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Bikinis, Boys, and Back to School Clothes

by Shaunti Feldhahn on August 2nd, 2015 in Parents

bikinis-boys-back-to-schoolAs I write this, I am sitting at the pool watching two twelve-year-old boys – my son and a friend – try not to stare at a gaggle of shapely teenage girls in bikinis.

Also as I write this, on my to-do list for later is taking my 15-year-old daughter on an errand to pick up back-to-school clothes and sports uniform gear. I’m already bracing for the “But Mom!” conversations about whether the only available shorts are too short.

Oh, the irony.

You see, after a multi-year research project about the visual nature of men, I’m spending a lot of time these days trying to help men and women understand each other on a rather sensitive issue. Which means in my own family I’m trying both to help my growing son learn how to honor girls in his thought life (including by not ogling and fantasizing about them) and to help my daughter learn how to honor boys by not making that discipline exponentially more difficult.

Yes, we patiently explain to the teen boys we work with, your brain is wired in a very visual way. We understand that you want to look. Those are very appealing sights, and your brain is designed to be stimulated by them. You may want to fantasize. But you have to honor the girls instead. We know it is difficult, but every day you need to work to look away, to respect those girls as more than just a collection of body parts. (Tweet This!) You need to tear down those salacious thoughts. You need to reserve those looks and thoughts for your eventual wife.

Ipad and Book copyYes, we patiently explain to the teen and pre-teen girls we work with; you are special and beautiful and are wired to want to look and feel that way. We understand that you feel attractive when you wear the latest fashions, even though they might be tight, short, or revealing. We understand how important it is to you to fit in and not feel weird — for example, by not being the only girl in sight wearing a one-piece swim suit.

But you also need to know about the wiring of the male brain, and how to honor the boys around you. We know it is difficult today, but you need to try to find fashions that are cute and yet don’t show off your body parts. We ask guys to do the hard work of treating you with respect; please be willing to do the same for them. 

And of course, all over the country, those same types of conversations are taking place at an adult level as well… although often with much stronger emotions attached.

In this common discussion about what guys think and what women wear, it is so easy to take sides, get offended, or become indignant about what that other person should do or not do, that we miss the bigger picture. Whether we are talking about teenagers at the mall or about adults at the office, church or gym, we all have responsibilities to each other in how we think, in how we interact, and in how we present ourselves.

Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The Apostle Paul said that two thousand years ago, but on this issue it pretty much sums it up today.


To learn more about the visual nature of men be sure to check out Craig Gross and Shaunti Feldhahn’s latest book and workshop. Also, watch this sneak peak video.

Shaunti Feldhahn is a groundbreaking social researcher, popular speaker and the best-selling author of many books, including For Women Only and For Men Only. In her latest book, Through A Man’s Eyes, Shaunti has teamed up with Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch.com, to open women’s eyes to the visual nature of men and what it means for a husband, boyfriend or son. See menarevisual.com or shaunti.com for more.

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  • prolifer17

    Women are visual too, and I agree women should try not to show so much skin etc. There’s women nowadays who get offended when you tell them this and say it’s up to the men not to look, but men DO look and some women too. You can’t change nature!. That’s why so many women are bi sexual nowadays, magazines and porn are all focused on a woman’s sexuality how can they not be turned on by it :/

  • mycarebeardontcare

    “But you also need to know about the wiring of the male brain, and how to honor the boys around you”

    Why does the onus of modestly constantly fall on women? Why should we be worried about the thoughts of men around us? Newsflash: It’s NOT okay to place this kind of restrictive thought upon women, no matter what their age is. On that same note, why don’t you tell men to cover themselves up in public so they won’t attract a lustful stare or glance from women? Tell men to not wear tight t-shirts, not to wear snug pants, and not to wear revealing clothing, so that they won’t be objectified by those around them. But wait, I suppose men can do no wrong, and once again, it’s up to women to police their behavior in order to be pleasing in the eyes of men. Give me a break.

