The Peril of Princesses & ‘Passion and Purity’

Disney’s 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast seduced me as an eighth grade girl. I yearned for adventure, and was desperate to fall in love (or at least have a boyfriend who wanted to hold my hand). As a nerd myself, it’s no wonder I picked the bookish princess as my favorite.

I grew up on a steady diet of princesses: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Snow White, Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine. Each film references their beauty, and every single girl falls in love. We didn’t just read or watch the sanitized Disney versions of these tales, either, but the Hans Christian Anderson versions like the one where the little mermaid hurls herself into the sea when she is rejected, choosing to become sea foam instead of living a meaningless life without her prince.

From an early age, I absorbed this message: for your life to have value or any degree of happiness, you must fall in love.

I can tell you the name of every boy I had a crush on beginning from the age of four. Age four. Apart from the one time I was a cat and the other time I was a clown, every other Halloween I was either a princess or a bride. My brother and I got married more times than I can count.

Falling in love became an obsession. I watched movies, studying how the girls attracted men. Thank God Google and Facebook didn’t exist at the time because I’m sure I would have spent hours googling how to talk to guys or stalking the boys I had crushes on.

For whatever reason, whether because I scared boys away by pretending I didn’t like them or because I came on too strong, the boys I liked never seemed to like me back. My journals from those years are full of me scribbling about my crushes—“I sat next to so-and-so in science lab today,” “So-and-so looked at me in the hallway on the way to algebra,” “I think so-and-so might ask me to the ninth grade dance.”

One Christian boy finally showed interest in me my sophomore year of high school, but then broke it off a few months in, saying his parents wouldn’t let him date. Devastated (I was so sure he was “the one”), I vowed never to let that happen again. Soon after, I read Passion and Purity.

Though I admire Elisabeth Elliot for her devotion to God, her courage in moving to South America to learn a new culture and share Christ with those who didn’t know Him, and her strength in spite of losing not one, but two husbands, that book really messed me up. I once heard her say on the radio that it is not necessary to be attracted to your husband. Love, romance and desire were the enemy of love for God. Men were to be “held at arm’s length.”

Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, wrote the forward to the 2002 edition of Passion and Purity, mentioning how P and P had inspired him to write his book. At the end of the forward, he (mis)quotes C.S. Lewis: “The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

The message was clear: falling in love could put your soul in peril. Falling in love was dangerous.

From then on, I took Elisabeth Elliot’s words to heart. I kept men at arms-length, always suspicious they would derail my love for God and His grand plans for my life. Men were the enemy of loving God whole-heartedly.

Didn’t Paul say much the same in 1 Corinthians 7? “It is good for a man not to marry…but if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (v. 1, 9)

“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” (v. 34)

Given the choice, I picked undivided devotion to Jesus over pathetically falling for a man. The Hollywood version of “Happily Ever After” was a myth and a mirage. My true prince was Jesus. And He was enough.

Until I met Adam. You can read our love story here, but when I fell in love, I finally understood the metaphor of “falling.”

I stopped avoiding the dangerous plunge into love and decided to experience the thrill of the free fall. I discovered that just because love is not safe doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to jump in and enjoy it.

In fact, when exactly does the Bible advise us to avoid danger, to stay safe or to be comfortable?

Instead of completing me or stealing my adoration for Jesus, my husband strides beside me, urging me on the way. Rather than detract from my love for God, he enhances it. Instead of filling a void in my soul, our lights burn brighter when held together in the dark.

Even so, my experience worshipping Falling in Love makes me wary of princesses as I think about raising my daughter.

Do I want her to feel beautiful, special, and feminine? Yes. Do I want her to equate beauty with self-worth? No.

Do I want her to be adored, admired, cherished, and wanted? Of course. Do I want her to derive her self-worth and life purpose from a man, searching for a man, like in the movie Jerry Maguire, to “complete her”? No way.

In spite of my hesitation to allow my daughter to play with princesses, I’m learning they, like all things in life, should be approached thoughtfully, and with moderation. Princesses are not banned from my home, but they are not encouraged, either. I censor movies where the princess falls in love, instead choosing movies like Moana, where the girl has a male friendship without having to fall in love with him.

