On the Imprudence and Uncharitableness of Immodesty

The video below contains aย  fascinating interview between Sean Hannity and two women on the question of immodest dress as a dangerous thing for a woman. It would seem that a Toronto police officer was quoted as saying, “Women can avoid rape by not dressing as sluts.” He said this in the context of a lecture to college students about a recent campus crime wave. He has since apologized, but some will not accept it, or do not think he was specific enough in his apology. His remarks have touched off worldwide protests in Europe and also in Boston and New York by women who engage in what they call “Slut Walks.” In these, they dress provocatively and carry signs that denounce the blame the victim attitude of the police officer and others who explain rape by blaming the victim.

OK, so lets all admit that there is nothing that justifies the rape or assault of any woman. Further, the officer did not need to speak of women as “dressing like sluts.” It is possible to counsel caution without resorting to such terminology.

But the reaction has gone to the other extreme by insisting that there ought to be no thought women should give as to the way they dress, and the effect it may have on others. You will see in the interview how one of the women Mr. Hannity interviews gets more and more extreme as the interview progresses. She begins saying “Just because a woman dresses provocatively does not mean she welcomes an abuser.” OK, fair enough. And even if she is attacked, there is no justification for it. But that said, is there no legitimacy in advising women to refrain from provocative dressing? Men too, for that matter, though the physical dangers to them are far less. Further, is it legitimate to talk to women in our life about ways to reduce their risk without being called sexist, and told that we are blaming the victim?

A Central Problem – One of the women says, “In dressing provocatively a woman is saying, I am asking you to look at me as a sexual object, instead of a woman worthy of respect.” The other woman responds, “There is nothing wrong with looking like a sexual object.” And this pretty well spells out where many in our culture have gone. Intentionally provoking a purely sexual response not only tempts men, it also diminishes women by encouraging the notion that sex is the main thing.

There is surely a time to provoke and celebrate a sexual appeal and joy…, in the marriage bed. But outside this context, women ought to be seen more richly as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, teachers, scientists, indeed, whole persons with interests, needs, concerns, and richly varied lives. That many women are advocating a hypersexualized notion of who they are by taking “slut walks” (the protestors’ term not mine) is a sad commentary. It is one thing to protest the “blame the victim” remark, but calling it a slut walk is to go further and advocate immodest dress and raw, unintegrated sexuality. That is not helpful to women and I suspect most women do not appreciate this sort of “advocacy,” or the extreme comments rendered by one of the women in this interview below.

Some younger women really don’t seem to know – That said, I have come to discover, through discussions with women on the issue of modesty that many (especially younger) women really don’t have any idea the effect that they have on men. I have confirmed this in discussion among our teenage Sunday school kids. In discussions moderated by women, many young girls just haven’t figured it all out yet. When asked, “Why do you dress that (provocative) way?”ย  they often say, “I don’t know, it’s……like……y’know…..comfortable???…..It’s like…….cool??”

While some of them may be fibbing, and they really do know, I don’t doubt that, to some degree, there is an innocence about what they do that needs to be schooled. Some years ago I remember a remarkable little passage by John Eldridge, in the Book, Wild at Heart that decoded something I have noticed even in the youngest girls:

And finally, every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil. Not to conjure, but to unveil. Most women feel the pressure to be beautiful from very young, but that is not what I speak of. There is also a deep desire to simply and truly be the beauty, and be delighted in. Most little girls will remember playing dress up, or wedding day, or twirling skirts, those flowing dresses that were perfect for spinning around in. She’ll put her pretty dress on, come into the living room and twirl. What she longs for is to capture her daddy’s delight. My wife remembers standing on top of the coffee table as a girl of five or six, and singing her heart out. Do you see me? asks the heart of every girl. And are you captivated by what you see? (Kindle edition Loc 367-83)

Perhaps it is this innocence that has gone somehow wrong, has been untutored, and thus, causes some younger girls to dress immodestly. And many of them bring that into adulthood.

But even if their intentions are innocent, it is not wrong to teach them that not everyone views their display so innocently, and further than some are deeply troubled by the temptation it brings, especially as these girls get a bit older and more vivacious.

