There are people that I know who would read my previous two posts and no doubt be driven to exclaim, "Aha! She's just making excuses for dressing immodestly!"
For those readers who might be tempted to jump to that conclusion, here is a reality check: I'm just a very few years shy of turning 50. I've had six children. Even a quarter of a century ago, I was never the type to "turn heads". Now I'm far more likely to inspire yawns rather than lust.
I am not advocating that women parade around with skimpy outfits and an attitude of, "Hey, what are you looking at, mister?" Just yesterday, while shopping for clothes, it struck me again how few of the clothes were something I would actually wear in public...or even in private, for that matter.
In fact, a lot of people tend to find me prudish and, if not that, downright boring.
However, having said all that...
There are those women who would not approve of my wardrobe. My hyper-modest sisters (and, sadly, I once aspired to be one of them) would be aghast at the fact that I wear anything besides the most shapeless and frumpy of dresses, and that I dare walk around with my head in a normal position, rather than constantly looking at the ground with downcast eyes. However, when I was in my stage of wearing voluminous skirts, I attracted far more attention than I do now. How modest was that?
If I were dictator of the world, lots of people would be dressed differently, both male and female. But, at the same time, I would forbid people to use each other as excuses for their own sin. ("I couldn't help it. A man in a suit just gets to me!") Even if I were given the power to bring about the most stringent of dress reforms, I would know that it would really do nothing to change our hearts or minds. Men would still lust, and they would still blame women, just as they do in societies where women are shrouded from head to toe and rarely allowed out in public.
When I was growing up, women used to tell girls to "cover up", not so much for the sake of modesty, but because men found "a little mystery" more alluring. If you showed too much, you took away the mystery; he would not have as much to fantasize about; he would not be as attracted to you. "Don't be so obvious," girls would be told.
Maybe that advise was all a bunch of nonsense, and maybe it was some sort of reverse psychology to get girls to dress modestly. I don't know. Frankly, I was realistic enough at the time and had access to enough mirrors (and the daily feedback of enough boys at school) to know that I could have been as mysterious as the day is long, and no male would have noticed or cared, other than to be further convinced of my weirdness.
Also, back in my day, there were youth pastors (referred to as "youth directors" in that long ago age) who actually told the boys to "make a covenant with their eyes". We, in the church, had a higher view of men in those days because men had a higher view of themselves. Many of us honestly believe that they could control their thought lives and that they were more than just a jumble of overactive hormones.
Not that long ago, I was dialoguing with a self-described radical feminist who had "come out" of conservative Christianity. She said that one of the things that attracted her to radical feminism is that it did not have such a bleak and helpless view of males. "If feminists said things half as bad about men as were said by men in the church, everyone would be screaming about male bashing." She believes that men can change, that they are not victims of runaway hormones, that they are not as weak as she had been told, and that they can be responsible and moral. She believes in a future where men and women will treat each other with respect, as loving brothers and sisters should. Unfortunately, she insisted to me, she found no such vision or hope within her branch of conservative Christianity.
That is very sad.
But, when Christian men say, "We are just wired this way!" and "For us, looking is the same as touching!" and "You must understand that you are causing us to sin!"...well, it is easy to see why my friend did not find much hope in such statements.