In Need of Your Modesty


Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a inactive to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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104 Responses

  1. Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

    *nods aggressively*

    The expectation that women are meant to manage inappropriate male behavior by making decisions that minimize the possibility for it is yet another part of the broader “she was asking for it” mentality. This is also a huge convenience for us as men, because it asks absolutely nothing of us.

    Note the documentation here of women being blamed when men stare down their shirts. As if it would simply be impossible for the man to not stare down their shirts. It’s as if nobody thought of gently suggesting that perhaps the man who complains after having intentionally witnessed even a bit of bewb shouldn’t be looking in the first place.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Agreed a hundred times over; the reeking sexist hypocrisy that floats around this region of theology like oily smog is utterly disgusting. It’s also near universal among organized faiths.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    I really don’t see the issue here. You could easily reverse the roles, aka “no ring on the finger, no nookie for you”. I don’t see this as a power issue, I see it as statement of values. (Values I don’t necessarily agree with). It’s essentially “If you want me, then you’ll have to meet my expectations.” Hell, I see that in women’s dating profiles all the time.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Wait, the level of commitment a woman demands from a man is the same as the man telling the woman how she needs to dress? I suppose that is a statement of values.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        My point wasn’t on commitment vs dress, but that both parties in a potential romantic scenario have requirements/demands/etc. they expect in a future partner. Each potential partner is free to accept or reject those requirements/demands.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Damon, I’m not really certain how ‘future partner’ plays into this; it may, it may not. Here, the expectation is that she’ll control herself so that I don’t have to specifically with regards to his visual responses.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        yes, but hypocritical demands ought to be rejected on the face.
        And a man’s demand that a woman dress modestly, while he continues to dress as he has, is hypocritical.
        [Note: yes, of course women can be hypocritical too. But society doesn’t call them good for it.]Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Damon, did you read the post? Do you recognize the difference between making judgments about a woman’s integrity based on her dress, and making judgments about a man’s level of commitment based on his actual level of commitment? They are two very different things. That you are treating them as comparable in any way is, as I said, a statement of values.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @ Chris,

        Yes, I read it, but I didn’t read it was you wrote. I read it as “expectations”. Regardless of what those are, everyone has them. 1) If you’re a hard core religious person who views sex as something that should only occur between married adults and thinks that women wearing short skirts and tight tops “temps” men. That’s one expectation of how you expect women to comport themselves or you devalue them. 2) A woman expects a man to behave in a certain way to attract her and “win” her affection-nice dinners, drives a nice car, has “financial stability”, etc. and she will disregard anyone not fitting that profile. (i’m using std stereotypes here as ease of explanation)

        I see no difference in the two scenarios, they are both preferences for human behavior. Where those preferences come from, and the impacts to others maybe quite different, but I view the source as the same or highly similar.

        If that “statement of values” of mine is “You can think what you want about me becuase of the way I dress/or whateverReport

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I have no idea how you dress, but I bet your wardrobe choices don’t involve avoiding arousing evil passions in women.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I ain’t never seen a woman HURT a man for not having financial stability.
        Not physically.
        There are buses in this world that women CANNOT ride without “starting a riot”.
        The busdriver won’t let them aboard, because obviously an uprising on a bus makes it rather difficult to drive.

        [Name the country, if you dare.]Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @ Chris,
        I have no idea how my dress effects others unless they tell me, so can’t answer that. However, I CAN address my response to someone who criticizes my appearance:

        “Screw you. My appearance isn’t designed to please you.”

        @Kim, I’m really not address India or areas where your comments would be on point. I don’t live there so it’s not my issue. (See my comments about the “layers of my giving a damn in a privious thread.) Clothing is a smaller issue compared to the bigger picture of the decent treatment of women in countries like that.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        “Screw you. My appearance isn’t designed to please you.”

        As a woman, that’s pretty much how I feel about ‘modesty’ standards.

        But here’s the most interesting thing: when women are getting all gussied up for a night on the town, they are not usually think about looking hot for the dudes, not matter how scantily they may clad or how hot they might be. Nope.

        Generally, they’re thinking about the other women in the room, and establishing some sort of place in the pecking-order of feminine attractiveness. In this game, men are just an afterthought.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I know a guy who would (and does) avoid dressing in ways that arouse lust in women.
        (inappropriate groping on public transportation is not fun regardless of sex).

