Slut Shaming

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When I was looking for pictures to better explain what I want to talk about in this post, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to stumble on the picture above.  Slut.  The word burns to even to write into this post.  And recently there has been an uproar of something called, “Slut-shaming”.  This basically means that women who are considered sluts are, being shamed.  Seems pretty intuitive right?  Well this depends on your definition of the word slut.  Jenna Marbles is infamous for the videos she creates on Youtube.  Well one day Ms. Marbles made a video that struck the interest of Laci Green, causing her to make a video of her own.

In short Jenna made a video describing behavior that she believes “sluts” partake in, while Laci made a video arguing that if men do not respect sluts, they don’t respect women.  At this point you may be wondering, what exactly is your stance Nina?  And in short, I don’t agree with either of these people.  Although they both argue their points pretty well, some of what they each say is hard to chew.

Let’s start with Lacy.  She argues that a women should be respected because she is a woman, her actions are not a part of this equation.  I’m sorry, but I’ve never followed this logic.  As far as I’m concerned just because someone is older than me, or just because someone is a particular gender, does not mean they deserve my respect.  In general, I believe it’s a pretty good idea to simply respect people or give people the benefit of the doubt.  But if their actions do not warrant respect, why should we show respect?

With the same intuition, if someone does not respect themselves, why should I respect them?  If you go into a house, steal something and leave, what are you?  A thief.  And if you dress provocatively and sleep around, what can you expect to be called?  A slut.  Laci starts to go into this whole idea that the idea of being a virgin is too important to society.  Essentially if you are not a Virgin, you are not worthy.  I was so surprised because as someone who chose to take a vow of abstinence, I feel like the contrary is also true.  Being a virgin in this day and age is really hard.  Who’s right?  As odd as it may sound, I think we’re both right in some regards.  A lot of people look at virgins as though they are mythological creatures, literally.  I remember hearing that virgins who are hot are considered unicorns!  There was even a post from Reddit about this, and although the language is questionable, the message is good.

What does the bible have to say about all of this?

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ESV / 11 helpful votes

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” …

It essentially believes in the sanctity of preserving yourself before marriage.  From a religious perspective, having sex before marriage is not acceptable.  So if this is true, does this mean women should be called sluts?  I know that this is a controversial opinion but, if the shoe fits?  I think it’s wrong when a word like slut is thrown around and used to classify an entire class of women.  But if someone  is acting in a way that warrants being called a slut, how can you be angry if she is called that?  I personally would never call a woman a slut, but I don’t know if I can expect this behavior from everyone else around me.

I remember this girl once asked openly, why should Christians be virgins?  Is it something necessary today in the age of birth control and contraceptives.  The way I think about it, when you have sex with someone just as the bible preaches, you become one with them.  Can you imagine how painful it would be to become one with someone only to break up with them a month of two later?  When you are married you have made a commitment honorable before God.  When you become one, you are supposed to stay as one.

I can agree with Laci about the fact that the word slut shouldn’t be thrown around.  I can also agree with Jenna about that fact that certain actions warrant being called a slut.  But at the end of the day whether or not you are a virgin is your decision.  (in almost all cases)  It’s your decision to accept whether or not having your virginity is a good thing or a bad thing.  Because there will always be people who call girls sluts for no reason.  When that happens you need to be sure of who you are regardless of what other people think.  But then again, that’s just my opinion.

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Making time for God

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Quiet Time, oh how I had hated quiet time so very much when I first started doing it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar as to what quiet time is, it’s basically time you spend alone with God.  As an extrovert the idea of spending an entire hour of my day alone praying and reading the bible felt like complete torture.

I love being a part of group discussions, being around people and sharing ideas- but being alone?  No, thank you.  Because being alone means spending time with me and God.  Just the two of us together with nothing else to really distract me from his presence.  All of a sudden those early mornings I would dedicate to God would be interrupted because my bed looked extra comfy.

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It wasn’t until I listened to a Francis Chan Sermon earlier a few days ago that it dawned on me why I hated quiet time so very much.  Quiet time requires me to spend time with God alone and God sees right through me.  I can very well fool everyone I come in contact with on a daily basis; I can even fool myself.  But the one person who sees right through me is God.

That’s so intimidating!  The entire creator of the universe wants to spend time with us!  He knows our innermost thoughts and can see right through every word that we speak.  I remember a friend of mine asked me when was the last time I spent just immersed in God’s presence; I had no good answer to give.  The problem lies in the fact that at the end of the day I didn’t want to spend time in God’s presence.  I wasn’t hungering after him in a way that made me want to spend time with him.

