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In the Name of God بسم الله
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dragonfly

Modesty Is Not A Virtue (Anymore)

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(salam)

 

I used to think that people innately respect modesty but a couple of years ago it occurred to me that the word 'modest' in the West no longer has a positive connotation. It used to I'm sure, but now it's just... nothing. "Oh you're trying to be modest? Oh okay good luck with that." You will never hear something being advertised as 'modest' in this day and age unless it is specifically targeted to Muslims or conservative Christians/ Jews. And now, amongst Muslims the emphasize is sometimes not even modesty, it's being a hijabi fashionista. 

 

Anyway I just started thinking about this after reading this article called Oregon Christian blogger gives up leggings to honor God and husband; sparks international debateIt talks about a woman whose very mild, non controversial blog post about choosing not to wear leggings as pants went viral. Viral?!? I can't believe people feel so threatened by modesty now a day that they have to mock and attack her. 

 

I thought this opinion piece in defense of her had a lot of good points

 

 

Hey, Look! That Woman Is Trying to Be Modest! Let’s All Laugh at Her and Call Her Names! 

 

This is getting ridiculous.

 
When did we decide to be the kind of society that mocks virtue? When did we turn into the pudgy, freckle faced bully in all of the 90′s teen sitcoms who points and laughs at the studious kid just because he’s well behaved and does his homework? Maybe it’s always been this way. I don’t know. What I do know is that, these days, we are lost. It’s not that we do terrible things (although we do), it’s that we either don’t know or pretend we don’t know what we should be doing.
 
We run around like decapitated poultry, colliding with each other and bumping into walls. And when someone with their head on straight, or with their head on at all, suggests a clear direction, a course of action, or a change of behavior, we descend upon them like crazed hyenas. When someone simply says, “hey, that there is not good, but this here is good, so we should probably do this rather than that,” we pounce on them and rip their guts out, then hang their entrails from a bridge as a warning to anyone else who might get a little bold one day and think about developing a moral compass.
 
Take the case of Veronica Partridge, for example. She’s a Christian wife and blogger who recently wrote a post called “Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings.” Her message is very simple. Really, in a country not populated by headless chickens, it wouldn’t even be noteworthy. She merely says that people ought to be modest, and that women, particularly married women, shouldn’t go out in attire that is specifically designed to spark the attention of other men. She relates it all to herself, and says that she has resolved to be more mindful about what she wears. That’s it.
 
There are, I suppose, controversial places you could take that message. She could have made the case that all females should walk out of the house ensconced in burlap and bubble wrap. This would be an undeniably valid principle (“women should be modest”), applied in a questionable way. If she had said something like that, then it would make sense for people to argue that modesty does not require such drastic measures. But it still wouldn’t make sense for anyone to argue that modesty, in principle, is unimportant, or absurd, or funny, or laughable, or oppressive.
 
Anyway, that’s not what she said. Instead, she wrote about leggings. For the uninitiated, leggings are those skin tight spandex pants that were originally designed to be worn under other pieces of clothing, but which have now become popular as regular attire for some women. They are tailored to accentuate every curve, and as the saying goes, they leave little to the imagination. In other words, if worn on their own and not underneath something else, they’re immodest. Of course they’re immodest. If spandex butt-huggers aren’t immodest, then what is? Do you have to actually walk into the grocery store wearing nothing but socks and a sign that says “HEY LOOK AT ME” before we can accuse you of being a bit too forward?
 
So, yes, women (and men) shouldn’t be walking around in spandex, particularly married women (and married men, God help us). At any point in human history, up until just the past couple of decades, this code of conduct would be so plainly self-evident that you’d question the sanity of anyone who felt the need to say it out loud. But these, tragically, are progressive times. And in the Age of Progress, you can’t go around suggesting that mothers and wives shouldn’t walk down the street in underwear. You just can’t do that. You can’t propose even the most casual and undemanding standards of modesty without eliciting volcanic outrage from all corners of the internet.
 
Indeed, her supremely moderate anti-spandex missive gained headlines across the Western Hemisphere. Headlines. Because she said she wanted to be more modest. This is what passes for an Earth shattering development in our culture of morally obtuse overgrown adolescents. She was predictably mocked , and scolded, and demeaned. Even conservative blogs took her to task, utilizing the left wing tactic of screaming the date (“it’s 2015!”) as if that proves anything. (Hint to all self-proclaimed conservatives: you can’t be a conservative and then try to attack an idea by accusing it of not being sufficiently modern.)
 
