"Revive Our Hearts" appears to be a traditional Christian program (I'm not sure if this blog is the original format, or if this is a podcast, radio show, etc.) and this particular episode is called "Partial Disclosure = Exposure." It is part of the series "Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?" I am not these gals' target audience. Not only am I not Christian, I post pictures of my (clothed) out-of-con-freaking-trol boobage on this blog. I'm sure that's not what they'd consider "modest." But I figured I'd give this a look-see anyway.
Let me be clear: I believe that a certain level of modesty is a good thing. We can't all run around with our tits flying around like pinwheels, after all; it tears the tissues. And clothes certainly protect us from frostbite, sunburn, snakebites (boots), etc. Aside from biologically sound, modesty can be downright convenient, if not always foolproof. I don't know if the women involved in "Revive Our Hearts" have ever walked around Manhattan in the spring or summer, but you could be a three days into a non-bathing stint and wearing a mumu, and still get a certain amount of unwanted male attention.
I also believe that the wrong sort of emphasis on the female body can lead to all kinds of twisty, snarly shame (helloooo bulimia or binge eating!). If body image is a silhouette-shaped tree, its roots are firmly planted in the family environment wherein we matured. Our family environment informs how we view our bodies, and how we define and categorize them. One of the most dangerous ways to define our bodies is via others' perceptions of them, since that puts us totally out of control of our own selves. Our bodies are us. They are the most natural, basic, original expression of who we are. If we are taught from our formative years to define ourselves only in terms of others, then what the hell kind of sense of self are we going to be left with? "Not much of one" is the answer. That's what I find initially dangerous and objectionable about the material of "Partial Disclosure = Exposure." Defining the biblical purpose of clothing as covering "the private parts of the body" is all well and good, and I'm not about to go run off to a nudist colony. But these women are urging their female acolytes to consider everything they wear through the prism of "where do you want men looking at you as a woman?" And that's no way to conceive of yourself: only through a man. Define your body through a man's perception of it. I don't think so.
In addition to being dangerous in a metaphysical, intangible way (to say nothing of the physical ramifications of eating disorders and low self-esteem), I find the suggestions in this article dangerous on an immediate and frightening level. "I'm just saying think about whether what you're wearing is form-fitting and could be tantalizing or seductive to men, not in an extreme way perhaps, but in a way that you would not want to be influencing men's thinking." Is that or is that not the most boiled down argument of "she was asking for it because she was dressed like a slut" you've ever read? Our society (and Western society on the whole) has been clawing and white-knuckling its way away from such dangerous modes of thinking for the better part of a century. It's maddening and depressing to me that some women apparently want to bring back into full force that culture of victim blaming and shaming when it isn't even gone to begin with.
Essentially, this write-up is the Eve argument in an HTML format. And I think it's ridiculous. Ridiculously dangerous.