Female Objectification by… Females?

You’ve heard it all before: how many male musicians, especially prevalent in rap or hip-hop genres, are well-known for objectifying women. Obviously treating women in this fashion is not okay.

However, I’m more disturbed by the fact that women are so against this, yet many famous female singers and bands do the exact same things to themselves. While I believe they generally have good intentions, some female musicians who claim to be empowering women and showing their gender’s capabilities occasionally do the exact opposite.

It’s one thing to sing a love song to someone you care about, but it’s quite another to sing an overtly sensual song, where the body is flaunted and seeks to be controlled by a man. Music videos can sometimes be a problem on their own, where women intentionally or unintentionally glorify their bodies for anyone and everyone who watch the video. Yes, it’s great to be comfortable and confident in your own skin, and we as women should continually work on helping each other love our own bodies. However, I don’t think showing your nearly naked body off to thousands or millions of people on the Internet is the best way to exemplify this self-love. Women are worth more than their bodies but these videos are putting everyone’s focus on their bodies! Even if your intentions are to portray confidence in your body, there is no way people are going to see that and not be reminded of something sexual. Nakedness will always have a sexual connotation.

I am not looking down on any certain musicians; I still enjoy some of their music and think they’re talented. That being said, I will not be including names and songs of those that sang these lyrics, because that is not what matters within this topic. What matters is that female objectification is an issue that is so incredibly commonplace in music we have turned numb to it. We inhale these videos and exhale these lyrics daily. Is no one else concerned by that? Do these lyrics and trends bother anyone else? I know these ladies are not trying to objectify themselves, but nevertheless, they are.

Here are lyrics from randomly chosen songs females sing that have this sensual quality:

“Bang bang, all over you, I’ll let you have it.”

“Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight… I just want to look good for you.”

“Since the last time we danced I’ve learned some brand new moves… I want to try them on you.”

“You can touch me with slow hands…”

I used to not mind these kinds of songs, honestly, because they were catchy and fun to dance to. But strip away the beat and it’s quite sickening to digest these lyrics, personally. Is this how we want to represent ourselves? When people think of women in music, are these the songs we want them to think of? Is this the extent of our lyrical depth and human experience? By writing and singing songs like this, female musicians are perpetuating this theme that we are first and foremost sexual beings. We tell men not to sexually objectify ourselves and then turn around and sing about the same thing. Just because the female is the one talking about sex and is consenting to it doesn’t mean the overall message cannot objectify her body.

I don’t know about you, but I am worth far more than sex or a romantic relationship. My life is filled with much more complexity and purpose than seeking marriage or intimate love from another human being. Sex is a gift given to us, a regular part of life and we are naturally attracted to it, but women are not living on this planet for that sole purpose. However, that is what these songs convey, especially when some of these artists write almost entire albums with similar themes.

If you want to truly empower your fellow females worldwide when you have such a vast audience, female musicians, work on emphasizing that they can do anything. But not that they can get or forget any romantic partner they want, no. Don’t even mention those things. To truly empower women we need to convey that our worth and identity are not even dependent upon romance and relationships.

~Annah

To Every College Student

This is something I desperately want you to hear and truly understand, as I am part of your population. I don’t think anyone stops to tell you this or remind you of this. Here’s the thing, sweet college student reader (or really anyone in their twenties): there are so many question marks in your life and I think you put at least one too many upon yourself. There is one too many burdens on your shoulders.

We are constantly on the move, constantly planning, constantly trying to hang out with our large spectrum of friends. There is a need to keep socializing, meeting new people, and branching out. You scroll through social media and everyone is posting pictures with their groups of friends or talking about friendships through written posts. That is all well and good, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. Believe me when I say we were made for community.

However, I’m afraid we’re not stopping to love ourselves. I don’t mean stop and find some alone time once in a while, because I think we’re all decent at that. I don’t mean we hate our outward appearance, I think we all have at least okay self-love. What I mean is that I want you to slow down, disconnect from everyone else, and really observe yourself. Take time to journey on your own now and again. This is not because I want you to be antisocial or self-centered, but I want you to establish confidence and knowledge of who you are and what being you truly means. In this time when we are figuring out who we are, I think it’s crucial that we have confidence in our individualism in order to do that. Too often we are in groups and in community, so we forget the importance of establishing ourselves in our own unique capabilities when no one else is around.

Why do I think there is a lack of self-confidence and individualism? I see it constantly and have experienced it numerous times. Sometimes when eating alone people become oddly self-conscious. Or on the flip side, people see others eating alone and feel bad. Almost no one attends church, clubs or events alone. There is an unspoken thought that solitude equates loneliness. Therefore, we remain constantly surrounded by friends.