 

It's just sad, a very sad state of affairs. It is now a threat for a woman to keep her sexuality to herself in public.

 

This also made me think about how often we see Muslim, hijabi women nowaday who wear skinny jeans out in public as part of their hijab. I guess it is tempting to think that since there is technically no skin showing, that you are covered sufficiently but it becomes clear through these articles that something that is tight is not modest enough for hijab. Period. Society would like us to lower our standards of hijab but we have to try to keep our standards as high as possible, God's standards inshaAllah. 

 

Any thoughts girls? Or guys?

 

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My little sister (non-Muslim) has long been speaking out against wearing leggings as pants. Modesty is more common than you realize - the media just doesn't like it because sexuality sells.

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But why doesn't the religious authority take a stand ?

 

Some stand - whatever it might be!

 

Are they weak ?

Because in the U.S. there is no religious authority?

Morality is an individual choice, though some acts are still condemned by society as a whole.

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My little sister (non-Muslim) has long been speaking out against wearing leggings as pants. Modesty is more common than you realize - the media just doesn't like it because sexuality sells.

 

I don't understand the trend in itself anyway. When I see a woman wearing leggings as pants it has never registered in my mind as 'attractive.' I've always just though it weird that there is not a dress or something over the leggings for fashion's sake because leggings weren't created to be worn alone. It looks so incomplete to me. I guess that goes to show how men's and women's tastes are so different. Or maybe men don't find it 'attractive' either, just lust-enducing. 

 

The incident that first got me to realize that modesty as a value is not as commonplace as I thought was when I was with a group of Non Muslim girls and they asked me why I wear hijab. I said for modesty and then they were like 'Hmmm modesty... I never thought about that before..." and I'm thinking "Hmmm, I've never NOT thought of that before..." I guess I took being raised in that mindset for granted. 

Edited by dragonfly

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I also had a similar experience when a misunderstanding arose because my hearer thought of modesty as some kind of weakness, then I realized it actually has such sense for many english speakers.

 

for example longman:

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/modest

 

non of the definitions above illustrates what we, Muslims, mean by modesty. this seems odd. why they have not included that sense of modesty(related to Hijab) while Oxford has:  

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/modest?searchDictCode=all

 

 

3-(Of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoidattracting sexual attention:

 

and also merriam-webster:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/modest?show=0&t=1422275234

 

 

of clothing : not showing too much of a person's body .... observing the proprieties of dress and behavior

 

and also american heritage:

https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=modest&submit.x=28&submit.y=19

 

 

 

Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress, especially in the avoidance of arousing sexual interest.

 

even these dictionaries that have mentioned this sense for modesty, have not made it the first definition; but I can assure you, if you search old english texts, you'll find the word "modesty" most of the time is used in that sense (decent and proper clothing and behavior and avoiding sexual attraction) 

 

maybe you'd call it conspiracy theory but I think we are getting brainwashed about ethical values, even in dictionaries.

Edited by mesbah

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I also had a similar experience when a misunderstanding arose because my hearer thought of modesty as some kind of weakness, then I realized it actually has such sense for many english speakers.

 

for example longman:

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/modest

 

non of the definitions above illustrates what we, Muslims, mean by modesty. this seems odd. why they have not included that sense of modesty(related to Hijab) while Oxford has:  

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/modest?searchDictCode=all

 

 

 

and also merriam-webster:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/modest?show=0&t=1422275234

 

 

 

and also american heritage:

https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=modest&submit.x=28&submit.y=19

 

 

 

 

even these dictionaries that have mentioned this sense for modesty, have not made it the first definition; but I can assure you, if you search old english texts, you'll find the word "modesty" most of the time is used in that sense (decent and proper clothing and behavior and avoiding sexual attraction) 

 

maybe you'd call it conspiracy theory but I think we are getting brainwashed about ethical values, even in dictionaries.

 

I don't think it's a conspiracy, I think the definitions in modern dictionaries are put together in a way to reflect our culture's meanings for words. So since our culture does not use the word in reference to clothes as much as maybe other things, it puts the definition further down. Thanks for looking posting the different definitions they are interesting to look at the wording and such.

