that’s unbelief, not virtue.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Or that.

Laura
Guest
Laura

1. Why do women take offense when an honest answer is returned to the question, “How do I look?”

In that case I would suppose, you’re doing it wrong. Do you find that women ask you that question and then take offense? Or is Malachi complaining about something that’s really not consistent with your experience?

3 Well, no, snotty is not that hard for an objective person to recognize.

There’s that word “objective” again. I might think that it’s pretty snotty for a man to complain that women take offense when he offers unasked-for opinions about their appearance.

Mark Hanson
Member

The only answer a man should give to an unrelated woman who asks him how she looks is, “You look fine.”
If the question comes from his wife, the answer is, “You look beautiful.”

Laura
Guest
Laura

I read a thing once where a man was in the grocery store by himself and he saw a woman whose wraparound skirt had come entirely open in the back. He felt sure that this was unintentional and that she’d want to know ASAP so she could fix it, but he also didn’t want her thinking “that man has been looking at my butt” so he thought fast, and what he said to her was: “Excuse me. My wife asked me to tell you there’s something wrong with your skirt.” And then he immediately left the scene. I think this… Read more »

Greg Smith
Guest

Why wouldn’t the wife just tell her instead of sending her husband? That would be my question if I were the woman.

Laura
Guest
Laura

His wife wasn’t there, or he would have asked her to.

There was no good way out of this to spare the woman’s mortification. This tactic had the best chance.

Greg Smith
Guest

“His wife wasn’t there, or he would have asked her to.”

Then how did she see it? Did she run to the car as soon as she did?

Laura
Guest
Laura

She didn’t see it. “My wife asked me to tell you” was, as I said, a lie, whose purpose was to limit the woman’s embarrassment by allowing her to pretend that the man must have not noticed her skirt came open.

Similar to “there’s something wrong with your skirt,” which could have meant that he thought her hem must be drooping or something.

Beats the heck out of “Hey lady, I’ve been enjoying the show back here, but you might want to cover your butt.”

Greg Smith
Guest

“She didn’t see it. “My wife asked me to tell you” was, as I said, a lie,”

Okay and if I’m the women with the malfunctioning skirt, the first thing I’m wondering is:

“why is this man’s wife’s telling HIM to do this instead of telling me herself?”

Women aren’t smart enough to wonder that? ;) You need to think these things through better before you make up stories.

Laura
Guest
Laura

“You need to think these things through better before you make up stories.”

And here I’ve refrained from saying anything about your reading comprehension.

Greg Smith
Guest

“And here I’ve refrained from saying anything about your reading comprehension.”

An excellent decision indeed, for which you have my highest commendation. (your turn :) )

accelerator
Guest
accelerator

If you are the women with the malfunctioning skirt, the first thing you should be wondering is where can I fix it.

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

Like many women, I can wonder two things in a very short space of time, or even at the same time.

Ilíon
Member

It truly is no woman’s business how I (a man) eat, but that has never stopped women, including total strangers, from commenting, or criticizing, or condemning. And, frequently, hypocritically: surely I’m not the only person who has noticed that if one brings a more healthful dish to the office potluck, the women do not touch it, but they are all over the sugary dishes.
It seems to me that how women, or men, “adorn” themselves just is more other people’s business than what they eat.

Laura
Guest
Laura

“It truly is no woman’s business how I (a man) eat, but that has never stopped women, including total strangers, from commenting, or criticizing, or condemning.”

Are you excusing this behavior?

Ilíon
Member

Can you read?

Laura
Guest
Laura

Yes, actually.

If you are not excusing this behavior, then I suppose that you also don’t excuse men offering unasked-for critiques regarding women’s appearance. So we agree, right? If not, I’m not sure what the point of your comment was.

Ilíon
Member

The *point* is to point out the typically feminine-and-feminist hypocrisy *you* are exhibiting.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Please point out my hypocrisy.

I don’t want men OR women to offer unasked-for criticism of the way men OR women dress, eat, or anything else.

So where is it?

(ETA: to say that hypocrisy is typically feminine is exactly the kind of misogynist crap that sends me to the radfem blogs. I can’t stand them for long but they are an oasis of graciousness compared to men slamming women just because they’re female. If the folks here truly wish women would steer clear of feminism they should take care not to drive us to it.)

