The Modesty Myth

4:03 PM

This post has been stopped and started many times but I finally feel like I'm ready to share it. Today I'm going to talk about a cause that is a little bit controversial and a lot close to my heart. My title may be a little bit misleading,though. I'm not telling people to be modest. I'm not telling people to not be modest. I'm going to bring religion in this.

I am Christian (Methodist to be exact) but I have attended Catholic schools for 7 years. Just as a general disclaimer, I am in no way against the Catholic Church. 

Today I want to talk about the relationship between violence against women and clothing choice.

Because there is none.

I was sitting in reconciliation at school about 9 months ago and was handed a sheet of paper that had a lot of questions on it for examination of conscience. Most of them were great guiding questions for examining our sins. The whole list can be found here. Two of them struck my attention though in a negative manner.
The questions were, "Modesty –has my dress been an occasion of sin for others? Have I sought to dress so as to help others avoid sin?" 

Modesty is important in my mind to convey professionalism. I wear clothes that I can be taken seriously in and feel beautiful in. But what I most want to draw out of this example, is just the question why must women be blamed for the choices men make? 
A common phrase that I've heard tossed around as a teenager is, "You're asking to be raped by dressing like that."

My redundant question to answer this is does anyone actually ask to be raped?

NO. So why can our clothing be an "occasion of sin for others?" Is it a woman's fault if she's raped? It's never a woman's fault even if she's wearing something "immodest" or if she's been drinking.

I currently work in a job where we have a required uniform. We must wear a company polo with either jeans or khakis. Skirts made from either of these fabrics that to the knee are allowed as well. I still receive incredibly uncomfortable comments from males, specifically much older men. Men who are old enough to be my father or my grandfather. In my modest polo and jeans I receive unwelcome comments that make me feel so sick to my stomach that I debate quitting.

I am a member of Greek Life at my school. This is something that subjects me to a higher risk of sexual harassment and assault. However I feel so much more safe and dignified on campus and at parties though than I ever have at work. I can wear clothing that can be considered "going out clothes" such as a tight skirt and a tank top or short shorts and will still receive less comments than I do while at work wearing a polo and jeans.

So what's the real issue here?

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