Should we take pride in objectifying women and teaching our kids the same?

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It’s uncomfortable. But it’s healthy. Thinking through and reviewing that which we value in our society and that which we normalize as good and decent behavior are not actions we take often enough. But now is a good time.

In Hamilton County, the public has recently learned of private business establishments that operate for profit opening their doors for patrons of all ages to drag shows, where men have been impersonating women or women have been costumed to mock the appearance through caricature of the female gender. These performers–according to videos, photos and news accounts–wore outfits that left little to anyone’s imagination.

While adults certainly have the freedom to choose their own entertainment reflecting their values and beliefs, several of these “all age” events had children, appearing to be much younger than any pre-teen years, watching and even touching the groin of one drag show performer.

These events were held for Chattanooga’s Pride Week and hosted by the LGBTQ+ community, or the individuals who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and other identities such as intersex, pansexual, or others outside that which are considered heteronormative.

The idea of introducing children to behavior that is not heteronormative, or supporting the worldview that heterosexual activity, behavior, and commitments are the norm, is to do one singular thing: to normalize sexual contact that is outside of a relationship between a male and a female. 

Let’s look at a few lessons the small children learned while attending these transvestite shows. 

They learned that a woman’s body is an object and is fair game for mockery, laughter, and is valued if distorted for the pleasure of another. They learned that you get money–since some of these little ones were shown to put tips in the scant clothing of the performers–if you objectify yourself to please others, whether by changing your appearance, your behavior, or by performing. 

Rather than being told that “You, little one, are made in the Image of God and are valuable by that fact alone, not what you’ll do, not your skin color, not your wealth or status,” these children learned exactly the opposite and that which drives many today. They were taught and saw reinforced that one’s desire to gain acceptance and approval is based on appearance, performance, and the applause of others.

Humanity is created differently, uniquely. Differences and diversity are good and should be celebrated when the result is growth, health, and decency which adds to an individual or community. No, perfection is not expected and often held up by many critics of discernment as a straw argument to distract from honest conversations about that which makes a community thrive. 

The simple question in this case is: In Hamilton County, do we normalize degrading behavior being taught, introduced, and reinforced to our children on the premise that it improves their lives and our community? While one group celebrates with pride such activity, many stand stunned.