So where to go? From the Christian point of view modesty is reverence for mystery. Modesty accepts the norm that there are some things that are simply private and meant for the intimacy of marriage that are not to be disclosed in a general sort of way. Further, modesty respects the fact it is wrong to unnecessarily tempt others. And many do easily fall prey to sexual temptation. To simply disregard this and say, “Well that is their problem,” may well be to lack both charity and a realistic attitude.

That said, the word unnecessarily is important in the phrase, “it is wrong to unnecessarily tempt others.” For it is not always possible to protect others from all temptation, and we ought not impose unreasonable standards and expectations upon women. Some men are tempted just by a pretty face. That doesn’t mean we ought to expect women to hide their faces. It also pertains to women to have curves that appeal to men,ย  and to expect them to never manifest any curves at all, also seems unreasonable.

Hence the word modesty comes from the word “mode” meaning “middle” or “mean.” So modesty involves observing a certain middle ground wherein we do not oppress women (or men for that matter) with severe standards and cumbersome cover-ups. But neither do we neglect to understand that some degree of charity and understanding is due to those who are possibly tempted by tight or revealing clothing and immodest postures or movements. It is wrong to tempt others when we can reasonably avoid doing so. But inhuman and unreasonable standards are also to be rejected.

The bottom line is that immodest and provocative dress is both imprudent and uncharitable. The officer involved used inappropriate language to convey his “advice.” But to advise women appropriately how to reduce their risk of rape does not ipso facto equate to blaming the victim. A little equanimity in the issue is helpful, though sadly rare, in our easily offended and strongly polarized culture.

I have written more on the questions of modesty here:

  1. Modesty is Reverence for Mystery
  2. Modesty and Men
  3. A School Finally Cracks Down

As always I am interested in your thoughts.

66 Replies to “On the Imprudence and Uncharitableness of Immodesty”

  1. I completely agree with everything you have stated in this essay about modesty. I especially like what you explained about the word itself, meaning middle or balanced.

  2. What a sad commentary on our culture.

    I think like most things, it begins at home. If mom is dressing provocatively, so will her daughters. What I don’t understand is how any parent (even one who is modest) can let their child go out of the house dressed in too-short skirts, low cut shirts and pants.

    I think children have a natural modesty … and it ought to be cultivated. I have a friend who is very fashionable and has made many pretty clothes for my daughter. But anything that is too sexy, my daughter automatically rejects. She doesn’t like it. Period. She likes her shoulders, tummy and legs to be covered. She copies me. Granted that this may change in a few years (she just turned 10) but she won’t be going anywhere dressed like a pop-tart.

    I think it’s the responsibility of the older woman to educate young girls … Many do not know the power they hold or the effect they have on men. I didn’t when I was a young girl of 12 and I have paid the price for it. Question: should I go for confession about this?

    ps: I am teaching my daughter to sew so that she will be able to make her own clothes if no decent ones are available at the shops.

    1. I share your puzzlement about what parents are thinking in allowing some of the clothes young people wear (boys included). I can only suppose it is emblematic of two things: 1. the largely unsupervised status of many children, and 2. We have to remember that many who are parents today grew up in just as confused and crazy a culture as we have today.

  3. I completely agree with what you state as the Central Problem. When I watched this segment of the show Monday night my jaw just dropped at “there’s nothing wrong with looking like a sexual object.”

    I wonder whether the young woman’s parents were watching.

    1. Of course they were watching, and mommy especially was probably proud as could be of her little darling!

      1. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

        *sigh* I guess I shouldn’t be surprised ๐Ÿ™

        1. The funniest, or maybe I should say most ironic thing about her is that she undoes a couple of decades of work by the “I have a brain” crowd with that one simple sentence:)

  4. A recurring joke in webcomics revolves around women dressing immodestly but still telling men not to treat them like sluts. In other words, the joke is “Most women dress a certain way but don’t want to be treated that way”. It’s a fallacy, but makes a relatively good point about certain women’s dress and behavior, perhaps not even aware of the immodesty given how common, mundane and harmless it seems – just like masturbation and other sins against the Sixth Commandment. And I need not address some men’s immodesty, since that’s not the issue.

