Privacy is not shame

There are many behaviors that were historically taboo, but currently are widely acceptable. For example, a woman showing off her delicate ankles used to be considered quite provocative. Then of course, a woman wearing slacks was seen as very inappropriate because I suppose it revealed women actually had legs instead of an amorphous blob of flesh (?). In some societies, it’s shocking for a man and woman to hold hands in public.* It’s easy to mock the idea that these innocent body parts and behaviors could ever resemble anything remotely titillating.**

Now, many people have adopted this idea that any sense of propriety is absurd, misguided, or somehow promoting the subjugation of women and other bad things. We have Kesha going to lunch with her mom (!!) wearing basically a mosquito net. Furry conventions exist. There are mothers who think that sharing pics of their bosoms is fine as long as their baby is somewhere in the vicinity. And if you dare suggest like “yo, maybe keep that to yourself?” then you will be accused of being a rude, closed-minded, patriarchy-promoting, homophobic, bigot-y poop head.

I think part of the outrage here is that when I suggest someone not go public with their body – or what they enjoy doing with their body – it’s interpreted as me casting shame. And that has a certain logic – we often hide parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of. But saying “keep that to yourself” doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t approve. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think what you’re sharing is fundamentally gross.

I think about it a different way. Take the word treasure… or savor, maybe. When I’m savoring a moment with my hubs, it’s not a public thing. It’s private. And if I went public and posted something like “my husband just gently caressed my derrière,” it would be met with indifference at best and voyeurism at worst. So, I don’t share those sorts of things because it gives other people the opportunity to evaluate it (even ignoring something is a vote of value, just negative!). It also detracts from the moment itself because it wasn’t meant for anyone else. Sharing that moment would dilute and cheapen.

Although I do not advocate putting cauliflower in your hair, I do advocate to “keep it secret, keep if safe,” when it comes to these little intimacies.

So even more so with our bodies and sexuality, aye? All morals aside, I don’t want to know what gets you sexually revved up. I don’t need to know what your nips look like. I don’t need to witness your tender family moments. Am I repulsed by these things? Sometimes, not always, it really depends. But it’s actually the beauty and specialness – or at least, potential beauty and specialness – of bodies, sexuality, and intimacy that makes them cringey to witness in public.

Don’t exploit yourself, your body, or your privacy by offering it to the public like a desperate sacrifice to the gods of attention and validation. Treasure it. Savor it. And if you find that you cannot savor or treasure your body, sexuality, intimate moments without sharing them with the world, well.. maybe that’s something to mull over during your next poo time.

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*My family visited Zimbabwe when I was 9, and I remember the local friends we knew there warning my parents to not put on this shocking display of affection.

** speaking of, I always thought titillating was a particularly unchaste word. [blushes]

Modesty is more than covering your bosoms

“…the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags”

I grew up in a southern Baptist church AND was homeschooled, so I have endured my share of lectures on dressing modestly. I even took some classes at a church that wouldn’t let women on their property if they were wearing pants. I have never experienced more wrath than when a homeschool mom yelled at me, her golden eyes sparking with hatred, because my shirt showed my tums when I raised my arms (Now, I find it hilarious and maybe a little ironic that I have been slut shamed). Granted, these examples stick out to me because they’re outliers.

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Stanley and I feel the same about immodesty being a female privilege.  (this was a still from a gif that wouldn’t show up on this page properly — please don’t sue me!)

But even so, we all know that a “modesty” talk will be directed exclusively toward women. And it will be about what they’re (ornot) wearing. Because you know, the thrill of being immodest is a female privilege.

Some of you may want to sit down for this one. Ready? Here it comes – Men can be immodest, too. Maybe they aren’t teasing with low cut v-necks, but they may hog the “air time” during a group discussion to showcase their exquisite insightfulness.

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This center giraffe is immodestly hogging the convo. Smh (pixabay really limits my options, y’all – worth with me!)

Or they may show breathtaking creativity in how many times they can oh-so-casually work their six-fig income into a conversation. Or they may plaster their social media with pics of them surrounded by village children in Haiti, to really drive home their compassion and sensitivity. All can be forms of immodesty, all achievable without ever showing the smallest amount of bosomery. Amazing!

 

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“To be holy, thou shalt look Amish.” said Jesus, NEVER (image from pixabay)

I’m not advocating for us to chuck propriety out the window. There IS a balance somewhere between looking Amish and frolicking around in nekidness. But rules like No Skirts Above Thigh Where Fingers Reach When Standing Straight With Arms Fully Extended don’t really get it… and the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags.* Because really, immodesty is about drawing attention to yourself. Yes, showing some cleavage is a great way to get some attention** but

1) it’s just one of many ways to draw attention to yourself

2) men aren’t exempt from clamoring for attention

3) immodesty is a visible symptom to an insecurity that goes all the way to yer ticker.

This myopic focus on women’s bosoms and bootays when discussing modesty does a disservice to women AND men. Making up detailed rules to emphasize your rightness and expose the unrightness of others… 100% guaranteed to make all hearts involved worse off. Now, how to change the heart so that it doesn’t want or need validation from others? Hmm.. 😉 ***

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Consider Jesus’ sermon on the mount. One of the main themes was how the commandments all went way beyond a simple rule to the heart behind specific commandments… not a stricter rule. For example, Jesus didn’t say, “Hey – remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even pinch a brother.” No, he said, “Remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even be angry in the first place.” (paraphrase, Matt 5:21-22) This is frustrating, because it’s like.. “but, that’s internal! I can kinda control my actions, and barely control my thoughts on good days – but control my innermost desires?! Impossible!” And it’s like Jesus was like, “Bingo!” [cue Holy Spirit].

**So I’ve heard. *sniffs self-righteously*

***[cue Holy Spirit]