Last week I read this article by Simcha Fisher humorously discussing the perils of dressing modestly in a society that does not value that particular virtue. The gist of it was: many a Catholic man will implore women to dress modestly so as to prevent the women from becoming sex objects and preserve the men from potential temptation, which is all well and good, but please recognize that this is no easy task, as this places women between the Scylla of being too hot during summer and the Charybdis of being unable to find clothing that is simultaneously sufficiently cool and sufficiently decent. The author was pleading for a little understanding from men and a little help from the fashion industry.
I heard a different sort of plea from a female friend on this same subject: as much as we hear about the need for modesty on the part of women so as to not be an occasion of temptation for men, we hear nothing about the need for modesty on the part of men so as not to be an occasion of temptation for women.
This may be a surprise to some. "Doesn't everybody know that it's men who are tempted by visuals, whereas women are tempted by... well, heck, are women even tempted at all?"
To which I respond: That's just plain silly. Now, I'm no expert on the internal workings of the feminine mind, but I hear tell that women can be tempted to lust, too. They tell me that women actually like the sight of a good-looking guy. They say that women can be tempted by the sight of a man's well-formed body.
This is the problem: a part of American Catholic culture stresses the need for modesty, but it only goes halfway--it addresses itself to women but neglects the responsibilities of men in this same area.
Now, fellas, let me ask: if you're a man with bulging biceps or panoramic pectorals, should you be wearing a tank top that would fit a 12-year old girl? If you've got legs like knotty tree trunks, should you be wearing those board shorts to the beach that cling like spandex when they get wet? Should you go jogging with no shirt on? Come on, bro, at least meet them halfway and wear a sleeveless. You might say, "Hey, not my problem if they can't handle that I look good." Great, now we're doubling up our sins: your wardrobe is not only feeding someone else's lust, but your own pride. Way to go, jackwagon.
So, gentlemen, if we are asking the ladies to dress in a way that won't be a source of temptation for us, ought we not to return the favor?