Rachel Held Evans tells the story of a Christian speaker who spoke of his struggle with pornography. At the conference, he concluded his talk by declaring victory over his addiction and introducing his wife to the audience. The speaker then referenced her as his “smokin’ hot wife” and the audience applauded.
Smokin’. Hot. Wife.
The phrase was hilarious when quoted in the comedy, Talladega Nights. And it seems to have taken the evangelical world by storm. But in most contexts where I’ve heard it used…it’s not funny.
I’m not the first person to talk about it and I probably will not be the last.
I am fortunate that my husband has never referred to me in public using this idiom. In private, he has told me I am beautiful. He has also referred to me as intelligent, resourceful, creative, and provocative. (I was hoping the last one was a compliment, but I’ll take it either way)
There is something about the terminology of “smokin’ hot wife” that is degrading and objectifying. Women spend most of their lives attempting to stand up against a culture that tells us our only value is our body. Glennon Doyle Melton diagnosis it as culture’s way of keeping us looking in the mirror so we never look outward to make a difference.
But marriage was not designed for woman to be man’s object of affection. We were created to be partners. Together we are here to change the world; to steward it; to care for it; to be fruitful in all we do.
Each time a man refers to his wife using this derogatory idiom, he reminds her and the world that she is his property rather than his partner. We can kid ourselves by insisting it is playful at best; mere harmless words. But when have words ever been harmless? The emphasis is still upon her body and beauty rather than her personhood and partnership.
The West has come so far in edifying women and removing barriers. Yet, it still has a long way to go. We push through the glass ceiling but continue to have our partners unwittingly humiliate us.
The speaker referenced above most assuredly had no intention of humiliating his wife. His love and commitment brought him to his knees in confession and repentance. Still, he was blind to the deeper cause of pornography…the objectification of women.
We are moving into the second decade of the 21st century. It is the desire of women in the West and even around the world to see an end to objectification. We are asking the men in our lives what role they want to play. Are you willing to edify your spouse as your partner? Are you ready to change the world by seeing women as God’s created beings? What would you be willing to do to make the world a better and safer place for your daughters?
Women have been pushing the boundaries for generations. They are calling for the men in their lives to push the boundaries alongside them. Don’t stay asleep in your recliner. Wake up and be the men God has created you to be!