 

I wonder if even the other meanings of the word modest, like humble, have even taken on a negative connotations (or maybe it's always been that way). To be modest about your abilities or achievements in this society probably won't get you very far. In order to be successful you have to do a lot of self-promotion and boasting or else you will get overlooked because I guess modest=unconfident. So to be modest in that sense might now be a good thing either. Or to have a modest home/lifestyle meaning simple, or poor. I wonder if back in the day, saying someone had a modest living or home was a good or bad thing--now it is probably seen negatively.

 

So all around in any sense, perhaps modesty is not something very valued in this society. 

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The Media is controlled by men, which kind of men? non religious men, what restricts non religious men from stripping naked a woman? nothing. 

 

So these men promote tight pants which is pleasurable to the deviant on looker, and they do this because they think it is how women should be and how it is "nice".

 

For a single few dollars of profit, these irreligious men would strip naked a woman on national television.

 

Take a look at your TV adverts and try to spot an "ugly" woman, even if the ad is about a burger, you will see a hot woman eat it. If it is about perfumes and colognes you will see naked women. All for what? so that the product may sell and the sellers may have some more profit.

 

The dignity of women in the west is only worth a few dollars. This is the sad reality all women should know about the "free" west, the "freedom" in the west is defined by men with no morality.

Edited by Khalilallah

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I have always been embarrassed by television commercials, even when I was a Christian. I let my children watch educational shows on public television that has no commercials. If they are watching a football game, during the commercials the channel will be jumped to another channel, like the Weather Channel. A Muslim friend of mine will have her children turn the TV off during commercials. 

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Wow.

So we're not free because "apparently" a woman's freedom is only granted when her hair shows and her body is flaunted?

Since when did freedom "inherently" require me to show parts of MY body, that I don't want others to see? 

My freedom is in the way I choose to look.

Does it bother people to know that I have control over what I choose to show and with hold from the world?

How ironic, when the people who 'supposedly' prefer freedom excessively insist that you take off your hijab themselves dictating the garbs we should wear?

Wait..

So, freedom means to conform to people's criteria about I should wear, Right?

Do i have that right? Right.

The hijab symbolises my faith and they wanna ban it?

So while we're at it, lets ban charity, self-lessness, equality amongst races and sexes, being good to your neighbour. Because

they are also requirements of a believer.

So ofcourse, its not about freedom, is it, really?

I make people 'uneasy' because my Hijab is reminding you that I'm trying to please God and not 'people'?

And that bugs people..

hmm, see if hijab entered mainstream fashion, people would never protest to them.

They would never assert that my freedom has been jeopardized or blurt, OPPRESSION.

It might not be to people's fine fashion taste. But they'd get over it. Admit it.

BUT since Modesty equals faith, They unabashedly BASH me that they wanna ''free'' me.

I depend on God and not their latest analysis on me, because you see, through them .. Allah is testing me. 

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hmm, see if hijab entered mainstream fashion, people would never protest to them.

 

 

You write so powerfully, I like it :)

 

I definitely agree with this line. Hijab is only oppressive if it's a part of religion. But if it's fashion, then they applaud you for expressing yourself and being different. Hijab in some ways is kind of entering fashion with the infinity scarves and such that some girls wear on their heads. 

 

The problem is though that some Muslim women are trying to force people to accept hijab by turning hijab into a fasion statement. They are trying to please everyone when I think they are probably pleasing no one (Neither Allah nor society). But I know hijab is hard and being different and being faithful is hard. But like you said, that is our test :)

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You write so powerfully, I like it :)

I definitely agree with this line. Hijab is only oppressive if it's a part of religion. But if it's fashion, then they applaud you for expressing yourself and being different. Hijab in some ways is kind of entering fashion with the infinity scarves and such that some girls wear on their heads.

The problem is though that some Muslim women are trying to force people to accept hijab by turning hijab into a fasion statement. They are trying to please everyone when I think they are probably pleasing no one (Neither Allah nor society). But I know hijab is hard and being different and being faithful is hard. But like you said, that is our test :)

Thanks sister, the thing is people can go around easily blurting out oppressed or oppression when they see a person wearing hijab. And it literally bugs them when a person wears hijab and is trying to be modest, but when a person goes out barely dressed they find that super normal? Its shocking how some people think.

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