  5. You are right! Just as someone is not “at fault” if someone steals from them, they should takes steps to avoid tempting others, such as locking their doors at night and keeping track of their belongings. No one would ever accuse one giving such advice as blaming the victim!

  6. I’ve mentioned this subject to a few young girls in our parish (who shall remain nameless…). I just say, “Let me see you genuflect in that skirt.” Once they remember what it means to genuflect (another subject entirely) they usually turn pink and then avoid me like the plague for the next few Sundays. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have seen hems lower on a couple of them though.

    1. Thanks for encouraging the young ladies. I really think it is women who need to reach out to younger girls and both explain and admonish when it comes to proper attire and am glad you’re willing to do it.

    1. Msgr. Pope stated that modesty means middle. While I respect them, I don’t think the Amish and Menonites are the models we are looking to emulate.

      1. And I don’t think the Amish dress is too far from the middle. In fact it’s less modest than what Our Blessed Mother would wear.

        Continue to persist in looking for the middle, that is what has gotten the world into such trouble in the last couple of hundred years.

        My statement was also generalized as to the Amish. Picture New Orleans filled with Amish instead of the just plain bred city Americans that it was filled with when Katrina hit.

    2. Here are some photos of Amish women and how they dress:

      I think I’d have to agree they’re not exactly in the middle and would not be an acceptable model of modesty for most women who prefer greater variety and options which are quite legitimate . But I must say I find the way Amish women dress to be very beautiful and attractive in itself.

  7. Good article. Our Lady warned of “immodest fashions” at Fatima. Today it is so out of control. Serious Catholics have to take a stand as immodesty is the beginning of sins of the flesh. Modesty is one of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. Women can’t hide a pretty face or wear a square dress, but the line of being feminine to provocativeness is obvious. The policeman was 100% right. Good for him. And he used the language that a cop should use. I mean this man is out there to protect people. He is an advocate for women, their friend. Women should be thanking him for saying the truth. He ought to have denounced fathers and mothers who allow their daughters to dress this way even in their own homes.

    1. Well, OK, I am still not sure using the word “slut” is either appropriate or going to help him reach those whom he seeks to advise. A lot of women are going to be tuning out when the word slut is used. SO I can’t give the police officer 100% What’s the old saying: Initiative – 100, execution – 0

  8. @ Will…

    The world could learn a lot from the Blessed Mother, too. 8^)

    Catechist Kevin

    1. Definitely. Veiled (more like a shawl in today’s world), the veils in her time were REALLY big pieces of cloth, just the face and hands showing, sometimes the toes above the pillar of cloud. That is modesty and a shinning example to all women.

      1. Will, an honest question: do you think it is inherently immodest for a woman’s hair to be visible?

        By your requirement, I could be more modest in a loose-fitting pair of slacks and a long-sleeved shirt than in most of the skirts or dresses available to women today–that is, only my face and hands would show outside of my clothing in the slacks outfit, while some portion of leg/arm is bound to show in the skirt or dress. But if you think that unveiled women are already dressing immodestly, then I’m afraid there’s no common ground for us.

    2. Well, here too, to be fair to women in the modern world, there are other modest alternatives. Surely the Blessed mother’s attire is beautiful. But to observe the “mode” in our culture would also be to embrace other acceptable alternatives.