I remember back when I was younger I would spend time in church and our pastor would tell us how important it was to read the bible daily.  My parents sounded like a broken rec93871973452541836_XQzdnpvm_c was ridiculous.  I lacked a personal relationship with God and the extent of my relationship to my father lasted for 3 hours on Sunday mornings.

It was because I didn’t really want to know God that I failed to realize the importance in pursuing him and spending time with him.  The thing is that when we start really developing meaningful relationships with people- we want to spend time with them.  It’s not a chore and it shouldn’t feel like work.  When you like being around someone, you will make time for him or her.  Why can’t the same go for our relationship with God?

When I think about quiet time the first bible character that comes to mind is Daniel.  For those of you who may not know why Daniel was, he was a bad a$$!  When he was in the king’s presence and expected to eat the King’s food- he didn’t.  He only ate things that were pleasing to God and he was actually healthier and plumper than everyone else around him.  It’s kind of funny that being “plump” was seen as such a positive back then!

But back on topic, I want to specifically look at Daniel in the lion’s den though.  A decree was published saying that no one would be allowed to pray to anyone other than the king.  But, how did Daniel, someone so passionate and in love with God respond to this?

In Daniel 6:10 it reads, “…when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

He didn’t stop praying to God just because other people told him that he was not allowed to.  In fact he prayed with his window opened, because he was unashamed of his beliefs.  He knew his relationship with God and he knew that God was much more powerful than the King who told him not to pray.  What I find so funny and even a little bit sad is the fact that if this had happened to me today, I probably wouldn’t have even notice the decree at first.  Sometimes I don’t pray when I am encouraged, how I can pray knowing that I will be persecuted for doing so?

We need to become the Daniels of our generation.  We need to be so passionate and in love with God that we are confident of him and what we believe in.   And the only way we can achieve this is by making time daily for God in our lives.

Hurricane Sandy

I am writing up this blog post on Sunday, November 4, 2012 and I’ll most likely post this tomorrow at my college campus.  I have gone a little under a week now without electricity in my home.  I live in an area that was somewhat affected by the recent hurricane.  Members of my family have stood in line for hours waiting for gas only to reach the pump to learn that the station had run out of gas.  It’s funny because the day before this happened to my dad I was reading in my Microeconomics textbook about long lines at the gas pump and how a lot of gas stations have price ceilings that cause this.  Funny how this piece of knowledge didn’t seem particularly helpful at the moment and not nearly as interesting to my dad as it was to me.

I still have my phone, my laptop, and the ability to go places with electricity for limited periods of time.  Regardless of this fact, this week has honestly sucked.  It sucked because I now have to come to terms with the fact that my conditions are not that horrible but they feel horrible to me.  I just overheard my parents saying that the store ran out of candles.  How does a store run out of candles?  I have never used candles so much in my life, or for any purpose other than making my room smell delicious.

So far all I’ve had to really endure is painfully cold showers, cold food and lots of quality time with my family but I find myself complaining so much.  And being honest the food this week has kind of rocked, I’ve been eating out every meal.  It’s just something about eating Chinese under 3 layers of clothing that makes it slightly less enjoyable.  I’m kind of angry right now that I can’t just go online and check my blog or my email.  I’m angry that I’ve been slowly eating up all my 3G to take cool vintage looking pictures of my cousins on instagram.  Yes, I have time for that and this is keeping in mind the fact that I have so much online homework that has yet to be touched.

I’ll stop complaining right now though for a number of reasons.  For one, complaints on my part do nothing to help my situation.  Maybe if I complained to the right people my story would be different though… Regardless, unto my second point which is the fact that this hurricane made me realize a lot.  It made me think about the things that I value in my life and just how temporary they are.  This time last week people were alive who are no longer alive, homes were standing that are now flooded or burned to the ground.  This time last week some people’s lives were completely different and are now forever changed.  That’s the kind of world we walk through everyday and past a widespread disaster like this, there is no promise bad things won’t happen in our lives.

I realize that it may sound so stupid but this past week I reevaluated some of the things I valued most in my life.  After church service today I was asking a missionary who came to my church about her work in India.  She was working to stop human sex trafficking in India from Utra Pradesh to Calcutta (I think!  Definitely spelled wrong).  She was explaining this whole idea that families are so poor and cannot afford to pay dowries for their daughters to get married.  Because of this when men come to their homes promising to give their daughters jobs in North India cleaning or serving and get paid for this they jump at the opportunity.  They fail to realize that is essentially a scam and the work their daughter actually do is offer they bodies daily for a price.  These are the problems for some people.

