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Raif: Whatever happened to self discipline?

Jan. 22, 2016 at 11:19 p.m.

It seems almost every day we read of yet another instance of sexual violence, abuse, Internet pornography, sexual abuse of children and on and on. Even school teachers, coaches, and pastors seem not to be immune to its allure. Why? Are there more instances? Is it just better and broader reporting or is it actually happening?

I have a theory, but first a little background. When I was a teen and young woman, we did not have sexual harassment laws. We had to handle the situations ourselves. I think I knew intuitively what social science now teaches: Men are turned on sexually by what they see. Women are turned on by what they feel. I made sure I didn't dress provocatively, but that didn't stop the advances of some men. I made sure I never was in a situation or place where I could be raped. A firm, "No," was sufficient to stop the inappropriate behavior.

I have lived on both the West and East Coasts. When I moved here from Delaware 11 years ago, I was appalled to see the number of women and young girls whose breasts were almost literally hanging out of their shirts or dresses. I hadn't encountered that anywhere else. About a year after I moved here, I needed the services of a lawyer. I was appalled when I went into his office and the receptionist was dressed as if she were a hostess in a nightclub. There was nothing professional about her and it seemed she was saying, in effect, "My lawyer boss isn't a professional either."

I reared four sons so I have been very aware of the injustice and unfairness of all this. The woman or girl can wear what she pleases, which will turn on a man sexually (hey, he was built that way), but if he makes a move, she can sue for rape. Whatever happened to teaching self-discipline, to both the guys and girls?

It's a shame our society has come to admire people for the way they look, not for who they are. Adele, the singer from England, is taking the world by a storm with her first tour in four years. The first week after the release of her first CD in four years, she broke the record for the number of CDs sold. I watched her concert New York Live. The first thing I noticed was her dress: It was beautiful, with a high neckline. She is popular for what she is — a fabulous singer — not for the way she looks.

There was a picture posted on Facebook not long ago of two women, the same age and same birthday, both of whom are famous. One was a Kardashian girl who had just had lip implants, supposedly to make her look sexier. The other was of a young woman in a loose robe-type dress and a scarf covering most of her hair. She had just won the Nobel Peace prize. Why do so many young women (and older ones, too) base their self-worth on how they look? Is that really all they have to offer? What happens when they age and wrinkles and sagging skin take over? Not everyone can afford plastic surgery to keep looking young.

What is missing in the upbringing of these women who can't value themselves as they are? Why don't they develop their intelligence, skills, creativity and talents to help someone else, to bring about better changes in our society to help others see themselves as valuable persons? How would they feel about themselves then? As for my sons, I encouraged them to ask the wallflower girls to dance. I encouraged them to value a young woman by the kind of person she was, not how she looked. They were fortunate enough to get both when they married.

Of course there are women who do value themselves and help others and don't feel they have to use their looks to please someone else. Is the rising incidence of sexual crimes, particularly toward children, due to increasing instances of undress in women that turn a man on sexually?

Men probably think a child will not report sexual abuse. Even if a child is taught not to let anyone touch their private parts, may be too afraid to resist.

Obviously I'm looking at this from a woman's point of view. I'd love to hear what men think about this subject.

— Gayle Raif, a Longview resident, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum. Find her blog "Limiting God" at



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