A friend of mine was recently asked to stop serving in a religious organization where she volunteered. She was an usher who stood in front of the congregation during regular services. Her attractiveness was deemed by her superiors to distract a lot of guys while service was on-going. The story sounded too interesting for me; I had to write something about it.
Firstly, let me point that I only heard one side of the argument and would have loved to speak with the Lady’s superiors too. Yet, there is a human lesson, from independent perspective, in the story she told.
She narrated her story: “I was standing at my duty post on a service day when my supervisor approached me and asked that I move to the back of the auditorium. I requested to know why she wanted me to leave the post I had stood for the past several months; she offered no explanation but insisted I left. To avoid causing a scene in front of the congregation, I left my post and went to the back of the auditorium. While seated at the back, I began to wonder; could she not have told me the reason before the service began or waited till after the service to instruct me of my new posting for subsequent services”.
“After the service, she came over to see me to offer an explanation. She said that they (the leader’s council of the group) had noticed that I love to wear high-heeled shoes which make my whole body to shake lasciviously as I moved around and they felt this was distracting to the young people in the auditorium. I protested by saying pointing out that my clothes are never too tight and I make conscious effort to dress moderately due to the conservative nature of our organization.
She insisted on her point; I was fired from my post. I later gathered from my colleagues that certain people in the leader’s council believe that the size of my “upper body” was distracting some congregants as my presence draw attention away from the reason for the service”.
“Allen, is it my fault? I did not create myself to look attractive; I make effort to dress moderately and act very friendly to many people that come to service. To the best of my knowledge, the married and single people that come to the service are comfortable with me as I don’t send out wrong signals to anyone. Yes, I am single but I hold my honour very dear. I don’t intend to steal anyone’s husband or fiancé; I want my own.”
The Lady’s story got me thinking. Who is to blame; the lustful young men (and married men too) in the congregation who could not look away or the presumably “lascivious” young lady. The answer is that I don’t know or better still, I have no clue.
Most issues in life are multi-dimensional and this issue is a good example. Is it true that my friend has no wrong intentions of attracting attentions when she knows that she is “good for the eyes to behold” and yet likes the front post? Did the supervisor take laws into her own hands to remove my friend from her post or married women in the audience complained about the heads of their men turning back and forth as my friend moved around? Who knows.
There are two conflicting schools of thought: You should not tell a woman what to put on and you cannot control a man’s line of sight. The man will look at whatever he pleases and still feels justified as long as he has not harassed anyone physically. The intention of the woman for wearing that shape revealing dress will forever be unknown to observers until someone invents a machine that reads the “female” mind.
So, was my friend right and the supervisor wrong? Probably it’s the other way; I have my opinions but it does not mean I am right. What do you think?