Dear Pope Francis,
There seems to be an ever increasing litany of stories of women being told that it is their responsibility to dress modestly so that they won’t be objectified by men. The logic behind the rape culture, that the women who are raped were asking for it, is being applied to objectification. According to the rape culture, it is a woman’s responsibility as to whether or not she dresses in a way that encourages someone to rape her. Applied to objectification, it is a woman’s responsibility to dress modestly so that men won’t be tempted to objectify her. I think this logic is ridiculous for a couple of reasons
One reason this is ridiculous is that this logic takes the responsibility away from the guys. It assumes that guys can’t control themselves, or find it very difficult to do so, and women should help them. Some guys might struggle with objectifying women, and if they do, then yes, we should help them, but how I dress is not necessarily going to fix the problem. His wandering eyes are not solely my problem. He ultimately needs to work towards a long term solution. This logic also takes all the responsibility away from men, and says that men can look at women however they want because it’s not their fault, it’s the woman’s.
Another reason that this is ridiculous is that this also assumes that there is one standard of modesty that everyone agrees on, which is certainly not the case. I would never wear what some other women wear every day. It also assumes that there is a certain type of clothing that arouses men, which is also not true.
I don’t necessarily think that we need to throw modesty out the window when we’re talking about objectification and the rape culture, but I don’t think that modesty is the only answer. Instead, I think modesty needs to be a choice that women make for themselves, not something that is forced on them because guys can’t control themselves.
I generally choose to dress modestly, because those are the clothes I’m the most comfortable and confident in. I was taught that there should be an inch or two of overlap between my shirt and jeans, and that skirts and shorts need to go past my fingertips. These became my norms for finding clothes. As I became more aware of how I looked in clothes and fashion trends, I learned to dress for my body type, rather than solely for fashion. This means that I usually have to recycle old pairs of jeans to make shorts because I have a hard time finding shorts that are the right length for me, and that I have lots of tank tops for layering under t-shirts.
Most importantly for me, dressing modestly is a way that I show self-respect. I choose to dress in clothes that make me feel good as a way to love myself and show respect for the way that God created me. It isn’t something that I do for anyone else. It is purely a personal choice. Sure, I do wish that other women would see the beauty of covering up a little more, especially in the summer, and I work very hard to not judge women when I disagree with their fashion choices, especially for modesty reasons, but I think that dressing modestly is a very personal choice. It is something that women need to choose for themselves because it makes them feel good or confident or helps them express something about themselves. It can’t be forced on them, especially not because it is their responsibility to keep men from objectifying them.
Getting ready to make some new shorts,