Thursday, November 4, 2010


"Female modesty is not some artificial way of  'dampening down one's allure',  nor is it ..... a mere distaste for  'skimpy swimming suits'.  It's much richer than that. Modesty is a reflex, arising naturally to help a woman protect her hopes and guide their fulfillment - specifically this hope of one man ..... Of course, along with this hope comes a certain vulnerability, because every time a man fails to stick by us, our hopes are, in a sense, dashed. This is where modesty fits in. For modesty armed this special vulnerability - not to oppress women, but with the aim of putting them on an equal footing with men. The delay modesty created, not only made it more likely that women could select men who would stick by them, but in turning lust into love, it changed men from uncivilized males who ran after as many sexual partners as they can get, to men who really wanted to stick by one woman."
Wendy Shalit : "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue"
I highly recommend reading Wendy Shalit's "wise, fresh and funny" book.


Today modesty is definitely a word and practice that is out-of-fashion, in fact so OUT that most people hardly know what it is.

* Being shy and quiet.
* Covering up parts of the female body to prevent being embarrassed.
* Feeling uncomfortable from having no personal privacy.
* A style of behaviour and living seen in women in the Austin, Bronte and Trollope nineteenth 
       century dramas.
* "A kind of armour of hope."
* A frame of reference from which men accept and respect a women's "no".
* Protecting one's innocence.

How have we come to be where we are now, not just ignorant of what a word means, but ignorant of a part of our female nature? Our ignorance is so great that we have swapped the truth for a lie, so to speak, and accepted ~
     ~ the loss of going steady
    ~ the loss of personal dignity and embarrassment
     ~ the damage to the mindset of children toward sex and one another
    ~ the  'celebrate our body'  attitude of secondary schools and universities
     ~ the avalanche of  'victim'  letters of insecurity that fill glossy female magazines
   ~ "agreeing that women are sexual objects, nothing more, and exist only to gratify men"
    ~  accepting light court sentencing for rape offenders
   ~ "that virginity is something to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better and experience is what is  
            to  be valued

We have allowed this for the sake of being thought of as ~    "Independent",            "non sexist",               not sexually repressed,    "tough - just like men",           being "a bad girl" as evidence of maturity,
   having "life experience",        thinking "sex is no big deal",         "getting right to the point".

So many girls  no longer think of themselves as having value, rather they see all that along with shyness and embarrassment as irrelevant. What they think IS relevant is to be "mature", by making advances to boys, to "sleep around just like men do"  and to "get the experience"!

"Many children these days know far too much too soon, and as a result they end up in some fundamental way, not knowing - stunted and cut off from all that could be. If you are not taught that you really want 'just sex', you end up seeking much more.. The peculiar way our culture tries to prevent young women from seeking more than 'just sex', the way it attempts to rid us of our romantic hopes or ..... our embarrassment and our 'hang ups',  is a very misguided effort. It is no less than an attempt to cure womanhood itself, and in many cases it has actually put us in danger."

So are girls doomed to a future of thinking of themselves and behaving as an object? Certainly not.  A mother can impact how her daughter can precede in this area.

Girls and women have been confused by society and sex education, so mothers need to clearly counter this philosophy.
1. We first must give girls an honest view (such as presented in Wendy Shalit's book) about the culture they live in - the cons and arguments they may be tempted by, the pressure from boys to oblige them, the pressure to be cool, the lengths or amount of alcohol needed to "numb ourselves to go through with it", where this lifestyle leads, and what this lifestyle says of the value of women.

2. Our girls need to understand there is a difference between the sexual areas of their body (which are private and not to be touched or shared with others ) and other areas of the body. To have a healthy respect for their body and pride in protecting themselves.

3. We need to encourage our daughters to listen to their conscience of self and feelings of fear, to be aware of thoughts, feelings and reactions of embarrassment. 
EG.  ~ trying to cover their breasts with their arms when wearing a tight top or top with exposed cleavage when in particular company.
        ~ regularly and repeatedly needing reassurance that they "look OK".
        ~ their over rowdy behaviour receiving unwanted attention from boys.
        ~ clutching the edges of a slit skirt together on a windy day in a public place.
These are internal signs (all part of modesty) speaking to us that we are near a personal boundary, feel awkward,  and may need to reassess what we are doing. 

4. Wendy Shalit puts this point bluntly - that if young women look like a hooker, they will be thought to be one, and attract the appropriate wrong kind of men.  Repeat conversations of the first point so the consequences of this, are fully understood.

5.  We need to explain the 'misunderstanding' or the lie that so many girls have, that to sleep with a boy will solidify the relationship. The problem is that this is not how the boy sees it.  Or of living with a man in the hope of marriage.

6.  Daughters need 'open eyes' to not fall for or be conned along by the explanation of  "how it is" by the glossy magazines, the music videos, movies, word on the street, and sex education manuals. Again a repeat visit in conversation to the first point is needed.

7.  Mums have responsibility to support the romantic longings and hopes of young girls as being a natural, normal part of being female. DON'T ignore or suppress these longings as it will only send them along the route of the glossy magazine or sexually explicit novel and onto the freeway of objectivity.  This harbours more confusion in the mind of a growing girl. Instead give her examples of lives of women with wholesome romantic dignity, who are respected by men, viewed as women and not as objects, to develop her ideas on.

8.  We need to check ourselves that we are not affected by our society either in our attitudes to women or our practice. If you are a mother involved in the style of relationship described above, think hard. Consider your example, to other women, to your children especially your daughter, regardless of her age, she is learning from you. Are you being valued in the way you live? What are you saying about the worth of a woman? 

9.  As mothers, do we believe in female innocence? Do we think of our daughters as being in a time of innocence which is worth protecting from our culture's brutality? Then we have work to do.

"Understanding modesty .... invites men to consider, What's fun about forcing someone into sex in the first place? A respect for female modesty would inform the relation between the sexes so that "taking what you can get" would be an impossible way for a man to approach a woman, or to approach love generally.  The argument from external authority labels a man as evil if he date-rapes or sexually harasses a woman. From the standpoint of modesty, he is behaving abominably, but more crucially, he is really missing the point . He hasn't understood what it means to be a man."
"..... there is an emerging consensus that things have gone too far."
"There is simply nowhere else to go in the direction of immodesty, only back"

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS spend some time thinking and talking about modesty with YOUR daughter.

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