not in Primary anymore

mostly modest

Guest post by Justin Anfinsen. To read more from him, see his post on Adventures in a Singles Ward.

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Males have raging uncontrollable, hormones. Females have tight figures and are just asking for it. Females should cover up so as to not attract the attention of the Male, who is attracted to cleavage like the great white shark is attracted to seal blood.

If at any point during the above sentence, your eyebrow raised up in a suspicious manner, then congratulations! We are in agreement. Before we go any further, let’s be clear on one thing: I am most certainly not proposing girls should dress immodestly- my concern rather, is that we are mostly teaching modesty to the wrong gender.

In the scriptures, we are taught that the natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). The natural man is carnal, sensual and devilish (Alma 42:10). As a man in the church, I can tell you I have had plenty of lessons concerning the natural man, and how we can overcome it and change our natures from carnal to divine. If there is one thing the gospel teaches us, it’s that we can indeed change, set aside our carnal minds and improve ourselves. Our salvation is even dependent on it. I can also say I have never really had a lesson about modesty (Male modesty? That’s silly). It seems like so odd a thing to put so great importance on controlling the natural man, then handing off modesty to the sisters of the church. I see an immediate disconnect with what is being taught.

Imagine this (fictional) conversation:

Guy: “Oh hey, girl, we have a lot of guy things going on over here, we need you to go ahead and do modesty for us.”

Girl: “But you are the one having impure thoughts.”

Guy: “Yeah…I’m gonna need you to put on a shirt that covers your arms better”

Girl: “You mean wear shapeless clothes that hide our form?”

Guy: “Yeah that would really help my spirituality.”

Girl: “That doesn’t make any sense.”

Guy: “Modest is hottest girl!”

Girl: “So by showing less of myself you will be more attracted to me?”

Guy: “Gotta go, kthanksbye”

I don’t think the church is much to blame for this, as I believe this is a symptom of greater inequality finding its way into the church.  Rape is dealt with in the same way. Rape prevention classes are taught to women, but why not teach men not to rape? I have full control over my thoughts and actions; my salvation is not, and should not be, dependent on what a girl decides to wear on a sunny summer afternoon.

We definitely are accountable when we decide to blame the opposite gender for our own shortcomings and weaknesses.

If you have a story or thoughts you’d like to contribute (or if you have questions or concerns), feel free to email us at youngmormonfeminists AT gmail DOT com. 

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15 Responses to “mostly modest”

  1. C.

    My work at a police department has really shaped how I view this but bear with me – I honestly believe a lot of young men are not taught what sexual crime IS, what it looks like, and how it comes about. A lot of boys, I think, honestly don’t realize that some behaviors or actions are unacceptable or illegal. A great recent example of this is an add campaign in Canadian bars that has been attributed to cutting the sex crime statistics significantly – by simply emphasizing that if a woman CAN’T consent to sex, it’s a crime. Yes it appeals to better natures, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was educational to some. A lot of boys get the message that lack of a “NO” accompanied with a slap to the face is equivalent to a proactive “Yes, you may have sex with me.” (Sidenote: lack of refusal is not the same thing as active consent! Get it already!) I think cultures, including the LDS one, are failing men by not teaching them healthy and proactive sexual responsibility.

    (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dont-be-that-guy-ad-campaign-cuts-vancouver-sex-assaults-by-10-per-cent-in-2011/article1359241/)

    Reply
  2. justinanfinsen

    Thanks for sharing that C, I think sexual assault education is a subject we can definitely benefit from spending more time looking in to. Your post reminded me of this:

    40 no’s and a yes, means yes!

    Reply
  3. Jess

    I LOVE this. I was trying to explain victim blaming and rape culture to a (male) relative the other day. I showed him this post and it totally helped; it made the point much more clearly than what I was saying. Now he gets it! Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Mom of 3 boys

    When I was teaching Primary about a year ago, we had an awesome modesty lesson geared toward both genders. Instead of emphasizing the “don’t”s , they emphasized the “do’s” and focused on portraying oneself appropriately. I have also taught modesty lessons when I was a Cub Scout leader and during FHE to my sons. I think it’s vitally important that both genders understand respect for the opposite sex.

    Reply
  5. Septyan

    The month of October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month we honor the snfciginait work that has been done to reduce domestic violence and recommit ourselves to its end.The following are events held by the YWCA Northeast Indiana in observation of DVAM (for more information or to participate, please contact Steve Miller at ):“Flowers on the River” is the opening event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Each flower thrown onto the river symbolizes a life that has been affected by domestic violence. Participants gather at the YWCA on Spy Run Avenue at 5:00 pm and walk together to the bridge at 5:15. (Monday, October 1, 2012)“Chalk it Up to Awareness” is an initiative of YWCA Northeast Indiana for which colleges or businesses use colored chalk to create sidewalk billboards to raise awareness about domestic violence. (October 8-12, 2012)The National and local goals of the “National Week Without Violence” is to create awareness, remember victims, and speak out against violence in all its forms. (October 15-19, 2012)In celebration of the National Week Without Violence, schools and libraries throughout the area will gather for “Peace Story Time”, to read stories about and educate children on domestic violence. (October 15-19, 2012)Presentation of YWCA Hope Awards: Each day this week, the YWCA Northeast Indiana will select and recognize a recipient from each of the five categories: Domestic Violence, Empowerment of Women, Racial Justice, Junior Hope Award, and Child Advocacy. (October 22-26, 2012)

    Reply
  6. Kevin Miskel

    I’ve never needed a lesson on how not to rape. Frankly, it’s pretty insulting that you think that’s even necessary. I’ve never had to be told “Don’t rape, even though we all know you want to”, since I’ve never wanted to. I’ve never wanted to molest children or murder anybody, either.

