Friday, August 06, 2010

Modesty survey tells Christian Women how Christian Men want them to dress

I'm having trouble getting over this modesty survey. It seems to have been done with some sense of rigor. But the whole enterprise is about telling women what to do, under the guise of providing some guidance in our complex modern world.

I think the part that scares me is I can see some women really wanting to hear the answers to this thing. You know, because they want to marry the sort of guy who would think this survey is a good idea.

To me, it has a subtext of "the women ought to dress a certain way so as not to stimulate men's uncontrollable libido," and that assumption that men can't control themselves puts the onus for self-control, and blame for the results, on women.

Image is a public domain 1912 postcard scan from Wikimedia Commons, showing a bathing machine, a device for preserving women's modesty while bathing


  1. About this survey I have one word (well I have more, but this one will suffice): piffle! Come on, our world is way too complex to get bogged down in how to dress! Whatever happened to your own sense of propriety, and appropriateness? My girls dress more revealingly than I would like, but they are their own people; they're not me. Come on, there are way more important ethical issues out there than how to dress. A better guide to Christian living is found in the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Williams' book, "Principled Centered Living, in which he talks about the best way to live, our core values and our reasons for having values in the first place. Time and again we are pressured to make compromises against our better judgment and what happens next? He provides various stories about what happens next and unintended consequences. It helps you apply distinctions to clarify your ethical thinking. (Way more important stuff than a dress code!)

  2. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Yep, dress codes seem to be a kind of quick visual shorthand that relies on symbolism. If you can get somebody to dress in a certain way, you have a quick way to assess "us and them" in a crowd just by a quick, superficial scan. The key word being superficial.

    Now, a less revealing style of swim and beach wear based on the principle of not exposing as much skin to harmful UV rays, that I could buy into. Frankly, I'd rather have a comfortable long-sleeve shirt to wear at the pool because I burn easily. I'd even happily conceal my manly physique to do it.


  3. Oh, that's a good point're bringing it into a more social context.

  4. I support what you said that the expectations of modesty transfer the onus onto the women rather than having standards of self control in men.

    As much as I was oblivious to how dressing influenced the people see me, I've come to dread being around other scantily dressed women with my husband. I've also been in situations where I could tell women felt uncomfortable with the way I dressed around their men.

    Fortunately, I was able to see this "issue" from multiple angles. Do guys wonder if their wives are looking at the next muscle bound guy walking past them on the street or swoon over the movie start?