From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/09/16/modesty-is-about-lot-more-than-long-skirt
by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
September 17, 2012
In a year where anti-choicers seemed determined to demonstrate the anti-woman and anti-sex roots of their hostility to a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy—even while still offering lame, unbelievable claims of caring for “life”—the Value Voters Summit is positioned to remove all doubt that conservatives in America only care about restricting reproductive rights because they fear women’s liberation and want to control women’s lives and bodies. Indeed, things got off to a nice start when Think Progress got hold of a pamphlet that was being distributed at the summit called “Modesty Matters.”
The pamphlet lays out an old argument consistently found in patriarchal societies worldwide, even if they technically have different religions: Lust is bad. Men feel lust, something women presumably don’t, which is why they don’t understand and have to be told. But even though lust is a male emotion, it’s not really the fault of men! Men simply cannot be held responsible in any situation where there’s a woman available to blame. So, women are responsible for the thoughts inside men’s heads, which we control by wearing “immodest” clothes. Thus, it’s women’s responsibility to suppress men’s lust by wearing long skirts and shapeless clothes.
There’s so much wrong with this argument that it’s really hard to know where to start. Men can control themselves. Lust in and of itself isn’t wrong, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with someone taking some alone time to relieve strong feelings of lust that can’t or won’t be reciprocated. Lust isn’t a male-only emotion, and women understand it just fine. Even if you assume that lust is naughty and women should take responsibility for men’s thoughts, there’s no evidence whatsoever that draping women in more cloth suppresses feelings of lust; on the contrary, men just re-orient their understanding of normal, so that instead of a glimpse of upper thigh, just a glimpse of an ankle does it for them.
What’s interesting is that neither of these arguments for or against mandatory modesty mentions “life,” the supposed concern of conservative Christians who pass laws controlling female sexuality by attacking reproductive rights. Even the most strained Christian rationalizer who has convinced him or herself that merely looking at a birth control pill causes spontaneous miscarriages of nine-month pregnancies isn’t crass enough (yet) to argue that a man’s stray glance at a woman’s legs in a miniskirt takes any kind of “life.”