  9. Msgr., tough times call for tough measures and so I dare to support the policeman’s statement, warning women against dressing like sluts. He was talking to a group of college students who I am willing to bet consider themselves sexually liberated and wise and mature beyond measure. I’m sure these students lay it on the line when they talk to each other and this policeman was laying it on the line. No kid gloves. I’m sure he wouldn’t have spoken to the rape victim that way, but he was talking to potential rape victims. Many, many women (and girls) do dress like sluts. Let’s call a spade a spade. And there are consequences. Maybe some pervert is turned on by a women who is dressed very provocatively (i.e. like a slut) and then seeks out a less bold woman as his victim. Or maybe he actually chooses the provocateur as his victim. Who knows? Or maybe he just sins in his heart. Regardless, it shouldn’t be happening. And I take issue with anyone, especially mothers who are in denial, who suggests that a teenage girl doesn’t realize how inappropriate her clothing may be. I have seen far too many young girls looking down at there own exposed cleavage (seemingly to double check that their breasts are indeed worth showing off to the world) to believe for one moment that they don’t realize they’re crossing the line. We seem to live in a world where most adults are pretending that they don’t know what’s going on. And sadly, there is now a sizable group of parents who actually revel in their daughters looking more sexy than other girls. I see it all the time. Doesn’t anyone else? Or are we living in a totally PC world? That being said, it may sound harsh, but if a woman dresses like a slut she shouldn’t be surprised when an immoral man treats her like a slut. What has happened to common sense?

    1. Well, while I would avoid using the word slut, I think you are right in saying that those women who DO dress immodestly make things a lot more difficult and dangerous for others who do not. The dress as I please mentality, as I point out in the title, is uncharitable since it gives no thought to how it might affect others.

  10. Thank you for bringing it up again. On a positive note, there are groups or organizations of women trying to spread the message on modesty in dress and comportment. These are of various denominations, certainly not limited to Catholics. On the negative side, two places women and young ladies need to go ” overboard ” is at Church, Church functions and in Catholic schools – by way of example if nothing else. Certainly, form fitting outfits, bare arms and backs, shorts ( even sporting dress ), and exposed clevage should be out. I am sad to report that in the Catholic schools in our area ( all are in uniforms), the uniform skirts are all above the knee at least a couple of inches. To my mind that is not leading by example. Girls can certainly look attractive without exposing themselves to that extent.

    I can’t help but to observe a few points. In my high school days the girls wore skirts which reached to the ankles and white blouses with short or long sleves. And they looked marvelous!!! I had dates every week-end because I found them so attractive. The point here is that they did not have to expose themselves to make the boys in school admire them, and to appreciate their beauty. Secondly, I think the most attractive women I’ve noticed in the last few years are those wholesome looking Mennonite and Amish women in their long flowing dresses. Finally, I responded in the same vain to a Catholic blog on this subject and the roof caved in. Of course you really don’t know who is responding to these blogs but a great many of the respondents expressed the exact idea you mentioned above – they felt they could dress any way they d– well pleased and if some old ” leacher ” was tempted, to hell with his evil mind. That is really pretty sad. Men are all pretty much the same and certainly there some men who by the great grace of God are not easily tempted. But I can assure you most of the ones I know are easily enough tempted.

    I think that girls and women should reflect on their dress before they step out and ask themselves ” …would the Blessed Mother dress like this…? “

    1. Yes, I agree that modesty is very attractive and also commands respect and reverences mystery. And frankly, mystery is attractive in a wholesome sort of way.

  11. I live in an area with lots of Amish and Mennonite women. It’s very, very hot and humid here in the summer and they wilt in the heat. One problem is that they have to wear darn colors and long black stockings. But I have seen a few changes. One group of Mennonites have approved light blue dresses and sandals for summer.

    1. Yes, that seems nice. I have noticed that Amish men too wear long sleeves even in summer in many places and from what I can tell wool is often used. Regular cotton might be cooler along with lighter colors as you suggest.

  12. Monsignor, for those of us who agree that modest dress is imperative, what are we to do when there is immodest dress in our churches and parish offices, Catholic schools, and with family and friends? I see our priests at Mass vested from the neck down to their feet and do not understand how Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist can take their place beside these priests in sandals with painted toes on display, bare arms, clingy dresses. It is not possible to walk into one of our parish offices without seeing immodest dress. Our pastor wears long sleeves, even in summer, and I am sure that when he interviewed people for their jobs they were appropriately dressed. It does not seem appropriate for a priest to be telling women that they need to dress modestly, but it would be nice if the parish staff would dress properly.

