Modesty. A Sign of Respect for Men and Women.

Posted: 4 November 2012

So there I was at the train station minding my own business when a young lady walked past wearing a pair of tights. At least I think they were tights. It might have been black body paint for all I know, as it looked like she was wearing nothing at all below the waist. I have since been informed by a reliable source that tights are very much in fashion, which would explain why so many women seem to be getting around in them.

Now I am all for fashion, (after all it was in the name of fashion that I sold my maroon microfiber suit on eBay), but I question the appropriateness of an item of clothing that only serves to draw attention to the body and not the person. Regardless of why she was wearing the tights, as that young lady walked down the platform the message she sent was ‘don’t worry about who I am, just have a look at my body’. And that is exactly what an array of men did as they watched her move down the platform. I am certainly not stating that all men’s fashion is worthy of the human person either, but there is no question that women’s clothing that has the most tendency to be provocative.

Many women do not even seem to realise the extent to which their clothing is sending certain messages. A lot of this comes down to the way men and women are wired. For the most part men are visual creatures and they receive through the eyes. Women however are fed through imagery and story. Men understand what it is to notice a woman and immediately be drawn to her physical make up, but women do not instinctively respond in that way to men (even if trashy romance novels paint a different picture). This is the reason that in the traditional formation of young girls the teaching of modesty was an essential element. Because women do not have the same tendency to visually objectify a man’s body they do not naturally understand the need to dress in a way that introduces them first of all, and not their body.

Some years ago there was a terrible gang rape case in Sydney by some Islamic young men. One of the local imams came out and instead of condemning the men, accused Australian women of inviting rape because of the way they dressed. His comments were highly offensive and inappropriate. Days of public commentary deriding the cleric asserted the right of women to dress as they pleased and the responsibility of men to control themselves. And the commentary was correct. No matter how a woman dresses or acts; it is never an invitation for a man to be sexually violent towards her. In his famed Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth went a step further and called his hearers to a purity of heart saying that the man who even lusts after a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. The point is a real man is one at all times, in thought and in action.

Even though this imam was completely out of place, the essence of his comment was that the way a woman dresses has an impact on men and to ignore that is to be foolishly unaware of the reality. We all know deep down how we should act but we also sense the very human struggle to act as we should. If I am inviting a friend who struggles with alcohol to my house for dinner, I am not going to offer him a beer as he walks through the door and an array of fine wines with the meal. To do that would be cruel to him and it would not be showing genuine sensitively for his particular struggle. I would be well within my rights to have the alcohol flowing throughout the meal but I certainly could not be called a true friend. We do not become better people simply doing what feels good; we become better people by being increasingly more aware of those around us.

I am sure the young lady walking down that train platform was a lovely woman. But by wearing clothes that detract from her personality and focus men on her body alone, she risks drawing only the attention of those who are interested in her body instead of allowing them to encounter the person within.