Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Believe in the Principle of Modesty, but Not in the Way It Is Interpreted By Some

I have some communal responsibility for the messages I send through the actions I choose.

I have no argument whatsoever with that principle.

I alone am responsible, ultimately, for what I think and how I act - no matter what messages are being sent by others.

I have no argument whatsoever with that principle.

"Modesty" is a concept that embraces both of the principles above - an attempt to create a reasonable "middle ground" that doesn't emphasize the communal OR the individual above the other. Modesty is not about being "true" or "right"; it's about being "moderate", "reasonable" and "charitable".

Once moderation, reason and charity leave the equation, modesty no longer exists - and modesty can be very different things in very different cultures. It's not the exact line that is drawn that is important; it's if that middle ground line works for reasonable men and women within their community.

Overall, I have little passionate argument with the general idea of how modesty of dress is approached within the official standards of the LDS Church - meaning that I accept as a reasonable balance attire that covers garments for general, non-specific, public appearance by church members as the standard for adults. That leaves exceptions for differing activities where deviations from that norm make sense, while it also allows for those who want more restrictive guidelines for themselves to be able to dress as conservatively as they want.

Where my passionate argument exists is when the general, non-specific, church member, public appearance norm is applied to non-adults, non-LDS members and to situations outside that norm - and when the more strict norm becomes a de facto norm by dint of majority insistence. I also object to how it is almost exclusively women who bear the brunt of the responsibility - when male communal input outweighs communal female input, and women become walking pornography but men never hear about their effect on and responsibility toward women. I also object when women who actually are dressed "modestly" are seen as walking pornography, since that situation is a problem with the men who see them in ways they need not be seen.

For example, "more modest" really is being "immodest" - being out-of-balance. That's a great example of what I mean when I say that we collectively don't understand what modesty really means.

We are so steeped in a Victorian view of sex that we collectively see lots of things as wrong and pornographic that are only wrong and pornographic because we make them so. Nudity is not the same as pornography - but we are close to the point where we are collectively equating the two. That, to me, is the heart of the issue - and decoupling the two is the most important, effective "first step" I know.

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