When you go out in public, it does not need to be a group outing. Go out alone, dare I say it. Enjoy being on your own, and if it’s uncomfortable, continue to push yourself to loving you.

You have a presence that is all your own. Your identity is not in your friend group. Push off the burdens of insecurity and uncertainty about being alone and embrace the experience. There is nothing wrong with solitude, there is nothing wrong with not being in community all the time, and I just wanted to make sure you heard that.

So to answer your unasked question: Yes, you are good enough as an individual.

~Annah

You’re Hired

My first half of college is quickly drawing to a close (yikes, that’s scary!) and summer is approaching. The past few months and the next few weeks will continue to be application season for so many people, and I among them. To be honest with you, these seasons are very difficult and disheartening for me. But I’m always oddly calm, too.

Growing up, I always placed too much emphasis on my grades. Now after 14 years of school I’m starting to realize I’ll be okay no matter what the grade is. My life will go on. But now I face the struggle of putting my identity in jobs, or more appropriately, having numerous applications rejected. I’ll admit I’m a pretty naïve person when it comes to jobs and applications. I have so much confidence that I can land any career when the world is far from that simple. When things don’t work out, which is more than the number of times they will, I get super bummed and feel a little unwanted. Have you ever felt that way?

But it’s not even just the rejection from jobs that bothers me. There’s this pressure that I need to be super stressed and worried when things don’t work out. Yes, money is obviously necessary in this world, but if it takes me a little longer to find a job the world will not go up in flames… The thing is in the midst of the chaos and application season when everyone is rushing and frazzled, I kind of step back and intentionally try to do the opposite.

I’m weird, I have anxiety and worry a ton, but when I’m in a huge group of people who are all worrying that instantly makes me want to calm down. Everyone was freaking out about housing earlier this year and constantly kept asking me what my plans were, concerned for their future living situations. I would reply with something like, ‘you know, I don’t know where I’m living, but I’m honestly not that worried. Somehow it’ll work out.’

The pressure college puts on us to be constantly stressed about the future really turns me off. I just want to yell, “No, I’m not going to enter this season worried and I’ll be better off for it, thanks!” Was I bummed when an interview I thought went really well didn’t land me any of the multiple jobs they were hiring? Heck yeah! But then I dusted myself off and thought that that Dad of mine has something else in store this next season and I’m going to trust that. Instead, I’ll be working with my school newspaper crew again next school year. They’re pretty cool, so I’ll walk through that open door.

I’m at least starting off this coming summer at the coffee shop I worked at last year. Honestly, I was pretty bummed none of my other job efforts paid off and a little frustrated with God for personal reasons. I’ll keep applying and hopefully at least acquire another new part-time job on the side. I thought my season at the coffee shop was over and needed to be over, but God has a different plan. He always does, doesn’t he? I told one of my coworkers I was returning and her sweet response made me feel a lot better. Maybe it wasn’t my ideal vision but there are people there God has blessed me to work alongside.

What I want you to know and hear if you are in my boat of changing seasons is that things work out. They always do. And you will meet some cool people that teach you more about life and all the kinds of intricate people you share the planet with.

~AnnahIMG_0448 (2)

Mended

Whether silently resigned

Or curtly unkind

I knew you had something to hide

And softly creaked open your heart’s door

 

I tentatively stepped inside

A timid whisper drew me across the threshold

A nervous flame began to grow in a dark corner

Overlooking a musty muddled mess

 

To the untrained eye

It held a chaotic quality

But my calm palm felt

The quaking pile of thread

And sensed the unraveled beauty

 

Weave convenient needle

Through weather-beaten thread

To pull ravishing features

Back together again

 

Words flesh out in blue

But held in caring hands

Begin to change and evolve

Color after color bursts forth

 

Uncertain but steady streams

Of an identity you used to be

Before sun rose over horizon

And you fell below the tide

 

I gaze at the sewn color wheel

Of letters I am blessed to hear

You mutter rapidly

Into my empathetic ear

Before withdrawing to your hushed corner

So easy to cling in the winter

 

I lovingly carry the new creation

With me to the doorway

Look back adoringly at your

Dark cavern

Outlined in silver

 

Every edge is visible from the doorway

Where you would grimace

But I simply beam

 

The door snaps closed in fright

I determinedly place the message

On the wood that

Inevitably absorbs the label

You let me delicately mend:

“Not fargone nor forgotten.”