    • Patrick

      I follow you completely. Still, I fear that you are allowing another stigma to cloud your vision as to the nature of this post. Like the repeated messages in the Epistles of the Bible, this is a reminder, with some new points thrown in. I do agree with you that girls and guys are equally vision-oriented, and that that should have been touched upon a little more. Again, this was just an example of this phenomenon, and not the whole story. As a human, though, we should be on look out, and just because women were used in an example of this problem does not mean that they are the sole offenders. Try to take the nutrients from this and whatever I say, because there will always be some “junk” (as some of us are apt to call it) in there for authorships’ sake.

    • effbacon

      She also addressed the boys: “You may want to fantasize. But you have to honor the girls instead. We know it is difficult, but every day you need to work to look away, to respect those girls as more than just a collection of body parts. You need to tear down those salacious thoughts. You need to reserve those looks and thoughts for your eventual wife.”

      I don’t see it as the onus of modesty falling completely to women. I’m not overly-restrictive with my daughters but tell them as a favour and respect to your boy acquaintances, be conscious of what you wear. Girls don’t always understand how guys are visually wired. If your actions are causing others trouble, then it’s within the Christian ethic to be considerate and respectful. It’s not an onus.

  • Donielle Berdan-Laine

    I understand that the book is geared toward the visuality of men and that is why so many posts are geared toward that subject. However, I’m getting sick of this discussion of how men are visual. This is nothing new. This is what we have been told for who knows how long. I think we need to stop focusing so much on the visuality of just men. I think we need to open this discussion up to the visuality of humans in general. Women are visual, too. Are they visual in different ways? Are they different just because of their gender or could society play a role in this? Are women less visual because they are told they aren’t so they feel the need to control themselves as to not be different? Are men more visual because they are told they are visual and therefore given the freedom or excuse to indulge themselves? The fact that more and more women are getting addicted to porn everyday as porn becomes more accepted among adults should say something. The phenomenon of Magic Mike should say something. We are all well aware that “women need to respect that men are visual,” but what if it’s actually “humans realize that other humans are visual”? Treat others as you would have them treat you. I have yet to see the Bible address one gender more over another when it comes to sex and modesty. It doesn’t say women need to cover themselves, it says that certain parts of the body should be treated with special modesty. Certain parts, not certain genders. Both husband and wife are each admonished to meet the others sexual needs. Both the bride and groom in the Song of Solomon praise each other on their physical attributes.

    • effbacon

      The visual component of a male is different from a female. A visually pleasing women is one I want sexually … yes, modesty and self-restraint keep most of us from acting on this impulse. But as a general rule, a visually appealing man does not invoke that type of female response. I did recently read a study about the “disconnect” between female brains and their sexual organs, and such a disconnect didn’t exist in men.

      But I also see this as a common respect between genders, and I don’t think women should carry it.

      • Donielle Berdan-Laine

        I do wonder, though, if that disconnect isn’t something groomed. What I mean is, I wonder if men have more of a connection, because they are allowed to, whereas women are taught to suppress it. I think this because as society as begun to open up more to gearing sexual things toward women (ie Magic Mike, 50 Shades of Grey, etc), women are becoming more lustful. I’ve noticed in myself that when I allow myself to go down that dark road, it is quite easy to connect my brain to my sexual organs, but when I work toward not allowing myself to do so, it is easier to disconnect the two. I wonder if men were taught to suppress their urges, the same may true. If you read the Bible, the woman is actually more often presented as the sexual progressor.

        • effbacon

          There is a social aspect to gender sexuality, but I was referring to a biological difference. I couldn’t find the original article so couldn’t link a reference.

          Are you referring to Old Testament? I can’t think of New Testament female sexual aggressor (did you mean aggressor instead of progressor?).

          • Donielle Berdan-Laine

            Well there really isn’t any particular aggressor in the New Testament though you see more sexually immoral women represented than sexually immoral men.

          • effbacon

            Yes, point taken – IE The woman at the well. I can’t think of historical context for a “man at the well” scenario. BTW, regarding your above quote “I wonder if men were taught to suppress their urges, the same may true.” Being a man – in this physical sense with the biological drive on testosterone – means the sexual drive is very constant. I’ll guess that any decent man who’s not cheating and is married will need to suppress urges on occasion. I can speak from experience too on this matter. LOL

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