        The country I was referencing is Israel, and my relatives live there, so my degree of giving a fuck is a bit higher than yours.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Generally, they’re thinking about the other women in the room, and establishing some sort of place in the pecking-order of feminine attractiveness. In this game, men are just an afterthought.

        A while back (still today, sometimes, though less so for whatever reason) male preference tended to be blamed for women’s focus on minimalizing weight (the waif fad). This despite the fact that studies demonstrated that men are not generally nearly as exacting about such things as women are. I’m not saying it had/has nothing to do with men in general, but there were/are other things going on.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @ Zic
        Yep, I believe it.

        Yep, I’d believe that too. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Will and zic,

        Generally, they’re thinking about the other women in the room, and establishing some sort of place in the pecking-order of feminine attractiveness. In this game, men are just an afterthought.

        This sounds right to me. (I was gonna say pretty much the same thing earlier but didn’t want be criticized for mansplainin 🙂 But Will, your comment sorta closes the loop a bit: insofar as women are dressing for women to establish a pecking order, are they doing so because men will make judgments (be attracted to, value more, etc) women at the top? I know that men often dress according what I’ll call the The Power Metric of Manly Adulthood, where dress really does make the man. In one sense, men also dress for men. But maybe they’re dressing for women indirectly, too?

        (Sorry if that seems convoluted or confused, but the topic – fashion and appearance and whatnot – is fascinating to me. I’m sorta hopelessly fashionapathetic.)Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @stillwater I think that this is true, too: men dress for men.

        When we intentionally put on our best because, we’re dressing to establish our place, our status, in the a la carte menu of humanity. That’s not to say that men and women don’t each dress for the opposite, either. But the general fashion trends? I think they’re highly gendered toward status in relation to other members of the same sex; we’re one amongst a selection; and we dress to order ourselves within that selection.

        /and I have no end of issues with thinking that this is the way things are, too.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Of course, there’s the artist, too.

        They dress however the hell they want. Or not.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Damon, precisely. No one would expect you to dress in such a way as to not arouse women’s sinful passions, and you would tell them to fish off if they did. That is enough information about the double standard to clue you in to the “values” involved.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Modesty might be a virture but its a very problematic one since it has a long history of being used to control people’s sexuality, especially women’s sexuality.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Modesty might plausibly be an un-American virture considering how much bosterousness is part of our alleged national character. When combined with the current cult of the badass in popular culture, you don’t have a great case for modesty.Report

  6. Avatar morat20 says:

    If I recall Genesis correctly, God created the Earth and all the things in it, and then created man. And then created woman, who metaphorically showed the man some cleavage and single-handedly drove the world to sin and corruption.

    Sure it was an apple and a snake and conversation and not a short skirt or a tight blouse, but it sorta sets the tone.

    Blaming women for men’s choices is pretty much the oldest story in the book, although I don’t blame religion (or Christianity in specific) for it — men were in power for pretty much all of recorded history, and the folks in power can’t very well blame themselves for anything that goes wrong.

    Scapegoating women is just easier than scapegoating minorities, because there’s generally a woman handy and sometimes you’re fresh out of the local hated minority to blame.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      There are two creations stories in Genesis. In the first creation story, man and woman were created together. In the first creation story, the first man and woman are un-named. In the second creation story, God created Adam the first man and than Eve the first woman latter because Adam found all the other animals unsuitable help mates. There have been lots of attempts to reconcile the two creation stories.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Quite true, although I’ll simply say that when it comes to the whole modesty movement — which is, at least here in America — pushed mostly by fundamentalist Christians — we’re talking about people whose religious mythos starts with blaming women for the fall of Men and the origination of sin.

        So whatever else, blaming women for causing lustful thoughts in men is pretty consistent with their religion.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    Huh. Scratches head.

    Here’s an older version of this song; a poster James Mischener found posted on a church door in Spain in 1943:

    1. Women shall not appear on the streets of this village with dresses that are too tight in those places which provoke the evil passions of men.