I also want to avoid being duped by the media and marketers targeting my 3 year old girl. The term “Disney Princess” didn’t even exist until the year 2000. According to Cinderella Ate My Daughter author Peggy Orenstein, executive Andy Mooney stumbled on the princess idea when he checked out a “Disney on Ice” show and noticed all the girls were wearing homemade princess costumes. He wondered “how such a massive branding opportunity had been overlooked” (p. 13). Within a year of releasing the first Princess items, sales soared to $300 million.

Shows/dolls/movies-turned-books have crept quietly into our home, like commercials in book form. So we read them, then they disappear, to be replaced with stories that won’t cause my child to want more toys or encourage her to watch certain movies and shows.

I don’t hate princesses, I just don’t want Disney to brainwash my daughter into thinking she must be slim, beautiful or fall in love to have a meaningful life. I don’t want her to worship Falling in Love, but I don’t want her to fear it, either. Instead, I hope she will know she is special, adored and valuable because she is made in the image of God. And if she does fall in love one day, I pray Jesus will still be the protagonist in her happily-ever-after, just as He was when she was a little girl, a teen and a single woman.

***

Join me this month as we explore the theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic.

As it’s sex trafficking awareness month, I’ll also be sharing some resources on that topic. Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter HERE:

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links

The Peril of Princesses & ‘Passion and Purity’--Should we encourage our girls to play princesses?

What Women Want

Today is my 39th birthday, the last year before I turn 40. I believe this calls for a bit of gratuitous self-reflection, don’t you? As I think about my daughter, I realize what I want for her is what I want for myself–and perhaps what we want universally as women.

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In the work place, home, in courts, classrooms and cathedrals, women want to be seen, heard, respected, and taken seriously. In a noisy crowd, we want our voices to count.

We want “kindred spirit” friends and life partners who adore us. We want to be loved, admired, honored, and cherished. We long to know and be known. We want to find a tribe where we belong.

We want to belly laugh until tears run down the creases on the sides of our eyes and not take ourselves or the world so seriously all the time.

We want to do meaningful work—not just as mothers and wives, but also as we live out our personal callings to paint, write, sculpt, lead, heal, teach, preach, crunch numbers, and transform dull spaces into decorative places that cultivate creativity. We want to know our lives made a difference in the world-that some seed we planted while we were alive will flourish long after we are gone.

We want to be a voice for the voiceless and a champion for the oppressed.

We want to make peace with our bodies and stand naked in front of the mirror without self-loathing, shame or fear. We want to eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we are full. We want to recognize that wrinkles, bulges and stretch marks are beautiful signs of a life well-lived.

We want to be known for who we are and not for what we look like, what we do, or what we don’t do. We want to be enough.

We want balance. We want to be healthy. We want to be strong—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We want to be confident.

We want courage to try new things, meet new people and travel to new lands. And yet we want contentment with where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re doing, too.

We want to relax every once in a while. We want to snuggle on the couch, walk in the woods, or sleep in. We want to lose ourselves in music and dancing. We want to be so engrossed in conversation that we forget task and time.

We want to look back on our lives without regret, proud of who we’ve become and satisfied with where we are.

We want soul rest. We long for deep peace that comes in knowing we belong to God and that nothing can rip us from his hand.

We want to taste heaven on earth, catch glimpses of Jesus in our neighbors, and notice evidence of God in creation.

We want to be women who dance without shame, question without fear, and speak without being muted.

We want to be women who love fiercely and freely, because we are fiercely and freely loved.

***

Join me this month as we explore the theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic.

As it’s sex trafficking awareness month, I’ll also be sharing some resources on that topic. Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

What do women want?

Scraping Raisins Blog Themes

When Sex Trafficking Is Right Under Our Nose {An Interview}

Sex trafficking awareness. Interview with Daniel Lemke. Red flags, pimps, porn and what we can do about it.

Daniel Lemke biked 12,608 miles in 15 months to raise awareness about human trafficking. I interviewed him in Colorado in September of 2016, just a couple months after he completed his tour around the perimeter of the United States.

As January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and Daniel recently published a book about his experience, called Kissing Lions, I wanted to share this interview with you. I’ll be sharing additional resources this month as well. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and is happening right under our noses.

Me: What are some things you have learned about sex trafficking over the past 15 months?

