P.S. What are you wearing?

So the other day I tossed off this post about teaching our girls (okay, “our children, especially daughters”) the importance of modest dress, and then I promptly went off to play with my three-year-old (who was respectably clad in an oversize t-shirt and long pants) and subsequently spent the rest of the day de-cluttering and reorganizing the toy room. I didn’t re-visit the post until late that afternoon, when I was not remotely surprised to learn that aforementioned post had generated more feedback than usual. More than usual for me, I mean. Most of what I post doesn’t provoke much of a response. When I post on a topic like modesty, however, it is guaranteed that the same arguments will get trotted out and re-hashed ad nauseum in the comments section. At first I felt a little guilty for writing something so predictably inflammatory and then abandoning the thread to pursue my own selfish interests, but as I read what everyone had to say, the guilt completely dissipated and I felt that, if anything, I had served the greater good by letting nature take its course and thus prove my satirical point more effectively than I ever could have, had I taken the time to formulate thoughtful responses to everyone’s arguments.

Suckahs!

(Incidentally, I appreciate those of you who recognized that I was “being funny” even if you personally didn’t find any of it at all amusing. It’s nice to have one’s evil intentions recognized.)

My husband mentioned to me last night that he had read my post and successfully resisted the temptation to make a complimentary-if-mildly-vulgar comment, as he wasn’t sure it would be appreciated. (A mildly vulgar comment is a terrible thing to waste.) I told him I had stopped reading the comments because the conversation was no longer about anything I had written originally. He said that most of my readers appeared to be entirely too somber and/or intellectual about the subject to appreciate my treatment, which I readily admit was both careless and unedifying–even if it was chock full of wisdom rarely seen in the Bloggernacle or any other place in modern life.

The fact is this: we emphasize modest dress more to our young women than we do to our young men because it matters more to young women than it does to young men. Wherever someone is exhorting young women to cover up their breasts, shoulders, stomachs and thighs, some other exasperated person is sighing, “Why don’t they tell the young men to wear pants that fit right?” There’s a very simple explanation: women aren’t turned on by men wearing baggy pants. In point of fact, women are either totally indifferent to men wearing baggy pants, or they are repulsed. (I’m speaking in generalities here. If baggy pants that hang below a young man’s BVD’s make you hot, you need to understand that you are atypical to the point of freakishness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you should be aware.) Therefore, while we may strongly prefer our young men to eschew ill-fitting trousers, there is not the same sense of urgency that there is with young women and their exposed bodies, which are so often and readily exploited sexually.

We emphasize modest dress more to our girls than to our boys for the same reason women bear the brunt of responsibility for contraception: because women have more at stake here than men have. It may not be fair, but nevertheless, that’s life.

To be sure, some women enjoy being ogled (or oogled, as the case may be) by every Tom, Dick and Harry who happen to glance their way. Most, however, do not. They only like to be ogled under specific circumstances by specific men (usually, one specific man per woman). This is not to say they have a problem with the general population finding them attractive or pretty or desirable. But they don’t crave intimate sexual scrutiny from the general population. That’s creepy.

By contrast, how many men out there do you suppose are worried about women getting the Wrong Idea about them because they failed to put on a belt that morning? Probably more than need to be, but still not that many.

A lot of you took issue with me comparing girls dressing immodestly for the purpose of attracting boys to boys being generally charming for the purpose of attracting girls because they are NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL. No, they are not. And that was precisely my point. There is no amount of skin a boy could show that would make a girl crazy with lust the same way the tiniest hint of breast will drive a boy to distraction. It’s not that girls don’t get lust-addled at all; it’s that they’re more often provoked by different stimuli and often for significantly different reasons. Were it not so, Playgirl would be a magazine primarily marketed to heterosexual women.

Semi-relevant aside: For reasons that are too complicated to get into here *cough*, in college my dorm-mates and I once spent a jocular evening poring over the Readers’ Fantasy Forum section of Playgirl, which (for those of you uninitiated) is composed of written erotica. I think I fell out of bed laughing at my friend’s read-aloud of “Jessie Rides the Range,” in which a naughty cowgirl has her way with a well-muscled ranch hand, but I digress. The point is that we were all of us as fond of men and interested in sex as the next straight girl, but we spent an average of one second looking at the nekkid pictures (which were being handled for artistic purposes I can’t disclose here) and devoted the rest of our leisure time to actually reading the articles (which I still wouldn’t swear were entirely geared toward heterosexual women, as entertaining as they were). Does any of you honestly envision a similar scenario being enacted on the men’s hall? It is a rhetorical question. End semi-relevant aside.

