The Modesty Wars

Every spring and summer, there is a great Internet tempest in a teapot. It begins when the first flowers bloom, and does not cease until the leaves begin to turn from green to fire. I refer, of course, to the conflict mentioned on this post.

Now, the fact of the matter is, we’ve already talked about this on the blog here, here, and here. However, since they’ve cranked up again, I find myself unable to remain silent in the midst of the utter absurdity of this matter.

So, a few thoughts…

1. No, school dress codes do not promote “rape culture.” Pointing out that what you wear can have a deleterious effect on other people’s concentration does not promote “rape culture.” That is why there is a slewload of restrictions on what may or may not be worn at places like schools, ranging from size to messaging. (In the meantime, the current Toronto kerfluffle seems to be based on incomplete information. Was the girl in question wearing the offending item in the main school building, or during gym class or some such, as she claims the boys running around without shirts on are? There’s a world of difference between the two.)

2. Can we all please stop assuming the worst about each other? That would be really, really awesome. Not every girl who wears a bikini is some kind of seductress, and not every guy who thinks girls don’t wear enough clothing in hot weather wants to either rape them or stuff them into a burqa.

3. Let’s not assume the best of ourselves. There are girls who dress as they do specifically to entice men. There are guys who would, if they could, rape every woman in sight or stuff them in burqas. For that matter, there are men who dress as they do specifically to entice women and girls who would, if they could, rape every man in sight. I mean, there is really no limit to human self-centeredness and evil, and it exists on all sides of any debate.

4. Riffing off of that last bit, there’s a lot of defensiveness going on about matters of sexuality these days–honestly, I’m pretty sure there are some elements of this very post that are probably more defensive than they need to be. And I’m not referring to the Great Homosexual Marriage Debate, either–I’m referring to the interactions between men and women.

Here’s what I mean. While scrolling through my Facebook feed a few days ago, I came across an article a friend of a friend had linked, one of those “x number of things men find unattractive in a woman” articles. Harmless enough, all’s said and done, and anyone who surfs the net, as they said in the ’90s, these days has probably seen several such articles, many with the sexes reversed. However, the status with the link was basically a rant about how the linker would never do anything because she thought it would please a man and how dare someone write such misogynistic twaddle.

Meantime, think about how defensive a lot of guys get about their various habits and how said habits can make them less attractive to girls, a reaction most evident whenever the topic of video games comes up, although facial hair is a close second. Somewhere in the comments section, someone will use the word “harpy” non-ironically.

Both sides here forget that just as you have the right to make your own decisions about what you’re going to do, so other people have the right to decide what they think of your decisions. It’s a two-way street, like most things in this world.

And that’s the big thing here, honestly. Let’s not pretend that all the roads of societal interaction are one-way, alright? It’ll make life better for everyone.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness

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