When my friend Lynn booked swimming lessons for her five kids last summer, she couldn’t ignore the adolescent girls lounging around the pool wearing skimpy bikini bottoms. Lynn homeschools, raises her own pigs and has strong Christian values. A soft-spoken lady, she’s perfectly clear about her boundaries and one doesn’t want to mess with her.
Evaluating the situation poolside, Lynn determined quickly that she didn’t want her kids exposed to this kind of immodesty. She marched straight up to the pool’s administrators and let them know that this apparel was unduly revealing and offended her values. The next day, those same girls wore full suits that were much less revealing.
I thought of Lynn recently when my hubby and I took a weekend getaway to California. The sun was out, we were fresh off the plane and had just settled in to our comfy lounging chairs at the pool when two men began caressing each other in the water. Over the next 45 minutes, they engaged in playful sexual activity that included stroking, kissing, cuddling and wrapping their legs around each other.
For a public area, it was a completely inappropriate display of sexual intimacy and we sat there deeply uncomfortable, me wondering if it was worth complaining to the staff about their lack of decorum, and my hubby hiding behind his newspaper in revulsion. “I’m so glad my kids aren’t here to see this,” I texted my friend.
That’s when Lynn came to mind. Had she been poolside, she would have hurriedly rushed her kids from the scene, quite possibly first loudly addressing the men’s lack of respect for those around them.
Later, I wondered why I’d been so relieved that I’d left the kids at home. Was it better for them not to see adults behaving in sexually inappropriate ways in public? Or was it that I didn’t want them to think I condoned such behaviour? They’re Netflix addicts, so I’m sure they’ve seen sex scenes. But there’s a big difference between actors and watching live adults cavort a few feet away.
They would have been mortified had I made a fuss and expressed my displeasure to the pool staff or the men in question. But to have sat there quietly as a parent and said nothing is, in itself, an act of acquiescence, and not a message I would’ve wanted to communicate.
A quick caveat: while I have no problem with homosexuality, I have no desire to watch sexual intimacy between men, or between men and women. A hug I can handle, but dry humping with swimsuits on is well beyond my comfort level.
There’s a lot beyond my comfort level, these days, and it feels like I’m an anomaly. When my kids stream their music, I hear the vocalists’ F-bombs ricochet through the house and it drives me insane. “There’s only one in the whole song, mom!” my daughter noted when I insisted she play clean music or turn it off. But even one is one too many.
I don’t understand why today’s pop music is peppered with foul language, or why the artists behind it insist that these words are an appropriate way to communicate about anything and everything. This is not the way intelligent people speak to each other, nor is it a jubilant expression of musicality. Forget the tune – when they drop the F-bomb, it’s the only word I hear. My kids hurriedly shuffle to the next song while my husband rolls his eyes. “It’s not like they haven’t heard that word before,” he mutters.
It appears that the boundaries of modesty are shifting, both when it comes to public displays of affection and swearing as a part of everyday self-expression. Maybe I’m just a 47-year-old dinosaur who refuses to adapt with the times. While you won’t see me with a sheitel or a long skirt, I’m still a strong believer in the value of modesty. I just have to figure out when to object loudly and when to simply walk away.