zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (christianity)
[personal profile] zeborah
I'm wearing my favourite skirt, which is red and goes right to the floor and swirls and has pretty swirls embroidered. It's possibly fading a bit and has a stubborn stain but I can generally hide that, and the hem is a bit battered but what do you expect, and anyway it's awesome. With it I normally wear a white blouse that ties in a bow at the front and has its own embroidery on the breasts, the main disadvantage of which is that it's sufficiently short that it shows a bit of waist.

When I say "disadvantage" I don't mean that I care, just that when I'm considering my wardrobe in the morning I always have this vague idea that someone sometime might be all, "Ooo-er, Zeborah's showing a bit of waist!" which would be mildly embarrassing. Then I defy this hypothetical person and put it on anyway.

So the other day I was reading Guys on Immodesty, Lust, and the Violence of Women’s Bodies, a survey in which a bunch of Christian guys say that it's immodest when a woman shows skin, has embroidery drawing attention to an area, bends over so her bum is more prominent, stretches so her chest is more prominent, moves other than sedately so her breasts jiggle, or just dresses in any way that's designed to draw a guy's attention to her body or which he thinks is so designed because he's horny. And women shouldn't do this because it makes it haaaaaard for guys to think pure thoughts.


The thing is, I guess they're coming from that line of Paul's where, in a completely different context (talking about eating food sacrificed to idols), he says doing this isn't sinful in itself but some people think it is so when they're around don't do it because it could weaken their faith. Basically avoid it for their sake. (Note that I'm pretty sure he didn't say that it was a sin to not avoid it for their sake. He just said that avoiding it for their sake was a kindness and a virtue. In fact I think something can only be such a virtue if it's not totally obligatory.) And within the specific historical context where the issue was being hotly debated and was genuinely controversial I think that's a decent compromise and I rather like it, and also I think it can be applicable elsewhere sometimes maybe, if you're careful.

Not here. Not when it boils down to "You're immodest if I say you're immodest, now stop being immodest."

This is my theory on women's clothes and guys trying to think pure thoughts:
Dear Christian guys,

If you really have no control over your physiological/mental response to a woman's beauty then God's not going to send you to hell for it. OTOH, if you do have control over it then quit with the "It's all her fault" excuse. That didn't work in the Garden of Eden and it's not going to work on the Day of Judgement either.



PS You do have total control over your physical actions. Just so we're clear on that part.

Date: 2010-12-17 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ajk
It sounds like you do discount it, from that description.

I'm not talking about what happens in a man's pants. Personally, I've found that I tend to have better control of that than of, say, my eyes and my expression. (I'm frequently not *aware* of my expression – thus having control of it is quite challenging.) I put the issue of where my eyes are and what my expression is, in "physical action" and not "physiological reaction".

Now, pushing whatever's inside one's pants against a woman without consent... personally I have no trouble controlling that sort of stuff (and hence I don't do it). But I also have no trouble imagining a more impulsive man than I am, with a stronger libido than I have, actually having to fight such impulses. (An image that asserts itself in my mind, though it's of a different matter, is that of the female lead character in Farthing, having trouble controlling what she says out loud.)

Now, as I said, any such trouble with self-control is no excuse: a man is certainly responsible for his actions. (An example from an unrelated aspect of life: my car was rearended about a month ago. The young man driving the other car had no way of avoiding the collision, once he realized that there was a problem; nevertheless, he was legally responsible for that accident.)

I would have agreed if you had written "You do have total responsibility [...]" But total control? That's quite a different matter – one is a moral claim, the other is empirical.

That doesn't mean, of course, that any such violation is necessarily a result of insufficient control. I think it's much more common that the man does have the necessary control and acts deliberately, thinking that he can get away with it (or, worse, thinks it is his right).


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