Modesty, Accountability and Respect

After posting this image on my Strengthening Marriage, Inc. Facebook page a reader posted an edited version (see below) of the original graphic. What ensued was an interesting conversation about modesty that I thought may be of value to share here on my blog as well.

Strengthening Marriage: Rachel I’m not sure I get your edited version?

Rachel: The edited version takes out the condescending attitude of calling females “girls” in comparison to referring to males as “men.”  It also does not make a girl responsible for the thoughts and actions of others. Modesty is subjective anyway. One item of clothing that one person thinks is immodest may be immodest to others. Hence the line about judgmental douchebags.

We need to teach about being respectful and appropriate and not sexualizing everything and to stop putting the burden of virtue on females. Also, don’t you think this kind of thinking can lead to the “good girl/boy” syndrome? I know women who won’t wear a negligee for their husbands because they wouldn’t feel right about it. In addition it makes boys feel like they are ‘pigs’ if they find a girl attractive.

Strengthening MarriageOkay, I get what you are saying now. I didn’t necessarily see the use of “girls” as condescending, but I can see where you might be coming from. I do totally agree about what you’re saying about a girl not being responsible for the thoughts and actions of others.

I guess where I add something to the mix is that men are different than women. They are more visually wired, and they are more easily moved into a state of arousal. So, while women aren’t responsible for men’s thoughts and actions, they ought to at least acknowledge and be respectful of men and how they are wired.

It might be like men just ignoring or disrespecting women’s emotional needs or nature because they may not have those same needs or think the same way. Our job is to acknowledge and be respectful of each other’s differences.

Also, on the subject of modesty, while it may be said that modesty is subjective, a definition that may be helpful to both genders is that modesty allows you to see the person not just the body. Immodestly is anything that draws your attention away from a person’s face or their whole person.

If a woman is wearing a low cut shirt–revealing a little too much information–and if we are willing to account for men’s differences as noted in my above comments then out of respect for men and out of respect for ourselves we wear clothes that help men see our face and focus on our whole self–not just our body parts.

Women show respect for themselves when they don’t take advantage of men’s nature (whether consciously or not) and go for the easy attention that immodest clothing attracts. The gist of the picture I posted above is that modesty attracts real men that are self-respecting and working to keep their natures in check rather than succumbing to their more carnal selves. Does that make sense?

On the issue of this picture contributing to the good girl syndrome, I think there is a big difference between dressing immodestly in our day-to-day living and dressing “immodestly” in our “bedrooms.” But I can see where that could have an unintended effect of adding to the good girl syndrome in some.

I guess that’s why it’s important for women to understand the “why” of modesty in everyday life (as noted above) and how enjoying the playfulness and seduction of lovemaking in marriage is a completely separate thing.

Women do need to know they can enjoy lingerie in the privacy of their intimate marital relationship, and men too need to not be shamed for their sexual wiring. Their sex drive is a great part of the dynamics of marriage and needs to be honored more than it is.

Men are not bad just because they are easily attracted to women sexually. God intended that there be a strong physical attraction there. It’s whether men are the masters of that dimension of themselves or whether their desires control them that matters. There’s certainly a lot of work yet to do with people on these important issues.

It may be of interest to check out a recent article/blog post I wrote about some of these issues. It’s called “Sexual Self Confidence.” 

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  • Strong Man August 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    First–“Ladies” don’t dress immodestly. Girls might. A female is not necessarily a lady. Rachel’s edit removes all accountability from women, and instead attacks men with vicious name calling–that’s not Ladylike.

    Actually, we ALL are responsible for the messages we send to others–whether through our dress, words, or actions.

    How you dress DOES send messages about yourself and your motives. You ARE responsible for the messages you sending when you are immodest. Not for others’ thoughts, but for your nonverbal communication.

    We wear special clothing to the temple, in the temple, to church, to dances, many people wear uniforms at work and in the military, etc. All of those things send messages about our level of respect for and the purpose of the activity or the person involved.

    A man who dresses in shorts and sandals for an important board meeting presentation IS responsible for the message that his clothing communicates–that he doesn’t respect himself, the company, or the board members. He should expect to get fired for that obvious disregard for others.

    A police officer who works without wearing his uniform does not expect the same level of respect as when he is wearing it.

    A woman who wears provocative clothing is sending clear messages about how she views her body and what she wants from others. She should expect attention from the kind of men who share those same values. And she IS responsible for those messages she’s sending and the relationships she develops in response to those messages.

    I’ve written about this in my recent post: Modesty–why it helps women

    A woman shouldn’t be modest to be nice to men to help keep them from sinning–but because she’s wise about the kinds of messages she wants to send and the relationships she wants to have.

    • Arogen August 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Agreed. How you dress is a form of communication. Dressing immodestly sends a message that you are OK with acting immorally. That is an invitation some will be inclined to take up and put that woman in a uncomfortable or even dangerous position. If it isn’t for sale, don’t advertise it.

      And if she deliberately provokes somebody to lust, that in itself is wrong even if they don’t take the bait. No, she isn’t responsible for their choices or thoughts, but she is responsible for the role she plays in provoking those emotions.

      This idea that a woman should be able to dress as immodestly as she likes, and act as wantonly as possible, and doesn’t invite trouble by doing so is political correct foolishness.

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