ONTD Political

Guys on Immodesty, Lust, and the Violence of Women’s Bodies

8:17 am - 08/02/2010
Administered by a Christian website, the survey questions were submitted by “Christian girls” who wanted to know what “Christian guys” think is modest. 1,600 guys then answered the survey, offering both quantitative and qualitative answers. Why would girls care what guys, as opposed to God, think? Because Christian guys, their future husbands, are judging them on their modesty. Ninety-five percent of them say that modesty is an important quality in their future wife (see the question in the upper left corner):



So, how do these “guys” define immodesty? The most common theme was dressing to draw attention to the body instead of the heart or spirit.

Something that is immodest is something that is designed to arouse lust within me (male, age 24).

Something that is immodest is something that is unnaturally revealing (male, age 20).

Something immodest draws attention to a girl’s body (male, age 28).

Many of the guys stressed that they really wanted to interact with girls as people. Borrowing language from feminism, they expressed a desire to think of a girl as a whole person, not just a hot body.

Something attractive draws you toward them. It makes you respect the person. Something immodest is usually unattractive. It makes you think less of that person, thinking of them as an object… (male, age 16).

My responsibility is to not treat women as objects for my satisfaction, even if they dress and act like it. It devalues them, and makes me a user of people… (male, age 26).

In a move that is in contrast to (most) feminist values, however, girls are supposed to help men treat them like people by not dressing like an object. That is, by not dressing immodestly.

So what rules for girls did guys identify?

Well, first, guys largely agreed that revealing clothes were immodest (again, see the question in the upper left corner):





Halter tops and mini skirts, I suppose, are obvious candidates for immodesty. There were lots more subtle rules, too, though with less agreement.

Forty-four percent of guys think that designs on the back pockets of jeans are immodest (19% aren’t sure):



A minority, 19 percent, think that shirts with pockets are immodest (25% aren’t sure):



Forty-eight percent think that purses should not be worn across the body (19% aren’t sure):



Thirty-nine percent oppose tights with designs (25% aren’t sure):



Forty-seven think that t-shirts with messages across the front improperly draw attention to breasts:



But being modest wasn’t simply a matter of clothes. Guys defined immodesty, also, as an “attitude” or a “carelessness.” Attaining modesty was also about how you use your body and the way you act, “sexually or otherwise.”

An immodest lady is loud, proud, and dresses in a way that communicates such an attitude (male, age 24).

Something becomes immodest when the person wearing it has an attitude of carelessness (male, age 17).

As one guy said:

If you are dressing to get attention from a guy, then anything you wear can be immodest (male, age 13; my emphasis).

Some examples of behavior the guys mostly agreed was immodest:









Immodesty, then, is not simply about being vigilant about your clothing (don’t wear a purse that falls diagonally across your body, don’t show your arms or your thighs), it’s a constant vigilance about how you display your body (don’t stretch, bend, or bounce). “Clothing plays a part in modesty, but it is only a part,” an 18 year old male explains, “Any item of clothing can be immodest” (his emphasis).

In addition, these rules are potentially changing all the time. A “technically modest” outfit, such as a school uniform, can suddenly have immodest connotations (so watch MTV, girls, to stay on top of these shifting meanings):



This is a great deal of self-monitoring for girls. Not just when they shop, but when they get dressed, and all day as they move, and with constant re-evaluation of their clothes and how they fit. But, the rationale is, they must be vigilant and obey these rules in order to protect guys from the power of all bodies (both their own sexiness, and men’s biological response to it). Guys are burdened with lust, they insist.

A lot of the guys in this survey talked about temptation. In some cases, the men would use very powerful words, such as this guy defining immodest:

Immodest: Screams that her body is different than mine. Attempts to manipulate me. Forcefully offers to trade what I want (in the flesh) for what she wants: attention (male, age 30).

This language — suggesting that women’s bodies “scream” at him, attempt to control him, and “forcefully” tempt him — is reminiscent of Tim Beneke’s interviews with men about sexual violence in Men on Rape. Michael Kimmel (summarizing Beneke in Guyland) discusses how lots of the terms used to describe a beautiful, sexy woman are metaphors for danger and violence: “ravishing,” “stunning,” bombshell,” “knockout,” “dressed to kill,” and “femme fatale.” “Women’s beauty,” Kimmel surmises, “is perceived as violence to men” (p. 229).

This is very much like the rationale for the burqa. Women’s bodies incite men’s sexual desires, sometimes to violence; they must be kept hidden.

These Christian guys, however, did claim responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. When asked about their role in avoiding lust, many were adamant that it was their own responsibility. Many felt that innocent, shameless, platonic interaction between men and women was a team effort:

Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis. Please, please, please take a higher standard in the ways you dress. True, we men are responsible for our thoughts and actions before the Lord, but it is such a blessing when we know that we can spend time with our sisters in Christ, enjoying their fellowship without having to constantly be on guard against ungodly thoughts brought about by the inappropriate ways they sometimes dress. In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul presents believers as the members of one body – we have to work together. Every Christian has a special role to play in the body of Christ. That goal is to bring glory to the Savior through an obedient, unified body of believers – please don’t hurt that unity by dressing in ways that may tempt your brothers in Christ to stumble (male, age 24).