Daniel: Most victims are runaways or from the foster care system. In fact, 1 out of 3 runaways will be trafficked. [According to heatwatch.org, two in every three kids will be approached by an exploiter within 48 hours of running away from home.]

This is some of the slang and vocabulary associated with sex trafficking I learned:

Survivors of sex trafficking are called “sparrow.”

Victims are a “commodity,” “item,” “product,” or “the bottom bitch.” From the outside we see them as a prostitute, stripper, and/or pornstar.

A pimp (male) or madam (female) are the “care providers,” “boyfriend,” “captor,” or “sugar daddy.”

The second in command, who will recruit and basically do anything for the pimp, is called “the Bottom Bitch.”

A gentlemen or “good guy pimp” is called a “Romeo Pimp.”

An aggressive or abusive pimp (like in the movie Taken) is called a “Gorilla pimp.”

A John is the client.

Me: What are some red flags to look for?

Daniel: I’ll give you an example. I had an experience during an open mic night at a café in western Colorado. The barrista knew nothing about the menu and the woman in charge, the “boss lady,” was constantly looking over her shoulder and had shifty eyes when a man would come in.

At one point, a man in a suit entered, acting like he owned the place. Pulling the boss lady aside, he kissed her and held her arm. I overheard him call the women “baby girl,” and his demeanor shifted as he chatted with the men around the room. The waitresses were flirty with the male customers, and were very good at flirting.

So all these signs made me suspicious: not knowing the menu, the manager being pulled aside, the charming gentleman addressing all the men, and the flirty women.

Nail salons and massage parlors are also often covers for sex trafficking. Usually if it has the word “lily,” it can be a code word.

Me: How does the customer find the place?

Daniel: Numbers on bathroom stalls and ads in newspapers can all be codes. Craigslist or backpages.com have entire sections dedicated to adult services.

Me: What are some signs that a child is being trafficked?

Daniel: Pay attention to who they are with and where they are they looking. Are they cowering? You should look for markings, bruising, tattoos behind the ear, on the chest, on other places you can’t see, or on the lip. They often won’t have any form of ID and will often be absent from school.

In my travels, I often used Couch Surfing to find places to stay. I once stayed with a pimp. I was able to ask him lots of questions. He told me the youngest kid he found was 16. He often found his victims by going to a mall or fair. He would walk up to a girl and compliment her and if she was confident, he didn’t even bother.

But if she was self-deprecating or seemed insecure, he would play into her emotions. He knew how to manipulate her so she would think he loved her. In fact, most victims usually refer to the pimp as their “boyfriend.”

Me: How did you know he was a pimp?

Daniel: As I entered his house, God immediately prompted me to get to the heart of things and be different. I’ve learned that if you don’t get to the heart of things within the first 30 minutes of meeting someone, you won’t.

“What is it that you do?” I asked him.

“I am an urge provider,” he said, kind of joking. “ I work in the exotic film business.”

I knew I couldn’t change his opinion, but needed to love him and show him Christ. He was extremely charming and even bought me an expensive steak dinner, and took me around town.

I learned a pimp makes an average of 200,000-400,000 dollars a year.
This guy would charge between $50 and $100 a girl per time for three to eight times a day. Most pimps will have multiple girls, or boys. That income is all untaxed.

It’s really hard to convict a pimp. The police needs hard evidence and the pimp knows how to avoid getting caught.

Me: What’s the role of pornography in sex trafficking?

Daniel: Pornography increases the demand for sex trafficking. Pimps sometimes have women do that first, then hold it over their heads.

I actually want to reach pimps. I want to convert pimps to legitimate business men and change their mentality. I want to get men on board in reaching them. I want to demolish the demand because pornography can lead to sex trafficking.

Me: How is this problem being addressed in the church and other communities?

Daniel: Not enough. I had a hard time getting churches to host me in my travels. Men’s groups need to talk more about pornography because there’s not much accountability. The pastors need to talk about what healthy love and sex is because otherwise our kids are getting it from the media. Also, many pastors don’t even address the men directly. Men like to fix things, so when they don’t see a way to fix it, they don’t even try. Of the organizations fighting sex trafficking I met with, probably 75% were headed up by women.

Me: What is the best way to see sex trafficking decrease in the U.S.?

