Modesty, Garments, & Nudity within Mormonism – Part 3

Rape Culture
Finally, I must address a final aspect of the modesty issue.  The way modesty is taught in the church is harmful, I believe; to the men, women, boys and girls of the church. I think it is flat wrong to teach the young women of the church that it is their responsibility to control the thoughts of the young men, by dressing in a way that would not be sexually appealing to them. It tells the girls that if they do get inappropriate attention, ogled, harassed, or raped, that somehow it is their fault. And IT’S NOT!
Some will say they’ve NEVER heard that taught in church…. for which I’m glad.  Explicit statements like this are disappearing, I believe.   But, the implied message remains, and is picked up on by both sexes.

 

The World teaches our girls that:
  • A) In order to have value, they must be desirable to men.
  • B) In order to be desirable to men, they must appear sexually available
  • C) Clothing is used to indicate sexual availability
  • D) Therefore, our girls should wear X (where X= revealing, tight-fitting, you-name-it) to indicate they are sexually available, therefore desirable, therefore valuable.
The World teaches our boys that:
  • A) In order for girls to have value, they must be desirable to men.
  • B) In order to be desirable to men, they must appear sexually available
  • C) Clothing is used to indicate sexual availability.
  • D) Therefore, our girls should wear X (where X= revealing, tight-fitting, you name it) to indicate they are sexually available, and therefore desirable, therefore valuable.
The Church teaches our boys that:
  • A) In order for girls to have value, they must be desirable to men.
  • B) To be desirable to men, they must NOT make themselves sexually available (or appear to be).
  • C) Clothing is used to indicate sexual availability.
  • D) Therefore, our girls should NOT wear X (where X= revealing, tight-fitting, you name it) to indicate they are NOT sexually available, and therefore desirable, therefore valuable.
The Church teaches our girls that:
  • A) In order to have value, they must be desirable to men.
  • B) To be desirable to men, they must NOT make themselves sexually available (or appear to be).
  • C) Clothing is used to indicate sexual availability.
  • D) Therefore, our girls should NOT wear X (where X=  revealing, tight-fitting, you name it) to indicate they are NOT sexually available, and therefore desirable, therefore valuable.

The tragic part of the above messages, are that the media and church are in almost entire agreement in their arguments.  I don’t see the messages from the church pointing out that A, B, and C are all WRONG, therefore D can be thrown out the window. Yet that is what we need.
But doing so means A) teaching our girls that they have value independent of their potential role as mothers and wives (which is dependent on their being found desirable by a man). It means teaching the young men the same thing (about the young women).  It means B) teaching them that each person has the right to determine their own boundaries for sex and physical intimacy, whether they are male or female, single or married. It means C) That relying on clothing to communicate sexual availability is about as good as relying on grunts and head nods to tell the story of a Shakespearean play. Both our boys and girls need to learn that these things are communicated with actual conversation, using words. And that those words have real meanings, especially the magic two-letters combination of N-O.
There are mounds of data out there to show how terribly common rape and sexual assault are, and the majority of these offenses are undertaken against women by men who know them, and who should know better. We need to do more.
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