  13. Msgr. I believe this tendency goes back to our fallen nature – women desire the love and affection of men, in our fallen state we fool ourselves into thinking imodesty is attractive to men. We give up our dignity when we dress provacatively. Short skitrts, tight jeans, and cleavage are the tip of the iceberg – when we have sexual relations or cohabitate before marraige we abdicate our dignity as women.

    Blessed John Paul II spoke about this weakness in his apostoloc letter on “The Dignity and Vocation of Women”

    A human being, whether male or female, is a person, and therefore, “the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake”; and at the same time this unique and unrepeatable creature “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self”. Here begins the relationship of “communion” in which the “unity of the two” and the personal dignity of both man and woman find expression. Therefore when we read in the biblical description the words addressed to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16), we discover a break and a constant threat precisely in regard to this “unity of the two” which corresponds to the dignity of the image and likeness of God in both of them. But this threat is more serious for the woman, since domination takes the place of “being a sincere gift” and therefore living “for” the other: “he shall rule over you”. This “domination” indicates the disturbance and loss of the stability of that fundamental equality which the man and the woman possess in the “unity of the two”: and this is especially to the disadvantage of the woman, whereas only the equality resulting from their dignity as persons can give to their mutual relationship the character of an authentic “communio personarum”.

  14. “While one important benefit of modest dress is that it helps prevent men from falling into sin, this is not the whole story. John Paul II helps us to see that modesty is first and foremost something positive and very good for the woman herself. Modesty not only protects women from being treated as objects, it also inspires men to respond to them with the kind of authentic, selfless love that every woman longs for in her heart.” Edward Sri in Men Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from JPII’s Love and Responsibility

  15. Msgr. I read your blog about men and modesty. Had to smile a little. But excellent advice. Really, Msgr. what would we do without you? Thanks for being there.

  16. Isn’t the way Amish and Mennonite dress based on puritanism? The body is evil and needs to be covered up and Catholics believe the body is beautiful and while we need to dress modesty we should not be following the Amish. I live in Amish country and dress modesty and find many Amish and Mennonite looking at me. We still
    need to witness to our Faith.
    I think the problem is very deep. The clothing industry has desensitized most women today. I met a woman at a terrific sale of April Cornell clothing before it went under the first time. Many of their clothes were modest and beautiful. This woman was privy to a circle of famous fashion designers. They shared that their goal was to have us all [male and female] dressing unlike. Neutral.Look how far we have come.One priest once said to my children that the further we get from the truth the uglier things will get. Reeducation and the filling the mind with the beautiful and the true. The void needs to be filled with God before things are going to change.

    1. Isnโ€™t the way Amish and Mennonite dress based on puritanism? The body is evil and needs to be covered up and Catholics believe the body is beautiful

      Along those lines, and to come back to WWMW (what would Mary wear), it bears noting that there is a fairly old tradition in sacred art of depicting the Blessed Mother breastfeeding little baby Jesus. Is this an immodest depiction? Should we be scandalized by it?

      One element in this discussion is the shame that is born of Original Sin, when the man and woman realized that they were naked. Of course, Mary being full of grace and totally innocent, while understanding of the need for modesty, certainly would not be subject to this type of shame. She understands that the body itself is not sinful or evil, but is a beautiful good made by God. That is not to say that New Eve would not be troubled walking around like the Old Eve did (there would be a high risk of sunburn in some sensitive areas for one thing), but neither does that mean that her only conception of modesty is to wear the Middle East style of dress from 2000 years ago, being covered up head to toe.

  17. A note of encouragement to parents out there, I think we can be successful in teaching our children to dress modestly if we work at it consistently. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful: with girls, decide early on the limits you want to set when she’s grown, and start enforcing them when she’s at least 6. By the time she’s 13 she’ll know the limits, which you have specified very clearly, and not fight you so much. She’ll also be used to having her body covered and it will feel natural to her. Trying to get her to stop wearing tank tops, for example, when she’s been wearing them every summer her whole life is not going to be easy. Also, you must follow these same guidelines yourself. For boys, they should dress neatly and have equally appropriate guidelines. If the daughter is rebellious, I think it is helpful to have the father talk to her about how this really effects males and the charity aspect, which you point out Msgr. Pope.