    2. They must never wear dresses that are too short.

    3. They must be particularly careful not to wear dresses that are low-cut in front.

    4. It is shameful for women to walk in the streets with short sleeves.

    5. Every woman who appears in the streets must wear stockings.

    6. Women must not wear transparent or network cloth over those parts which decency requires to be covered.

    7. At the age of twelve girls must begin to wear dresses that reach to the knee, and stockings at all times.

    8. Little boys must not appear in the streets with their upper legs bare.

    9. Girls must never walk in out-of-the-way places because to do so is both immoral and dangerous.

    10. No decent woman or girl is ever seen on a bicycle.

    11. No decent woman is ever seen wearing trousers.

    12. What they call in the cities ‘modern dancing’ is strictly forbidden.

    Kyle, I am curious about one thing: you say the video is making the rounds in your social media; what’s the take — that this video is a good think or pointing out the double standard and slipping of responsibility in the video?

    (And this is a very wonderful piece, too. Thank you)Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Ya know, it’d be interesting to look at the rates of things like masturbation, extramarital sex, infidelity, and rape in countries or cultures that more forcefully imposed these norms.

    I get that most Christians’ God would prefer that ejaculation only occur when a married heterosexual couple have unprotected missionary sex in the dark with the curtains drawn. Bonus Godliness points if they refuse to make eye contact until lunchtime of the following day. But is there any actual evidence that such restrictions actually make their preferred outcome more likely to occur?

    It also strikes me as incredibly ironic that the classic Catholic school girl uniform is far more revealing that what most girls that age would wear if left to their own devices.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Ya know, it’d be interesting to look at the rates of things like masturbation, extramarital sex, infidelity, and rape in countries or cultures that more forcefully imposed these norms.

      One of the problems here is that the more restrictive the culture, the less likely someone’s going to report/admit to any of those things.

      By reporting alone, the US has a much higher incidence of rape then India, and ; but by survey, a women is far more likely to be raped in India then the US. Here’s what strikes me as a good explanation of the problem:

    • “I get that most Christians’ God would prefer that ejaculation only occur when a married heterosexual couple have unprotected missionary sex in the dark with the curtains drawn. Bonus Godliness points if they refuse to make eye contact until lunchtime of the following day. But is there any actual evidence that such restrictions actually make their preferred outcome more likely to occur?”

      This seems pretty antagonistic–pigeon-holing people into a particular role without giving regard to them as fully-developed people. It’s in stark contrast to the tone of Kyle’s posts (this one and past ones).

      I get what you’re saying, but I doubt you have the statistics to back up the stereotype.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        You’re right, Jonathan. I should have said something more akin to, “Most of the people who tend to advocate for or demand such modesty tend to believe their God wants…” That is probably a relatively small subset of all Christians… far less than “most”.

        Editing my comment seems unfair so hopefully this comment will suffice as a mea culpa and clarification.Report

      • That’s an appropriate clarification, thanks Kazzy. It’s a valid point to make.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      in general? no.
      Suppressed homosexuality does lead to some instances of pedophilia (also furries) [note: not saying MOST, boys and girls. also, yes it’s pretty obvious — and oddly enough, it’s directed toward young girls. Again, suppressed homosexuality].

      Christian camps tend to have huge, epic rates of unwed pregnancies (ditto any youth gettogethers).

      Also, the more you forcefully say that women are less than men (and more importantly, girls are less than boys), the higher your rates of sibling incest soar. [Mostly, because the parents do NOTHING to stop it. In more equal houses, boys pretty much know better — and if they don’t, they get sent Away Instead — because rape inside the household is that intolerable.]

      Victorian Englishfolk were notorious for tupping the neighbor’s wife (which, one should note, would have been Way More Frequent than the French custom of having some fun at a festival. Also, interneighbor feuding is more problematic than “I diddled the girl from two villages away. Won’t see her again for a year, though.”)

      The list goes on, and on. And it changes by the culture.

      Orthodox women were comparatively more powerful than Christian women… but that just
      meant that the incest was more likely to be a father/daughter pairing (as the guy wasn’t “getting any” and it was comparatively hard to find/access a woman who wasn’t in your family).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        “Suppressed homosexuality does lead to some instances of pedophilia (also furries) [note: not saying MOST, boys and girls. also, yes it’s pretty obvious — and oddly enough, it’s directed toward young girls. Again, suppressed homosexuality].”

        I usually let your bullshit slide. And I doubt you are aware of the problems with the thinking that underlies such a statement. But unless you can provide some really firm and reliable data that suppressed homosexuality (as opposed to suppressed sexuality in general) is more likely to lead to pedophilia, I am going to quite firmly ask that you retract this part of your statement.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I said NOT MOST pedophilia. I stand by my statement.
        Guys who go after small boys are not suppressing homosexuality.
        /most/ guys who go after young girls are not suppressing homosexuality.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Is there something unique about suppressed homosexuality with regards to its relationship to instance of pedophilia?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        hate to say it, but I’m not understanding your question.
        Suppressed homosexuality relates to particular fetishes…,
        some of which are most frequently (and “easily”?) expressed
        in pedophilia.

