For the Dudes: When You Talk About Modesty

As we approached bikini season I find myself dusting off my speedo and mulling over the comments trickling in: warnings for women, well intentioned articles, desperate pleas from men. I figured it was a good time to pull out some of the things I've learned about the way we treat modesty.

Ladies, if you just offered a sigh of exasperation, not another one. Hang with me.

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I am a dude. And today I speak to other dudes. Ladies, if you'd like to follow along, feel free. If it resonates, maybe even share a link on facebook and tag all the dudes who like to share posts about modesty.

Back to the dudes.

Dear dudes,

I know you mean well; you want to make the world a better place where women aren't exploited for their bodies by creepy guys –including you and I. You're trying to help, that's great. But when it comes to talking about modesty, I'd like you to consider a few things.

Some women are already pushed to paranoia by women you off handedly dub as perfection, setting yet another standard for them to earn your affection might only feed that. If you don't verbally ogle over Kate Upton and Jessica Alba around women (or at all), good for you, but the unspoken standard still exists. When you offer a competing, "modest is hottest," but this time attach spiritual maturity or lacke thereof to it, you are creating a perfect storm for some women who struggle with image and faith.

Morocco_2_(3396391)Based on the amount of time that the men I know talk about modesty, you'd think that if women wore burlap burkas, men's issues would be altogether (or in most part) taken care of. Ha. To be honest, I'm in a group called Celebrate Recovery with men that struggle through all sorts of "hurts, habits, and hang-ups" as we call our addictions. When it comes to sex, I to this day haven't heard any of them even mention some immodest woman as the problem. Most talk about how they want  to respect all women with their thoughts and actions. They acknowledge that their failings are not because woman have breasts, but because they so often view women as an object to be posessed.

The female body is intoxicating, believe me I know, God is a fantastic artist, but a) you are not helpless in the presence of a woman, and b) you might find that the women you respect the most you violate the least. How about instead of trying to convince women it is their responsibility to fix one of our symptoms, you begin viewing those situations as a breakdown in your ability to respect half the human race. But you might say, "Pshaw, she sure is looking for the wrong kind of attention." Maybe. Or maybe she's has rarely (or never) been given the right kind of attention. Or maybe she's already exhausting herself trying to make your life easier for you and it is quite frankly impossible to outpace your sense of imagination especially for women with certain builds (Please read the article at the end of the post).

This isn't the whole story. There are women who are different. There might even be some women who disagree with me, that's fine. But there are plenty of women I know who have learned to hate their bodies because of the way people genuinely trying to follow Jesus, as well as some who call themselves Christians, have treated the issue of modesty. This is unacceptable.

If you haven't heard of this yourself, it might be because they either don't feel safe bringing it up in your circles, or they simply no longer associate with the group of people who taught them to hate their body and sexuality. Again, please read the articles I posted below; they are representative of the sorts of things I have read elsewhere and heard from friends.

Dudes, I know this has some teeth, but I think you can handle a few moments of discomfort if it means that a woman doesn't have another reason to doubt God's love for her because of you.

I know your struggle dudes. I'm with you. there is a butt-load of grace. But don't break others because you yourself are a broken person, just get down to the work of learning to holistically love and respect the 3,000,000,000 female members of humanity.

The Articles (Dudes, Seriously–Please Read):

1) The Only Thing Double D's Ever Got Me Was Kicked Out of the Church

2) On Being A Female Body at a Christian College