Daniel: I fully believe that the only way to end sex trafficking is to have a firm and strong family dynamic. I think it needs to start with the man. Daughters need a strong father or she’ll go seek one out. Boys need to understand how to be a gentleman and a protector rather than a predator.

Me: How can the average person help?

Daniel: First is prayer. Second, people can help through finances and raising awareness. Restore One in North Carolina is one of the few organizations helping male victims of sex trafficking.

You need to talk and do. You could set up an awareness night at church and show a movie. One good one is a documentary called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. There’s also a very accurate movie based on a true story called Eden. Hot Girls Wanted is a rough documentary that’s pretty poor quality about the porn industry, but it gets the idea across.

You can talk to legislators. Senators and house reps are actually really easy to get ahold of and then they’ll set you up with others. They need to figure out what laws are working and which ones aren’t. It’s different in every state.
You can go into your local police force and ask what you can help them with or partner with a local organization that is fighting sex trafficking.

Victims and pimps need counseling, a safe environment and reintegration into society.

William Wilberforce, an abolitionist, once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

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Resources Daniel Mentioned:

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls (documentary on the sex trafficking industry)
Eden (available with Amazon Prime)
Hot Girls Wanted (documentary about pornography)

You can buy Daniel’s book about this experience, called Kissing Lions , (in paperback, but also on Amazon kindle for just $4.99!) Listen to him talk about it on Youtube here.

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Check back for more posts about sex trafficking awareness and raising strong girls during the month of January.

Sign Up for My Secret Newsletter

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month + some giveaways for subscribers.

This post includes Amazon affiliate links.

(This post was edited at 1:14 pm on 1/10/18)

Sex trafficking awareness. Interview with Daniel Lemke about pimps, porn and the sex trafficking industry.

How We Raise Strong Girls

Do you want to raise a strong daughter? Here is a prayer for moms of daughters.

I want to raise a strong daughter. Of course, the word “strong” means different things to different people. Here’s what it means to me.

I’ll start with my daughter and the strength I already see in her.

She bolted ahead of us on the trail yesterday and picked up a white, round stone, her pigtails capturing flecks of the falling sun as she hoisted the rock into the river. At three years old, my daughter knows her own mind. She feels no shame and would gladly spend her life as a nudist if we let her.

She exudes confidence, curiosity, playfulness, humor, and bravery.

She stretched out her tiny hand at the museum last week and held a blond tarantula, earning a green sticker that said, “I held Rosie.”

Moving over to the next museum worker, she stroked the shiny, ridged back of a two-inch cockroach. Chills ran down my spine. I abhor cockroaches. It took everything in me not to shout and yank her hand away. Calm, and not realizing she just did something most adults wouldn’t be willing to do, she touched two of the most feared creatures without a thought.

I dread the day my daughter dresses in the clothes of shame, fear and self-doubt so many of us wear each day.  When she’s embarrassed to be naked, aware of what others think of her and terrified to try new things.

“Are they yucky?” she asked me, pointing at a terrarium of black scorpions.

“Do you think they’re yucky?” I asked.

She looks to me to define the yucky things in life for her. When you’re three, people, places and things can be easily categorized as “yucky” and “not yucky,” as “good” and “bad.” There are good guys and bad guys and very little in between. But just because I dislike certain bugs, foods or activities, I want to be careful not to influence my daughter to have the same likes and dislikes as me. I want her to be herself, not just a clone of her mother.

We moms are our daughter’s first teachers. A good teacher provides the means for students to learn at their own rate, in their own way and through their own experiences.

We moms are the curators of experiences for our daughters, gathering artifacts and inviting our girls to touch, taste, see, hear, and search for glimpses of God in the museum of life.

As I perch at the beginning of this journey as a mom to a little girl, what does it mean to raise her to become a strong woman? What wishes morph into prayers as I watch her toss stones into rivers and cradle deadly spiders?

Perhaps they’re the same prayers you have for your daughter?

To me, each of these prayers is a plea to see strength birthed in her:

I pray she knows she’s adored by God and by her parents.

I pray she is radiant, full of light and life.

I pray she weeps with compassion, bends to the ground in humility and allows others to march first in her life parade at times, though she is strong enough to lead on her own.

I pray she asks questions, listens to answers, bucks social norms, embraces a holy curiosity and has reverence for diverse people, rugged nature and God-sightings in the ordinary.

