Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Woman and Her Dignity

With so many distorted images of a woman as portrayed by modern society, a muddle, if not confusion, has been created regarding the true dignity of the woman. It is on this state of bewilderment that it is good to revisit the Sacred Scriptures to know the woman from her origin, to see what God says of her.

It is interesting to note that in the first pages of the Sacred Scriptures the woman, immediately after she was given the light of day, was placed as the object of the frontal attack of the devil. It was not man but the woman that the serpent assaulted. The temptation in paradise that brought man down to the knees of the devil started with Eve.

It is also worth noting that in the Book of Revelation Chapter 12, the devil appeared as a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth. It stopped in front of the woman who was “adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.” The dragon was waiting for the child to be born so that he could snatched it from the mother and immediately destroy it by eating it up.

The attack against the dignity of women comes in thousand and one guises. But one of the most devilish attacks that the world today is experiencing is pornography. It is a most pernicious symptom of the decline in the awareness of human dignity, a pathetic result of man’s effort of splitting sexuality and love, which he has wittingly or unwittingly acquired along with his contraceptive mentality. It has become widespread, even reaching pandemic proportion, touching even the young people barely beyond the age of reason. Because of its addictive nature, our society seems helpless to ever muster that needed will or that means to significantly stop the availability of pornography. Worse still pornography is becoming more and more socially acceptable. What was considered pornographic years ago is now shown on billboards, rental movie cases, internets, etc. This trend has made it virtually impossible to avoid at least some exposure to some pornography. In fact, one Bishop of the United States has noted that the general public is so used to its presence that modern society has become numbed to many of the destructive images, nay, clamoring for more and more images and more revealing images. The hunger for this gratification seems insatiable. One such kind of porno comes out as innocent commercials, using the beautiful bodies of women as come on for the products to be sold in the market. A hard liquor is advertised in T.V. with ravishingly beautiful young woman with a hair flawlessly cascading to her half naked body, clinking the glass of brandy for a toast to a glass of brandy held by an adult male with a well chiseled body and uttered words that are simply suggestive. Attacks like that are becoming more and more common to our media and communications.

Even children are not spared from these pornographic presentations. The author Tankard Reist has made a sad commentary on what our adult world is doing to our children, sexualizing them at their tender age. He said that the problem of the premature sexualizing of girls is one of the most serious issues confronting us as a society at the present time. Girls are being turned into sexual objects earlier and earlier.

The messages they receive through popular culture is that to be attractive, to be accepted by society, you have to dress and behave in a sexual manner. There are now lingerie clothing lines for preteen girls, and bras for girls under 10, T-shirts with sexual slogans, and even a pole dancing kit complete with a DVD that features "sexy dance tracks" for 6-year-olds. Is this not the true picture of some of our own mothers who are dressing up and make-upping their 6 years old girl to look like a young woman, sexy and beautiful to behold, just so she could win the beauty contest in the school?

Popular lines of dolls for girls feature sexy clothing. Gossip magazines aimed at a preteen readership also encourage girls to behave in a sexual manner, with pages devoted to grooming and relationships -- even with older men.

In advertising catalogues, children are dressed up, made-up and posed in the same way that adults are. This suggests that children are interested in, and perhaps open to, approaches for sex.

Yes, the attack against the dignity of women is persistent and relentless. But, back to the question. Why is the woman selected as the object of the attacks of the devil, using her to destroy human dignity as a whole?

There are so many answers to this question, but I believe that one of the most interesting and plausible response is the very dignity of the woman itself. She has with her the womb, the part of her body that gives life to another. It is the sacred sanctum wherein God Himself educes a new human life – a life that He calls His own Child. It is the sacred place where you and I come from. As Psalm 138 beautifully describes God’s action in creating the human you and me: “It was you who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb; for all these mysteries I thank you: for the wonder of myself. You know me through and through; from having watched my bones take shape when I was being formed in secret, knitted together in the limbo of the womb” (13-15). This is the womb that Satan hated so much, for from that womb comes the Son of Man. Mark the story of the Fall of Man. Man was given hope by the image of a woman who was bearing a Child and trampling the head of the serpent. Mark the Woman in the Book of Revelation: She was not alone; She was with Child. And that Child is set “to rule all nations with an iron scepter” (12:5). It is from this womb of the woman that we have come from, eventually making us children of God.

Yes, the dignity of the woman has to be upheld. Its protection is the protection of the human race.