Worthwhile Reads: The Modesty Myth

I am encouraged to see more and more bloggers, especially those with personal experience with it, taking on the modesty teachings of the purity culture. A few months ago blogger Sierra wrote a series of posts on the teachings of the modesty doctrine. I have also written on the problems with modesty and the purity culture. Now, just this last week, blogger From Two to One has a five-part series out on modesty. Her first post is an introduction, her next three deal with the six main problems she sees with the purity culture’s modesty teachings, and her last post offers some potential solutions to the problem.

The Modesty Myth: Part I

The Modesty Myth: Part II

The Modesty Myth: Part III

The Modesty Myth: Part IV

The Modesty Myth: Part V

(Thanks to Sierra for the link)

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Nathaniel

    Here’s one way I disagree with the author of these posts: I don’t think there’s anything valuable about the notion of modesty. I have yet to see it used in a way that doesn’t reduce the value of a woman to their clothes and whether they cover their bodies in the demanded fashion.

    • http://www.fromtwotoone.com from two to one

      Nathaniel, thanks for reading the posts. I am, as you saw, very skeptical about the notion of modesty, as well, because of the way that it has been and likely will continue to be taught. But in and of itself, as a Christian, I think at its core it’s about self-respect and not being prideful — NOT primarily about dress code, which is where it stands now.

      • Nathaniel

        Thanks for responding. Just to be clear, you identify pretty much every problem I have with the notion.

        Here’s a question: There are tribes in the South American Amazon that wear almost no clothing. Understandable, given the climate. If you were to theoretically know how to communicate with them without difficulty, do you think you would be able to convey your conception of modesty to them without any reference to their clothes or lack thereof?

    • Steve

      I think young girls in early puberty shouldn’t be wearing certain sexy clothing that you’d normally associate with older women, as I’ve seen here and there, but it’s pretty much on a case by case basis. The general rules you find in the Christian modesty concept all paint with way too broad a brush. So just because I may think that a 13 year old girl in a miniskirt looks silly, doesn’t mean she needs to conceal her body.

  • Alexis

    I read a relevant post on HuffPo Monday. The gist of the article is that the patriarchal restrictions against women arise from men’s fear of women’s power. The author assures us: You can say: “There is nothing wrong with me. There is something wrong with you and your world.” She also says: So, know that you are strong and powerful. Use your reason. Trust your instincts. Seek out those that would support you and, yes, know your place: on the field, in the street, on the bus (in the front), in school, at work and in public office. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html#s327348&title=Dr_Ingrid_Mattson

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com from two to one

    @Nathaniel, as for those whose cultures and practices do not align to our often puritanical codes for modesty and purity, I’d point you to this post on the cultural components of modesty: http://sheworships.com/2012/03/20/the-cultural-component-of-modesty/. The author does a good job explaining how missionaries and Christians at-large have done the disservice of demanding others follow OUR (very patriarchal) rules with little consideration for others’ practices and the fact that in Latin America or Africa or elsewhere, conceptions of modesty vary considerably. Or that our imposition of our rules may actually be totally immodest in other places (see article for good example).

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