 

~Annah

Social Media is the Cyber Bully

Sunday is Easter, which means Lent ended yesterday and I’ve been off social media for over 40 days. Normally I don’t celebrate Lent, so I didn’t realize it ended yesterday and I’m a little scared. I wanted to challenge myself to escape social media because it has been an addiction for years. I’ve always known that, I’ve just never been honest with myself about it.

But this fast also provided me with boatloads of hope. Since it has been such a time-suck and addiction over the years, I figured I would experience immense frustration over the past 40 days. I was certain I would see an ugly side of myself emerge, that would have a fit over the fleshly desire being pulled out of my grasp.

The coolest thing God taught me over the past 40 days was that social media has no power over my life. Considering the amount of time it stole from me, I was surprised to find out I was pretty apathetic about its absence in my daily life. I don’t need it and I can survive without it no problem. But the biggest eye-opener is that younger generations have it imbedded in our minds that we need it and will miss out on something important by losing it. I promise you if people really care and if something is truly important, they will find another way to contact you.

With social media gone I was able to invest in the relationships around me deeper than before. One of my favorite nights this past month was spent with a dear friend watching a hilarious movie and then having a long talk about lust, which we both struggle with. These are the kinds of irreplaceable moments and conversations we miss out on because we are glued to a screen. If you are anything like me, times when you’re alone and not occupied by homework consist of a ton of scrolling and not much else. Not even reading, writing, or other individual activities that hold so much more value. We convince ourselves that we wouldn’t be as content doing those things and scrolling is easier and more enjoyable. That is a lie.

I want to speak some truths into your life right now. You matter and your worth is not based on pictures or posts. Beautiful, impactful moments don’t have to be posted online and sometimes it’s better to keep awesome things between yourself and God, or your friends and family. Your life is significant; even if all you did was sit on your bed all day. You don’t have to be constantly hanging out with people to have fun. Just because your life doesn’t look like those other person’s pictures doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or they’re even that happy.

Social media is the current façade, the current ‘I’m fine,’ the current mask we wear when we’re scared of being vulnerable. Let your life be richer than the posts and the scrolling. When you hang out with friends, put the phone away. Maybe even leave it in the car. If you say you’re going to be hanging out with someone, mean it. Do it.

Don’t let this covert addiction win. Because it loves to lie to you and it loves to deceive you. It’ll tell you how important it is until you wash away the façade and delete the apps and realize it’s not. It’s really, really not, my dear. You are worth more than the likes and the retweets. You are worth others’ genuine, full attention. And I promise you, you can live a full, beautiful, memorable life without the social media.

As for me, I think I’ll leave the apps off of my phone. I think I might just check them once a day, on my computer. As Switchfoot sings, “We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?” I don’t want to be buried under the mindless scrolling to fill the ‘boring’ time that has been gracefully given to me. And I don’t want you to be buried, either.

~Annah

Store Up the Promises

I’ve heard chaplains and pastors around me describe how vital it is to store up on God’s promises during the good seasons to help you through the rough patches later. It’s definitely true, because oftentimes if we wait until the thick of the rough patches to search for positivity, our emotions can easily cloud the truth. We are more susceptible to Satan’s lies during the bad times.

Today I am joyful, and the best part is that I didn’t expect today to be anything special. That’s when God likes to prove us wrong. But this is not something I take lightly, because I know there have been and will be other days where joy is really hard to find. So I am basking in the joy, sitting in sunny spots and writing, and my soul is happy. As I write in my dorm lobby, friends keep walking in and greeting me and I am so blessed to know so many lovely people walking alongside our Father. I love having the scales lifted from my eyes to spot even the smallest blessings, like a warm smile and greeting.

God rejuvenated my spirit through a coffee meeting with a Hope graduate named Eric, who is a musician and producer that composes music for films. On this uncertain road to my passions, I have resolved to soak in any and every piece of information available to me, while meeting more people in the industry. The coolest part is seeing the joy others have when they talk about music, just like I do. Networking is always made out to be some scary, uncomfortable situation, but to me it’s interacting with more people who share my passions.

For being an introvert, I’m kind of surprised I don’t mind networking at all. More and more I find myself changing from the quiet and timid communicator I was in high school, and my level of self-confidence is definitely a huge contributor. A year ago I did not have half the level of confidence in myself that I do now and I don’t know when the switch flipped, but it just proves that even if God’s not working on a certain sin area in my life, he’s still working and shaping my image in a different way.