        It’s my impression that most people who are pedophiles are
        expressing a basically permanent and unchanging “orientation”.
        Those who are suppressing homosexuality might be able to
        modify their behaviors.

        [Words in quotes I advance with some amount of trepidation — they’re the closest to what I mean, but aren’t accurate. may explain later.]Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        “Suppressed homosexuality relates to particular fetishes…”

        Prove this statement.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I’d echo that: Please show your work, Kim.Report

  9. Avatar Pinky says:

    As Kyle notes, modesty is a virtue which falls under temperance. The virtue is found in the middle, between extremes. Can anyone really argue that our society is overly modest? Let’s not forget that there’s a little bit of male pressure on women to show less, but there’s constant male pressure on women to show more.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Hell, yes, I can say that our society is overly modest.
      When going regimental (for women or men) is taken as a
      sign of sexual libertinism… that’s just messed up.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Where’s the accusation of sexual libertinism? I see the lyrics that Kyle highlighted and it seems a stretch. I looked up the lyrics of the original song online, and this is the equivalent portion:

        If only you saw what I can see,
        You’d understand why I want you so desperately,
        Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe,
        You don’t know,
        Oh, oh,
        You don’t know you’re beautiful,
        Oh, oh,
        That’s what makes you beautiful

        There are only so many ways this could be worked into a comparable rhyme. And let me stress this: I looked up the lyrics online, I don’t know the song, and I have no pictures of 1D in my bedroom, not even of Niall. Just wanted to clear that up.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        my comment has little to do with the song.
        I was merely reacting to the idea that our society is “too immodest”.
        Which i consider to be incorrect.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Define “modest” and we can talk. Between two extremes? Are we talking subjective extremes? Objective extremes?

      In what sense? Dress? Actions? Speech?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Define “modest” and we can talk.

        The opposite of Richard Sherman.Report

      • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

        Isn’t modesty defined as the need to withhold anything that gives the scold a thrill?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I’d be willing to go along with that.

        Modesty seems to be in the eye of the beholder, or to current fashion trends, or to context.

        It appears subjective to all but the scold, who knows you’re being immodest because he or she is titillated.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Well, I assume we’re talking about modesty in terms of not dressing provocatively. That deals with intention. If the purpose of the outfit is in its functionality, I don’t see it as immodest. (A completely backless gown is appropriate at the hospital, but not at the prom.) If there’s no intention to be provocative, then there’s nothing wrong. (Here’s the difference between a button popping open and a button left open.)

        As with anything else involving sexuality, there are layers of meaning. Just because they’re impossible to quantify doesn’t mean they don’t exist.Report

      • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

        In a world in which breastfeeding is considered titillating…AHEM…I really don’t see how there the sorts of clear standards that you seem to be referring to. I really doubt that the woman breastfeeding is trying to pick up dudes; I’m just as certain that guy who goes, “Oh my god, a Bewb!” isn’t worried about the functionality of the act. Modesty is always in the eye of the scold and has nothing to do with the intent of the immodest.

        For example: why isn’t a backless gown a good idea at the prom? What’s wrong with that? Are backs sexy now? Hmmmmmm…backalicious.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky while this might be a fair point, it is important to remember that women in burqas also get raped. At some point, as Kyle so wonderfully pointed out, it’s time to shift the agency here to the men looking at women.

        @sam-wilkinson thank you for bringing up breastfeeding. A for instance: on facebook, photos of wet tee-shirt contests will receive thousands of likes and quickly spread around. Photos of women breastfeeding are often quickly flagged as smutty and taken down; as are medical drawings of women’s reproductive systems. The message I get here is that women presented as objects is more acceptable then things while those same lady parts, when not in the pleasure of men, are found objectionable.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I remember hearing a story about Polynesian Women visiting some Western Country and these women were used to going around their business topless but found the idea of showing thigh to be scandalous. The story included a scene of them visiting a swimming pool where all of them huddled together, making sure that no one could see their thighs… while they were surrounded by Western women walking around in bikinis.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Sam, you’re going to have to give me more to work with than a simple “I disagree”, although I realize that I probably haven’t given you more than that.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Zic, I certainly didn’t assert that men are blameless in all their sexual thoughts or actions. I don’t see how anything I said could be taken that way.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky I think the problem here is that ‘modesty’ is mostly a reflection that women are not supposed to publicly show that they’re sexual, there’s a very Victorian flavor to the idea in our western culture.

