Friday, June 02, 2006

Does it really matter what a women chooses to wear?

Of course it does! Here is a great article from Edward Sri about the importance of returning to modesty. Here's the beginning of the article.

To Inspire Love: A Return to Modesty

In our post-sexual-revolution world, skimpy dresses, mini-skirts, tiny bikinis, low -rise pants, and low-cut shirts have become part of the mainstream attire for women today. And anyone who might raise questions about the appropriateness of such dress is viewed as “rigid,” “old fashioned,” or “out of touch” with modern style. Modesty is no longer a part of our culture’s vocabulary. Though most people sense they wouldn’t want their own daughters dressing like Madonna and Britney Spears, few have the courage to bring up the topic of modesty, and even fewer know what to say if they did.

John Paul II — then Karol Wojtyla — in his book Love and Responsibility, offers much needed wisdom on the nature of modesty and how dressing modestly is crucial for strengthening our relationships with the opposite sex.

The Experience of Shame

Wojtyla begins his treatment on modesty with an explanation of a common human experience: shame. Shame involves a tendency to conceal something — not just bad things, such as sins, weaknesses, and embarrassing m oments, but also good things that we desire to keep from coming out in the open. For example, someone who performs a good deed may prefer that his action go unnoticed. If he is complemented publicly, he may feel embarrassed, not because he did something bad, but because he did not want to draw attention to his deed. Similarly, a student who receives high marks on an exam may feel embarrassed when the teacher praises her in front of the whole class, since she wished to share her good grade only with her closest friends and famil y. There are many good things that we wish to keep hidden from public eyes, and we feel shame if they are brought out into the open.

This helps us understand one of the most powerful experiences of shame: sexual shame. Why do human persons tend to conceal body parts associated with sexuality? Why do men and women instinctively cover themselves quickly if someone of the opposite sex accidentally walks in on them while they are changing their clothes or going to the bathroom? Wojtyla explains that this tendency to conceal those parts of the body that make it male or female is itself not the essence of shame, but a manifestation of a deeper tendency to conceal the sexual values themselves, “particularly in so far as they constitute in the mind of a particular person ‘a potential object of enjoyment’ for persons of the other sex” (p. 176).

For example, a woman may instinctively sense that if certain parts of her body are exposed, a man might view her merely for her sexual values as an object of pleasure. Indeed, those particular parts of her body reveal her sexual values so powerfully that a man can be drawn primarily not to her true value as a person, but to her sexual values which give him sensual pleasure in his glances and imagination.

That is why we tend to veil the sexual values connected with particular parts of the body — not because they are bad, but because they can overshadow the greater value of the person. Wojtyla thus says sexual shame is “a natural form of self-defense for the person” (p. 182). It helps prevent the person from being treated as an object of enjoyment. Thus, the concealing of sexual values through modesty of dress is meant to provide the arena in which something much more than a mere se nsual reaction might take place. Modesty of dress helps protect interactions between the sexes from falling into utilitarianism, and thus creates the possibility of authentic love for the per son to develop.

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