I guess when I’m out dancing I should just keep the contents of my purse tucked into my bra instead of in a handy shoulder bag

Via  Jezebel:  set of results from a survey on a Christian website; the questions about what Christian guys consider “immodest” were submitted by Christian girls. How did these guys define immodest?

omething that is immodest is something that is designed to arouse lust within me (male, age 24).

Something that is immodest is something that is unnaturally revealing (male, age 20).

Something immodest draws attention to a girl’s body (male, age 28).

Basically, these dudes want to be attracted to women as people, not because of their exposed flesh. And it’s the job of the women to keep themselves modest. Which includes:

-no halter tops

-no miniskirts

-not wearing your purse over one shoulder so the strap cuts diagonally across your chest

-walking a certain way

-bending over with her backside to you

-stretching (arching back, sticking chest out, reaching arms back)

-DO NOT let your chest bounce as you walk

As Lisa on Jezebel puts it,

Immodesty, then, is not simply about being vigilant about your clothing (don’t wear a purse that falls diagonally across your body, don’t show your arms or your thighs), it’s a constant vigilance about how you display your body (don’t stretch, bend, or bounce).

This is a great deal of self-monitoring for girls. Not just when they shop, but when they get dressed, and all day as they move, and with constant re-evaluation of their clothes and how they fit. But, the rationale is, they must be vigilant and obey these rules in order to protect guys from the power of all bodies (both their own sexiness, and men’s biological response to it). Guys are burdened with lust, they insist.

This ‘women-as-gatekeepers’ mentality is problematic, because it essentially places the responsibility on women to make sure they are keeping themselves in check. And, as some of the survey results show, things that are modest can become immodest in certain contexts, so the goalposts for modesty can shift, which means that girls are aiming for a moving target.

One of the definitions of immodesty given by a respondant is worrying:

Immodest: Screams that her body is different than mine. Attempts to manipulate me. Forcefully offers to trade what I want (in the flesh) for what she wants: attention (male, age 30).

Because it assumes that women can’t actually be dressing for themselves, but purely for attention. I can imagine that, in fact, there are quite a few women out there who, when they dress, are acutely aware and wary of attention they might get from men, because it isn’t necessarily wanted.

And, not to put to fine a point on it, but it is fairly obvious that women’s bodies differ from men’s. And individual women’s bodies differ from other women’s bodies, and ditto for men. This isn’t necessarily about how you dress them: no bodies are the same, and a woman shouldn’t have to worry that wearing a bag diagonally across her chest is a lightbulb moment where a dude is realizing this.

At least the guys who responded to the survey admit that they should be controlling their own thoughts/urges, but the plea to women that accompanied this admission was very unsettling to me

Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis. Please, please, please take a higher standard in the ways you dress. True, we men are responsible for our thoughts and actions before the Lord, but it is such a blessing when we know that we can spend time with our sisters in Christ, enjoying their fellowship without having to constantly be on guard against ungodly thoughts brought about by the inappropriate ways they sometimes dress. In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul presents believers as the members of one body – we have to work together. Every Christian has a special role to play in the body of Christ. That goal is to bring glory to the Savior through an obedient, unified body of believers – please don’t hurt that unity by dressing in ways that may tempt your brothers in Christ to stumble (male, age 24).

To me, this smacks of ‘I realize I am responsible for myself, but please, please, please make my daily struggles easier by dressing to a “higher standard”, as defined by me’.

Personally, I’m not really motivated by modesty, or making sure I don’t tempt men, so I do find myself instinctively curling my lip at at this. But I am open to the fact that not everyone shares my beliefs, and some people don’t view this as oppressive and somewhat unreasonable in the same way that I do. I would just like to see an equal standard built in, putting men and women on the same playing field. Guys should avoid wearing skinny jeans that might emphasize their junk, or be tight around the legs, and stick to baggy shirts that don’t show any hint of the muscular chest beneath. Because surely women can view the male body with lust, just as men can view the female body with lust, right? I find men pretty enjoyable to cast my eyes upon at times. As well as being less than reasonable, the unequal standard actually erases women’s sexuality and sexual desires because it doesn’t acknowledge that their desires even exist. And I think there are already enough messages from society that women are less sexual than men, which can be incredibly misleading and damaging.

Comments are closed.