First up is a 9-minute audio presentation from Jewish World Review, a sort of symposium regarding modesty. You'll hear Ms. Aliza Bulow and Rabbis Mordechai Becher and Menachem Goldberger. Bulow's seems to start out of nowhere, but stick with her because she has some very interesting things to say. That said, I enjoyed hearing what the Rabbis had to say even more; both are very focused on our remembering that women (and men, yes, but it's mostly women who are encouraged or pushed into displaying their bodies for consumption, not men) are souls within bodies, and scanty or immodest clothing doesn't lend to our remembering that. Give it a listen; I think you'll really appreciate what these wise folks have to say! They're speaking from a Jewish perspective, but what they say applies to all of us.
You can listen to the speakers online or download from here.
The other little bit of information I found interesting was at, of all places, LAF, also known as "Ladies Against Feminism". My best friend and I generally poke fun at these ladies, because they're big fans of what my friend calls "prairie rat" clothing; you know, the jumpers and turtlenecks? Yes. That said, they do often have some very thoughtful things to say that are worth consideration; even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Writer "Eva H." seems to have taken up the standard against frumpy modesty, for which I'm sure she'll be booted from the LAF roster any day now:
A woman can be stylish and modest at the same time. In fact, I would even say that women who decide to dress modestly out of a personal conviction about their intrinsic value as a woman created by God have an even more sacred duty to dress themselves in a way that allows their beauty to shine.
Being stylish and showing womanly beauty is very different from displaying your sexual attributes. While we love to help out our brothers fighting against temptation, it is not our responsibility to avoid any temptation for men by denying ourselves as women in our appearance. It is our responsibility, however, not to deliberately add extra temptation by displaying those areas that are known to be most arousing to most of the male population.
...There is a balance to strike here: while I will not flaunt and display my chest for the entire world, I also will not try to hide the fact that I have a feminine shape. God made me a woman; He shaped me like one. I don't need to prove that by "bringing my melons to the market," as we say in Dutch, but I also don't need to hide the fact. That would be telling God he made a mistake.
Very interesting thoughts. One ill postmodernism has wrought is the separation of the physical from the transcendent; it seems to me that it has led to our disrespect and lackidasical manner toward the physical. After all, if there is nothing beyond what we see, what does it matter what we do to our physical selves?
Coming from a Christian perspective, it's funny to me that people who believe God left His throne and came to earth as a human being, in a body just like the one we ourselves inhabit, tend to view the very bodies into which our spirits are instilled as extraneous and unimportant. How very silly! While the body is itself sacred (Christianity being the only faith in the world that believes the body is hoy, as it is itself the temple Christ chooses to indwell; when Christians gather, it's really a gathering of temples and sanctuaries), and is not meant to be put on display or offered to all, it is still beautiful; as someone once said, it is the most amazing instrument we will ever know or own.
As God saw fit to drape the already stately beauty of the oak with thousands of soft green leaves that only add to its beauty, so it is also fit for us to drape our own bodies with clothing that do the same. It's always important to remember that, yes, we are judged and our worth is determined by how we present ourselves; this is why it's wise to consider what, exactly, we're saying to the world by the things we choose to cover and the things we choose not to cover, and how it's done.
Labels: General Philosophy