About Me

My photo
I'm Kyle, and I forget when I start my laundry. Also, I am a small human being and apparently a college student. I laugh a lot - usually in my brain, and usually when nobody else laughs. Oh, and I've probably consumed more Skittles than any other human being on planet earth.
Powered by Blogger.

Stop Being Modest For Me

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Please, hear me out.

I do not mean to suggest that you ought to stop being modest - I don't mean that at all, in fact. I mean only to suggest that perhaps our stated reasons for modesty could use a slight adjustment.

If you spend any time on the internet, in particular facebook and twitter, odds are you have read a certain blog entry dealing with 'the bikini question' that has been shared and re-shared many times, and you have likely seen a video quickly chronicling the history of swimwear. I have both read the blog entry and watched the video, and I have to be honest, I do (slightly) take exception with both of them. Not only with these two pieces of social media gold, however, but with a common theme running throughout the cries for modesty we hear today.

Now let me explain.

In both of these pieces (I will draw mainly from these two sources, but like I mentioned above, the same idea is prevalent in many calls for modesty) the idea is presented that women should dress modestly because of, or on behalf of, men. That if a man sees a woman who is scantily clad, she instantly becomes nothing more than a tool in his eyes, that a man looking at an immodest woman sees an irresistible piece of chocolate cake, as it were. In fact, it is suggested that these tools, or pieces of cake, haunt men and completely rob them of their ability to function, to think coherently and decently, to sympathize with another human being, and to resist what is obviously a terrifyingly powerful temptation. Perhaps I'm being a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea - a man who sees a certain amount of a woman's skin can no longer control his thoughts, and no longer sees the potential for greatness in that woman.

Listen, some of you already know this, but I do not think highly of male-kind as a whole. I just don't. I think males, in general, are chauvinistic, overly proud, unsympathetic, unfailingly narrow-minded, and typically quite selfish. I would even agree that guys, too often, do see girls as tools, as something to be used - as a means, simply, to personal satisfaction.

However, I will now defend them (us), if only slightly, and if only for a moment.

The study referenced by Jessica Rey in her video is, as she mentions, a study performed by Princeton University - a prestigious institution, to be sure. This is part of National Geographic News' explanation of the study: "Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up." And "some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another's intentions."  What is glossed over in most (if not all) of the explanations of this study is that the 'scantily clad women' in these photographs are positioned in such a way that their heads have been cropped out of the pictures, or digitally removed. Let's just be honest with ourselves for a moment - it's much more difficult to ponder a person's intentions or emotions when they don't have a face. It's also quite easy to remember a picture of a person without a head. In presenting the results of this study, Susan Fiske, a Princeton professor, said "This is just the first study which was focused on the idea that men of a certain age view sex as a highly desirable goal, and if you present them with a provocative woman, then that will tend to prime goal-related responses." In other words, if you present an image designed specifically to provoke a certain response from a man, the image will do exactly what it was designed to do. Imagine that.

I should mention, though, that my real issue isn't entirely with this study, although I do think it was set up in such a way that the researchers would inevitably find the result they were looking for (as most studies are). It's right - men often do see women in ways such as these - the thing is, a man who thinks (or reacts) like this, will usually do so whether the women around him are scantily clad or fully clothed. I believe a man who doesn't respect a woman who is dressed 'immodestly' won't truly respect a woman who is dressed modestly, so this study, in many ways, becomes unnecessary. The author of "The Bikini Question", Rachel Clark, wrote, in describing one of her reasons to avoid a bikini, "I don’t really want a guy to look at me and notice me for my butt, upper thighs, or chest." Well here's the thing - a guy who will notice you for your butt, thighs, and chest when you wear a bikini, will notice your for your butt, thighs, and chest in no matter what you're wearing. When a guy sees women in this way, it's typically an all-the-time thing.

My issue is this - men need to be responsible and accountable for their own thoughts and actions. The fact that women are taught and instructed to dress modestly for, or because of, the men around them is a bit disheartening. 

To the men - It is time for us, no matter who we are, where or what we've been, to be better, and to hold ourselves to a higher standard. It is never acceptable to view a woman as an object, and it is never acceptable to live in such a way that the women around us expect us to view them this way. Understand who you are, and who the women around you are, and act accordingly. Be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you are today - it's a process, improvement is, but clearly it's a process worth undertaking. Be responsible, be accountable, and stop living in such a way that the women around you feel that they need to protect you from yourself. Know that the women you meet throughout your life are capable of incredible things - greatness - and see it in them.

To the women - don't be modest for me, you shouldn't have to. Be modest for yourself, for your family, your beliefs and your values. Be modest because you feel, deep down, that you should. Understand that you are capable of much more than being looked at. Please don't assume that every male sees you as a piece of cake, and please don't compare your body to a piece of cake in the first place. Know that you are not in charge of keeping another person's emotions in check. Expect the men around you the be responsible for their thoughts and actions, to treat you with respect, and to help you aim higher, and accept nothing less. Remember that you are capable of greatness - see it in yourself.

This post is an attempt to address a very complex issue (more complex than we realize), and therefore, inevitably, is quite incomplete. The topic of modesty will continue to be discussed and dissected, but that discussion likely will not continue here, because I obviously have no authority on the matter - I'm just a random fella who likes to stand on a soapbox from time to time.

I believe in being modest, and I thank those of you who have dressed modestly, at least in part, on behalf of the males around you - I just wish we didn't put you in that position in the first place.

p.s. the link above brings up interesting points in the modesty discussion, and is worth considering (it's also well written and intelligent, unlike my rambling post...). Sometimes labels, even positive ones, can be damaging. I have not intentionally promoted damaging labels in this post, although I may have done so. Being modest is surely different to different people, and I've thrown it around as a blanket term throughout this post....sorry about that.

p.p.s. I probably sound really hoity toity throught this post, sorry about that too. I realize I am an extremely imperfect person, although it probably doesn't sound like I realize this fact in this post, and know that I too have to improve and become better - I don't mean to seek to set myself apart from the rest of male-kind, I'm an idiot from time to time too!


Popular Posts