In the first two posts of this series we discussed the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, public response, apologies made by accusers, victim shaming, social and vocational consequences of the accused moving forward, and proper punishments. In this post we turn our attention to hypocrisy in art, personal healing, and personal responsibility.
Hypocrisy in Art
How has art has been excused for promoting bad behavior and immoral action? Singers encourage sexual abuse in their lyrics, films and television shows objectify women, advertisements often use sex appeal to sell things that don’t even have anything to do with such topics, and people with eccentric and abusive personalities are often excused for simply being “creative geniuses.” What does excessive nudity say about the way we value the human body? What does it say about how we value the soul? What do trends in fashion say about how men should treat women?
Art does not make someone sin, but it does influence how a person thinks for good or evil. Much in art effects how women are treated throughout culture and women are constantly being used in art in ways that do not show them to be as smart, capable, or important as men with whom they share the screen. Often women are much younger than their male love interests, and many films promote ideologies that resemble the oppression women faced in the late 40s and early 50s.
In our first post I mentioned that Hugh Hefner longed for a real relationship, but that he spent his life making the objectification of women culturally acceptable. His magazines led to other forms of objectification in visual media that gave rise to the modern pornography industry. This industry continues to promote objectification and even assault of women.
Treating women as nothing more than eye candy in entertainment bleeds into reality. Men often view women as less capable, less objective, illogical, and overall less intelligent. This is wrong, but it is promoted in steady streams.
I have heard artists say on several occasions that art can impact culture for good but then deny that it can impact culture for evil. In reality, art can move us in both directions. It is high time that women receive better treatment in entertainment. We do not need to stereotype the persona of the strong woman who is offensive, but rather we need to empower women to be exactly as God created them to be. He created women in his image with talents, abilities, strong character, intelligence, and with deep value. Women must be valued in art, not for their looks, but for who they are and what they represent.
Feminism and Good Role Models
There are many types of feminism in our culture. Some seek to have women rule over men, others seek to give more of a voice to women in our culture. Jesus thought very highly of women and associated with them in his ministry even when it was not culturally normal for men to do so. Paul in the New Testament also worked with women in every place he went as he planted churches. He mentions over 10 by name who are part of his ministry team. The Bible is not anti-women. Christianity is not anti-women. And the church in America must recognize that women are not treated as they should be in our society and we should do all we can to fix this.
Giving women equal pay for equal work is a good place to start. Women should be given more leading roles in films. Women should be portrayed as good role models in Art. I cannot say enough good things about the new Wonder Woman movie. Diana is a good role model as she is portrayed in the film for all of the right reasons. She is feminine and strong. She is kind, compassionate, just, merciful, etc. She is purpose driven and she calls everyone around her to live at a higher standard, to make necessary sacrifices, and to do what is right. Another recent character who is a good role model for boys and girls is Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While some forms of feminism help our society, some do not. There are forms of feminism that unintentionally objectify women. Women and men need to take a long hard look at how different movements are really helping or hurting the ability for women to move forward in our culture.
Healing and Responsibility
How can accusers move forward? How can they work towards healing the hurts, nursing the wounds, and softening the scars?
Those who have been abused must be given opportunity to be heard. They must have a voice that is not silenced or shamed. They must receive apologies from those who allowed abuse to happen either knowingly or unknowingly within their studios. Not just apologies from the abusers, but from those who did nothing to stop the abuse or who allowed working conditions to be of such a nature that abuse could happen. Friends and family can be there to listen and show support. The accusers may need help from mental health professionals and may need counseling or therapy to learn to cope with all that has transpired. Friends and family can just be there for these victims.
How should the accused move forward? How can they find healing for their sins? How should they take responsibility to prevent future offenses?
The accused should apologize where they are guilty. They should seek help from mental health professionals, and depending upon the nature of their abuses, they might have to face time in jail. They must apologize to their family and friends. They must put safeguards in their lives to keep from making the same decisions again. They must avoid opportunities where they are tempted to abuse or take advantage of others. They must recognize the wrongness of what they have done. Ultimately, they must repent. The only real way to find peace is to accept responsibility for their sins and to turn to Christ as the answer. Only he can bring complete healing to their lives. The friends and family of the accused can show support by offering to help be safeguards. They can help by holding the accused accountable for seeking help and making life changes.
People are responsible for their actions, for good and for evil. We must all answer for the things we do. The little things matter. The way we treat others matters. The way we think about others matters. God help us all. We could each easily be victims or become predators. Humans are made for community, we must support one another within society. We must help each other stand, we must help each other become better. We must all work to treat everyone we meet with proper respect, honor, and dignity.
In our final post we will discuss Christian response and social responsibility.