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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

15 minutes on The dark side of modesty

I grew up in the church culture. To be even more specific, my denomination was extremely conservative. I wasn't allowed to wear slacks to church for years, it had to be a skirt or a dress. If you had to get up in the middle of a service to go to the bathroom, it had better have been one heck of an emergency. Whatever you do, you must sit in utter and total silence in church, lest you distract your fellow worshippers from their holy thoughts of where they were going for lunch once the service was over.

Okay, I'm being facetious now. I really need to start using a special font for my facetious voice.

Anyway, I have heard my generation of church goers, specifically youth groupies, referred to as the "True Love Waits" generation. We had it nailed into our brains year in and year out that sex was a thing for marriage only and that "modest is hottest". I still totally believe that we were designed for monogamous sex within marriage, and that modesty is an important thing to instill in young girls. I also think, though, that if you use bad tactics, fear-mongering, for example, when teaching your young girls to dress modestly, you are setting them up for just as much lifelong damage as if you sent them out on a street corner in fishnets and high heels. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point.

As my generation of "True love waiters" reaches adulthood and starts families, I think that there is going to be some backlash. It is one thing to teach a girl that modesty is respectable and helps to deter creeps. It's also acceptable, in my opinion to gently explain to girls that guys love female bodies and it's easiest for everyone if we don't let it all hang out.

It is not, in my opinion, ever, ever, remotely acceptable to instill in young girls' minds that guys are "just like that" and there is nothing they can do about it. If they see a scantily clad young girl, they can't help but imagine having sex with her. I was literally fed the idea that, if a girl is dressed immodestly and a guy gets aroused, it's her fault.

What. The. Heck.

Let's think that logic through for a few minutes, why don't we? That would explain why girls get blamed for their own rapes. That would also explain why so many "good church girls", myself included, struggle so much with physical self esteem. For years, I was literally afraid of looking too nice, lest I cause some nice church boy to stumble, which would, of course, be all my fault and he would be and innocent victim.

Now, lets carry that over into marriage. If males can't help themselves around beautiful women, then every married woman needs to feel that her marriage is in danger whenever a beautiful woman is nearby.

I think that some things really came together for me when I was at the zoo last summer and I saw some Muslim women walking around with their families, in the heat of a South Louisiana summer, wearing clothing that covered all of the skin on their bodies except for their hands and faces. First of all, they looked oppressively hot, and not in a sexy way, but in a sweaty miserable heat stroke way. Second of all, ok, so their husbands couldn't see their skin, but they could see all the other women walking around the zoo that day.

I realized that, even if I'm dressed like a modest frump dog, chances every third girl I pass is not going to have been so "considerate". My efforts really aren't helping anyone out all that much, they are just making me feel less feminine.

Do I think that modesty is important? Absolutely. Men and women both have to make an effort to be sexually pure. Also, pornography addiction is rampant, and I want to protect myself from being seen as an object. Also, propriety is a thing.

In summation, I just don't think that I, or any other young woman, should have to feel like it is her responsibility to protect a man's sexual purity. I also think that this fear mongering causes trust issues in marriages when girls are raised to believe that all men are uncontrollable sex machines. Lastly, a women should never be forbidden to make herself feel beautiful because of what a man might think, especially when that man is more than likely going to see 25 thousand other scantily clad women a day.

15 minutes is so not long enough to hash this topic out...but I hope I made my point clearly enough. Also, full disclosure, this one took 25 minutes. You can dock my pay.

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