    When it comes to women dressing modestly or provocatively, the issue is about perception. A woman who is wearing a short skirt and a plunging neckline is not telling the world “Rape me”, we all know this. However, she is telling the world “I am open to the idea of possibly having sex”, since she’s showing a lot of skin, and that’s a turn on. (By the way, men get turned on by women. Sorry) A woman who is wearing a conservative sweater, with a past the knee skirt is telling the world “My body is not the only card I have to play. I’m confident that the rest of my being is enough to attract somebody”.

    As far as men, and how we dress, it’s not a comparison. Yes, we can take off our shirts in the summer without issue, whoopee! Women have a huge selection of clothing options for all occasions, and can range from totally covered to barely clothed. What do men wear to a wedding/funeral/job interview/dinner at a nice restaurant/upscale party? Suits, suits, suits and more suits. We men are totally covered, and in layers. Women can wear a blouse and a skirt, a dress, a pant suit, almost anything.

    Overall, I want to make 2 points. First, men don’t need to be taught not to rape. That’s ridiculous. If you don’t want men to be turned on by you, then don’t display parts of your body that everybody knows are provocative.

    Second, men are not nearly as liberated, fashion-wise, as you seem to think we are. In the summer, we can take our shirts off at the beach. For the rest of the year, we’re more covered up than you are.

    Reply
    • Darryl Reid

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dont-be-that-guy-ad-campaign-cuts-vancouver-sex-assaults-by-10-per-cent-in-2011/article1359241/

      Yes men need to be told not to rape. This isn’t even an argument in the Anti-rape activist world. It is only an argument in the imaginations of misogynists and sexists and all the others who buy into victim blaming narratives/rhetoric.

      As for the argument that men are some how more oppressed because we lack fashion options, is just ignorant.

      Reply
    • S

      YUP- I have NEVER been sexually attracted to an uncovered man. Ever. Why? Well, because OBVIOUSLY women cannot have the same sexual feelings as a man because our one and only job is to exist for men. Silly me! And as long as we are discussing modesty here, I am shocked that so many men who profess their devotion to modesty are the same ones walking around during the summer topless proudly showing off their bodies. There is nothing modest about that. (Modesty; Noun: the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities.)

      I’m also highly amused by your comment ““I am open to the idea of possibly having sex”, since she’s showing a lot of skin” particularly because I am a dancer and I teach dance. I wear leotards. You can see my legs, thighs, my neck, my shoulders, my back and *GASP!* my leotard is form-fitting to allow freedom of movement and to give my students the opportunity to see my body as I teach. Following the logic you’ve presented, even in an educational setting where I am teaching my students about the joy, beauty and miracle of movement, I MUST be telling them and all that see me “hey, I’m open to the idea of possibly having sex.” Has it ever occurred to you that what I (or anyone else, for that matter) wear has nothing to do with you? I dress for ME, for my needs, my comfort and I put very little stock in what others think about me based on what I wear.

      Reply
    • Michelle

      What body parts are you referring to when you say “If you don’t want men to be turned on by you, then don’t display parts of your body that everybody knows are provocative.”? Are you referencing breasts which are functional for feeding infants? Knees? Ankles? Shoulders? Belly buttons that connected us to our mothers and provided nutrition before birth? What? I am lost here… If you’re referencing those, it sounds like you need to take a closer look at your cultural influences. Would it also be safe to assume here that you are one of those men who also feels the need to tell breastfeeding women to ‘cover up’ to protect your delicate sensibilities?

      Reply
      • Jevanka

        I am working on my regouiils talk for the school and will use the Parable of the Minas and the Parable of the Talents. For us Christians, we hope that our lives are purpose-driven lives – to fulfill God’s purposes for us.Life is not easy for many, especially for those who do not have hope and anticipation for life after death, and love of family and friends on earth. Ann

    • justinanfinsen

      Kevin I am confused who exactly you are addressing here, you address points I made in the article, then you seem to address women in general, unless you were under the assumption I was a female. In that case I regret to inform you I am in fact, a man.

      A woman who is wearing a short skirt and a plunging neckline is not telling the world “Rape me”, we all know this. However, she is telling the world “I am open to the idea of possibly having sex”, since she’s showing a lot of skin, and that’s a turn on.

      False. That is not an open invitation. That is a conscious decision that YOU make when looking at something you find to be a turn on. It’s unreasonable to expect women everywhere to conform to your personal taste. If you superficially judge a women’s sexual intentions based on how low cut her shirt is, you are not going to be in for a fun time. Please do not blame women for the thoughts you chose to entertain in your own head.

      “Overall, I want to make 2 points. First, men don’t need to be taught not to rape. That’s ridiculous. If you don’t want men to be turned on by you, then don’t display parts of your body that everybody knows are provocative.”

      Sexual assault is a men’s issue. Education is essential to helping the problem. Ignoring it does not make it go away, so yes, preach from the rooftops that it is not OK to rape. If this offends you, perhaps you need to examine your thought process more closely.

      Reply
  7. Rebecca

    I really enjoyed and appreciated this. I could not agree more with you, being a young LDS member as well. I applaud you!

    Reply

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