When I hear about those types of problems I can’t help but feel like my problems are so small and insignificant in comparison.  Here I was literally complaining that my shower wasn’t warm enough for me while I still had the opportunity to go to college.  I still have a hope for my future while that’s not the case for a lot of other people out there in the world.  After this hurricane I can still say I have a roof over my head, my entire family is safe and the worst of it is a problem that will eventually go away.

This is something I believe I will always struggle with, because I like my life being easy.  I’m reminded of James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  I am also reminded of a verse my friend shared with me that was underlined in her bible to remind her who her source of strength was, “But David found his strength in the Lord his God.”

God could very easily make each one of our lives so easy, but then anything worth having in life would lose its value.  A preacher was saying today that the actual power held in something is not what it can do, but what it cannot do.  If I held my circumstances in my hands I would have buckled a lot earlier with dealing with life without electricity.  I literally did not think I could handle it, but I did handle it and I can continue to deal with it.  This is virtually nothing on the grand scheme of things and I can’t help but want to hash tag first world problems after every sentence I write.

If you feel like things are hard right now, realize that when things are the hardest you are growing the most.  God is not quite finished with me yet, I’d be kind of sad if he was!  There’s always room for me to grow as a person and I’m grateful for every bad thing in my life.  I hope that I can always be grateful.  I aspire to be like Job and rejoice in my sufferings, as small as they may seem.  Because even when things get a little bit hard, its hard for me to praise God.  But I praise God for this hurricane, I praise him for knowing me better than I know myself and for giving me another day in my life and giving me life period.  Because I know that I do not deserve any of these things, but God still gave them to me.

the Big Event: Sophomore year

For those of you who have never heard of “Big Event” its basically a yearly InterVarsity retreat in which college students have the opportunity to register for different tracks to learn about God with people from different colleges in small groups.  Small groups are normally…small groups of people, I know who would have thought that’s what it meant?  Please bear with me as I write this post, I realize that for those of you who have never heard of Big Event everything I’m saying will sound really odd to you.

Well this was my second year in InterVarsity and because I got involved from the get go, it was my second time at Big Event.  The previous year I had the opportunity to go to both Big Event and Basielia (InterVarsity’s second retreat which is longer and holds less schools).  Before going I remember everyone telling me I would love it so much that I would have so much fun and that it would change everything.  In all honesty leaving both Big Event and Basielia my freshman year I definitely did change a lot but those retreats felt bland for me.  I was watching everyone else doing all these amazing things and even though I did benefit, I wasn’t enjoying things on the same level as other people.  In fact there were times during Baseila that I just felt sad and confused because I wasn’t sure why I was feeling the way I felt.  I never shared this with anyone in my chapter because I didn’t want to be the person to bring other people down.  So I plastered a smile on my face and focused on everything that was actually good that was going in during the retreat.

My mentality was so off for those two retreats.  I literally walked into Big Event knowing everything everyone had said about it in the past and felt entitled to an amazing experience because I payed money.  I wasn’t excited and I expected other people to make me excited.  It was because I knew something was wrong that I refused to approach Big Event this year the same way I approached Big Event all other times in the past.

Before registering for Big Event I was asked along with some other people in my chapter to register for the leadership track.  That was something I really didn’t want to do, I wish I could explain just how much I didn’t want to do it.  In fact I guess I can explain it to you right now.  Registering for that track scared me and intimidated me because I didn’t feel as though I was good enough for it.  So I told my exec team I would register for it and purposely waited until the track was closed to beg my mom for permission to register for Big Event.  I had technically asked her back when leadership was open but because I didn’t want to go for that track I asked in a way that I knew she wouldn’t be happy or say yes.  It was only when I really needed to register that she said yes.  And by then I looked at the mess I made for myself and was actually kind of sad but at the same time incredibly happy.  Happy because I made a promise in my mind that I would get the most out of my track this year.  The track I registered for was Transformation or Foundations and mistakenly registering for it may have been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons.

Growing up in church I felt as though I knew God because I gave him my 3 hours once a week.  I had my idea in my head of what God was to me and I was satisfied putting him into a box.  For so long I felt as though I was trying to build a roof to this house while my foundations were crumbling beneath me.  I needed to be sure that I knew exactly who the God I was serving actually was.   Being honest with you again, I had it all so wrong.

During my retreat I realized that I wasn’t the only person who felt the same way about retreats in the past.  I wasn’t the only person who felt like I was really missing something important.  But somehow it took me going to Baseilia and feeling so sad to know that I couldn’t keep going on my walk with God the same way I had always done so.  I really needed to change the way I approached God in my life and I needed to learn to put him first.  I realized that if I had opened up earlier I would have saved so much heartache and even sympathized and grown with someone else who was going through what I was going through.  We eventually did get to sympathize with one another but only at this year’s Big Event!  Funny how things work out right?