The asymmetry of this project, however, is striking. The lust is men’s; the bodies are women’s. It’s an asymmetry built right into the survey design. Modesty is something pertains to only girls and immodesty is something that guys get to define. This may be even more pernicious than women’s constant self-monitoring. It erases women’s own desires and the sex appeal of men’s bodies, leading women to spend all of their time thinking about what men want. By the time they do have sex, and most of them will, they may be so alienated from their own sexual feelings that they won’t even be able to recognize them.

Source
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taiki 2nd-Aug-2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
Something attractive draws you toward them. It makes you respect the person. Something immodest is usually unattractive. It makes you think less of that person, thinking of them as an object… (male, age 16).

My responsibility is to not treat women as objects for my satisfaction, even if they dress and act like it. It devalues them, and makes me a user of people… (male, age 26).


So it's HER fault YOU can't keep YOUR eyes off her tits or ass or whatever. *roll eyes*
ubiquitous_a 2nd-Aug-2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
So much this. How is what I wear responsible for the fact that a guy can't keep his pants zipped?

In a way, this is a cop-out.....isn't a test of faith the idea that you can fight temptation? Isn't insisting that women dress to your specifications of "modesty" basically just exposing you to less temptation because you have to admit you can't handle it?

Cowards.

Personally, I'd love to see a survey on the desireable characteristics of men. I'd be willing to bet that how they dress really wouldn't enter in to the conversation.....other than talking about basic hygiene anyway. ;p
chipuni 2nd-Aug-2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Double you. Tea. Eff?

Are the guys in this survey projecting just a little bit?
notgarystu 2nd-Aug-2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
No, they're projecting a lot.
greenconverses 2nd-Aug-2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis.

Shut the fuck up.

And if you get "tempted" by me doing something as normal as stretching my back, that's your problem, not mine, assholes. What are we supposed to do, sit perfectly still for the rest of our lives? Oh wait, I'm sure there's something immodest about that too...
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
ia
ladypeyton 2nd-Aug-2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
"It's your fault I can't control my peener!" Fucking loser wimps.

Edited at 2010-08-02 03:24 pm (UTC)
chipuni 2nd-Aug-2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
I disagree with you.

I don't care if a man can't control his penis. Have dozens of erections per day. Hell, have THOUSANDS of erections per day. Look like the god Priapus for all I care.

Very few people care whether a man can control his penis.

What I care deeply about is whether he projects that inability onto other people. Both projections are equally bad:

1. You gave me an erection, therefore it's your responsibility to make it go down (ie: give me an orgasm.)
2. You gave me an erection, therefore it's your responsibility to make it go down (ie: not act or dress in a way that gives me an erection.)

The other person is not responsible for your penis. Period.
booksforlunch 2nd-Aug-2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
"Something that is immodest is something that is UNNATURALLY revealing (male, age 20)." (emphasis mine)

Mmmmm-hmmm. Because the clothes I'm sporting right now are so 'natural'. Because 'modest' clothing is not some social construct that is changing ever so often. I'm currently sporting a short sleeved t-shirt and long pants, no socks or shoes.
I'd be such a 'hussy' in Victorian England. :p

Seriously, I hate the definition of 'modesty' as some version of purity. I always preferred it as a word to describe 'humility' and 'being unassuming'.
ubiquitous_a 2nd-Aug-2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
I agree.
ubiquitous_a 2nd-Aug-2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
This is very much like the rationale for the burqa. Women’s bodies incite men’s sexual desires, sometimes to violence; they must be kept hidden.

Wow....looks like fundamentalist Christians aren't all that different from fundamentalist Islamics after all, eh? Who knew?
luomo 2nd-Aug-2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
or their orthodox jewish counterparts.
firerosearien 2nd-Aug-2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm going to wear a halter top today.
lafinjack 2nd-Aug-2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
As long as you understand it will be your fault when Armageddon hits.
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
This is making me so fucking angry.
dreamoftheday 2nd-Aug-2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
I just...I don't even know where to begin with this shit, so much rage.

I wonder how many of these men would actually approach a woman who was dressed in the way they ~feel they should~...probably very few.

Edited at 2010-08-02 03:31 pm (UTC)
ubiquitous_a 2nd-Aug-2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
That's a good point. I think many of the responses to the survey are motivated to what they have been conditioned to think of regarding women, and probably aren't the honest opinion they make it out to be. Not to mention which, I think a lot of those rules for "modesty" are more about how others view their girlfriend/wife....meaning I think they are more concerned about how it affects their social standing amongst their peers than any supposed desire to have their women covered up from neck to toe.
redstar826 2nd-Aug-2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
I feel bad for anyone who is raised to believe that all sexual thoughts are dirty and bad. That must be a very stressful way to live.
chaobell 2nd-Aug-2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
I have a guy friend who I don't think was raised that way, but he sure as hell got indoctrinated with it at some point. He genuinely doesn't seem to understand why some of his lady friends don't appreciate him treating them like his own personal 900 number when keeping it in his pants for the Lord gets to be too much for him.

