There seems to be an ongoing discussion among some of my friends about what modesty means and how it should be taught. Many of my friends say that teaching modesty (or "the way it is taught") is wrong, and their reasons are very persuasive but feel very wrong.
I realized today that Anda is going to be taught about modesty by someone other than me in the next few years as she joins Young Womens. And I realized that I'd rather her be taught the traditional way, not the "new-and-improved" way some of my friends are proposing.
The new way doesn't appropriately or accurately deal with the true, biological nature of men. It, in essence, says that men should be women and see the world the way women do. This is neither fair nor realistic. While I agree that boys should be taught that they are responsible for their own actions and for learning to see women as people, not just bodies, it is important for women to understand that men notice bodies, too, even on women they like as people.
The other thing I want Anda to understand is that her clothes choices are her chance to inform every person she meets how she wants to be treated. While it's a lovely idea that we should be able to dress however we like, our clothes are really a text that informs people how we wish to be perceived. If we treat ourselves as bodies only, people will treat us as bodies only. If we treat ourselves as people, we will be treated as people. And how do we inform others of how we wish to be treated? By what we wear. And all the theories and lovely ideas about how stupid that is are totally disconnected from reality, no matter how appealing they are.
If we want to be treated with respect and dignity, we have to dress with respect and dignity. Period.