I pray she knows her gifts and how to use them.

I pray she tastes, sees, touches and hears heaven on Earth.

I pray she learns early on how to say “no,” but has the courage to say “yes” when the time is right.

I pray she falls in love with Jesus. The real-deal Love, not just the cultural Christian variety.

I pray she intuits a need and meets it if she can.

I pray she laughs often and chooses humor over negativity and critical words.

I pray she holds few regrets in a long life.

I pray her life experiences–the suffering, celebrating, successes and failures–cultivate patience, peace, and wisdom.

I pray she is not afraid to love wildly and be wildly loved.

Sure, I hope she enjoys what I like–reading, sleeping to the sound of cicadas in summer evenings, dramatic thunderstorms, running her hand from mane to rump on a horse, trying exotic foods, and collecting fascinating friends, but I also need to give her space to try on different personalities to find out who she is meant to be apart from me.

To have a strong daughter, I need to be strong enough to keep quiet at times and let her live into that woman. My prayers spoken over her as she sleeps with her small arm tossed over her stuffed dog culminate in a simple sentence–that she knows who she is and who she’s not.

This is what I mean when I say I want to raise a strong daughter.

What we want for our daughters is ultimately what we want for ourselves.

To be cherished.

To be respected.

To be safe.

To make a difference.

To be strong.

***

What about you? What is your prayer for your daughter? Who do you hope she will become? What is your role in her journey? 

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Join me this month as we explore this theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic.

As it’s sex trafficking awareness month, I’ll also be sharing some resources on that topic. Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

Related posts:

Dear Daughter

What I Want for My Children

Day 8: Three of my Favorite Podcasts by Christian Women of Color {31 Days of #WOKE}

For International Women’s Day today, I’d like to share three fabulous podcasts by women of color. Living in a nearly all-white area of the U.S., I am dependent on podcasts and social media to allow me to tune in to diverse voices. These are three of my favorites!

1.  Truth’s Table Podcast

 

I’ve been anticipating this podcast for a while. Though I’ve loved podcasts like Pass the Mic that discuss culture and the church from an African American perspective, it was mainly from the male point of view.

Truth’s Table is a new podcast where three female friends talk about culture, politics and faith in an intelligent, but down-to-earth way. They just started this up recently, but I’m looking forward to more. So far, I love the laughter and feel the need to listen with a pen in hand to jot down their wise words.

2. Faithfully Podcast

Faithfully Podcast is hosted by Nicola Menzie, a religion reporter and Faithfully Magazine Founding Editor. Along with her co-hosts and special guests, she discusses race, culture and Christianity. This podcasts includes a wide variety of topics and I have really enjoyed listening and learning from people very different from those in the white world I currently live in.

3. Shalom in the City

Shalom in the City is hosted by Osheta Moore, an African American woman with a passion to see cities transformed through the practice of “Shalom.” Osheta describes Shalom like this:

Why Shalom:  Shalom is a one way of saying peace, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s the world as it should be. Every woman who looks at her world, notices something that’s not working as it should be and asks, “How can I help” is a “Shalom Sista”.  The podcast exists to harness your earnestness and help you explore the many ways you can practice Shalom right in your context.”

More than just abstract talk, Osheta encourages her listeners to consider practical ways they can be a part of building shalom in their everyday lives.

 

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I hope you have a chance to check out some of these podcasts. Don’t have the time? If you wash dishes, do laundry, commute to work, brush your teeth or put on make-up, you have time to listen to podcasts! I use the Pocket Casts app for Android, but there a variety of apps you can download to listen to podcasts throughout your day.

Are there any other podcasts by Christian women of color you know about? I’d love for you to share them in the comments section!

New to the Series? Start HERE (though you can jump in at any point!).

A 31 Day Series Exploring Whiteness and Racial Perspectives

During the month of March, 2017, I will be sharing a series called 31 Days of #Woke. I’ll be doing some personal excavating of views of race I’ve developed through being in schools that were under court order to be integrated, teaching in an all black school as well as in diverse classrooms in Chicago and my experiences of whiteness living in Uganda and China. I’ll also have some people of color share their views and experiences of race in the United States (I still have some open spots, so contact me if you are a person of color who wants to share). So check back and join in the conversation. You are welcome in this space.