        I worked at Plimoth Plantation, had to study the Elizabethan era. There were very different views; and one was that women did enjoy sex, and for good reason. We were encouraged to use bawdy talk, to reflect Chaucer and Shakespeare. Most of our definitions of modesty now are reflected at ‘not being a temptress.’ I do not like provoking unwanted sexual attention, and am quite modest in my dress. But I also have a beautiful back, and don’t have much issue displaying it come summer, either. I’m also not fond of a bra come summer, but it’s not for lack of modesty; it’s for want of comfort.

        The constraints of modesty are for men; not for me. And that’s my objection. The only comparable restraints on men were, “don’t cuss in front of the ladies,” (I like to cuss now and again, too), and “take your hat off when you go inside.”Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky perhaps a better way to say what I’m getting at is to examine the social customs we don’t have. Men, for instance, are not taught to avert their eyes when someone’s appearance is sexually distracting them.

        Instead, women should dress so as to avoid that gaze. And if they don’t, there’s absolutely no offense given from looking and thinking salacious thoughts. She’s to blame for provoking those thoughts, she should change her dress while he gets to look (and often more) without committing an offense.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        “Men, for instance, are not taught to avert their eyes when someone’s appearance is sexually distracting them.
        Instead, women should dress so as to avoid that gaze.”

        That first sentence isn’t true at all, at least in my experience. Maybe they aren’t taught that any more, but they should. It’s a matter of courtesy. It’s also a matter of courtesy for the woman to dress modestly. Again, back to Kant: behave as you would have others behave.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky I hope you’re right that they are taught that; but the world of advertising, alone, suggests the opposite. They are taught to look at women as sexy, and women are taught to be sexy for men.

        And I realize I’m conflating the culture of church and moral restraint with the culture of the free market. There’s a lot more ink and rules like the video above and the rules on the Spanish church then there are admonitions to look away.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        I don’t think the free market is to blame for the general lack of moral restraint. But my saying that is opening up a second can, also labeled “Worms”.Report

      • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:


        Please provide a universal definition of “provocative” which all human beings have signed onto. You use the term as if we’re all going to agree about what is and isn’t. I don’t think that definition though is set in stone.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Sam et alia,
        Just wanted to affirm that it’s okay if a woman finds her own breastfeeding titillating.
        Nature is one weird, twisted mama.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Sam, I actually argued the opposite, that context, intention, and other nebulous things change the meaning of “provocative” radically.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Sam, I just reread my comment. Seriously, how did you get the impression that I was saw a standard of modesty in set in stone? That’s not even close.Report

      • Avatar Sam says:


        Well, I assume we’re talking about modesty in terms of not dressing provocatively. That deals with intention. If the purpose of the outfit is in its functionality, I don’t see it as immodest. (A completely backless gown is appropriate at the hospital, but not at the prom.) If there’s no intention to be provocative, then there’s nothing wrong. (Here’s the difference between a button popping open and a button left open.)

        I can’t square the idea that modesty is in the intent of the individual with the implied immodesty of a button left open. A button left unbuttoned does not necessarily indicate immodesty, surely?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        A button left unbuttoned does not necessarily indicate immodesty, surely?

        It does, if you attribute a specific intention to that action, like
        trying to inspire lustful thoughts. That begs some important question, seems to me, but also imposes the burden of refraining from inspiring those latent thought on the person who might cause those thoughts rather than on the person who experiences them.

        Upthread, Pinky wrote

        Again, back to Kant: behave as you would have others behave.