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Laura,
You find graciousness at the radfem blogs. Would I find graciousness at the radfem blogs too, or is graciousness another thing that is in the eye of the beholder? ;)
I do seriously wonder why you’d think your choices are between what you regard as misogyny and what you see as radical feminism? I mean, even if you are driven from the one, why would it have to be to the other?

Laura
Guest
Laura

John, probably not. Unless everywhere you go you find gratuitous digs at men and at masculinity. Do you find those here? “I do seriously wonder why you’d think your choices are between what you regard as misogyny and what you see as radical feminism? I mean, even if you are driven from the one, why would it have to be to the other?” “What I regard” as misogyny, really? Look right there: “The *point* is to point out the typically feminine-and-feminist hypocrisy *you* are exhibiting.” What in the heck is that if not misogyny? If he meant that feminists are… Read more »

Ilíon
Member

Laura: “Please point out my hypocrisy. I don’t want men OR women to offer unasked-for criticism of the way men OR women dress, eat, or anything else. So where is it?” Oh, now! simply everyone knows that you don’t *mean* what you’re now saying — AND, if you did, in fact, mean it (**), then you’d be objectively worse than a hypocrite, and *that* takes some doing. Your hypocrisy is in that — just as with every other feminist — you’re a female supremacist, while claiming to be an egalitarian. You started raising this stink because a mere man criticized… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

Take your meds and sit down.

Ilíon
Member

Exactly what one expects your sort to say.

Tim Paul
Guest
Tim Paul

Because God has so made them a weaker vessel and they still chafe at His design and the resulting curse that followed from the Garden rebellion. Sensitive creatures they are and also so willing to destroy human freedom when they find their husband lacking in his ability to provide for her maternal security she quickly runs to the gov’t for this perceived security through more draconian laws, regulations, taxation and fines.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I know, right? Why can’t a woman be more like a man?

If only the ban on same-sex marriage was lifted. A lot of you guys would be happier if you didn’t have to deal with us at all.

Tim Paul
Guest
Tim Paul

That’s a classic clip. Thank you for the levity Laura.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

1. Women should ask their girlfriends about this, not men in general. A girly thing, it is a request for reassurance, not for information. It means, “Do I look fat, old, and unattractive?” Unless it is specific (Does this lipstick make my face look too pale?), the only safe answer is, You look great, honey. (But don’t say honey in the workplace.) 2. Depends entirely on the context, manner, and who it is. If I am pitching a new ad campaign to a client, I would not be happy to have my male boss tell the room at large that… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

jillybean, may I? Well, I will. :) 1 Good to point out. Some men get the assurance vs. information and some do not intuitively 2 But what if it is not to the room at large? I have had women compliment what I am wearing. Not that often because I don’t dress compliment worthy very often, but it’s happened. I say thank you. 3 “Because there are few totally innocent compliments between people of different genders” Well, don’t overstate the case, but that is another good point too often lost on men and women alike. I really don’t think it… Read more »

holmegm
Guest
holmegm

‘What is the appropriate response to “That dress really shows off your legs” or “I wish you would wear that sweater every day”?’

Maybe something like “Hmm. I see.”

James
Guest
James

I don’t understand why it is so hard to comprehend why the use of particular words is more acceptable for members of the referenced group than outsiders. This is not a perfect illustration but if another woman calls your wife (or sister or mother) “a b****” you are rightly offended but probably not nearly as infuriated as if a man had said it. This is simple stuff to understand. The speaker can imbue a word with more or less meaning depending on who the speaker is.

Pascal
Guest
Pascal

Some possible rhetorical answers: 1. Women are sensitive because they’re often judged harshly by their peers, social standards, and most of all: themselves. It never hurts to answer that they look beautiful, since they often do. 2. They don’t take offense unless your tone or vocabulary is poorly chosen. 3. No need to abstain unless your comments are cruel, sexual, or limiting. Just use common sense. 4. They’re better at it. Much better. 5. It’s not. No one ever got upset at: “Hey, your hair looks nice today.” 6. It’s a discussion because women have felt objectified for a long,… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

“5. It’s not. No one ever got upset at: “Hey, your hair looks nice today.”

