Warning: The article I'm linking to contains sarcasm, snarkery, and curse words. Read at your own discretion. I have picked out and quoted the main points.
Hey, Girls, 'Modesty' Is Bull****
Okay, so the author's main beef with the concept of "modesty" is that it capitalizes on the idea that a woman's sexual purity determines her "value" and places the onus on women to cover themselves up rather than on men to show some restraint if they value purity.Anyway, that hasn't stopped the city of South Pasadena from declaring December 3-7 "Modesty Week" (oops, guess you missed your chance to wear your high-necked chemise with your most dour stomacher!), in response to one high school student's pro-modesty crusade:
To be very clear, I don't have a problem with these kids wearing turtlenecks and having a club and doing whatever the ding-dong they want (I'm trying to work clean here?Hatch's brother made headlines a few years ago for starting a No Cussing Club, no joke). They seem like sweet kids, and I'm sure their motivations are honest and heartfelt. But I take issue with puritanical standards of female chastity and virtue (which are deeply tied up in conservative religious rhetoric?Hatch, perhaps not coincidentally, is a cousin of Orrin Hatch) being publicly validated by city officials.Saige Hatch, 15, launched the South Pasadena High School Modesty Club in September to combat the proliferation of short shorts, miniskirts and bare midriffs. Hatch blames popular culture and peer pressure for sexualizing women and girls.
"Women have fought for their rights, liberty, and honor more in the past 200 years than in all recorded history," reads a statement on the club's website, Modesty Club. "Our bright, heroic women are being made the fool. A fool to think that to be loved they must be naked. To be noticed they must be sexualized. To be admired they must be objectified."
The club asks girls to pledge they will "wear shorts and skirts at knee length," "shirts and dresses that cover my stomach, lower back, breasts and shoulders" and "not ask, persuade, or allow a boy to do anything with me that will jeopardize the code of chastity."
Boys have less to worry about, but are called on to keep "a neat and clean appearance" and "maintain the utmost respect and honor for the virtue of girls."
Obviously "modesty" has shed some of its patriarchal baggage in the long, slow slog toward modernity, but its fair to say that it's fundamentally intertwined with the concept of women-as-property. "Oh no! Don't let other people see my stuff, because then the stuff will get gross and lose its value!" Cover your goodies, ladies, because everyone knows the menfolk are too busy thinking about man stuff?like winning hella bread, and being all of the presidents?to restrain their penises from homing in on your holes like hungry little dowsing rods.
The idea that the onus is on women to "preserve" their chastity by not "tempting" men?instead of on on men to stop themselves from taking it forcefully?is a fundamental imbalance in our society that creates tangible problems for women every day. And it's coupled with the idea that women who DO "give up" their lady-flowers (and maybe even enjoy it) are somehow tainted and less valuable than women who wear knee-length skirts. However subtly, the word "modesty" is pregnant with all of that meaning (sluuuuuuut!!!). "Modesty" is about men, not women?it's no coincidence that patronizing bull**** like this "Guys on Modesty" Pinterest page is a thing:
That is the purest distillation of "modesty" I can think of. Couldn't have said it better myself. Just like with the Modesty Club, it's the intent and the context that matter. Wearing a high Peter Pan collar is not objectively problematic (and some of the dresses on the "Guys on Modesty" page are ****ing cute, ****it). The problem is the implication that there's a "right" way to be a woman, and that men?anonymous, strange men on the internet, no less?have some say in what that "right" way looks like. And I'm very sorry, "Guys," but my only "womanly duty" is to myself.Guys on Modesty is a male perspective Blog on the subject of modesty. We aim to redefine modesty from a negative virtue-a long list of don'ts-to a positive: A way of living that woman aspire to be.
I have no beef with the kids, regardless of how misguided I think their reasoning is. I only take issue with the adults who indoctrinated these girls into the idea that their personal worth is tied up with their "purity" (notice that no such rules apply to the boys?they're only asked to try to not sully the precious womenfolk). The idea that women's bodies are some kind of exceptional holy commodity undermines equality in a million ways?from access to reproductive health care (hey, how 'bout you cover my vagina the same way you cover the rest of everyone else's body?) to the fact that 2012 is a banner ****ing year in the America household because we've elected 20 whole lady-senators to the United States Senate (we can't elect any more or there'll be menses blood all over the Senate chamber!). There is nothing wrong with wearing a modest blouse. There is something wrong with wearing a modest blouse because some dinos told you it is your "womanly duty."
I think it's a combination. If you want to dress like a complete $lut don't expect too many people to take you very seriously. That said it is dead wrong for boys/men to target women as sexual objects and act on their urges because they think a girl is 'asking for it' by dressing so provocatively.
I knew so many smart girls who just had so little self esteem they had to dress all sexy-like because they wanted the attention from boys. Then they gave in to what the boys wanted. Sad, really.
Well i don't know what to think. Because I do have a threshold on how i want my girls to present themselves. I won't say i don't have a threshold for my son either but its simply easier to meet that threshold based on what clothing is available.
What can i say, if my daughters want to wear shorts that aren't long enough to cover their butts, i'm not okay with that. Does that mean I'm playing into some archaic set of rules where girls have to be responsible for their actions and boys don't? I don't know how i can help that, except for the fact that I plan to raise my son as a decent man as well.
