Women and some men are posting on social media images and videos of themselves, which is predictable, but have you noticed their justifications and rationales for doing so?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #70 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Any number of trends can be identified on social media because it is a dynamic environment.
There may be good trends, of course, because human beings created in the image of God are capable of making right moral choices and doing noble things.
But human beings are also fallen, meaning we have a sin nature and are capable, in fact active, on a daily basis of making bad or wrong moral choices and doing ignoble things. That’s where some disturbing social media trends emerge relative to something now called “body image.”
When I say “social media” here, I am not alluding to pornographic subscription sites but to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and a few others that are readily accessible to the public including children.
It’s interesting to note the number of so-called “online influencers,” mostly women, who regularly post scantily clad pictures of themselves and seek to justify their actions by claiming they are affirming “body positivity.”
They argue that they are doing something wonderful and meaningful in the name of “female empowerment,” but basically what they are doing is demeaning themselves in order to get likes, fans, followers, and in some cases, financial reward.
I’ve mentioned before that older, now no longer top tier entertainers, work to stay relevant in social media. Since their talent is no longer in demand or perhaps they are past their creative zenith, the only way many women celebrities can get attention is to post near naked or suggestive pictures of themselves.
Some do this as a business proposition in order to market what they are wearing, like bikinis or casual wear, while others do so because it’s all they’ve got to—what was that—“stay relevant.”
To attempt to justify what they are doing and raise it to some perceived lofty level, some aging models or celebrities talk about “authenticity.” They claim they must post these pictures to be “true to themselves.” This is their “identity,” and they say everyone should “love yourself” or “find your true self.”
Some claim they post au naturel images because, somehow, this is good for their “mental health.” They say they have “overcome self-judgement” and that one should be comfortable “loving yourself in your own skin.” Some claim they are fighting the good fight against the emotional struggle of “body dysmorphia.” Others just get right to the point and declare they are “sex positive.” The new vocabulary and rationales offered for what was once considered scandalous and prurient behavior are endless.
The Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970s plowed new ground for women in society, making headway opening professional doors, lobbying for equal pay for equal work, and promoting equality for women in general. Unfortunately, radical feminists took this movement and ran with it, some ending up in an untenable hate-all-men outlook. But there are still some now seasoned warriors who just want women to be given equal opportunities in society.
More recently, the long overdue MeToo movement called powerful, immoral men to account. Some, like the infamous Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, were demonstrated to be predators and rightly sent to prison, though sadly, Cosby’s sentence was later overturned.
Others, caddish men who took advantage of their power and prestige to prey on women, men like Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, had enough money to settle the allegations against them but still lost their high-profile media positions.
Then, MeToo began to run aground with slogans like “believe the woman,” a comment that seems just and indeed helps correct old patterns wherein women were summarily dismissed, but in actuality, “believe the woman” as an absolute elevates demography above evidence-based truth.
Result is, we have a confused public understanding of male-female relationships and social media only adds to the confusion.
Among the younger set, Generation Z now in college, as of July 2021, university athletes are now able to make financial arrangements based upon their NIL, meaning Name, Image, Likeness. This new pot of gold suddenly available to university athletes means the best known, most talented, and of course the best looking, can make a lot of NIL money. Many NIL arrangements are endorsement contracts with clothing manufacturers or other legitimate businesses. I’m not suggesting there is anything is wrong with the free enterprise of athletes making income.
But I think unregulated NIL opportunities, the transfer portal making it possible for any recruit to switch schools in a moment, and the wide-open university athletic conferences, now jockeying for television money, means collegiate sports is in for a confusing time that almost inevitably is going to result in some kind of scandal.
Remember, the love of money is the root of all evil.
Some female university athletes are already making hay based on their looks, and their willingness to post titillating videos. By far, the lead example of this is Louisiana State University gymnast, Olivia Dunne, who is now reputedly making seven figures per year for her posts.
No question she is a talented and accomplished athlete with several gymnastic accomplishments.
But increasingly, Olivia Dunne and her peers are providing their huge followings on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram with content that pushes past simple storylines or marketing clothing into what critics say is playing into the “objectifying women” scenarios that the Women’s Liberation and MeToo Movements railed against.
In fact, older women who fought those earlier social battles, some of whom are avowed feminists, argue today’s young women are taking a backward step, undoing much of what women fought for in the 70s, including the major achievement of Title IX that prohibited sex based discrimination in school athletic programs.
The interesting comeback from the young, online influences is that while men may objectify women, the online influencer women say they are not responsible for what men think or how they behave. In other words, they push back, saying we can do whatever we want, and we have no accountability to anyone.
Maybe it all depends? It’s true, a woman cannot control how a man thinks, or if he thinks improper thoughts, it’s not her doing. On the other hand, if the woman, particularly these online influencers, post provocative, semi-clad pictures and videos intended to attract followings, can they really claim they have no responsibility? Such an argument seems a long way from the honorable women described in Proverbs 31.
This said, men also use social media to make money based upon sex appeal. They “run the gamut from gamers and fitness influencers to singers, pranksters, and even doctors.”
None of this should be surprising. Human beings tend to pervert anything we get our hands, or rather our hearts, on, including now social media. Why would we expect anything different from the world?
We should, though, be able to expect different behavior from Christians. We should not spend time on sites designed by online influencers to entice, to tempt, to draw us in. We should not emulate the world by employing the same provocative poses in images and videos—something I’ve seen younger Christians do on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Rather, we should work to proclaim the Lordship of Christ in all of life, including our social media activity. This is a worthy kind of online influence.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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