Honesty Modesty

I’ve been reading with interest the debate on modesty that has hit both the blog world and facebook. It seems to have started predominately with this video

There has been considerable debate about the validity of Jessica Rey and women in general.  I have watched her be both lauded a hero and degraded by her female counterparts. Some of us are decrying the video as to restrictive. Their mantra seems to be

A woman has the right to wear whatever she chooses. And if a man gets his jollies by seeing her, he’s a creep. No one can tell her what to wear. She is the master of her own closet and choices.

To some small degree I completely agree. We are free to wear what we what, what we like, what we feel comfortable in and what looks good on us. And in Utopia no one would be offended by the amount of skin we show or the body parts on display.  But this isn’t Utopia. It’s real life.

I was raised in a strict family and church. Shirts could be no lower than three fingers below the clavicle and skirts/dresses had to have a hem line that went at least to the middle of your knee. Spaghetti straps and even tank tops were taboo. Shorts were in the don’t-even-think-about-it category.  Bikinis were of the devil.

I don’t remember there being any mention of why we had to dress this way. We just had to so we did. And lest you think the women were harshly judged and subjected to such rigorous rules while the men and boys were free to wear what pleased them, it’s not so.

Now that I’m an adult I have let my hem lines get a little shorter, I wear shirts that are a little lower than the three finger rule. Because I find I feel better when I’m not giving some man a free peep show.

I find it very interesting that the blogs standing against the video are all written by women. Not once have I read one by a man. In fact the blog comments in support of the video are largely written by men. They think the video and it’s subject matter are good.

Not from any desire to squash women. Not to lord it over them. Not to prove their manliness at all. Not to shove our gender back to the dark ages. But to let us know they like it when take their wiring into consideration when we get dressed in the morning.

If we have a friend who is dieting and really trying to lose weight, we don’t sit across the table from her with a double piece of chocolate cake piled high with frosting. We don’t do it because it would be rude and inconsiderate of us.

This is the very thing we do to men when we dress immodestly. We parade around in front of them with a double slice of cake, and we’re moaning with the ecstasy of each delicious bite. We’re flaunting our freedom to wear what we want.

And at the same time we’re slapping them when they get too close. We’re calling them creeps for admitting to looking.  We’re saying they should not have a normal, God-given biological reaction to what they see.

We think that because we don’t have the same reaction they should be able to control themselves better when we parade on by in barely-there clothing.  For the most part women are not stimulated by what we see so we think men, who are, are most definitely creeps and should learn to control themselves.

How about if we realize how hard it is when men are faced with it every day all day long.  They can’t get away from it. And we’re not helping. Yes, they should control themselves. And yes many of them do look away, but it only takes a glance. And where do we expect them to look? We’re every where.

I do know that modesty is more a way of life, how we act, react, as well as how we dress.  But that does not give us free reign to dress and let it all hang out.  Modesty is a heart issue more than a wardrobe issue.

Modesty is also a respect issue. Here is a great quote,

“People often say that immodest women fail to respect themselves, but the point is rarely made that immodest women fail to respect men.” (from How to Find Your Soul Mate Without Losing your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert)

If we truly want to be loved for our whole being, if we want men to love us for our minds, our intellect, our abilities, why are we so quick to flash some skin to attract them?  Aren’t we trying to have it both ways? Aren’t we saying in effect, “I will dress how I want to dress. I will act how I want to act. And you’re a pig if you have any reaction.”  Ladies, we can’t do that.

Modesty matters. Modesty is a matter of the heart. If we truly thought of others more highly than we do ourselves we would not have this debate. We’d be knocking each other over trying to protect each other.  If we operated more out of love than out of our rights, we would choose to act and behave differently. On both sides of the issue.

I think women need to come to realize no one is telling them how to dress. No one. Men aren’t. Jessica Rey isn’t. I’m not. I’m not saying everyone has to dress like me. Or dress in a burka. One doesn’t have to wear long jeans and turtle necks all year to  be modest.

I’m not saying that at all. And I don’t live like that.

However, I will say this, your right to dress how you please ends when it infringes on my right to not see parts of your body hanging out. (And this goes for men as well as women.)

So I won’t infringe on your right to wear what you choose. As long as you don’t infringe on my right to not have to see it.


6 thoughts on “Honesty Modesty

  1. I just recently stumbled across this video and your response to it. Like a lot of other women, I don’t agree with Jessica Rey. I grew up (and still am growing up) in a household similar to yours. My knees and shoulder were to be covered at all times. A low cut shirt has to have a tank top underneath it. While my friends squealed about how cute a tank top or sleeveless dress was, I was hastily running through my closet in my mind to remember if I had a cardigan I could wear on top of it. It was a nuisance and I tried often to right it. But now, I notice the differences between my friends who had more lax mothers and myself . I see that they wears clothes I myself would not choose to wear because they are too revealing. I agree that modesty is important, and that there is no need for anyone to be revealing their private body parts that no one else wants to see. What I don’t agree with is that women should be covering up for the benefit of men. I respectfully disagree with your chocolate cake analogy. I think it is inconsiderate of your friend to expect you not to eat chocolate cake around her just because she is dieting. The whole reason dieting is difficult is because there are so many temptations, and you must exercise self-discipline to achieve your end results. No one expects all the bakery shops in America to shut down just because they are dieting. And relating women to chocolate cake is unreasonable in the first place, because women aren’t objects. We are not placed on Earth simply for man’s pleasure, or to test and tempt man’s resistance. We are not defined by the way men view us. We are human beings, just like men are, are we deserve to be seen as human beings by men. The solution here is not to transform ourselves from chocolate cakes to a healthy, modest salad by covering up and making sure we aren’t tempting men. The solution is to teach men, our sons, our brothers, our husbands, that women deserve their respect, even if they are running around in bikinis, because they have feelings and emotions. It is not okay for a man to leer after a woman simply because she is wearing revealing clothing. This implies that he sees her as an object. When we women show some skin, yes, we are saying “I will dress how I want to dress, I will act how I want to act”. But when a man curls his lips up in a smile and gets that look in his eyes and stares for far longer than necessary, he is saying “I will view you the way I want to view you. I will ignore the fact that I am stripping you of your humanity and continue to view you as an object for my pleasure”. And we, as a society, label this as “boys will be boys” and demand that the women change. Modesty is important. Modesty is classy and elegant. But it should not be done to accommodate the objectifying nature of men.


  2. But if we’re looking to lock down dress codes as a way to secure the concentration of all students, how about including a list of garments male students can no longer wear too?


    1. If you would note, I did not say anything at all about “locking down dress codes”, I also said nothing at all about a list of garments women can no longer wear.

      What I did mention is modesty is an attitude of the heart, not just the appearance. I also mentioned both men and women share responsibility.


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  4. I knew it was traditional for the bride and groom to choose the attire for their wedding party but I have to admit that I don’t care too much. For my two bride’s maids, I have asked them to just wear a dress in a shade of gray. For our 2 groom’s men, we will ask them to wear a tuxedo with gray accessories. One of them already owns a tuxedo, so we’re not asking them to wear matching types of tuxedos. And we were planning to let our family members wear whatever they want. Not only did I think this would be easier on everyone, but I love the photographs from weddings where the wedding party has chosen their own attire. I feel like it allows people to let their own personalities to shine through.


  5. It really isn’t an absurd statement. To anyone on the periphery, this is exactly how it appears. Women have to wear hijab; men don’t. Women have to cover from head to foot; men are obligated to cover from the navel to the knee. And the argument follows to claim that women in Islam are oppressed, while men are free to dress, as they like.


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