I know many folks out there could argue until the cows come home about whether men are really more at the mercy of visual stimuli than women are, or if women are socialized to deny their sexual feelings every time they see a male nipple, but I’m the type of person who thinks that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Men appear to be more at the mercy of visual stimuli because they just are. It doesn’t mean they can’t control their behavior or rein in their thoughts. (First cows, now reining–I swear this is all unintentional. You see how porn scars you for life, kids?!) It doesn’t mean they’re mere animals who can’t appreciate a woman’s intellectual and spiritual qualities. It’s not a sorry commentary on men at all. It’s just reality. Reality is full of a bunch of stuff young women ought to know but often end up learning the hard way. (If you’ll pardon the expression.)

I remember very little about the chastity lessons of my youth. I remember one particular “Ew!” moment when our Mia Maid adviser said, “I won’t lie to you: it is pleasurable.” (Gah, Sister C! What are you, forty???) And the rest is just kind of a blur with one take-home lesson: “Sex is beautiful and heavenly, but not until you’re married. For the unmarried it can only result in PAIN and HORROR.” Which is a reasonably compelling lesson for a lot of young women, who manage to abstain from sex right up until their wedding night. But it doesn’t do much to combat the strong emotions that arise in a young woman who finds herself craving intimacy with a young man she is very attracted to. This is the point at which a young woman could really use some old-fashioned facts of life.

When I was working in Young Women as an adult leader, I observed a couple of lessons about chastity. One of them was taught by an older woman (delightful in so many respects) who pleaded, “Oh, girls, please don’t give up your eternal potential for five, ten…fifteen minutes of pleasure!” (If I’d been in a college dorm, I might have fallen out of bed.) On another occasion one of the leaders said this: “You know, when you’re dancing with a boy or you’re holding hands and you’re really close, you’ll be thinking, ‘Oh, this is so sweet, this is so romantic.’ What you don’t realize is what the boy is thinking–which is not ‘this is so sweet, this is so romantic.'”

Yes, I understand it’s presumptuous. I’m sure there are many young men out there who think sweet and romantic thoughts all the time. You are about to tell me all about them. You’re also going to say that young people are perfectly capable of understanding celestial and Christ-like motivations for sexual purity and there’s no need to trot out the old Men Are Pigs standard. But I disagree. Not on the point that young people understand the more sublime arguments for chastity. I disagree that there is no need to teach young women that young men are not like them, especially not sexually. The reason we don’t balance our anti-mini-skirt tirades with some anti-baggy-pants tirades is that these two things don’t correspond to one another. There is no male equivalent to mini-skirts (at least not among the heterosexual) because women don’t tend to objectify (for want of a less-loaded word) men’s bodies the way men tend to objectify women’s bodies.

Please note that this does not mean that women don’t enjoy looking at attractive men, nor does it mean that women should dress in burqas so men aren’t tempted. A woman has no control over whether a man is tempted–you know, short of walking up to him and offering him the forbidden fruit herself. She can still choose for herself whether or not to be provocative, and young women will make smarter choices in this respect when they’re better informed about the effect they can (and usually do) have on men.

And here I am not trying to be funny. A young woman who assumes that the way she dresses is irrelevant to how a young man (or an old man) responds to her is naive and foolish. It has nothing to do with how men ought to behave toward women. How men ought to behave is a totally different subject. I am against implying that young women are responsible for men’s behavior. They’re no more responsible for men’s behavior than they are responsible for men’s nature. But not being responsible does not equal being ignorant.

Sure, maybe Sunday School isn’t the place for a discourse on human sexuality. But our current rhetoric about modesty already implies the things I’ve stated explicitly. I humorously suggested we just come out and say what we really mean. It would be gauche, yes, but just because it’s gauche doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work.

Bookmark P.S.  What are you wearing?

Comments

  1. Oh, Rebecca J, I do love your posts and I agree with you completely on this one.

  2. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Well done, RJ.

