Friday, July 22, 2005

Rekindling controversy

In an online discussion about modesty, a husband asked, "Why do women not believe us when we try to explain how 'visual' we are, and how much we are tempted by women who dress immodestly?"

I can't speak for all women, of course. But I can speak for some of the women I know. And here is the answer:

We want to believe you. Really we do. The problem is that we don't know when to believe you. For example, if you have let us know repeatedly that the "Porno Barbie type" is your idea of sexy and alluring, we find it hard to believe you when you claim you are completely unmoved by watching movies and TV shows and commercials full of scantily-clad Porno Barbies cavorting about and acting sexually provocative. Then, if we finally do, at great effort, almost believe your insistent claims of, "Oh, no, these movies don't tempt me at all", it's a bit difficult to take you seriously when you shout, "Doesn't she realize what she is doing to men when she dresses like that?!!" at the sight of some poor obese teenager whose shirt doesn't quite cover her rolls of stomach fat.

On the other hand, we don't want to believe you. At least, we don't want to believe that all men are so weak, their sexual urges so uncontrollable, and their thought lives so depraved and unrestrained. You see, we want to respect you. Really we do. But we find porno minds and wimpiness and indulgent weakness hard to respect. So we don't want to believe you are as weak as you claim.

We also find it hard to believe that you are as weak as you claim when you don't react to your weakness the way we react to ours. You claim you want to live a pure life but that immodest women are the bane of your existence. If I claimed that I wanted to lose weight and that desserts were the bane of my existence, you would not find me buying desserts. You would not find me on the internet at night, looking up pictures of desserts. You would not find me glued to baking shows on the Food Network. You would not find me ogling the desserts at the table next to me in a restaraunt. No, I would flee desserts, knowing they are my weakness. I would not want to be tempted.

You, on the other hand, seek out temptation and indulge your weakness. Then you claim that you are not really weak. "I can handle it!" you say. "If I stop looking, I stop cooking!" "Nah, those pictures don't bother me at all." "What's wrong with enjoying the sight of a beautiful woman?"

And then you rail at teenage girls for causing men to lust.

We want to believe you...but, more than that, we want you to be honest.


  1. Ha! Ha! Awesome thoughts Rebecca! As a reformed tent-dress wearer myself, you are a breath of fresh air!

  2. Rebecca,

    Thanks for your observations. While they are mostly axiomatic, it helps for us men to be hit over the head with this every once in a while. While I don't disagree with anything you say, I would observe that there is some difference between seeing a scantily clad woman that I've never met on TV - and having a scantily clad female acquaintance only a few feet away from me. Both are tempting - but one more so than the other. Kind of like the difference between a picture of a cookie and real cookie. Again, you're right, there is a double standard as you note, but by the same token, immodesty on someone at close proximity is and should be more of a concern than immodesty on strangers on TV.