Okay, here’s a quick list of movie characters. Take a look at them and see if you can guess what they all have in common. Ready?
1. Shuna Sassi from Nightbreed
2. Dren from Splice
3. Julie Walker from Return Of The Living Dead III
4. Madison from Splash
5. Uxía Cambarro from Dagon
6. Any Of The Women from The Species Movies
If you guessed that each of these characters is the subject of a thread on the IMDB message boards with an accompanying title somewhere along the lines of “I Would So Totally Tap That!” then, sadly, you are correct. Now, you’d think the presence of scaly protuberances or a few extra appendages would be enough to dissuade even the most leering of male gazes, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, the willingness of some guys to imagine “tapping” anything that has at least some of the necessary body parts prompted the website io9 to publish an article entitled How to Get it on with an Alien: A Beginner’s Guide which includes such helpful sections as Wooing Your Alien Mate and Watch Out For Injuries. It’s all enough to make you want to utter the immortal words proclaimed by Dr. McCoy after he watched Capt. Kirk lock lips with some alien bimbo one too many times: “What IS it with you, anyway?”
Well, the easiest answer to what is wrong with Capt. Kirk and his kin is that, deep down inside, men really are the pigs women claim they are. But, of course, it’s not that simple. Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of the book The Male Brain, notes that “the testosterone marination during fetal life makes the area-for-sexual-pursuit in the male hypothalamus grow to be 2.5 Times larger than the female and then in the teen boy brain he has 200 to 250% more testosterone than teen girls, which will last his entire life.” So, from the womb, men are genetically predisposed to be on the lookout. The only interruption in this process, Brizendine suggests, is when a man gets someone pregnant, at which point his mate gives out pheromones that cut his testosterone production by 30%, thereby decreasing his tendency to have a wandering eye. Other than that, chances are better than average that a man is going to check out women, even if they’re a zombie or covered in poisonous quills. It’s just how God made us.
But as any good Catholic boy knows, a quick glance isn’t the problem. It’s HOW you look that can cause trouble. Jesus stated in Matthew 5, “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”, so you have to be really careful not to cross the line from thinking “Hmm, she’s pretty.” to “I Would So Totally Tap That!”. Which, as any good Catholic boy also knows, isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of practice, and most Christian men who take Jesus’ words seriously go through a period where they’re constantly jerking their heads away from images in the media or from women walking down the street. It’s just what you have to do.
But as commendable as such efforts are, they’re not enough. As author and lecturer Christopher West points out, “Obviously, if a person needs to avert his (or her) gaze in order to avoid lusting, then, by all means, that person should do so. We classically call this ‘avoiding the occasion of sin’ by ‘gaining custody of the eyes.’ This is a necessary first step, but John Paul II described such an approach as a negative purity. As we grow in virtue we come to experience a positive, more mature purity.” You see, loving God isn’t just about following a few rules (although there is some of that), it’s also about effecting a total transformation of yourself from the inside out. As Pope John Paul II explained in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, “Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14). Thus the commandment "You shall not murder" becomes a call to an attentive love which protects and promotes the life of one's neighbor. The precept prohibiting adultery becomes an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body.”
So, this Valentine’s Day, if you’re not doing so already, why not begin to practice the “pure way of looking at others?” Begin to see women not just as objects for sexual gratification, but for who and what they really are. Vicious animal-human hybrids armed with poisonous tail stingers.
Oh, okay, that’s just a handful of them. The rest, they are children of God made in his image. Start looking at them as such.
(And ladies, this applies to you too. Last time I checked, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue only appealed to about 2% of the male population. So you’ve got to work on your “looking” skills as well.)
Excellent post - thank you! And admittedly, I have been guilty of some less-than-pure thoughts when looking at some men (I don't know why, but Pitbull really does something for me....don't ask. And yes I know he's a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE misogynist). I try very hard to reign this in, especially when I expect my husband to do so. I never really thought of trying to "see past", and "looking purely at others"; it was always just "don't look!".
Hard to do, but definitely something to work towards!
And btw..... ya gotta love Adrian Brody's response to his girlfriend when she caught him with Dren.....
Great post. One of my favorite books has always been "Pierced By a Sword". In it, one of the main characters, Father Chet, discusses the priestly practice of seeing the Blessed Mother in all women, and also seeing their beauty as a glimpse of God. He expresses it better than I do. But it's as you said: it's ‘gaining custody of the eyes.’ And your post is a good one to pass to teens; I'll have mine read it. The girls can benefit too: if they're not in the "looking" category, they are in the "Am I dressing modestly?" category. And at our church, we all still use the "near occasion of sin" translation for the Act of Contrition. It's a good one.
Thank you, ladies. Obviously I wrote this one for the benefit of others, because as my wife (who might check this blog at any moment) knows perfectly well, I've never "looked" at another woman in that way since the day I met her. I'll pray for the rest of you, though :)
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