  3. Excellent post. I love that you were reading Playgirl in the dorms. I tried to get on their website in 1998, but it said you had to be 21 and provide a credit card as proof of age. Being a young teenager who still heeded age restrictions, I left the site and deleted the browsing history so my mom wouldn’t know. :)

  4. So this apparently too-somber sucker wishes this was your first post. But I will freely admit that I am not a fan of satire (and obviously don’t always see it).

    I will always appreciate a bishop who talked directly to the YW one Sunday about that whole dancing close thing. I didn’t get married until later 20s and I still didn’t really get that until after I was married. I was so grateful for a bishop who was willing to just sort of lay some things on the line for these girls.

    And I do appreciate this post. I’ll continue to be somber and say that I think topics like this deserve directness, so thanks for the follow-up, even if you and hubby did get a laugh out of those of us who thought you were serious.

    Ahem.

  5. Loved the last post, love this one, too. I agree with you. The problem I have is that some church leaders take it upon themselves to tell the YW what is modest.

    But you are exactly right that YW and YM spend alot of energy finding ways to attract each other, and in that process they also catch the undesired gazes of others. Unfortunately, that happens no matter what the attire…..its just way more gross when immodest clothing is involved.

  6. Both of your posts were so funny precisely because they were spot on. Nice work.

  7. I am against implying that young women are responsible for men’s behavior. They’re no more responsible for men’s behavior than they are responsible for men’s nature. But not being responsible does not equal being ignorant.

    Well said (the whole post really, but those lines especially). Young women shouldn’t feel responsible for the thoughts of the young men (or older men), but they certainly shouldn’t be ignorant of them, either.

  8. One thing I can’t figure out is why there is such an emphasis on modesty all of a sudden. I have found, pretty much across the board, that the youth dress no more provocatively now than they did when I was their age.

    Does anybody have information about this? I am truly interested.

  9. This post is t*ts!

  10. I don’t think there’s any “all of a sudden” in regards to an emphasis on modesty, AspieMom. It’s something that is regularly reinforced.

  11. Jay, I understand that its a normal part of the mormon culture, but it seems to have become uber-important lately.

    This post, along with dozens of others, prove my point. I am pretty relaxed about modesty, I don’t make my kids dress “temple ready”. But they are always modestly dressed.

    I have seen so many online discussions about how no young woman or girl should wear sleeveless tops or shorts above the knee, etc. This all just seems very extreme, so I am wondering if there has been some kind of push from SLC regarding this issue, or if this is more of a grassroots kind of thing?

  12. m&m – I hope you know I was just teasing when I called you all suckers. ;) Your comment does make me glad I wrote a follow-up, so thank you.

    Hubby – I appreciated that.

  13. Incidentally, Rebecca J and I are the same person. Unlike FMH Rebecca and I.

    (This comment was easier than signing out and signing back in again.)

  14. madhousewife, you are a lucky woman!

  15. Not really relevant to your post, RJ, and with absolutely no aspersions cast, but I find it very interesting that you can joke about reading Playgirl, but very few male bloggers around here would be able to do the same about Playboy. That very fact may say something about our views of male/female sexuality in the church. I dunno.

  16. I was under the impression that there isn’t any female sexuality in the church……:)

  17. Indeed, Ronan. The very fact that you typed “Playboy” has likely caused all of the other males here to conclude you have a pernici0us pr0n pr0blem.

  18. You want to hear my experience with reading Playboy? When I was in graduate school, my major advisor, knowing that I was a baseball fan, mentioned an interesting article about baseball he had read in Playboy. I had forgotten all about the conversation when a couple of weeks later, I was at his house and he handed me a magazine folded back and open to a baseball article. I was a couple of pages in before I got an eyeful. I finished the article, though.

    So it is true what they say. Playboy does have interesting articles. At least *I* just read it for the articles.

  19. Let’s be clear on one thing, though: We do not want to hear about everyone’s experiences with Playboy.

  20. Perhaps it is because we have no female sexuality that we LDS Women can blog about reading Playgirl…

  21. Yes Johnna, but they still can’t blog about reading Playboy:P

  22. Rebecca, I read both of your post.
    I am but one man with his opinion. But, yes, there are horny boys/men. Yes, there are also horny girl/women. But I have not found these to be the majority. I think most males/females are modest, even in dress and thought. I don’t feel you or the Church are on target in what is taught to the YW/YM.