        I don’t think that’s what Kant was getting at, actually. What you’re talking about is the golden rule. Kant was talking about treating people as ends in themselves (or universalizability of a maxim) , and so he would – at least on that score – hold that imposing a modesty constraint on women to prevent lustful thoughts in men is not treating them as an end in themselves.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Yeah, I did a bad job here with my Kant. I’d made a reference to him recently on another thread, which is why he was on my mind. He had a slightly different take on the golden rule, and it wasn’t what I said here.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        The point I was trying to make in that comment that referred to Kant was about courtesy. Yes, courtesy is situationally-dependent. No, I personally wouldn’t be offended if someone showed me the bottom of their shoes. (I think an empathetic person can understand when something they see is being done out of discourtesy or not.) But courtesy is of value.Report

  10. Wait, if “virtue” is “beautiful” (and, conversely, the un-virtuous are not beautiful), and these kids’ dream girls are modestly-dressed women of “integrity”, then won’t modestly-dressed “virtuous” women of “integrity” be the most likely to cause lust and impure thoughts? If you’re not into the un-virtuous, they’re not going turn your crank, if ya know what I mean.

    I’m probably over-thinking this.Report

  11. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    It’s funny, but the video linked in this post is like the opposite side of a coin I saw at a lot of MRM sites, especially those that were forum heavy.

    When reading through the many, many conversations on the topics of finding the right kind of woman to marry (if you must), there are two talking points that invariably pop up.

    The first is the belief among the MRM crowd that you need to marry someone very young, ideally a “girl” in her late teens or early twenties — certainly no older than 21 or 22. There are essentially two reasons given for this. The first is the female body type MRM’s associate with women of this age: small hips, tight abs, breasts that have neither nursed nor spent that many years with gravity, etc. In other words, even though they talk about “age,” part of what they encourage is to choose a mate based on their level of physical attractiveness — and not just the degree to which you are attracted to a woman, but the degree which other men will find her attractive and thus increase your rep. The second reason has to do with the concept of finding a mate that is not yet “done cooking,” so to speak. If she hasn’t yet figured out who she is, they figure, then you can be the person who decides for her.

    The second talking point that always pops up is how many of these men have had marriages or other romantic relationships that didn’t just end quickly, but ended very, very badly. These men complain of ex-wives and girlfriends who are immature, intensely hostile toward them, and more likely than most to find romantic relationships on the side.

    I always found it curious that none of them ever seem to have figured out that there might be a causal relationship between these two things.

    And all of this, as I say, seems to be the other side of the coin to this video you found, Kyle. My guess is the MRM and the Young Life set see themselves as polar opposites, and in many ways I think they are correct. But both groups seem to be digging a kind of unnecessary grave for themselves by trying to define their own identities and self-worth as men by how willing women will be able to repress their own identities and sexuality for them.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      There’s a subtler reason for some of the MRM advice.
      Younger women are more likely to be insecure and fall for their bullshit.
      It’s relatively easier to bamboozle a young and inexperienced person,
      than someone who’s been around the block a few times.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Wowza, Tod. That was an awesome comment.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Sorry, “MRM”?Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      This is a totally awesome comment, Tod.

      And while you’re correct, in many ways, the two groups are opposite — the good Catholic Husband™ might welcome a wife well-educated and accomplished, the MRM a wife barefoot and pregnant, they are exactly the same in feeling that she is responsible for how men perceive her sexually, the men are not held responsible.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      This goes against my better judgment and I am no way supporting the MRM or its Cathoic equivalent but its fair to point out that there are many humans of all genders and sexualities that are less romantically and sexually successful than normal. We don’t have our high school sweet hearts or even much of a dating life during our twenties or latter. Our society is so romantically focused that you can feel inadequate because of this less than average success with romance. Human nature being what is, its natural to want what you have missed out on rather than accept what you get. The desire for young and immature women that some men possess might end up causing some heartache latter but many men who do that might be wanting to at least experience a little of what they missed.

      I was in one rather unsastisfactory relationship in my life. That happend in my late twenties. I’ve been on lots of dates that read no where. Most people my age have had more experience. Many people I know in high school are married with kids already. They post pictures on Face Book a lot. Its probably sexist on my part but the idea of getting into a relationship with a woman that has kids is really unappealing. I’m not really sure that I want to have to master the art of fatherhood and being a boyfriend at the same time. Nor do I want to feel under pressure from a woman who wants kids but is going through a fertility crisis. I’d like to enjoy being in a relationship without having to worry about these things right away.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        In my deeply, deeply personal experience: Women with kids are often FAR more picky as to whom they date.

        My wife of a decade+ had a child when I met her. (She had gotten married young, gotten pregnant, and very promptly divorced for reasons which later events proved most, most, sound).

