When I talk about modesty, I am not referring to the opposite of vanity or conceit, but modesty in the way that this one Christian group on Facebook describes as necessary for “protecting brothers in Christ.” This is the idea that women should dress modestly lest their brothers in Christ stumble.
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this group, but it caught my eye because it encouraged Christian women to delete “un-modest photos” from Facebook or untag themselves in photos where they might be in swimsuits or other photos so that women can help “protect brothers in Christ.” It caused an eyebrow raise because the idea that women have control over whether or not a man lusts is quite similar to the idea that a woman has control over whether or not they become a victim of sexual violence.
For the record, BOTH are untrue.
I say that because both these ideas seem to accept the fact that men cannot control their sexual urges, that they are wild animals, that being sexually aggressive or lust-driven is just who they are. I know there seems to be some truth in it and yet there isn’t. There really isn’t.
There isn’t because every time we accept that as true, that women are somehow responsible for how they are looked at by another man or responsible for any sexual advance from a man, we take away the responsibility of those men. Men are just as responsible, if not more so.
It’s time we teach men about self-control, delayed gratification, and respecting a woman’s body. Ancient Greek statues of naked bodies weren’t sexual; they were considered beautiful works of art. Nothing about Venus de Milo was considered pornographic or sinful. But, somehow as time went on, we became ashamed of the naked body, found it to be perverted and lustful. We’ve lost sight of what Creation is.
Granted, I myself don’t necessarily feel comfortable with clearly pornographic looking Facebook profile pictures, ass cheeks hanging out of skinny jeans, or selfie Instagram shots that are down angle of major cleavage. But to make it seem like women are solely responsible for protecting the precious eyes of men who are afraid of lusting drives me nuts. It is just shy of asking me to wear a burqa. Remember the days when showing a woman’s ankle was risqué? Who defines what is too sexually provocative and what isn’t?
Besides, women are fighting the battle of being objectified on the daily. To add to that pressure of having to think “is what I am wearing too provocative? am I causing someone to sin?” frustrates the hell out of me. When it is hot out and I am sweating my ass off, I want to be able to wear a spaghetti strap tank top and for it to be okay. And it is okay. But groups like this will claim that I am showing too much skin and causing my brother in Christ to sin. How about if my brother in Christ just learns not to associate my shoulders with sex? My shoulder is a shoulder. I carry purses on it.
I cringe because asking women to cover up more or delete un-modest pictures to “protect brothers in Christ” feels uncomfortably close to a form of control over women. It is such a pussy way for men to deal with lust. If a man is struggling with lust and sexual addiction or whatever the hell is wrong with these men, then the solution is not in asking the women to hide every part of their body that may cause a dude to stumble; the solution is in men teaching other men how to be strong, how to not objectify women, how to respect them and not see their bodies as purely sexual objects. Asking a woman to be responsible for that is like saying, “Well, it’s YOUR fault I’m lusting because you’re showing that much skin.”
I know that I’m not a guy (specifically a Christian guy; I’ve noticed that non-Christian men don’t beat themselves up over lustful thoughts) and so I don’t know how hard it is to look at a scantily clad woman and not feel sexually frustrated or something. We also live in an overly sexualized culture. It’s really everybody’s fault at this point. But the point is the same: women are not responsible for men’s sexual behavior.
Men, you are responsible for where your mind goes. You are responsible for where your hands go. You are responsible for where your dick goes. Not women. My skinny jeans are not an invitation for an ass grope. My v-neck is not a request to be howled at. Even tanning at the beach is not my way of asking you to hit on me. Women are not asking for anything.
So, Group Promoting Dressing Modestly in Christian Women Profile Pictures, this is what I have to say to you. If you want to stop Christian men from lusting, then start with Christian men. Don’t you dare blame how a woman is dressed for what a man’s mind is doing.