    I don’t think women dress for men (or sex), but for other women. Just look at the magazines at your food store. Do you think these are women talking to men? I don’t think Playboy has a large circulation.

    Boys dress for other boys. baggy pants shows toughness to other boys. The look comes from the jails, when belts are taken along with the junk food. Same with the short
    hair.

    Teaching good dressing, manners, and social skills is smart. But cut back on the sex part.

  23. Most women who complain about other women not being modest are just jealous. They don’t have the figure that allows them to dress immodestly so they don’t want any woman to dress immodestly.

    I’ve known a couple of women who were overweight in HS and made a big deal about modesty. A couple of years later, they got in really good shape and started dressing immodestly. Now that they are older and heavier, they are back on the modesty bandwagon.

  24. In attempting to discuss the importance of modest dress, the discourse often turns to immodest dress. Is that the only approach we have?

  25. FWIW, I’d rather read Playboy than Playgirl.

    Also, I wasn’t joking.

  26. AARP magazine is the top rated magazine in the USA… never even heard of it.

  27. #26 really? Not to all OT but why?

  28. #24: Satire…right? Read again the other 29 magazines that beat it out. Men do like to talk about women. But also guns, football, money, tools, cars, fish, beers, just about as much.

  29. #27: You will!

  30. #28 – Because I am not a gay man.

    #29 – The point was not that Playboy is the best-selling magazine among men but that it does have a large circulation. More than O Magazine, more than Parenting, more than Guideposts. Not too far behind Newsweek. These are all really big magazines. They are big because lots of people read them. Note that Playgirl does not make the Top 100. There’s a very good reason for this, but I hesitate to mention it for fear of repeating myself for the zillionth time.

  31. For some reason I think “Burqua”. Why are we always told to hide? I’ve been told to hide since I was 17 and now I’m 47 and dislike it just as much. The young girls in my ward dress modestly. I’ve not noticed any issues but yet again let’s make the young girls feel guilty and to blame if they get lusted after. Sigh.

  32. Busy bee, your comment belongs on my other thread.

  33. Okay, I was grouchy yesterday. Your last post was pretty funny, and I shared it with my bishop (he thought it was hilarious).

    Oh, and as one with teenage daughters,

    “You’re also going to say that …there’s no need to trot out the old Men Are Pigs standard. But I disagree.”

    I do believe you’re right. As I walked in to pick up my girls from a mutual pool party last summer, the pheromones in the air, not the chlorine, which caused my eyes to burn and my spine to tingle. I asked them what was going on. Apparently, three or four girls (all in swimsuits) had just been wrestling away a squirt-gun from one of the guys. Teenage girls can be SO clueless. As one who wallows, I’ll bet that poor kid had a hard time getting to sleep that night.

  34. Okey dokey, Rebecca

  35. P.S. I notice you aren’t so snarky when a man comments. I detect reverse discrimination.

  36. #31: One must total the top 29 as those chosen over buying a Playboy to be fair.
    Look who is the #1 actress in America.. Meryl Streep. Hardly a Sex object. I like to look at Meg Ryan, but not because of her body parts.
    My teenage daughter was a Goth. Now THAT was nice to come home to. Dress is not the issue! Don’t make it the center of the discussion.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    I loved both posts, RJ.

    (Does Playgirl still even exist?)

  38. Of course you all love it and share the posts with your bishops. You get to read a grown LDS woman tantalized you with the fact she saw grown up men in a Playgirl magazine. Read through the post again and catch all the buzz words and body parts mentioned. And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it because it’s all about modesty and clothing. Oh praise be.

  39. I ought to clarify. I really enjoyed both posts. I have found both discussions very thought provoking. It seems to me that any topic that could include human sexuality is a slippery slope in discussions with lds, probably for a variety of reasons. A couple that stand out to me are that we are prone to sexualize situations that are not necessarily sexual, and we seem to have a lot of cultural baggage when it comes to sex and gender roles. I really enjoyed Rebecca’s straightforward approach.

  40. My last comment so as to be gracious and not monopolize: I feel bad now because I’m sure everyone on here is marching to the correct drum and I am probably out of step. So I apologize. My comments were in response to frustrations I have encountered along the way in this life. To me both of the blogs are about the same thing so when I was told I commented on the wrong blog my pride flared up.