        I knew her from *before* her marriage, although we had never dated (in fact, it is a running joke we when encounter those who knew us back then — “You married WHO?” — directed at her. It is widely held I married up. I don’t disagree).

        Yet we dated for a very, very long time before I so much as met her child — although I knew about him from the beginning. She had absolutely zero wish for me to meet him until she was certain I was in for the long haul.

        I think my favorite photograph from our wedding is him pouting with all the seriousness a six year old can bring to bear, because we’d been taking pictures FOREVER and he was hungry and bored. 🙂Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        That makes sense but I’m pretty sure that some women with kids are more picky about who they date and others are not. Even if overall true, the idea of dating a single mother isn’t that attractive even if I’m supposed to find it flattering. I have no intention of being that noble.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        *shrug*. I was quite smitten, and it was a package deal. I don’t regret it in the slightest, and I’ve been his dad for most of his life.

        Although he’s a junior now, so when college bills start coming in I might regret it. I came close when I saw how much he was to insure. 🙂

        Teenage drivers are not cheap.Report

  12. Avatar James Hanley says:

    YHWH was a local god. Do his modesty rules really have a claim to universality?Report

  13. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know- it seems like the men are setting themselves up as pretty powerless too there. It’s also fascinating that the girls apparently don’t have the same problem with getting turned on by the boys. Not sure what that’s about either. The older school sex panic was that young women were the ones who couldn’t control themselves in the face of lust.Report

  14. Avatar Rod says:

    …that to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage or in any way not ordered toward procreation is to misuse our bodies—sacred temples of the Holy Spirit—and to violate God’s will and purpose.

    This seems strange to me, that the highest purpose of human sexuality is the base, animalistic, biological imperative of procreation.

    And even if we’re to accept the evidence of biology as dispositive, they still get it wrong. Human females, unlike many/most mammalian species, have no visible estrus and are desirable, receptive, and capable of enjoying sex and desire sex throughout their cycle. A reasonable theory is that this encourages long-term pair-bonding that is advantageous given our relatively long maturation schedule.

    IOW, we’re designed to engage in and enjoy a whole lot of sex for reasons that, while arguably related to successful procreation, also go beyond that and speak to the marriage bond directly. Oxytocin rocks! Procreative sex makes babies. Non-procreative sex (helps) makes families. It seems that lay catholics, being much wiser than their celibate leadership in funny hats, instinctively understand this and overwhelmingly choose stronger families over larger ones.

    If the Catholic church could see people as spiritual beings instead of super-animals, I believe the orthodoxy regarding sexuality would improve immensely.Report

  15. Avatar Gomer says:

    This article is why I got off FB three months ago. I get pulled for an hour at a time into reading the absolute ridiculousness of blaming men for having lustful thoughts. My very best friend in the world, who I love, holds the view of the author, but despite my respect and affection for him, the author is an idiot. My favorite class from college was Evolution and Gender Roles. While the purpose of the class WAS NOT to address faith, and probably quite the contrary, it bolstered my own.

    When Adam fell… What did they discover? That they were naked. What has Adam been since the fall? An enemy to god. Why? Because the nature of man is selfishness. Survival of the fittest is by definition selfishness. Evolution is selfishness, but it produces strong results. Only the strong survive. Here’s the crazy… When man was done evolving, or rather, when man was created by an all-knowing God over time, the Glory of God (intelligence) was bestowed upon Adam (whoever “Adam” was). No more was Adam to make decisions based upon what NATURE had taught him to do. Selfishness was to be subdued. Selflessness was the new rule. Love is selfless, nature is selfish. We still do and act in our own self interest, but our commandment is to love God and love neighbors as we love ourselves. Not less. Not more. Which allows us to act in our own self interest as long as it des not infringe on the natural laws/rights of others. I think this is where the concession comes in. Women are agents unto themselves. They can wear what they want. They CAN NOT expect the laws of nature to change the response of all men. That is, when you wear something provocative, it’s going to elicit a response. Why fault the church for teaching its young women to prepare to meet men who, however subject to lust as they are… and they ALL are (author of the article included), that there is value for THE WOMAN, who finds a man who also respects things like dignity and grace, and discretion. A man who values these thing is far less likely to leave her when the tramp stamp starts to fade. And by the way, “tramp stamp” isn’t a Mormon term. That’s the world. They’ll throw you away, because there’s a newer tramp stamp right around the corner.Report

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