A flurry of interesting conversations on modesty have made the rounds recently. There seems to be an attitude that if you dress provocatively, you invite sexual advances. There is a counterargument that the way we teach women to dress modestly FOR THE PURPOSE of dissuading men to approach them inappropriately teaches women that they are on some level objects for the taking.

I'm think there is merit to both sides. Because on the one hand, it is true. If you dress in a way that, compared with the culture around you, is immodest, you will be the focus of more sexual advances. It is just as true that those men who take a woman's appearance as an open invitation are complete and utter cads.

I am a woman who has lived with a kernel of fear most of her life. NOT that I'd be raped (though that is part of it) but that I'd lead a man on, inadvertently "invite" him to take advantage of me in ANY way by the way I dress, talk, or act. No woman is completely safe from men. I believe that. I also believe that not all men are the source of danger, though I don't really know how to tell the difference.

This makes it very hard to flirt, to show I'm interested in a guy.

Which, ironically, makes me a prime target for the sort of man who has always been attracted to me: the sort that is looking for prey, not an equal partner. Because from his perspective, HE is intrigued by the hoops he has to jump through to get me. HE is willing to do whatever it takes to get his mark, even slog through my reticence. (For those of you who have seen Bachelorette, Bentley is a common type of this sort of man.)

I think that the best way to deal with both the realities and the ideal is to stop telling women to dress to help control men's thoughts, and teach them to dress modestly because in the minds of (at best) immature men, they are seen on at least one level as objects and they should want to do everything they can to command respect.

I understand that, our mortal state being what it is, otherwise righteous men might have an errant thought at times because they are attracted to a woman. But this happens regardless of dress, to my understanding. It could be anything, a flash of throat, a toss of hair, even the scent of shampoo.

So rather than telling women to stop doing what triggers those thoughts (because that would be impossible anyways,) start telling men AND women that HAVING those thoughts is natural, not evil. However, natural doesn't mean good. As mature adults, they have the ability to develop complete control over whether or not they'll turn the passing thought into action. They most certainly have the ability to control how they see the woman who excites their hormonal interest.

Just because you men have the thoughts, doesn't mean we women did anything to encourage it. And just because you men are attracted to us, doesn't mean we are attracted to you. And even if we are attracted to you, that doesn't mean you have a right to us and our bodies, EVEN IF WE ARE MARRIED TO YOU.
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