Tuesday, January 19, 2016

You Have Two Big Strong Hands That (Surprise!) You Have Control Over

A friend of the blog since before she was born, today's contributor Madelyn is Brooke’s baby sister. Madelyn is in her second year of college and spends most of her time working and singing in her institute choir.

My great-great-grandmother, Bertha A. Kleinman, wrote the adorable children's song "I Have Two Little Hands." I grew up being fond of the sweet tune and clever words. This morning, my father, the great-grandson of Bertha A. Kleinman, sent this photo to me and my sister.

It is a shot of a slide shown in a seminary class. He expressed disgust with this desecration of the song, and I'm going to express my own feelings here. In case you can't read the image, the twisted version of our family's favorite primary song reads:

You Have Two Big Strong Hands (Young Men)
I hope you won't tempt me
By clothes you might wear--
Or taunt me or tease me--
It just isn't fair.
Whatever you show me
I'll think I can touch--
So if you don't want that
Then don't show me much.

There are countless things wrong with this photo that I don't have the energy to explain but will try anyway.

First off, the fact they are showing this in a seminary building or a church building of any kind is just wrong. Church is a place I like to go to feel closer to my Heavenly Father, and that includes attendance to Seminary (back when I was in high school) and Institute. If a teacher were to show this in a class I was in, I would stand up and walk out. Maybe after pointing out all of the disgusting things that are contained in it.

Second, this is a children's song. Not just any children's song--it's one that teaches children that they will learn to control their impulses and grow into understanding. We grew up using this song and its message to learn about reverence, hard work, and gratitude. Using it to tell young women that they HAVE TO COVER UP OMG and to tell young men that they have no control over what they do or what they think perpetuates rape culture. Messages like this one make young men think they are actual monsters, and we can only hope and pray that those who learn this with no one telling them otherwise will grow enough sense to control their actions and impulses.

Pictured: A gathering of local Young Men

Third, must I go over this again? Modesty is about so much more than just the way that you dress. You dress to respect yourself, to respect God, and to feel good about yourself. In my opinion, that's open to interpretation. Sure, it's different when you've been endowed because there are underclothes that have to be covered, which goes back to dressing to respect God. But dress aside: modesty is about humility, about kindness, about character. Wasting as much time as we do telling young women how to dress is not helping them learn how to become modest beings.

Women need to know that their worth extends beyond the way that they dress. Men need to know that they have the ability to control themselves around women who aren't dressed to "church standards." This is a lesson that I want to spread so that rape culture will taper off and disappear. I've hoped for that for years now, probably since I learned what rape was. But apparently it is only getting worse. And the fact that one of the things our family is proudest of has been twisted and bent to perpetuate this negative view on agency makes me sick.

Teach your girls that they are always worth something, and please teach your boys that they always have a choice.