  41. Surely the real advantage of modest clothing to women is due to the Mother / Whore Dichotomy. Men categorize all women into two sections; respectable and non-respectable, and they use clothes as a primary way to do this.
    Any woman who gets categorized into the latter section has approx zero chance of a long term commitment and is likely not to be treated very well in the short term either.
    There was a point in my life when the penny dropped about this and it clarified my thinking about the way I dress.

  42. Zongle, that was brilliant and spot on.

  43. #42: I don’t disagree with you (you may be a little hard). I too would be careful in my dress. But teen boys and girls do grow through stages, and how they dress can be one of them. But so is not doing homework, or cleaning their room. all I am saying is there are many issues in dealing with teens. Sex and dress are just two.
    I had three categories:desirable, but unattainable, attainable, but not desirable, and the best, desirable and attainable.

  44. Busy bee I like reading your comments. Keep writing.

  45. Mommie Dearest says:

    Yeah busy bee, if you can’t march to your own drum in the comments at BCC, what good is it?

  46. My husband and I are in the fashion industry. We see naked, beautiful, bodies all of the time. We get to touch them, drape them, move them, and review them. Models change in front of us without shame. While we can appreciate the beauty of the human body, both male and female, lustful thoughts do not come to mind, which I can assume the same for doctors seeing a patient or an artist sculpting. Perhaps we should expose young men and women to the beauty of the human body through art, science, and sports so that they can learn to control their thoughts rather than covering them and equating exposure of the body as shameful.

  47. I hope you know I was just teasing when I called you all suckers. ;)

    I know.

    Your comment does make me glad I wrote a follow-up, so thank you.

    Thanks, and you’re welcome. :)

  48. Diana, (47) I agree. I think the history of past exposure is what makes the only difference between guys who are inflamed by a glimpse of ankle, and guys who can look upon a woman’s bare knees and shoulders with equanimity. My feeling is that it’s important to women’s freedom that the men of our culture be trained as much toward the latter end of the spectrum as possible. That’s why I celebrate the women in the past and today who have flouted society’s conventions to wear what made them feel comfortable and free.

    If my choice is to be thought of as either (only) a mother or whore, which should I choose? I reject both those choices. I’d rather have the choice to be considered a real full human person who happens to be female.

    I see the humor in both of your posts. I guess the part I was moved to respond to was the serious subject of what we teach young people about their bodies. It’s not that I don’t see the humor. But I don’t mind being made fun of, either, so it’s all good. =)

  49. “Look who is the #1 actress in America.. Meryl Streep. Hardly a Sex object. I like to look at Meg Ryan, but not because of her body parts.”

    The actress with the number one movie this year is Megan Fox who IS a sex object.

  50. Liberal Mormon says:

    This modesty subject does go both ways, though:

    “Finally, do not patronize pornography. Do not use your purchasing power to support moral degradation. And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.” Dallin H. Oaks, April 2005 GC

    To me, modesty also has to do with one’s thoughts as well. So from what i gather from him is the biggest is that men tend to need to be more modest mentally while women need to be more modest physically in their dress. Seems like it’s the way our society tends to be in this regard.

    Just my two cents worth.

  51. Busy bee, I regret my earlier comment. You are free to express your feelings about modesty on any thread you choose. (Though it might seem out of place on the Skousen thread.)

    To me, modesty also has to do with one’s thoughts as well.

    Exactly right. There are many aspects of modesty. For example, it is not remotely modest to read the Reader’s Fantasy Forum in Playgirl. This whole post is not terribly modest. Mental modesty deserves its own post, unsullied by the seamy details of this one.

  52. Rebecca, thanks for another fresh take on an important subject.

    The only chastity lesson from my youth I remember is one in which the teacher was nervously mutilating a perfect white rose as she spoke. I kept annoying her by suggesting that she set the rose down or let me hold it. When she got to the end and held up the bruised, smushed and wilted remains, I got it. This could be you, young sisters: protect your rose!

  53. But there you were, Jami, trying to protect the rose from her unseemly advances, and your efforts were for naught!

  54. Tatiana #49 – Obviously societal norms have a huge influence on what is considered immodest or titillating. Where women breastfeed openly, people don’t sexualize breastfeeding. Where women routinely wear skirts above the ankle, people don’t sexualize ankles. In nudist colonies, nudity isn’t sexualized. However, I think we’d lose something valuable if our bodies became fully desexualized (and I’m not saying you disagree). Modesty and sexual innocence serve a greater purpose (beyond the grand purpose of oppressing women, of course ;) ). We’re moving toward a future where nothing is titillating, and that would be a shame, I think. In the sense that it would be boring.

