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Devra Torres

Modesty and Other Skirmishes: Reassessing the Battle Lines

Jul. 3 at 11:59pm

Last week, we took a look at the modesty wars. We identified a false alternative: either you fall into indifferentism on the subject or you’re obliged to go around trying (vainly and illicitly) to probe the intentions of other people’s hearts. There's got to be a better way.

And there is. Katie and others have been urging that we take seriously the harm done by a fixation on externals, a tendency to see a woman as less a person than an occasion of sin. To rebel against this isn’t a flight into over-abstraction.  Nor is it tantamount to “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  How to strike the right balance in everyday decisions is still under discussion, especially among those of us raising

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Devra Torres

A New Wrinkle in the Modesty Debate

Jun. 26 at 1:48am

The modesty wars have been raging so long already that now we’re in the throes of a backlash against a backlash against a backlash (as Simcha Fisher put it the other day).

First came a tendency, more Puritan than Catholic, to devise dress codes that micromanaged every centimeter of flesh from collarbone and kneecap, at least. They focused everybody’s attention firmly on the outside of the cup, the whited part of the sepulchre.

                       

This fomented phariseeism, some objected, and made womanhood itself seem suspect and dirty.

Then came the reaction: people got fed up with the holier-than-thou-ness of it all and refused to humor the micromanagers of appearance any longer. 

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Katie van Schaijik

Thoughts on modesty abroad, in three vignettes

Jun. 8 at 5:43pm

1. I am in the Old City of Jersalem, enjoying the sights and admiring the traditional styles of clothing. I am loving the way old men and boys alike proclaim their identity—their belonging to God—by wearing a yamulke. I am charmed by the way different sects are easily recognizable by their distinctive dress. I notice how feminine and dignified the long, dark skirts and headscarves look on women. I'm thinking I prefer the Jewish mode of scarves knotted at the neck to the Muslim mode of completely covered necks. But mainly I'm thinking about how much more attractive both styles are than the faded jeans I am wearing. 

A young couple walks toward us. I gather by his tall hat and payot that

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Kate Whittaker Cousino

Telling the truth about ourselves

May. 29 at 4:02pm

I want to propose a definition for modesty that seems to me to fit all of the best, most common-sense ideas of dress and modesty, while avoiding the traps some fall into which make it such a difficult virtue to talk about.

First of all, I want to reject any definition that defines modesty strictly in terms of a negative: "Modesty is avoiding tempting others to lust. Modesty is avoiding drawing attention to your sexual attributes. Modesty is not standing out."

Modesty is passing the two-finger test.

While some of those things might be the effects of a modest wardrobe, a virtue should not be a negative. A virtue must be something that can be aspired to and embraced, not merely the

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Katie van Schaijik

Resisting the objectification women

Jun. 10, 2010, at 10:04am

It’s not every week that I that I find myself in perfect agreement with a Maureen Dowd opinion piece. But this is one of them. She tells the following appalling story:

A group of soon-to-be freshmen boys [i.e., 14 year olds] at Landon, an elite private grade school and high school for boys in the wealthy Washington suburb of Montgomery County, Md., was drafting local girls.

One team was called “The Southside Slampigs,” and one boy dubbed his team with crude street slang for drug-addicted prostitutes.

The young woman who was the “top pick” was described by one of the boys in a team profile he put up online as “sweet, outgoing, friendly, willing to get down and dirty and

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Katie van Schaijik

The problem of innocence

Jun. 11, 2009, at 8:20pm

A friend sent an email with some thoughts that technical difficulties prevented her from posting. Here is part of her note:

A sense of innocence is a good thing [A]lthough I supported all the wonderful, life-changing good he [another chastity speaker] did, I wouldn’t want my (then) 11 year old son attending his presentations. When asked why, I said I had been very innocent going into my own marriage (I had, maybe, once seen a naked woman; I know I had never seen a naked man, or even knew what to expect), and I wouldn’t have wanted all the distorted, diseased photos of human anatomy which [this speaker] shows his audience for shock value to follow me into the honeymoon suite. And he said

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