  18. Old saying: “If it ain’t for sale, don’t advertise it!”
    I remember back in the “old days,” hearing the teachers in school (both junior high and high school) telling the girls that their clothing should be tight enough to show that they were a woman and loose enough to show they were a lady.

  19. If you don’t have codes of conduct, then you don’t have a Nation, you merely have a collection of anarchic individuals, a collection of “cavemen.” ….
    OUR LORD HIMSELF has told us that, if a Man look on a woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery with her in his Heart.
    Does this make the woman an Adulteress? If by flagrantly Immodest Dress — and a micro mini-skirt is just that – she has deliberately incited lust then, according to Traditional Christian Morality, there is a degree of Guilt attaching to her….
    It is useless for our Youth to proclaim that they want Peace & Immorality as well…..
    Christian Modesty Demands, & Reason itself suggests, that a girl puts her claims to a boy’s affection on a Higher plane than mere sex. An undue emphasis on it is, therefore, Vulgar, i.e. of the crowd…..
    I PRAY, CHRISTIAN YOUTH, have Sufficient Integrity & Intelligence to Willingly & Generously Accept the Christian Moral Codes of old in order to Restore Sanity & Peace to the World. Amen.

    1. Yes, temptation is a two-way street. I remember some years ago that I was in the habit of leaving my wallet on my desk top at work and my boss told me to cut it out. I explained that I didn’t like sitting on it and also did not fear that others would take it. He said to me, “Do not be a source of temptation to others, even if you don’t persoanlly care about your wallet.” He was right and from that time on I hid my wallet.

  20. I am a Lector in my parish. The man in charge of recruiting, scheduling, etc. of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (i.e., what are often called lay distributers) invitede me to join that group. I declined because of the attire of some of our Communicants. Our Parish is in Florida; some attend Mass, dressed more like for the beach, than for Church; and sometimes even what might be considered scantily on the beach. I did not want to distribute the Body of Christ, while having to view a woman’s mammary.

  21. My daughter plays soccer and basketball at one of the Catholic high schools in the ADW. Routinely, players come in the gym or onto the field still needing to get dressed. In full view of all, girls remove skirts (they wear sports spandex under their skirts) and whip off their tops (they wear spots bras) to put on uniforms. Basically, they are standing there in their underwear.

    Two things I noticed-
    Boys are present, often talking ot the girls while they are changing. The boys don’t seem to take note of or seem immediately affected by the partial nakedness

    Male adults present look away. Their discomfort is obvious. One girls walked up to Coach in her bra and he told her he wouldn’t talk to her until she was dresses- he didn’t even look up at her .

    So I wonder…. how is it, exactly that a girl would dress before crossing their peers’ threshhold from normal to “slutty?” (also not one of my customary words). Go to any formal dance and girls cannot bend over b/c their dresses too shortand cannot lift their arm up high b/c their top of their dresses are so low. None of the kids seem to take note.

    I have four daughters, and rather than emphasizing the message of charity with their peers, as I think that arguement is becoming harder and harder to make these days (tube tops don’t seem to turn on any boys they know, as they see a lot more skin via prime time programming), I emphasize that their bodies are the vessels for something holy. I ask if their outsides are reflecting their insides, and, to me, that’s proved to be more effective in selecting clothing as well as behavior. When we do speak of charity, I usually say that they need to be respectful of the “old” people ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I see immodest dress at Church often. I’ve spoken to parents about it, written an bulletin announcement about it and even placed a small altar cloth over a young lady’s shoulders during a Quinceniera. I just told our Confirmation students and parents that if they dress immodestly for Confirmation I was going to wear a bikini too. They laughed, but they got the point. NOBODY wants to see me in a bikini! Sometimes using a little humor is good. But we have burlap cloths which we’ll be putting on girls or boys who show up exposing what we call “Lady lumps or boy bumps”.