To answer the obvious question: I'm still friends with this guy because sexuality WTFery aside he's a nice dude, and also I'm afraid that if anything ever happens that makes him doubt his faith he's going to have a fucking breakdown.
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
sounds good to me.
avaunt 2nd-Aug-2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
This is giving me flashbacks to my adolescence. A lot of the time we just made our own clothes because the ones in stores weren't modest enough. We couldn't relax even in the house, because we might lead my father and brother to sin. It was our responsibility as women to create a safe zone for men, and it was incredibly stressful.

It pisses me off that women are assigned this much responsibility for the male conscience while simultaneously being given very little power or respect in the (Christian) church.
ladypeyton 2nd-Aug-2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Jeebus! Were you raised Fundie LDS?
popehippo 2nd-Aug-2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
That goal is to bring glory to the Savior through an obedient, unified body of believers – please don’t hurt that unity by dressing in ways that may tempt your brothers in Christ to stumble

ladypeyton 2nd-Aug-2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Perfect!
luomo 2nd-Aug-2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
*Christian Guys on Immodesty, Lust, and the Violence of Women’s Bodies
sitakhet 2nd-Aug-2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
PAUL WAS A DOUCHEBAG, CAN WE STOP LISTENING TO WHAT PAUL SAYS
taiki 2nd-Aug-2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
MTE.

I THINK LUKE IN ACTS HAD SOME GROOVY IDEAS; COMMUNISM ANYONE?
nekokonneko 2nd-Aug-2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
This all just reminds me why I don't go to church anymore. I would cut the unfortunate person in front of me if I had to listen to a hand-wringing 'don't make a brother stumble with your ~~*spaghetti strap blouses*~~' girl talk session ever again.
erunamiryene 2nd-Aug-2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, seconded. I remember hearing those speeches ALL THE TIME. And everyone sitting around agreeing like that shit actually made sense.
supercrook 2nd-Aug-2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Immodest: Screams that her body is different than mine. Attempts to manipulate me. Forcefully offers to trade what I want (in the flesh) for what she wants: attention

Okay, maybe it's just me, but this sounds like freaking Rorschach or something. It's disturbing.


Guys, as one of your ~Christian sisters~, I have no sympathy for someone complaining about how they really do want to respect me as a person but I just make it so haaaaard with my patterned tights and my purse straps and my buttondown shirt with (gasp!) POCKETS. You don't want to sexualize women but we make you? Their struggles are not my fault. Pardon me for fucking stretching.

(However, the whole "it's a stumbling block when..." thing makes me think that they're just listing off stuff that turns them on and that they feel guilty about it, not stating that girls specifically bend over and have bouncy boobs-- shame on us!-- because they're vile temptresses.)
lafinjack 2nd-Aug-2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
lol ia
erunamiryene 2nd-Aug-2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
OMG, this is reminding me of one of the reasons I fucking left church. FUCK THIS FUCKING BULLSHIT, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FUCKING ACTIONS. FUCK YOU. It's really fucking convenient how "free will" just, you know, GOES OUT THE MOTHERFUCKING WINDOW when it comes to religious guys & women, isn't it? Guy rapes girl? Girl's fault. Guy masturbates? Girl's fault for how she dressed. Guy is 'immoral' with willing girl? Girl's fault, cause he's "just like Adam and a modern-day Eve tempted him". YOU EITHER HAVE FREE WILL ALL THE TIME, OR YOU DON'T FUCKING HAVE IT AT ALL. FUCKING PICK ONE.

Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis.

OH GIVE ME A MOTHERFUCKING BREAK, YOU GODDAMN PISSANT WHINER.
erunamiryene 2nd-Aug-2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Oh shit, I missed that one. I'll join you. We can listen to some emo music so as not to regain any confidence, as well.
eigengrau 2nd-Aug-2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
as a guy, SMH. this is ridiculous lmao
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
I wish I could share your laugther, but it just makes me rage.:/
_panache 2nd-Aug-2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
Ugh this just makes me RAGE.

I was going to keep going on a rant, but I just cannot.
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
"Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis."


yeah, I know not your pain.
miss_nyxie 2nd-Aug-2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
"Guys are burdened with lust"

Aw, you poor things.
ampris2007 3rd-Aug-2010 08:35 am (UTC)
And I am burdened with ta tas...It's like they were made to go together or something! :D
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
also, this makes me a bit happy that a wore a dress that showed a bit of my stomach to my confirmation. Like a personal 'fuck you' to the church.
iamashamed 2nd-Aug-2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
*showed off
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