  55. Diana, I agree with your take on this issue. We have many works of art in our home, including nudes. We are relaxed about our bodies and encourage our children to feel the same way.

    Rebecca J, I see where you are coming from in not wanting our bodies to become fully desexualized. Obviously, our bodies work with our brains to enjoy the wonders of sex.

    Its interesting to me, though, that when my DH and I were first married and our bodies were young, firm, and VERY new and visually stimulating to each other, our sexual experiences were fine, even good, but not great.

    Now, we are in our mid forties. Our bodies show the effects of age, gravity and child bearing. Our naked bodies are no longer “new” to each other, modesty doesn’t even come into play. But now, with all this delightful familiarity, our intimacy is, dare I say, FABULOUS. What we see (body wise) isn’t nearly as important as what we do.

  56. No 47 and 49 are spot on. Increasing my exposure to the bodies of naked, beautiful women is, simply put, the single best idea ever put forth in the bloggernacle and I fully support any pursuit, whether art, science or sports, that will result in such. Having frequently seen males of all sorts nude as a result of physical education classes I have no need to further exposure to people of my own sex.

  57. Both of these posts were excellent. I wish that I had some of this information when I was a teenager. Chastity to me was to be dressed whatever fit the ‘appropriate’ dress code at the time and no intercourse. At least in my case focusing on self esteem, loving your body and yourself, and covering yourself so that you do not find yourself being oogled by someone ‘gross’ would have been a great and wonderful learning experience.

    At this risk of a threadjack… Are there any studied that show correlation (or lack there of) between low self esteem and premarital sex in females?

  58. Let us consider carefully the lessons of the Garden of Eden. If men had been left to their own desires we would be still picking fruit from trees and sleeping on sunny banks in cool grasses the rest of the time. It was women, after all, who decided that work was necessary and that we really did need sex and children. Clearly we know that women are the deciders here. Men…will generally do what women want, particularly where the reward is sex. Look at Adam. When his eyes were opened he really got an eyefull and he gladly followed Eve into the lone and dreary world.

    In the grand scheme of things we owe to women the fact that they could choose the fathers of their children. Other primates do not necessarily have that option. Because women are the deciders, especially about sex, they have chosen good genes for their offspring and we became more intelligent, more capable of sin. Darn the women who brought sin into the world by choosing good men.

    This led to the bifurcation of the sexes. Men with the majority of desire, women with the majority of restraint (at least to my satisfaction). Women never, almost never, have to ask for sex. Men ALWAYS, or almost always, do. It is a very rare man indeed who has headaches at bed time, at least that bad. Remember what Berthold Brecht said? A man on his way to the scaffold will have time. Without this bifurcation there is no choice. If men are not almost always available then women can not choose. If women can not be discriminating then choice is meaningless. If testosterone is the true aphrodisiac then men have 99% of it and women are in a position to hold out against desire to make a good choice.

    Women, on the other hand, have a vested interest in choosing their mates carefully because of the huge investment they make in bearing and raising children. This has made a lasting and indelible imprint on our collective unconscious. Women get to choose and should not be raped or coerced into a sexual relationship which is not of their choosing.

    Women get to choose, but that choice is meaningless if there are no choices available. To increase their desirability and to increase the number of choices looking sexy will do it every time. Men will just do what men do and drool and dream. If, by looking sexy, she attracts a nice man and they mate, be he old or be he young, then life has accomplished its purpose, the generations will proceed. It is only our modern age that has put great weight on the life of the mind and spirit and on the worth of the individual. We expect true love and a tight pair bond, so we think that a sexy girl will not attract a truly committed guy leaving the girl and her offspring to fend for themselves. We think of Bristol Palin. We council restraint and modesty to avoid the Bristol trap.

