Thursday, July 25, 2013

A mom's perspective: why I tell my daughters to f*** modesty


Once I was editing a document and Googled open-toe shoes (is it open-toe or open toed?). And I found this.
Ladies, cover your toes! It is simply gross....Open-toed, peep-toed, loud shoes are VERY unprofessional. I loathe working with ANYONE who exposes their toes at the office. Men AND women alike. It shoes (sic) arrogance and proves you care nothing for society. Get professional, cover your knees, feet and chest if you care about being respected in the work place at all.
I was equal-parts shocked, horrified, and relieved. I was relieved because at least it wasn't coming from a religious website! And at least I no longer work in a law firm! You lawyers. You are just as bad as the fundamentalist evangelicals. (WHO KNEW?! Your toes show you care nothing for society!! DO YOU HEAR ME! COVER THEM!)

I mention this because sometimes I need to remind myself that it isn't just the religious folk who are obsessed with what is and is not okay to wear and why. Because it can certainly seem like that. Especially when something like this happens: A Dad's Perspective: Why I Tell My Daughters to Dress Modestly.

Every time modesty culture comes up, I'm equal parts this:


and this:



The whole modesty debate reminds me of the abortion debate. Pro-choice people aren't necessarily pro-abortion. Just like people who are sort of like, "get the heck over this modesty obsession" aren't advocating nudity, micro-minis and cleavage. To me, what it all boils down to is control (And who has it. And why they have it.). Because just like you can more effectively minimize abortion without criminalizing women, you can also more effectively handle issues like respect without obsessing over hemlines and keeping the ladies covered up (in essence, disrespecting people).
We do some things not because we are required, but purely for the sake of others....We do whatever we can to prevent other beloved brothers or sisters from being stumbled. 
Here is what would help me to not reject religion once and for all stumble: if you guys would STFU about modesty. SERIOUSLY.
Do we "have" to dress in a certain way? No, not at all, and the tone of Paul's writing makes this clear. The problem is that we too often have made modesty a compulsory action. Instead, though, modest dress is something we consciously do for others, not because we are forced to, but because we want to; not because we are weaker than others, but because we are stronger; not out of our hatred for ourselves, but our love for another....I believe that women should dress modestly. Why, because they have to? Because they're asking for it if they don't? Because their bodies are not godly things? No, not at all. They should dress modestly because they love and value men.
You see, modesty shouldn't be compulsive. It should be shame and guilt driven. It should be FOR THE MEN (won't somebody please think of the men!? In Christianity, we have ignored the men for far too long. I for one, am here to stand up for the voiceless! For the men! I mean, wait a minute....?)

Ironically, Paul does make modesty a compulsory act when he tells the ladies to cover their heads. But that is a whole 'nother story (that also makes me want to bash my head into my keyboard).



So what I'm going to teach my girls? I'm going to model self respect and respect for others in my actions. I'm going to teach them that they are in control of their bodies (and NO ONE else). I'm going to let them know that they have value and worth that is entirely separate from the way they look, the way anybody treats them, or what anybody says to them. And I'm going to tell them that shame is dangerous. That people who rely on it to wield power are also dangerous. And unfortunately, we will probably talk about all the things that modesty culture talks about: what people think about what you wear and why they think that. But one thing I won't teach them is that their bodies are stumbling blocks to Jesus. Holy cow.

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4 comments:

  1. Paul told the women to cover their heads because in ancient Greek culture it was feared that heavenly beings would snatch and rape women..hence the cover your head because of the angels. Remember that in the Hebrew Bible they had that whole thing about the angels sleeping with women and producing monsters. Paul was actually tell the men to quit with the arm candy status bit and let the women protect themselves from lusting angels..just saying.

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    1. I actually had never heard that before but that. Is. Awesome. Thank you so much for commenting! I kind of love this.

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  2. Every profession has its dress code. No lawyer or judge is going to go into the courtroom wearing bermuda shorts and a hawaiian shirt. No one is forcing these men to wear a suit and the medieval torture device known as a necktie (which was invented because buttons were considered salacious!)...
    Notice I'm concentrating on men here because these dress codes aren't only directed at women.
    Certain professions (unfortunately) come with certain dress requirements. We use the word "professional" to refer not only to someone's work, but also to how they dress.
    That said, how a man or a woman dresses outside of a professional atmosphere is COMPLETELY up to them, and I have been to plenty of very formal events where women were wearing beautiful, elegant open-toed shoes.
    It's all about context and culture. Telling your daughters they can dress how they want where and when they want is doing them a disservice professionally.
    Someday, we may get past judging people by how they dress (hopefully) but for certain contexts, we are force by culture to adhere to certain standards.

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    1. I'm sure you're not implying that I'd encourage my daughters to wear flip flops to a professional job interview or a semiformal dress to a formal event? Like I said, I'm going to talk to them about what people think about what you wear and why they think that. But I'm not going to tell them that they should make those choices because if they don't, they hate society or men/God. It is that second step right there that implies shame that upset me.

      I agree that it is all culture and context. and I think when people start making it about being a good/bad person or making it about your body being the problem then it no longer about either of those things as much as it is about control and shame.

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