    All of the Confirmation parents are glad we are doing this in our parish. One young lady started to object and her dad said “I’ll dress like you, if you’re not careful.” With that she made a sour face and the case was closed.

    1. Yes, I remember one time, back when I was just a young man and serving a wedding, a bride came up the aisle in a dress so revealing (not only tight and low cut, but sheer) that the priest went into the sacristy and brought out an altar cloth and insisted she wear it. She was upset but he whispered if she didn’t wear it he would stop the ceremony.

      Glad to see some attention toward the males too. Too many males are going shirtless and with inappropriate trousers.

  23. Girls definitely send a message to men by the way that they dress. If they dress immodestly and provocatively, men WILL see them as a sexual object and nothing else. This can then lead to rape. I do believe that the two (immodestly and rape) are related and that a woman can decrease her chance of being raped by being aware of what she is wearing at all times.
    I have grown up in a Catholic home my whole life, have gone a Catholic school my whole life, and I am reminded everyday to dress modestly and to be aware of what message I am sending to others (men in particular) when I wear a certain article of clothing. I think that all women should think that way they they are dressing!
    One lady said in the video “there is nothing wrong with looking like a sex object”. This comment disgusted me and if that is what goes through a girl’s mind, then I do believe the chances of her getting raped is higher. Women should have a sense of respect for themselves. If they do not even respect themselves, how can they expect someone else to?

  24. I used to dress provocatively; short shirts, tight shirts, low-cut, revealing, because I wanted to be seen as attractive, since attractive seemed synonemous with appreciated. And I learned. If you dress like that, look for approval through appreciation of your looks, no one will take you seriously, no one will respect you, & no one will look past your body. You show your body, that’s all people will see. You send the wrong message. Thank God I grew up!

    1. Yes, I think many women do confuse men’s reaction. Looking on a woman with sexual pleasure is very different than finding her attractive in a more holistic way. There’s a good eye and a bad eye to attract insofar as men are concerned. And most men really do think of women differently based on they way they dress, its just a fact.

  25. I thought the point about young girls not realizing the effects of their dress rang very true. A couple of years ago, my older daughter who was 13 at the time was having quite an argument with me because her father and I would not let her wear a 2 piece bikini. I refused to buy her one. She even went so far as to try to sneak wearing a friend’s bikini at a swim party, but I caught her beforehand (she was wearing it under her clothes) and made her stay home. She was so upset. Finally I explained that I wasn’t just being a “mean Mom.” I knew all her friends wore bikinis and that they were in fashion but when men see young girls with nice figures in bikinis they can’t help imagining what it would be like to have sex with them. Even if they don’t DO anything about it, they will think about it. That completely shocked and appalled her, and she hasn’t shown the slightest interest in wearing a bikini since.

    1. Yes, I was wondering if anyone would comment on that part of the post. I found the quote from Eldredge very enlightening. Thanks for your further addition to this part of the article.

  26. Where does the man’s responsibility come in…for all this talk of modesty. I agree with the concept of modesty…but let’s get the “rape issue straight. It is a crime of POWER and VIOLENCE against women. PERIOD.

    1. I think your position is articulated clearly, both in the article and the video. Nothing removes a rapist’s responsibility. Also in the other posts linked, this matter of men’s responsibility was discussed at length in terms of the overall modesty issue.

      However, your use of the word “PERIOD” might permit some greater nuance. It would seem that in the rape of a stranger by a stranger your analysis may be correct. However, what about date rape, or the rape of a friend? Is it simply always about power and violence in those cases? Sometimes things get out of hand and go beyond what the woman wants in more subtle ways. Add to that the possibility of alcohol in the mix. My point is that it seems that some cases of rape may involve other factors a bit more subtle than power and violence. None of them excuses the rape, but it may stop short of power and violence as the only thing that your “period” implies. To simplify the motivation of rape may not serve to better protect women from it.

  27. “Women can avoid rape by not dressing as sluts”

    What about St. Maria Goretti?

  28. st maria goretti’s attacker was a porn addict – he projected his perverted mind upon her

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