Modesty?

“Modesty: the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.” -Oliver Herford

The author of Apple Cider Mill (ACM) discusses her perception of modesty and what it involves. (This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed the issue of modesty.) Of course her perspective is funneled through her religious beliefs (she’s devoutly Catholic). She gives a positive review of this book, Created To Be His Help Meet. From Amazon:

“Follow Debi Pearl as she takes the wisdom and experience of her own marriage and confirms it with the wisdom of scripture and learn how to be the “help meet” that God created you to be. You will learn to appreciate God’s gift of a husband with a thankful heart that produces joy and wisdom in you and your home. Gain a better understanding of who your husband is and how your response to him can make or break your marriage. See the Bible’s perspective of obedience and authority and understand how you are joint heirs to the promises of God.”

Clearly, I don’t find much agreement with either of these people. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are and I don’t care how you implement them in your daily life. If you think God is telling you to wear a burqua or a burlap sack, knock yourself out. I don’t believe in God, so I wear what society pressures me into wearing (as it should be.)

ACM starts out arguing that, “It is impossible for a woman to understand a man’s visual drive. She can only believe what an honest and candid man tells her, but few men are willing to admit to their weakness. A woman’s body, moving within visual range of a man, unless it is modestly covered in a way that says to the man that you have no interest in him taking pleasure in your appearance, can be as stimulating to him as disrobing completely.”

So men are EXTREMELY visual but that can be mitigated by dressing modestly.

ACM goes on to say,

“He may be a better man than the woman who is dressing immodestly and may have the fortitude to deny his eyes the stimulation you offer, but it makes you a source of temptation to sin, rather than someone to whom he can relate.”

Man, I feel like I’ve heard this argument before. Hm…where from? Oh yeah. That she got raped because she deserved it because she was wearing a mini skirt. Or she got gang raped and should now be put to death because she wasn’t wearing a burqua. I mean, men can’t be expected to control themselves.

The reason that immodest dress is so evil, according to ACM, because,

“Jesus said that a lusting man commits adultery WITH a woman, not against her, meaning that the woman is included in the lusting adultery [Matthew 5:28]”

So if a man lusts after a woman, she’s just as culpable in adultery as he is? No, this religion isn’t misogynist at all.

She doesn’t discuss, in this post, what exactly constitutes dressing modestly. ACM does have a post on what she wears (and would then consider modest.) I’m not touching her remark about how she doesn’t wear a veil in some circumstances because it makes her husband uncomfortable (or maybe he just wants to lust after her hair) nor am I going to touch the comment she makes that she’ll wear pants if it makes others feel more comfortable (who is she hanging out with that are uncomfortable with skirts?)

Instead, I want to point out the sheer impossibility of meeting even her guidelines. Like most things with religion, as long as you don’t think too hard, it all makes sense. God says dress modestly, so that means covering yourself adequately. God says dress femininely, so that means skirts.

But these are societal imposed standards. Who is to say that a skirt is more feminine than pants? The Scot’s rocked kilts and William Wallace didn’t strike me as especially feminine. Further, why are, as ACM claims, narrowly strapped tank tops immodest while sleeveless shirts are not? Simply because there is more skin shown? And if what dictates modesty is what turns men on, how does she deal with men who are aroused by shoulders or ankles or her eyes? Shouldn’t she cover those as well?

The rules are impossible to meet because there are no actual rules. It is people desperately trying to find guidelines in an outdated text riddled with human errors.

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