"You sure are Phat!"...or...."Man, she is Phat!"
When I lived on the East Coast, I had no idea what that meant at the time. Had to ask a coworker what it meant. I remember being horrified that these statements were considered compliments by the men who would throw these out to women.
My least favorite was, "She has a Phat a**." It would make me cringe when I heard that being referenced toward or about a woman and her derriere! It just seemed derogatory, unrespectful, and truly not a compliment. I don't care what planet a man comes from a woman DOES NOT want to hear that!
Comments that focus on our physicalness takes away the dignity and true beauty of how and why we were created.
Some men don't even realize they do or say things that can be considered disrespectful, demeaning. It is a two-fold issue.
We as women have not helped with our whole attitude of :
I am woMAN, hear me roar louder than you...
I CAN DO IT, I DON'T NEED YOU....attitude!
Thus, men seeing us less and less in a feminine way, and more and more as an object.
This has had me thinking about pats! Sometimes our husbands do things that to them they think is a term or a gesture of endearment, of love, and we may cringe, or pull away or feel frustrated. Why is that? What is the root behind that less than loving reaction.
I realized for me my husbands pats would bring back memories of being objectified rather than respected and loved with true dignity and nurturing of my femininity.
I will explain. :)
My sweet hubby can be in a wonderful loving mood, come into a room, pat me on the bottom and I will cringe either internally or externally. Either way I don't like it. To me it has always been like fingernails on a chalkboard. I have tried to view it as I know he intends it to be: a loving gesture. A gesture saying, I see you, I love you, I want to be with you!
I realized recently...I finally understand why I don't like it. It brings back memories of being objectified as a young girl growing up, and as a young woman out on my own.
The youngest memory I have of every being patted on the "back" was when I was 10. I was at a swim party with a friend. Her older brother was helping us untwist our bathing suit straps at the pool. When he was done he swatted our fannies saying "okay it's straight".
From then on I was always conscience of it. I was always aware, sensitive to how men/boys may do things that are truly not honorable.
When I bussed tables at 12 and 13, the old men drinking coffee for hours on end reaching out to "hug" you and "praise" you for your diligence of always attending to their coffee; and as you left their table with your coffee pot they would draw their arm away from your waist to then give a slight tap a bit lower than your waist.
After football games in high school, boys flicking their sweaty nasty field towels at you. But where at you....of course your bottom....well because of course that is the only spot on your body that could handle a towel flick without it burning for eternity. But the point being is they probably did it cause they knew they couldn't get away from actually touching a girls bottom so it is the next best thing. Oh and this happened ALL the time in the military for me!
I never felt prepared or adequate on how to handle these situations. How to say "Don't", "NO!"....."You have no right!"
Instead, I would sheepishly smile and pull away as quickly as possible and try to avoid that person or situation. I never knew or realized how much it was chipping away at my self love, my dignity, my armor!
***At this point some reading may be thinking....what's the big deal...no harm, no foul....ah lighten up....blah blah....
I AM TELLING YOU FROM A WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE...AT LEAST FROM MY POINT OF VIEW: THIS IS NOT OKAY! IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE LOVE ACTIONS!
It wasn't until years later after many other situations of being torn down in different ways mentally, physically, spiritually that I finally found my voice. I was again put in a situation where a married man acted beyond inappropriately toward me. It wasn't just a pat, it was a squeeze! He was a person I respected, worked close with, and admired. I was confused and unsure.
I was wisely counseled by a friend and a spiritual director to speak up. This was big for me. This was hard for me. It meant I had to create ripples. I had to "hurt" someones feelings. I had to say something that would definitely make someone not like me. I would be altering this persons life.
BUT....I did it! It was one of the hardest and FREEING things I ever did!
It was my journey of finally truly starting the process of healing from other past hurts, abuses, pains!
This began my passion of building myself up. Of building other women up. Of truly becoming and respecting this self that God intended me to be!
To be fabulously feminine!
Thus, I vowed when I had my daughter, I wanted to teach her God's love, God's way we should be respect, God's way of being loved: truly loved!
I know as a parent I can't "protect" her from ever being victimized. From ever feeling objectified. But, I can work my hardest to armor her properly; To teach her how she should be respected and loved. My husband, her daddy, can take her out on "dates" and ensure she experiences how a woman, a girl should be treated.
We all have our part, our responsibility, in ensuring we are all treated with dignity, with respect, with AGAPE!
This is what I want for my daughter.
The beauty about my "phat pat" journey is I don't look back and think bitter or angry or defeated thoughts! I know God took those experiences in my life and made them good. I grew, learned, and healed from them. Making me much more aware of why we as women must demand respect for our core of being a woman....a true woman! And we can do it with dignity, with grace, and with authority.
When we do this we are excellent examples to ourselves, other women, to our daughters!
And that to me is a sure fire way to minimize and lower the statistics or chances of my daughter ever being victimized.
She is an amazing strong warrior who right now knows she is made beautifully. She knows how she should and shouldn't be treated. She knows how to speak up and demand respect. I want to ensure she stays that way!
If my journey helps me be a better teacher to her in this matter...
If my journey gives me the tools to make her stronger and more apt to say "No!" to inappropriate objectification....
...then I find nothing but beauty and glory in my journey!!!
It is my journey. But I do not want it for her! I want her to stay as unblemished as possible!
Men: Please do your part in guarding not only your eyes, but also your actions in ensuring you are truly respecting the dignity of women around you.....especially the special women in your life!
Women: I beg you....command respect for your physical self so you can have respect in your mental health and a peace with your spiritual health!
I would love to hear your thoughts....your story....
Growing and learning together strengthens us.....and sharing is the most healing, empowering, strengthening action you can ever do!
Flex your healing power today to strengthen YOUR armor for Christ!
Blessings and prayers always,