Saturday, January 5, 2008

Modest is... hottest?

You could have fooled me, Hollywood. Last time I checked, (and, for the record, it was last night at about 11:45 pm while watching Transformers with a bunch of married couples. Jealous?)modesty has become "anathema" in the entertainment industry, tossed out the window in an attempt to more compellingly portray heaving, sweaty feminine... beauty?

Get the picture? Probably a little too clearly. Sorry, guys. But it is so interesting and so strange to watch the development of a female lead character in most major story lines, attempting to follow with interest and compassion her struggle with being "taken seriously" and "appreciated for the person she is inside." I know when I go out grocery shopping topless, I also struggle valiantly (but alas, often in vain) to get people (men especially) to look into my eyes and see the depth of the person who is Jenny.

Kidding. I definitely wear at least a swim suit when grocery shopping. But my point is this: how do women expect to be freed from the slavery of objectification when we're getting up every morning and slipping into our skin-tight shackles willingly? Sure, there's a necessary level of responsibility to the dignity of the feminine person that rests heavily upon the conscience of every man. But there's also a necessary responsibility to the dignity of the feminine person that requires women to clothe their gorgeous bodies out of respect and reverence for themselves and the men they encounter! It's not repressive to cover up what is beautiful and desirable and, let's face it, holy. On the contrary, it is out of deep respect and appreciation for the inherent value of the person that we cover the more intimate "details" of our bodies.

To put it more pragmatically, following the simple principle of supply and demand, what is readily available for little or no cost is going to see a sharp decrease in its market value. In other words, why buy the cow when the milk's flowing from every freaking faucet in town? Sorry, but seriously ladies, what gives?

We desire love, we desire to be seen as desirable. This is good and natural and even holy. What is unnatural is the expectation that a man, or any other person, is going to be primarily concerned with the depth of your personality and the quality of your character when you are distracting him with a body poised and primed for sexual activity. That's not fair! You're short circuiting his brain and exploiting the nature of the masculine person, especially in our fallen state. It's difficult enough for guys to maintain their purity as is... it's the fallout from a very bad decision a long time ago. It's impossible to call a man on to purity and chastity and greatness, to all that makes him a man, while simultaneously inciting him to lust.

This is not a matter of rights or equality. Men and women are wired differently, and we do not respond similarly to external stimuli. For a man, a little cleavage isn't just a little sexy, it's utterly distracting and changes the entire context of his experience of the person on the other side of the pair. It's like wearing a shirt with a picture of an elephant screened across the front and insisting that no one think about elephants. What the hell else are we supposed to think about?! There's a fricking elephant on your shirt.

Maniacal ranting aside, I guess my question is this: why Hollywood, do you insist on heaping insult upon injury, portraying my gender as incapable of commanding respect and denying us our dignity? What's in it for you, to make every female lead character look like the playmate of the month, writing into her storyline the inevitable struggle to be "taken seriously"? Oh, wait. I forgot. Sex sells.

Well, carry on then. We'll just keep watching and waiting, lamenting the decline of civilization and wondering why our 9 year-olds have eating disorders, our 12 year-olds are sexually active, and our 17 year-olds are suicidal. Give that girl a Bratz doll, a subscription to Cosmo, and a 3 month supply of Ortho. She'll be fine.


  1. Right on!

    Wendy Shalit is worth reading. Here's an article about her.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your blog for several weeks now. I think I heartily agree with most of what you say here in this post. I do wonder, though, where the line is to be drawn. It is my understanding that the full-body covering of some muslim women is for some of the reasons you cite: respect for the body, not tempting to men, etc. That is obviously going too far, but I wonder where the line is drawn. Hmmmm.

  3. Good point Kimberly, though I would argue that the fundamental difference between the Christian view of modesty and the Muslim practive of hijib, or veiling, is in its intent. Christians who embrace modesty do so out of respect for the goodness of the human body, both their own and those of others they encounter. My limited understanding of hijib is that women are veiled, sometimes forcibly, not out of reverence for the female body but to enforce a sense of shame and even ownership. This is, admittedly, a gross over-generalization, but free will plays a huge part in determining where the (hem)line is drawn...

    btw, beautiful wedding picture!

  4. You nailed it on that one. The whole issue makes me simulaneously angry and depressed. I get so upset at the hollywood/MTV/"don't be afraid to use your body to get what you want," attitude that translates to immodesty. But i feel so bad for women who think degrading themselves is "just the way it is." Of course, guys are helping the situation either.

  5. You definitely nailed it. This explanation should be really helpful for a bunch of my friends who are looking for ways to promote modesty but have had a bit of a dry spell in actually explaining it (I'd have helped them out of that but I've had their dry spell myself for some reason). Thanks!

  6. Sorry for the drive-by comment...

    I think this post is just as demeaning of men as you think modesty is demeaning of women.

    I think that a first step towards modesty is to stop perpetuating stereotypes that men can't control themselves if women dress immodestly.

  7. I mean "immodesty is demeaning of women"

  8. Ouch, she said what we are all thinking, but we are being to nice to say it.


  9. Dear Jenny (whoever you are).
    I've never read your blog before. In fact, I don't even read blogs. But I stumbled across this while google-ing something else and it is AWESOME! BAM! You hit the nail right on the head, sister.

  10. This is so great! You might love Verily magazine - it's only online right now but my sister, Janet, and the other co-founder, Kara, are trying to get subscriptions out this year! Check it out, if you have time -
    Thanks for the wonderful post!


No trolls allowed.