God gave me contentment that music is something I truly want to pursue and lately I have been hesitant whether this is really his plan or just my ideal plan. However, when I expressed my concerns to Eric he made sure to explain that we often feel pressured that there’s only one specific plan God has for us and we need to make sure we don’t pick the wrong one, when that’s really not the case at all. We can’t mess up his plan for how he wants us to serve the world through an occupation, because it’s not the occupation that ultimately matters, it’s being the hands and the feet of Christ in whatever field we pursue. As Eric said, that’s God’s request for all of us and now he’s letting me choose what exact path in music I can best become his hands and feet in.

There are so many potential fears and worries that I have for my future, no doubt, but I’m trying to work on opening my clenched fists. I’m also starting to realize that wherever I go, whether God places me in my hometown, a different state, or across the world he will be there with me, his people will be there to welcome me and people that need him that he wants to speak to through me are there. The hardest part is letting go of my fears and asking God to lead me wherever he wants me, even if that involves being out of my comfort zone. “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.” It’s a lovely sentiment to sing, but a tough pill to swallow.

So on this joyful afternoon I am storing up promises for the hard times. God will always be there with me and he can use me no matter what I do or where I go. He will use me if I obtain a dream job, he can and has used me at random jobs like coffee shops, and he will use me in every season of my life, whether dry or flourishing. He loves me even when I don’t “feel” like he does. He will carry me through hard times, including loss, disappoint, hurt, and fear, because he always has before.

Here’s scripture and songs to store up as well, and hopefully they’ll help you too.

“I will call upon your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in your embrace

For I am yours

And you are mine.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs

Although we are weeping

Lord, help us keep sowing

The seeds of your kingdom

For the day you will reap them

Your sheaves we will carry

Lord, please do not tarry

All those who sow weeping

Will go out with songs of joy.

~Psalm 126

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tIuxV8pTJk

God will always be certain, even if our futures are not. Hallelujah. But let us also lean into what he wants from us today.

~Annah

Perfect the Uncontrollable

I love being in control. I have to be in control in my mind, otherwise my anxiety goes haywire. Striving for perfectionism and being in control go hand in hand for me. At work, I always perform tasks the same way every time. Homework can often be a long and tedious process because I always have to make sure I have it done just the way I want it. My planner is mapped out just so, with each month under a different pen color; homework assignments on the left and other scheduled activities on the right. Everything is neat and orderly, and that is how I like it.

That means when I fly on an airplane, although I don’t have much of a problem with it, I freak out a bit. I think naturally it will crash and I will die, because I can’t be in control. I have been concerned about my passion and aspiration to pursue music, because in the back of my mind I have a strong hunch that at the end of the day what I really want to do involves moving away. Where jobs and companies are located is beyond my control and that freaks me out more than the actual occurrence of me moving probably would. Everything will go wrong and panic will ensue if I am not in control.

If I try hard enough, I can get the grades I want. If I plan accordingly, I can hang out with the people I want. The problem I’ve started to see—that I have been struggling with for the past couple months—is that I think I can perfect anything and everything. With worldly things, that’s how it works; things can be perfected if done just so.

The scary truth is I have let this toxic lie seep into my life that says, ‘if you try hard enough, you can eradicate your sin.’ When I subconsciously maintain this mindset only to find out I still struggle with lust or selfishness or comparison, I become incredibly frustrated. Then, instead of running to God, I tell myself I’m not good enough, because if I was leaning into Him more often, I wouldn’t be dealing with these problems. I tell myself I’m the problem. But the problem is sin. And sin is inevitable, Annah, in case you didn’t know. It’s so easy to know the truths in my head but not fully accept them from God. I know and always hear that God is in control and it will all be okay, but I never truly believe it. My actions never display that truth, because the scariest thing to me is not being in control.

A few weeks ago I watched an awesome video by a Christian woman named Sadie Robertson. She has a YouTube channel where she talks about faith and in this video she essentially talked about letting go of all of the hurt from our pasts, giving everything up to God, and telling him to ‘wreck my world.’ Ever since then I’ve been thinking about that concept and this perfecting of my faith I’ve been holding onto. Ultimately it all comes back to the struggle of control. I initially prayed and asked God to ‘wreck my world,’ but I don’t know that I’ve really opened my fists yet.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9

My prayer right now is to let go of control, but also fear, because they go hand in hand for me as well. He sees my day, and my tomorrow, and my entire future before me… Although I will fail, I have nothing to fear, because His grace has covered me. Plus, the devil loves to play with my weaknesses. If I could perfect my faith there would be no need for Jesus.

I don’t know where I’m going in the future, but God will be right there with me, continuing to love me with his grace and patience. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

~Annah