“I don’t want to date her I just want to fool around…”
“I’m not looking for a relationship, I hope we can just be friends with benefits…”
Many of us have heard these words from peers all too many times. Sadly, the culture’s message about the body seems to support these thoughts by portraying men as caring about women’s bodies, but not anything else.
The fact is, I do care about a woman’s body! Yep, you better believe it – in fact, every guy should care about women’s bodies. But the words above aren’t caring – they are shallow words that are not able to move beyond the surface of external appearances to the rest of the person. In fact, it is like saying a woman’s body isn’t really worth anything more than some fun times for a guy.
Caring for someone’s body is being aware that it is part of an entire person; it is being aware of the body’s incredible dignity and wanting to protect that dignity.
Lady Gaga doesn’t seem to be too concerned with that dignity in her song “Do What U Want” – check out these lyrics:
“You can’t have my heart
And you won’t use my mind but
Do what you want with my body”
Lady Gaga’s singing is followed by a response from R. Kelly: “Do what I want – Do what I want with your body.”
When I heard this song for the first time, I wanted to jump out of my seat and scream: “Lady Gaga, someone lied to you! Someone told you your body isn’t worth anything, but you don’t deserve to be told that! Whoever you’re singing to is not caring for your body!”
These lyrics are actually just one example of the effects that can come from such a high attention given to the appearance of women’s bodies while the rest of the person is ignored.
There is a huge paradox in pop culture.
On the one hand, advertisement puts a crazy focus on “improving” every aspect of your looks; and, as we can see so clearly in Emily’s recent blog on the VS Fashion Show, this advertisement is nothing but a distorted view of beauty constantly leading young women to believe they are not good enough. On the other hand, pop culture also seems to be feeding us messages like the one above: your body isn’t really you so you can just give it away and let others use it the way they want… this is a lie!
These contradictions make women think their bodies are like toys – they should be manipulated, changed, and ultimately just useable for others to play around with when they don’t think they are good enough.
The song ends with a bridge that expresses exactly what a girl would think if she believed this:
“Sometimes I’m scared I suppose
If you ever let me go
I would fall apart
If you break my heart
So just take my body”
This isn’t the love Lady Gaga deserves. This isn’t the love that any woman or man deserves, so let’s correct the lie.
1. Your body has incredible dignity.
The Catholic Church has been battling over the worth of the body for 2,000 years with several heresies (like Gnosticism, Manichaeism, etc.) believing things like: the spiritual world is good but material world is bad, or humans are just souls trapped in bodies which are evil. However, the Church has always taught that humans are both body and soul and that your body has the dignity of being in the image of God just as your soul does.
Check out a paragraph from the Catechism:
“The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit” (CCC 364).
Your body is a temple of the Spirit!
2. You cannot separate your body from your mind and heart.
The lyrics imply that you can give away your body but keep your mind and heart for yourself… as if what you do with your body doesn’t matter. But, as we said, a person is body and soul; you can’t remove one part and still have a complete human being – your body is part of you. Therefore, what you do with your body matters. If you cheaply give your body away, you are giving a part of yourself away. You can’t hold back your heart and mind and think you’re holding back your entire self.
If you let someone use your body, you are letting them use you – you are letting them use something that was created in “the image of God.”
3. You deserve to have your whole person cared for: mind, heart, and body.
This is so important because a woman who believes she can just give away her body is treating it more like a “thing” than a part of a person – and she is appealing to men who are going to do the same thing – treat her body more like a “thing” then a part of a person. Anyone who would accept only your body doesn’t actually care about your whole self. A girl who tries to appeal to this type of guy is allowing herself to be looked at lustfully, not lovingly.
Every girl truly wants to be with a guy who sees her when he looks at her: her heart, her mind, her personality, her faith, her love – not just her body. The man you want to be with is a man that is going to care about your whole person: your mind, heart, and body. Therefore, not only should you guard your heart and mind, you should also guard your body.
4. Men must fight for women and for ourselves.
As the culture tends to constantly glorify women as sex objects, the culture also tends to characterize men as relationship screw-ups who want nothing but sex. Lyrics like this are also offensive to men. If a woman said this to me, then I would assume the only thing she expected me to care about is her body – the only part of me that she has been taught to appeal to is whether or not I’m physically attracted to her.
Therefore, we should fight for ourselves – we don’t deserve to be treated by the culture as some screw up who only looks at women’s bodies and will ultimately let their heart and mind down. We should fight to let them know there are guys out there who care about more than just the body, who care about the heart and mind.
This is the love Lady Gaga deserves to know about. What she deserves is a love that addresses her whole person, she doesn’t deserve to feel, like the bridge says, scared to give her heart so she will only give her body. And this is the love that everyone deserves! A love that respects the dignity of the body as being in the image of God. A love that cares for the heart, mind, and body.