The push for modesty is toxic

There’s a scary phrase being whispered around youth groups, conservative communities, and even amongst feminists:

"I am empowered by my body ... I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin." – Kim Kardashian (IG: @kimkardashian)

Modest is hottest.

We’ve all heard it before. Despite this being a complete oxymoron, it is also aggravating the problem (the objectification of women) that it is apparently trying to solve. 

Many people are taking to social media to try and bring back conservative dress, like they’re doing the female community an honour. The latest being Jaclyn Brooke, a Christian online influencer. These influencers say that women should dress more conservatively in order to prevent a man from viewing females as sexual objects. 

But something extremely dangerous can happen when you dictate to females how to dress for men. It can remove all responsibility from males, and their entitlement skyrockets. It can teach men that not all women deserve to be treated with respect – just the ones who dress appropriately. 

Modesty advocates imply that men get to decide who they treat with respect and who they sexualise. Men get to decide which girls are human and which are toys.

These advocates say that dressing modestly will attract the right type of man. Sure, if the right type of man is the one who judges an entire human being after one glance. 

A dress code doesn’t teach men to respect women. It teaches men to respect clothes.

The real baselessness of this push stems from the fact that no one can even provide an objective definition of what ‘dressing modestly’ even means. While some men claim that seeing cleavage makes their mind fall into an uncontrollable sexual state, there are other cultures where breasts are not seen as sexual at all. 

Here are some wide-ranging representations of ‘modesty’: 

Source: Jaclyn Brooke YouTube
Source: With Love, Leena YouTube
The burka. Photo by Ancho, licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Modesty is not about what women wear that sparks a man’s objectification of women, it’s about society’s threshold of what they have allowed men to view as immodest, or worthy of objectification.

This line of thinking that we allow men to take can spiral into sexual assault, rape and victim-blaming. Why do you think the majority of sexual assault perpetrators are male? Why do you think the media comments on what the woman was wearing at the time of the crime? Because this dogma about clothing = respect has been drilled into society for centuries. If only modest girls are worthy, then who cares about how we treat the other ones, right? 

Is this really something we want to pass on to the next generation? 

Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with covering up, just like there’s nothing wrong with showing off your body. The point is we must be able to choose, and that choice shouldn’t have anything to do with a man.


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