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Dear Miss Lawrence…

Now, to be honest, I’m not much of a Vanity Fair magazine reader. I guess I’m not really part of their core demographic. After all, it’s not like their articles regularly reference Star Wars, martial arts, Catholic theology or computer programming languages. As such, typical Vanity Fair content is not really my thing.

However, the November issue of Vanity Fair features something that attracted my interest, an interview with Jennifer Lawrence, the star of the popular “Hunger Games” movies.

As you may know, about a month ago Miss Lawrence’s iCloud account was hacked and nude photos found there were released onto the internet. In the Vanity Fair interview she spoke about this invasion of privacy and the trauma she experienced as a result. In the part where she spoke about the photos, she made a comment which I found no less revealing than the pictures themselves. Here’s what she said:

“I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

I’m afraid to say that the sentiment expressed here is one which may well be felt by other women, which makes me very sad.

Asking the impossible?

Miss Lawrence’s comment is tragic. I mean, are these really the only two options?

1. Your boyfriend will look at naked pictures of you

2. Your boyfriend will look at naked pictures of other women

Really?! Should the bar really be set that low? Is such little value to be placed on self-control and respect? Didn’t she say that the relationship was “loving [and] healthy”? Was the love of this guy so healthy that it was either her or porn? Honestly, if he can’t do without naked pictures of her, I rather doubt he’d put up much of a fight when it comes to looking at naked pictures of other women as well.

Another option

Is the choice really either for other women to be objectified or for her to be objectified? Is there really no third option?! Just off the top of my head, how about…

3. Don’t look at any naked pictures

Crazy idea, right? When subjects like this come up in discussion, I’m often told that the Catholic standard in areas like this is unrealistic, if not outright impossible. If the standard is impossible, what’s the point in even trying?

In those conversations I feel like I’m speaking with Vizzini, the character from The Princess Bride. Not having sex until you’re married? “Inconceivable!” No naked pictures of your girlfriend? “Inconceivable!”

The-princess-bride-inconceivable

Contrary to popular belief, such things are possible with authentic love. The third option I gave above is not only possible, it’s what should be expected. Put simply, I don’t think any girl should date a guy who can’t live without naked pictures of her. If he really can’t live without them then I’d say he’s really not much of a man. Women deserve better.

Refusing to settle

If a woman is seeing someone who doesn’t treat her in the way she deserves, she shouldn’t settle. If a woman is dating a guy who doesn’t place her happiness ahead of his own, why should she expect anything to change further down the line? She should save herself a lot of heartache and call it a day. She can either hurt now or hurt later and, believe me, it’s a universal truth that the pain later is always worse.

There are, in fact, guys out there who treat women with the respect they deserve. This is why it’s so sad to hear female friends speak about what they would desire in their relationships, but then have to check these expectations in order to be “realistic”. After all, “You can’t really expect that from the average guy”. This does, of course, beg the question as to why you’d ever want to date someone whom you’d call “average”

Of course, there is the fear that having high standards will mean being alone…for ever. Having high standards will reduce the number of dates you accept, sure, but it’ll save you a lot of wasted time and heartache. You shouldn’t have to kiss frogs in the hope that they’ll become princes. Quite frankly, it’s better, a lot better, to be unattached than to settle for someone whom you can’t admire and who doesn’t respect you or treat you well.

Inspiring the good to become great

While we’re talking about setting standards, there is an important truth which I suggest all female readers should take to heart. Ladies, you have a tremendous ability to form the character of all the men in your life. This is true for husbands, boyfriends, brothers, fathers, sons and platonic friends. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said:

Sheen

Guys will typically rise to the standard of behaviour which is expected of them. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. They will often also sink to the level of behaviour that they can get away with. This isn’t about manipulation, power struggles, outrageous demands or one-upmanship. It is about encouragement. A woman has the capacity to inspire a man to become the very best version of himself. Now, this doesn’t mean that he’ll never fall short. After all, a man is as capable of failure as a woman. However, a woman’s inspiration can raise a good man to true greatness.

Dear Miss Lawrence

As I’m sure Miss Lawrence reads my blog intently every day, I would like to end with a suggestion. Jennifer, please believe that men can rise to a higher standard. You shouldn’t have to date someone who is incapable of functioning without easy access to porn and you don’t have to go out with someone who will treat you and other women as objects.

Finally, if you’re having difficulty finding decent guys, several of my good friends have said that they would be honoured to take you out to dinner and a movie of your choice. Call me, I can make this happen.

David Bates is a Englishman, software engineer and Eastern Rite Catholic currently residing in San Diego. He writes at http://restlesspilgrim.net/blog

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