I recently read an article discussing young (American) Christian males’ views on female modesty. The guys, from young teenagers to men in their early thirties, answered a number of questions related to women’s behavior, choice of clothing, etc., and shared their views on what makes a girl/woman modest and why they think it’s important.
I must admit, I had a lot of problems with the ideas presented in this article. As the author points out in the conclusion, one major flaw is that a bias is built right into the design of the survey, in that women have no voice in the matter. Men have problems with women’s physical appearance, men decide what is modest and what is not, and women, basically, are at fault because they were born with bodies. Women aren’t even asked what they think. They don’t have the opportunity to define for men the way they should behave or dress in order to fit into the concept of modesty.
One thing I found most interesting about the views these young men expressed is that even when women aren’t doing anything, they’re still at fault, in a way. In their view, women must be CONSTANTLY vigilant, lest they do anything, even unconsciously, that men might find attractive or distracting. That’s tough work. I think most of the women I know are a bit busy doing rather important stuff in the world, like working and living their lives, and don’t have time to become an overly-self-conscious basket case to protect the men who may or may not be watching her.
And here’s a quote from one of the survey participants that I found particularly irksome: ‘An immodest lady is loud, proud, and dresses in a way that communicates such an attitude (male, age 24).’ Does this mean modest women shouldn’t speak or feel happy in their own skin? A woman should be sitting in a corner somewhere, eyes averted, not draw any attention to herself? Nonsense. I can’t believe that being confident, speaking, and feeling good about yourself means you are guilty of immodesty, if that is such a horrible crime after all.
This article also forces me to wonder, what exactly is the point of worrying about modesty? Is it still important? Isn’t it just some outdated concept that has no place in a world where (ideally) men and women are equal human beings and truly see each other as such?
I think it’s, at the least, an unfortunate mindset for people to have, and can also be very damaging. Women are, as always. guilty of being human and maybe looking good, and must live in fear of tempting men. We aren’t allowed to just be what we are and act naturally. Instead, we must always see ourselves reflected in other people’s reactions, behaviours and needs, and we should be defining our self-image based on other people’s views of us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like this very much. At all.
Regardless of your opinions on the subject, I do think the article is a good read. Certainly food for thought and discussion. Check it out, see what you think and share your thoughts.