Would that this were accurate, but it’s not. I understand why you think it’s not, because it seems ridiculous.

bethyada
Member

So her complaint is the how. That you project a greebly old man gawking at the girls when you wrote your post? Not quite certain why she saw that. And that a professor mentioning to a student they look good is potentially an actionable offence is concerning. My complaint is that we are allowing our young women to think that their feelings are the measure of intent. Clearly how we feel is our response to someone. But why we feel how we feel is far more complex. Greebly people can make us feel that way. But then malicious men can… Read more »

Adam Jones Jr.
Guest

in all likelihood she was gassed up to write a response to what you wrote, Doug.
#ERLC

Kamilla Ludwig
Guest
Kamilla Ludwig

I hope Karen (who I consider a friend) won’t mind if I respond to that with a heartfelt bull****. Karen has more integrity than that.

Greg Smith
Guest

Than what Kamilla? I’m not disputing, I really don’t know what you’re referring to.

Kamilla Ludwig
Guest
Kamilla Ludwig

Because Karen has more integrity than to be goaded into writing a column by someone at ERLC. She’s nobody’s fool.

Greg Smith
Guest

AHA! I Gotcha. Nah, that’s not her style.

Adam Jones Jr.
Guest

if it’s heartfelt why censor yourself?

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

Because Kamilla is a lady who understands that what is heartfelt, is not always appropriately expressed in whatever way might occur to the feeler.

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

She says she’d be uncomfortable going to a church where she thought the pastor sized up the women by their appearance. Appearance is a very good guide to size. Imagine going around with a measuring tape and scales. Joking aside though, what are we supposed to look at? We can’t see her soul except as it manifests outwardly. And how comfortable would she be if we could see her soul? And why is comfort the criterion? Truth and love ought to be in there somewhere.

Laura
Guest
Laura

If men’s spiritual condition was judged by their pastor based on how handsome they were, some very godly men would be getting the side-eye every Sunday. We’re used to the heathen judging us based on our external appearance. Some of us want more depth and church is one place where we ought to get it. Ideally you look at a woman or man you don’t know, and your judgment is “human being” until you get to know them. The person who scowls at you may be a normally sunny person who’s been up all night with a sick kid, that… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

He never said he judged their spiritual condition based on their external appearance. He said he noticed that their external appearance, comported with their spiritual condition.

I suppose now we’re not supposed to notice that friendly people smile more, either. Or be concerned that someone is struggling because they have a sad expression or are crying. Because that’s just externals and we’re not even supposed to think about that in relation to what’s going on inside.

Laura
Guest
Laura

You suppose wrongly. If you know someone usually has a cheerful expression and you see them looking grim, that is different from making a flash judgment on a stranger – “she’s pretty, she must be a Christian.” People can smile because they’re having evil thoughts.

And I am responding to Rob Steele’s comment about the article which Wilson (approvingly) linked to, explaining why a woman might be uncomfortable thinking her pastor was placing a lot of emphasis on her appearance.

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

“she’s pretty, she must be a Christian.”

That would be a ridiculous thing to think. Good thing nobody is advocating that.

Laura
Guest
Laura

“She says she’d be uncomfortable going to a church where she thought the pastor sized up the women by their appearance.”

What does this mean to you?

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

Why are we talking about a church where the pastor “sizes up the women?” That doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the post that started this whole discussion.

I thought we were talking about a church where the pastor notices things that are apparent and draws conclusions about them, like we all do. About everything.

To read any of this as a pastor “sizes up women” is to import something that isn’t clearly there.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Because that’s the comment I was responding to, Jane.

Rob Steele • 10 hours ago

She says she’d be uncomfortable going to a church where she thought the pastor sized up the women by their appearance. Appearance is a very good guide to size. Imagine going around with a measuring tape and scales. Joking aside though, what are we supposed to look at? We can’t see her soul except as it manifests outwardly. And how comfortable would she be if we could see her soul? And why is comfort the criterion? Truth and love ought to be in there somewhere.

Jane Dunsworth
Guest
Jane Dunsworth

Ah, I see.

I guess I would have the same reaction: “a pastor sizes up the women” is a prejudicial an unnecessary characterization of what’s going on here. I read Rob’s comment more as defending the point being made, than defending it in terms of the language the other blogger chose to use. I read that as simply glossing over that silly wording (or rather making a joke of it, but not taking it seriously) and addressing the heart of her objection.