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.
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:
[QUOTE]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."
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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.