    A relationship based on this fundamental inequality is one of happiness. I say to all men, fall down and worship women and subjugate your sexuality to them. By struggling against your nature and fate you are going against the great plan established in the Garden of Eden: women are in control, especially of sex. (A byproduct of this is that by ceding control, your sex life will improve and you will have many children.) Pair bond! Women should treat their captives with love and mercy and lift them to a higher plane. This must be done as adults, not as selfish, whiny children seeking only their own reward. A fully conscious and adult man can be aware of his God given desire for women and graciously give this gift to her. A fully conscious woman can receive this gift with pleasure and satisfaction and love and gratitude. (The horror is in the inverse, a man trying to assert his false dominance and a woman belittling a man for his weak nature and base desires. Or a woman using a man’s weak nature and for her selfish gain.)

    Teach this to young people: women are in charge, men are sex slaves and can be led around by the ring in their noses (a euphemism). Teach women to be aware of their true power and men of their basic weakness then we can begin to make progress. It only makes sense that when women dress in a seductive way that their range of choices increases, it is a natural and unconscious knowledge. Instead of walling young women away and making them afraid of sexuality, teach women that when they make themselves into sexy objects that rather than being passive, be active. They have the choice, they are not the flower but the bee. They are the gate, the deciders, of who is worthy of them. When they put on their little bikini they are entering a ferocious battle where choice is the prize. But just remember Bristol if you loose the battle of the choice.

    Men: be grateful that your masters can be gentle and sweet and so sexy. Do not be childish and selfish. Women: do not be disdainful of male weakness, it is a gift of God to you and will keep you warm on cold nights. Together we can use this bond of love and friendship to weld us together, body, mind and spirit.

    (A copy of the last post on the old thread!)

  59. You rock, RJ.

    (as an aside: as an art student- lo those many years ago- I had a subscription to Playboy. I needed nude models- and it was a cheap (ha!) way to get them…)

  60. I appreciate the tension that rules about modesty can be a schoolmaster to bring about a modest attitude as well as be a convenient excuse to further idolatry. I remember in my college days being in Hawaii for a school trip. While noticing that the island dress code was far more lax than the BYU one I was accustomed to, it was not until returning home that I ran across the first female that provoked my attention in the “unwanted” manner. She was the BYU attending girlfriend of one of my travel companions and while fully compliant with all BYU dress codes past, present and future, there was no denying that she was purposely dressed to draw attention to her sexuality in a way that I had not encountered in my previous ten days of being away.
    In talking with some friends about this later, the conversation drifted to a new theme for me, which was the perception of some women at BYU that the men were far too asexual. Due to the strong cultural training given to the men to discourage sexual thoughts and the opportunity to practice spending two years doing that, women who had felt success in the “world” at maintaining and defining their modesty standards and behavior in a context of more sexually assertive males (and females), were a bit at sea when most of the males seemed attuned to different signals.
    I am not intending to comment on the wisdom of this strategy, but in light of recent remarks to discourage electronic activity among males and the historical issue of “encouraging” confirmed bachelors to take the plunge its interesting to note that the male version of the modesty problem may be conditioning men to avoid the risk of the second or third greatest sins for the safety of “minor” sins of being self centered.

  61. Justmeherenow says:

    Um, let’s see. Today, taupe corderoy trousers and a royal blue polo shirt. Yourselves?

  62. Justmeherenow says:

    jjohnsen, Megan Fox is 23.

    A portrait of Streep at a similar age:

    http://silya.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/796/

    Not too hard on the eyes, I’d say — !

  63. just to be clear:

    baggy pants belong to the young men of the 1990’s.

    nowadays, it’s all about tight pants.

    get with the trends, you middle-agers.

    All kidding aside (although i wasn’t kidding about the baggy pants being out thing…), i liked this post.

  64. I wouldn’t know what’s in fashion for men, as I don’t tend to notice men’s clothes. I only know what people complain about, and complaining about baggy pants has yet to go out of style. Apparently the 1990’s were traumatic for a lot of us.

  65. #65: Most men don’t want their clothes noticed. My D-in-L dresses stars and sports figures for a living (Tiger Woods, Dr. House, etc.). They want a simple look.
    I think baggy pants died with school uniforms (?)

  66. re: #66: Some of us women don’t want our clothes noticed, either, and some of us would really like a simple look as well, one that didn’t become almost instantly outdated. Some of us find the hysterical gyrations to which women’s fashion is regularly subject to be the very fulfillment of passages like this one.

  67. #67 — Eve…this leaves me wanting to share a favorite paragraph from The Last Lecture which I just read for my book group. I hooted out loud when I read this because it reflects how I feel about the whole fashion game:

    “I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person anytime, because hip is short-term. Earnest is long-term….

