One youth pastor is apologizing for insisting girls only wear one-piece swimsuits to church-sponsored events during his 20+ year career, but his apology missed the mark in more ways than one
Bryce Brewer has been a youth pastor “on and off” for more than 20 years, and he’s going viral for issuing an apology to students past and present he’s worked with in that time. Brewer shared a note to his Facebook page on Monday, July 11th, apologizing for what he calls “the ridiculous ultimatum” to female students, asking them to wear one-piece swimsuits during summer camp events. For modesty’s sake, of course. Eye rolls all day long.
Brewer tried to explain with some ill-placed humor his reasoning behind the arbitrary rule that girls remain covered up in one-piece swimsuits while boys could seemingly wear the swim garments of their liking, telling TODAY that a recent shopping trip with his fiancé and her 10-year-old daughter inspired his, ahem, “come to Jesus” moment.
After wandering through several stores “trying to find a cute-but-appropriate one-piece bathing suit,” he saw “a frustration build with both of them, almost a dejection,” and wondered how many girls and their parents he’d put through the same experience over the years.
So, he took to Facebook to apologize, and while it was all very well-meaning, he missed the mark on a few key points. For example, he said, “I am sorry that I didn’t teach boys to control themselves,” adding, “I am sorry I laid the weight of purity on a girls swimsuit while she was swimming, and not on the boys responsibility to not be gross.”
Of course, Brewer’s statement is simply misdirecting and going from one harmful stereotype to another— i.e. that girls are “pure” and chaste and boys (or any children) are “gross” for having sexual feelings.
His next points were valid, with Brewer writing, “I am sorry that we have deemed a young women’s body as something that ‘needs to be covered’ and let young men’s bodies be ok to be seen,” adding, “I am sorry I ever let this be an item of discussion, usually lead by men, at any youth leader meeting … this must have been awful for my female leaders and students to be part of.”
Then things go back to yikesville when he notes that he’s “still a fan of the ‘No Produce Rule,'” adding, “No buns, bananas, or breasts need to be seen. But why are stomachs overtly sexual? Why is a little cleavage sinful? Why are women meant to feel they are responsible for men’s actual sin of lust?”
Modest is hottest — you heard it here first, friends.
While he is correct that no body parts are “overtly sexual” or “sinful” (and they’re also literal body parts, not items you can pick up at the supermarket) calling men’s lust sinful just sorta brings us all back to the same problematic puritanical logic that got us here in the first place.
He ended by apologizing to all his students, especially girls, who were subjected to this treatment. “I am sorry if you felt sexualized by us telling you to cover up. I am sorry I didn’t teach boys to be men, and laid that responsibility on young women.” He invited female students to “wear a swimsuit that lets you have fun,” and told male students to “stop being disgusting and control yourself,” telling his fellow male youth pastors to “stop being chauvinist and making female students feel bad for having breasts.” And to all Christians, he concluded, “live like Jesus.”
Brewer’s post quickly racked up thousands of Facebook reactions, comments, and shares, with many commenters perpetuating the same shame-based ideologies that he’s still holding up. Like, super enthusiastically. All the vomit.
Absolute props to this mom for being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. That is notably difficult.
We reached out to both God and Jesus for their thoughts on the situation, but haven’t heard back from their reps — watch this space.
All jokes aside, policing children’s bodies, thoughts, or feelings in any way only steeps them in shame, making them feel guilty for simply existing in their skin. Sexualizing children is not okay no matter what faith-based beliefs are behind it, so hopefully Brewer and his colleagues will think a bit about their ideologies as they welcome kids to camp this summer.