I was also struggling with vulnerability.  Most of the time I feel like people are afraid to open up and that this is why they cannot grow.  My problem was that I felt as though I was being too vulnerable with too many people.  I grew up in a house where my mom would sit down with me everyday and ask me to open up to her about my feelings, that was the way I was raised to act.  And I felt like there was something wrong with me because it seemed like no one else felt the same way about opening up as me.  What I realized for myself this was past weekend was that I needed to be vulnerable.  I really needed to be open and honest about my feelings with the people in my life.  Because I’d rather have a bunch of people know this mangled, messed up and growing mess of a person that I am that is not perfect than to have a bunch of people know me on such a superficial level that they don’t actually know who I am.  But that’s just me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind about this 10 years from now but if I ever did I would need to stop blogging.  I would need to stop blogging because my soul is kind of sprawled out on all of these posts that literally anyone could pick up and read.  I’m okay with that though.  Because I know I am not the only person who feels the way that I feel.

Big Event this year was amazing.  It was absolutely amazing and so much more than I thought it would be.  But it also wasn’t easy.  I left Big Event feeling great but also knowing that the real work starts now with my relationship with God and even my relationships with people. I realized somehow that I didn’t understand what it meant to love people the way God loves us, or even how to love God the way he loves me.  I know that I am so flawed and I know that I have so much to learn but now I am ready to learn more about God than ever before.

 

Proverbs 4:23 (Good news translation)

I started using a website to help encourage me to read my bible daily.  It’s usually a tiny passage that takes barely 5 minutes to read an analyze and helps me stay on track day to day.  Baby steps right?

Anyway while reading today’s passage I can across one verse that caught my eye, Proverbs 4:23 which reads

” Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

I never read this particular verse in the translation and I was surprised by how powerful it was to me, and how true.  What do you think of on a daily basis?  No really what do you think of?  I remember hearing that you become a slave to what you think about the most.

The minute I read this verse I reevaluated everything I was doing.  I did this because our thoughts really do shape our lives and so many times its so easy to let these negative ideas pierce through our conscience and this changes us.  This changes the way we live our everyday lives.

Today I want you to think about something that you have been obsessing over.  Do these things deserve your time and do you want to be the type of person who thinks of those things?  If they don’t deserve your time, its time you change your mentality.  And if they do then you’re one step closer to be the type of person you want to be.

You’ll never be anyone but yourself, and that’s amazing.

I felt the sudden need to write about this and considering that its 1 in the morning and I doubt I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, why not write?

I’m reading a book about an Indian girl who grows up in a middle class mostly white suburban neighborhood and struggles to blend in.  In example, the life of Nina as well as the protagonist in the novel Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier.  I don’t want to really ruin anything for those of you who want to read it, but I will tell you that the protagonist is not happy with herself.

She’s so desperate to be anything but herself that she blends in more and more.  I couldn’t help but think, “How sad is that?”  Instead of embracing what makes us unique as human beings we long just to blend in.

It reminded me of something I struggled to realize when first entering college but now feel so happy to know.  I’ll never be anyone else except who I am, and that is amazing.  It’s an amazing feeling to accept yourself for who you and understand that not everyone will find you endearing.  And that its okay not to like doing things that other people enjoy doing.

I remember thinking beauty was something black and white.  Either you are born with a pretty face or you’re not.  But that’s not true, not even in the slightest.  A pretty face means you are pretty but being beautiful means being beautiful inside and out.  Finding that in a person is hard to do.

Psalms 139:13-14 reads

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

You are created the way that you are created for a reason, never doubt that, even for a second.  Because more than developing piss poor self esteem and self worth, you are demeaning God’s work.  God created you to be you for a reason.

So I find myself tempted to alter myself and to fit a mold that will blend in with everything else.  But God created me to be different.  I will never stop loving to take pictures to capture random moments, or even fight for women’s equality in seemingly stupid ways.  It’s who I am.

And I never want to be anyone but myself, because I am amazing.

Day 15: Bible Verse

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This single bible verse has been coming into my life time and time again, its almost like I can’t escape it!  But this verse inspires me in so many ways.  So many times I’m left feeling out of control of everything around me.  I think this verse constantly speaks into my life when I find myself wanting to take control over the situations around me.

The thing is, we can’t always be in control, never really.  And this can feel really scary to accept, but to know Jesus is in control is so comforting because he knows exactly what we need and has a plan and a purpose for everything.

Whenever I find myself feeling upset, I think of my father holding me and shielding me.  I never actually need to be afraid of anything.  Being afraid is like me lugging a large umbrella when I’m praying for sunshine all day.  God’s in control, never forget that.