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Modesty Policing (and first official GT post)

Got authorship privileges today, thought I should celebrate.

VOLLMUS's post on defining sexy and a great tablet article on Orthodox Jewish (a flavor of which I practice) piety pissing contests has me all sad about the mess religions have made of modesty. Like, this from the article:

One sister began to cry as she told me how her rabbi had told the class that one who transgresses the boundaries of forbidden physical contact, even in the most casual and unaffectionate of manners, a mere handshake, is considered adulterous and thus is deserving of death, according to biblical law. “That just makes me want to go to the Gap and buy a pair of skinny jeans,” she told me, pulling her denim skirt to cover her knees as she sat down.


kinda sorta makes me cry. It's got modesty being reduced to hemlines and skirts and being used as a weapon and I know all too well where this girl is coming from. It makes me sad for this girl in all sorts of ways

  • her Rabbi is totally going by a super-strict non-standard interpretation here
  • in her head, she's doing the "I'll sin to get back at him" thing, which never ends well
  • buying jeans shouldn't be revenge for anything, ever
  • pulling down skirts is why I don't own ones that don't hit mid-calf anymore, even though I'll be the first to admit that there's nothing immodest about knees

So I feel bad for this kid 'cause I could've been her a few years ago. It's taken a while for it to really really sink in that modesty is an an incredibly and deeply personal thing; it's rooted in being very deeply and truly comfortable in one's skin, so much so that the clothes are just window dressing. So, to get back to the title, modesty policing makes me so very sad for the simple reason that doing so means that the person doesn't really understand this thing they're practicing.

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