Does this pulpit make my butt look big?

This blog is about to get WAAAY too personal but... well... ahem... I am reasonably well endowed in the chest area. (not by modern silicon standards of course).
This means I've learned to be careful about what I wear... ie no printed slogans across the chest, beware of buttons that might gape, avoid clingy clothes. When I was younger I was known to have conversations with men that were entirely directed to my breasts... a most disconcerting experience. So I've learned to err on the side of discretion.
Which is why when on a casual cruise through revgalblogpals ( I was somewhat taken aback by their promotional tee-shirt, which has a slogan titled: "Does this pulpit make my butt look big?" strategically emblazoned across the chest area ( 
Now women have had a long struggle (that still goes on!) to be seen as competent rather than decorative or sexy. Women in ministry in particular have faced long struggles to achieve credibility.These struggles continue. I personally believe if you work as a professional, you should dress professionally when working... which a style of dress that is neither overtly sexual or excessively casual (ie no "tracky dacks" when in working). Like it or not, presentation is one of the factors that help one be taken seriously (or not!) 
My reaction to the revgalpals promotional tee shirt was... "is this supposed to be an invitation for men to stare at your chest, and then follow the instruction to examine your rear and pronounce judgment? What were revgalpals thinking?"
However... this is a site developed by mature women in ministry, so maybe it's just me. I'd love to read your responses about this! Could the readers of Secret Women's Space please vote on the following options:
A   I agree with you absolutely. It's important for women in ministry to do all they can to maintain their professionalism and credibility.
B   Oh lighten up Janet... this is funny. 
C   I think you just don't get the American sense of humor... this is hilarious in the States. It's not your fault: (and they usually don't get Australian jokes either.)
D   You are a pathetic old prude... get over it. A woman's body is a beautiful thing.


Anonymous said…
yeah Janet...lighten up! I thought it was the Americans who were the ones that weren't supposed to get the irony thing, not the Aussies.
Janet Woodlock said…
OK, I guess that's one vote for B! If I was going to put it in a "comedy class" I'd call it satire... maybe I would have found it funnier if I was in a different mood.

If preoccupation with butt size is allowable, then I'll blame my hormones on my reaction!
sonja said…
Hi Janet ...

I'm also in revgals ... I have been for almost 2 years now.

I laughed hilariously when I read that. If I may explain ... I think it's supposed to be irony. It's meant as a poke at the whole idea that women are measured by how they look in any profession. Men are measured by how they perform. At least that's a presumption here in the States ...

So I might not tell you to lighten up, but I do know that the t-shirt is meant as a way to poke fun and make a serious point all at the same time. Does that make sense?

btw ... I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first time posting. I've been enjoying your blog.
Anonymous said…
I agree with you Janet. While it may be funny I've learned when working with men that we need to maintain a more professional level.

The few women that I work with do not recieve the same respect that I do and it's directly related to this area. While it may seem unfair,(unequitable,unbalanced, not impartial)God's favor was never meant to be. God's favor is Just, which hits the mark instead of missing it.

This is an area that has challenged me when it comes to women in ministry. I have been hit on by a few men in the church and in the work place. Probablly could have had a few law suits too. The worst part is that I am married and that makes it even more aggregious. If I want to be taken seriously I must respect those boundries and teach by example. I have also noticed because I do take it seriously when this happens so do the men that respect me. They infact defend my honor while they don't with the other women because in their minds these women are asking for it.

I can not tell you how many women who have left church angry because the only man they want is Jesus and
instead they are propositioned. It may not be blatant and there is a place for this but come on ladies lets not buy into the Worlds way of thinking. Our freedom in Christ does not give us any right we want. Our freedom calls us to be pure, holy, respected, precious, serious, warriors that are lifted up by our men to use our gifts as a sweet offering to those we have influence over, So lets take our big ole butts and put them behind us where they belong. Remember we are influencing the people around us and we have a responsiblity to realize it dosen't just affect one individual woman it influences the mind set of men when it comes to all women.

By the way I am not a prude when it comes to attire. Nor am I the moral authority on dress codes. There is nothing wrong with a beautiful women wanting to look good but do it with class because we are beautiful and we need the church to see that.

Janet Woodlock said…
Welcome Sonja! I loved your blog and added you as a link. I'm glad you stopped by to comment.