Its like some point i had a conversation on another board about shaving body hair for girls and how that its also sexist to expect our girls to shave their legs and underamrs. Its the same kind of thing...thats great if someone else doesn't want to shave their legs they should go ahead and do what they please, but I plan on teaching my kids thats what we do. Maybe I'm making it that much harder for that person who doesn't want to shave, but oh well.
At some point, i have to balance what's within my comfort zone with being progressive.
I do hate that women's value is determined based on looks. Far more than men's value is.
I don't have a problem with the day at school, but I am far more bothered by how women are judged by their purity, just like the author.
I do have a problem with young girls jumping into the sexy clothes too early though. If my daughter is 18, she can wear what she wants. Until then she is not dressing so that everyone can see everything.
For me, modesty isn't about sexuality or freedom. It is the fact that like it or not, how you present yourself matters. It matters when it comes to employment, relationships, and every social interaction at school and beyond. Maybe I should be doing more to "change" the rules, or change the fact that it matters-- but I think it is my role to teach my children how to function in the society in which they live, and then equip them to assess whether the rules of that society make any sense or whether they wish to follow them or not (when they are adults, as kids, they don't get a choice in my household.)
I think there is a balance between being "modest" and being appropriate. And I think it is also my job to teach my boys just as I'm teaching my girls.
I think there is a continuum. I don't want or expect my kids to dress like Puritans or wear hijabs, but I also don't want them looking like prostitutes (did anyone see the FB cartoon-- It said somethlng like "Santa saw your Facebook page. You're getting clothes and a dictionary for Christmas." I loved it bc of the younger relatives that I'm friends with are ridiculous with their trash outfits and spelling/grammar.)
DD 8.03, DD 6.05, DS 3.07, DD 5.09, and DS arrived 6.17.12
Audra, I totally agree about the trashy talk-texting. I get that 'ur' is way faster than 'you are', but there's a limit. Most of us use some short forms or acronyms, but talk-texting looks like another language and I think it's gross. I don't why it bothers me so much.
I'm torn on this one. I think that there is definitely this persistant attitude out there that some part of a woman's (much more so than a man's) "value" for lack of a better word is based around her sexual identity. A woman that sleeps around is seen as "having no self esteem" if we are being charitable and understanding, or a **** who we needn't take seriously, if we aren't. Speaking about grown women here (NOT children) I don't know what a woman's sex life has to do with whether or not she is smart, interesting, articulate, et cetera (these are traits that I find valuable in humans.) And to a certain extent, I do think that this attitude that a woman who sleeps around must have "something wrong with her" does harken back to this idea that women are a commodity and their sexuality is a commodity; else, why on earth would we care? When men sleep around, we may not think that it a totally great thing, but it's not seen as negatively as it is with women. If anything, it can be kind of a running joke. Take the "Barney Stinson" character from "How I Met Your Mother." The running theme with his character is basically trying to sleep with a new girl every single night. His actions aren't treated with "approval", like "Wow, that's so great!" but they also aren't met with much censure either. It's a joke, and we are meant to understand that behind the skirt chasing, Barney is a good guy that is much loved by his friends. Imagine if that were a woman. I can't imagine a TV sitcom where a woman is portrayed as actively trying to sleep with a different man every night, and where she is also portrayed as still being a sweet gal that has meaningful relationships with her friends and loved ones.
How all of that relates to clothes is sticky. I agree that certain clothes are not appropriate for certain situations. I work in a professional setting, and I can tell you that dressing "sexy" won't get you far, but you also won't be taken seriously if you consistently dress in jeans and a tshirt (however modest), so it's not just about "sex." I get that. On the other hand, I do think that it's interesting that men don't have the same connection between sexuality and clothes. To give an example, we have a man in our neighborhood that, in warm weather, consistently jogs in tiny little running shorts and no shirt. I do giggle at him, but it's more because his shorts are so dated. (They look about 30 years old - how do you keep gym clothes from falling apart in the wash over 30 years? It's actually kind of impressive....he must handwash....) He's barely dressed, and it's never occured to me that he is or wants to be sexually promiscuous. He just looks silly because his shorts are out of style. He wouldn't be taken seriously in a board room dressed that way, but I doubt anyone would question his sexual purity.
I don't have an easy answer for this, and I do think that it's important to teach your kids the rules of what is appropriate in the society that they live, but it does seem unfair to me somehow.
I do fundamentally believe that the way women dress invokes certain reponses from men. I believe that's the way God made men (visually stimulated). I DON'T believe that that fact in any way takes any responsibility off of men for the way they act nor would I EVER say that a girl deserved something she got because of the way she dressed. But I don't think that girls/women should be looking for that kind of attention from every man they encounter and I do think it says something about someone (mostly, the way they think of themselves) who consistently dresses with everything showing. My girls will definitely be taught to dress in a way that shows that they respect themselves, first and foremost, and that they expect others to respect them.
It's funny because I just watched that movie "Easy A" and this topic totally reminds me of that movie! I do agree that promiscuous girls get a bad reputation while promiscuous guys get "high fived" most of the time, which is one of the main points of that movie.
Well, this was a rambling reply.
CARRIE and DH 7/14/07