Mis-takes and Ms. California

If there’s something I’m not seeing in all this, I’ve missed some important point, I hope my (4) readers will let me know.  But until I’m corrected this is my stance:

The whole beauty pagenat debate is crap.  It seems to me a non-issue because the whole idea of a beauty pageant is so morally bankrupt, they don’t have a leg to stand on in terms of condemming the morality of contestants.

At some point, maybe I’ll blog about why I think the attention Ms. California drew by opposing same sex marriage was silly.  Take a look on the blog roll for my outnumbered by 5’s thoughts on this topic if you’re interested.  Today, what I’m more focused on is  the fact that semi-nude photos of Ms. California  turned up.

At it’s core, the pageant is an exercise in turning God’s creations into objects.  It creates a menu of the most appealing slabs of meat.

I recognize that there are aspects not related to appearance.  There is the whole talent thing.  And the question-and-answer thing, which went so well for “Ms. California.”

But a woman who didn’t meet society’s expectations for what counts as beautiful would never make it anywhere in those things.  If Ugly Betty possessed some amazing talent or rhetorical skill, nobody would ever know.  She wouldn’t make it beyond the first level of competetion.

Perhaps there is some other message that can be inferred from this state of affairs.   But there’s only two justifications that I can see for all this:

A) If you’re beautiful, you should also be talented and able to have a discussion.  (But first, it’s important that you be beautiful.)

B) If you are both beautiful and talented, you deserve some special form of attention and praise.

The thing that boggles my mind in all this is that a competetion that would have everybody traipse around a stage in bikinis would have the nerve to suggest that women shouldn’t engage in behavior which objectifies themselves. 

I don’t think anybody should be treated like an object.  But how can it be o.k. for them to be an object in terms of the competetion but not in the rest of thier lives?  Is their really much difference between the semi-nude photos and the show they put on?

I remember a mad magazine from when I was a kid.  This one girl borrowed a bathin suit from another girl.  The borrow-er walks out all calm.  The bathing suit owner says “I don’t have a bathing suit like that, what drawer did you get that from?”  The other girl says “Your top drawer.”   The other girl says “My top drawer is my underwear drawer.” The borrower, realizing that she’s in clothing that is called under clothes, not a bathing suit, freaks out and runs away.

At the age of 10, I was able to see that humor.  It’s not exactly intellectuals writing Mad Magazine.  Yet they were able to point out the absurdity of the situation: the drawer we store our clothes in doesn’t really change what those clothes are.   It seems to me there is little difference between the semi-nude pictures I have seen and a swim suit competetion.

But even if there was, even if the pageant was all evening gowns, and even if the pictures were fully nude… Either  objectification is right or it’s wrong.  If gawking at women shouldn’t be done then it really doesn’t matter what they are wearing.

Just to be clear: I don’t think beauty pageants are good things.  I don’t think semi-nude photos on the internet are good either.  And I haven’t stated an opinion here about whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea; I did state that focusing on what Ms. California thinks of same-sex marriage is silly.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

8 thoughts on “Mis-takes and Ms. California”

  1. Well-stated, Jeff. I absolutely agree with you on every point. The swim suit competition is absolutely ridiculous. Why does that aspect of the competition want me to “want” her to win and be a “representative” for my state? So she can smooze someone because of their looks? Because she will look good on TV for an interview? So they are def pointing out only beautiful, non-cellulite woman can win a competition. The talent part is almost as absurd as the bikini part!! Seriously? And we have girls wanting to achieve these silly goals?
    And whatever anyone believes about same-sex marriage, she had every right to answer the way she wanted…freedom of speech.


  2. I can’t help but wonder how many “conservative men” are rationalizing their lust for Miss California right now merely because she “stands up” for what’s right.

    The Scene Unfolds

    Wife: “Honey, why is there some young girl in a bikini up on your computer screen?”

    Man: “Oh, no. You’ve got it all wrong. That’s Miss California. She this awesome Christian girl I’ve been reading about. She’s been taking a stand against gay marriage- I was just reading the article.”

    Wife: “Sort of like you just read the articles in playboy magazine?”

    Man: “Um, yeah. Exactly.”


      1. You know, i was thinking a little more about this part of the discussion. i was wondering what others think of the fact that i think my wife is hot.

        Of course, 20 years ago she was hotter, but that’s a purely physical observation. However, i’d be lying if i said it didn’t matter or that it didn’t have some of my attention at the time. The Bible even records a bit of racey poetic dialogue between a smitten set of betrothed. We’re also exorted to “delight in the wife of your youth”.

        It’s just as idiotic to make excuses for our lust as it is to deny the very real physical aspects of our nature.

        Could i have loved and married a woman i didn’t find particularly physically appealing? i might have if my mother had a more favorable opinion of her.

        It’s also just as easy for us guys to lust after a woman who isn’t considered “hot”. It’s so unbelievably easy to fantasize and to dream of intimacy that i’m a little uneasy at how easy we (guys) manage to avoid being outed.

        i’d love to imagine that i’m on an island about this one…


      2. Arrgh. I don’t like this new comment threading. This is response to outnumberedby5’s comment made on May 15, 1:16

        The first time I read your comment, I thought it said, “I was wondering what other think of the fact that my wife is hot.” And I was feeling a little awkward about the whole thing. I’m glad I re-read it.

        I’m not sure what you mean, though, by “I’m a little uneasy by how easily we (guys) manage to avoid being outed”

        It is worth noticing that God makes us with lust. Somebody– maybe Rick Warren– had a pretty good way of looking at it, I think.
        He distinguished between automatic, biological reactions and choosing to go back to these reactions, wallowing in them.
        A cool thing about being married is that going back to these automatic reactions, and rejoicing in them isn’t a bad thing, where our spouses are concerned, (I think/I hope) I find that the context of a shared life, time spent together, etc. can be a multiplying factor of the hottness.


      3. i suppose it was a round about way of saying i’m uneasy about the frequency at which we lust and am equally amazed at how little anyone can tell.

        i shouldn’t be though. It is the content of the heart/mind to which God has unbridled access. It is the essence of the sermon on the mount. In that revelation to the people wherever and whenever he preached it Jesus captured the great divide. i know it was in that moment i actually read the thing that the Holy Spirit spoke the depth of its meaning into my heart. Such was the seminal moment in my conversion.


  3. i recall that MAD short vividly and fondly (appropriate application of lol inserted just then). i’m reminded of it whenever i’m forced to go to the beach.


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