O.K., I get it... I'm a bit slow. (Clearly one of those people who start laughing about 30 seconds after the joke. Which is of course, always funny in itself).

If I was going to be a word pedant it still strikes me as closer to satire ("the use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc. to expose folly or vice or to lampoon") than anything else, but I'll take it I'm slow on that front too.

The local broadsheet paper where I live "The Age" has run articles this week about premature "sexualisation" of children, 8 year old girls worrying they are fat, 12 year old girls feeling obliged to give sexual favours, the terrible toll on self esteem of a "sex and body image" obsessed society, so I suppose I was looking at the tee shirt with that glum and prudish frame of reference uppermost.

All this stuff requires prophetic challenge I think, so if the "revgalpals" tee shirt works in the States to gently critique the body-image obsession, well God bless them all. I'm not sure it would work that well here... humour is very "subtly cultural".

And Penney... your comments for me evoke that terribly old-fashioned word "modesty" in dress. If a woman dresses with hemlines that are high and necklines that are low and in fabrics that are clingy, there's a higher chance she'll be viewed in a sexual way by her male work colleagues. If lust is a sin, then immodest dress could be seen as "causing one's brother to stumble". And immodest dress reduces the chance of being taken seriously as a professional person.

So I like your phrase "do it with class". This is neither dressing like a nun, nor in tragically out of fashion nerdy "Christian-wear", nor in overtly sexualised clothing, but professionally and discreetly.

I think I'll need to create a blog archive file titled: "old fuddy-duddy posts". This is one of them!
AbiSomeone said…
Well, I guess one would expect The Abbess to be a fuddy duddy...and I will not disappoint (depending upon your point of view, of course ;^) )

I put fashion way up on the list of consumeristic challenges for the church...and I am appalled at what many women wear while serving as professional clergy. On the other hand, I have a huge problem with the whole "clergy" thing, but that is another issue entirely!

Modesty...I'm hopeful that it will make a resurgence...and I have given up my terrible sense of humor in deference to speaking the truth in love.

No time to get more into it...I'll take all the hits for you and with you, Janet.
Janet Woodlock said…
That's another interesting issue when we start discussing dress... the idea of stewardship. I think it's worth asking questions about the VAST amounts of money that are spent on clothing in the West... in a world where so many live in abject poverty.

I buy virtually all of my clothes from a "recycle boutique" because I think it's just not a good use of my money to buy clothes new.

There's a subtle line somewhere... I'm not entirely comfortable with Christian women who dress in clothes that are 30 years out of date... it just reflects to me an attempt to live in a social vacuum. (Don't they know any "normal" people, or do they only socialise with other church ladies who also wear floral blouses? Aren't we meant to be known by the aroma of Christ and by lives of goodness... not by lousy dress sense?)

On the other hand, as you say, keeping up with the Jones's (in a fashion sense) is just feeding into the mad consumer culture... "you are what you buy"... and Christians are called to the values of a different kingdom.

I feel like I'm being vague here, but I don't want to err on the side of being a legalist either. (ie the only REAL Christians are wearing homespun wool, hand knitted jumpers, shoes from the op shop etc.) It's a somewhat subjective area.

At least in the old fashioned Abbeys there was a set uniform (nun's habit)and that was that!
AbiSomeone said…
Well...I don't wear a habit, being a virtual abbess, but I do appreciate a sense of timeless class in clothing. I am just not willing to make a big deal out of it.

I rarely buy clothes new either... I think it is a hold-over from being the youngest of five girls... I lived in hand-me-downs my whole life!

I actually had some resonance with all four of your choices! ;^) But I have to give more weight to the "stumbling block" and "stewardship" issues than to the "irony"...I am very much a subversive, holy rebel type; just not the normal breed.

...more of that "Abi-normal" identity!
Janet Woodlock said…
I'll confess to some resonance with all 4 options too... well, that's why I wrote them! But I am a bit prudish about slogans across the breast area...

I always feel slightly conflicted whenever I raise issues about stewardship because I look at the way the poorest of the poor live, then look at the way I live and think... "oh... I can't point the finger at anyone, can I?" Still, I think we need to flag these issues... "modesty" is an endangered word, but so is "simplicity"... and I think both have the place in the life of a disciple of Christ.

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