The Rebelution conducted a downright fascinating (and disturbing) survey in 2007. Christian girls listed questions for Christian guys, hoping to discover what their male counterparts think is modest. 1,600 guys responded to the survey offering answers giving their perspective on Christian FEMALE modesty. Some of the questions were typical and other were simply astounding.
Take a look at some of the survey results:
57.5% of men disagreed that it was okay to expose the stomach when wearing a swimsuit.
55.1% of those men didn’t even think it was okay for women to wear a bikini if they wore a t-shirt over it.
57.6% of men thought tank tops were immodest.
58.3% of men said any skirts that fall above the knee are immodest.
And it’s not just clothes…
74.9% of men thought the way a girl walks can be a stumbling block.
Lisa Wade recently reviewed of the survey on Jezebel.com in which she lamented, “Modesty is something [that] pertains to only girls and immodesty is something that guys get to define.” This has always been a problem with the evangelical church. Men are the ones that are defining the terms, interpreting what it means to be “godly.” Us women are told that we are sexual beings and that is a problem. Men are filled with urges and that’s our burden to bear. We must suppress their desires by wearing potato sacks, walking on different sides of the street and apologizing when the way we walk stirs up desires in them. We don’t know how to cultivate or respond to our own sexuality. We don’t know how to interact with boys. We’re taught from such an early age that we are the problem so the only thing we learn to do is stay away from them or manipulate them: because we think those are our only two options.
Survey’s like these aren’t helpful – they are confining and perpetuate outdated cultural conventions. But perhaps they can also offer an important opportunity for those in our generation who wrestle with questions at the messy crossroads of sex, relationships and emerging adulthood to ask new and better questions. Questions like how has my perception of modesty defined my outlook on myself or women in general? Or in what ways has culture taught us how to treat women or subconsciously taught us they deserve what they get by how they dress? Or why do we think about this so much and where are my skinny jeans?