    “Fashion, by the way, is commerce masquerading as hip. I’m not at all interested in fashion, which is why I rarely buy new clothes. The fact that fashion goes out of fashion and then comes back into fashion based solely on what a few people somewhere thingk they can sell, well to me, that’s insanity.”

    I tend to prefer more simple, classic (if not boring) clothes for that reason. Anyway, I like what you said about not wanting our clothes noticed. The fashion game is another thing that I think makes the dynamics on this issue of dress different for women than for me. Slacks and suits and golf shirts and dress shirts don’t change THAT much over time.

    Bleh. [my word for the weekend]

  68. complaining about baggy pants has yet to go out of style

    That’s because baggy pants are still in style in the ‘hood. Just ask resident expert DKL.

  69. Hee. Hee. Why do you think all of the girls are so in love with Edward? Okay, he is gorgeous, like a diamond, a god, etc. etc. But mostly what he does is TALK FOR 300 PAGES, including expressing undying interest in the minutiae of Bella’s exceptionally boring life. And while she goes on ad naseum about how average looking she is . . . well, it just can’t be true.

  70. And PS: I only remember watching ONE full episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray, the classic idiot-man, can seldom do anything right for his harpy wife. Then, one day, they get a new vacuum and he is so excited about it that he starts vacuuming the curtains. Her response? “I’ve never been more attracted to you in my life.” He was in ratty jeans and a flannel shirt.

  71. librarysarah says:

    I think this post is spot on.

    Not in response to the post, but rather in response to some of the comments:
    I’ve heard women in the Single Adult and YSA groups make derogatory remarks about other (unendowed) SA/YSA women who dress immodestly. I imagine they talk about me sometimes. I’ve found Mormon men that I’m interested in to behave quite asexually (#61). Since most of my experience is with non-Mormon men, where I get positive feedback just for wearing a nice (modest) dress, I find myself ramping up the immodest factor around Mormon men in an attempt to get some kind of response I can understand (though it backfires for obvious reasons and I usually just end up with the scary guys). I wonder sometimes if many Mormon men (maybe even American men) have overly repressed their sexual desires and it spills over into unhealthy areas and unrealistic expectations (e.g., porn addiction). I don’t have any stats to back that up, of course.

  72. Rebecca, I think this is the first time I’ve known a woman say she is only interested in “reading the articles.” Guys used to say it all the time, of course.

    I do believe we need to be honest with both boys and girls. Modesty means more than just keeping the privates private. It means dressing in a way that shows respect to yourself as a child of God.

    In some of our wards here in our stake (in the Midwest), we have boys that seek individualism with their hair cuts. One 15 year old has a Mohawk. He does wear a white shirt and tie to Church, but should he prepare and pass the Sacrament? Would his hairstyle be disruptive to those partaking of it? Would it be a sign from the bishop that modesty and looking like a missionary no longer matters in things of the priesthood?

    I think the question for all of us is: just what do we need to wear/do to be justified by God?

  73. I am delighted every Sunday when I look our YM who bless and pass the sacrament. (All 4 of them.) One has a missionary hair cut, the others have a variety of hair lengths, one in a pony tail. My own son’s hair is well below his ears and collar. But, to see these teenagers exercising their particle of faith in the PH makes my heart sing. One of the men who blesses the sacrament has just returned to activity. When we see him with his beautiful long hair, tattoos and earrings, we are so thankful that he decided to come back to full association with the saints. With a ward activity rate below 20%, we don’t care what anyone looks like, we love them and want them in church.

  74. Justmeherenow says:

    Sure, let many of us take true pride in being clean and “well-” — althouth not too conspicuously “well-” — dressed. But also let others express themselves in more extravagantly fashionable clothing, goth attire, grungily hip dress, whatever. Nicomachean Ethics ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichomachean_Ethics#Book_2:_Moral_virtue ), sez some things to the effect that false pride is the puffery of hold oneself superior due to whatever characteristics or choices whereas what true pride is, is humbly being conscientious about our choices while not necessarily buying into others judgements. (In my reading or understanding, anyway.)

    To me, being appropriately dressed is a means to an end — which end, to my mind, is mostly about feeling relatively self-confident. ….Yet don’t we imply things about our personality and beliefs through some of our markers of dress, to a certain extent, too?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,805 other followers