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“A woman does not have to be modest in order to be respected.”
This is a quote from a T-shirt worn by an otherwise scantily clad female model in a magazine.
While the medium to convey such a message is not ideal, the notion that one should automatically have another’s respect despite their lack of modesty is one to analyze and debate.
Respect is something that is earned. This can be determined based on dress because a person’s dress reflects oneself. For example, there was a student who dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt to interview with a top-level company. When the interviewer saw the student, the interviewer decided not to proceed, because the student hadn’t cared to dress for the part he had applied for.
However, the T-shirt uses the word “be modest” rather than “dress modestly” to be respected.
Being modest is shown through one’s attitude and actions. The T-shirt is not saying that it is time to end the idea of women needing to dress modestly in order to be respected. It is telling women that they are free to act immodestly without consequence because they deserve to be respected despite their lack of being modest. This idea is both untruthful and potentially damaging. If a man acted immodestly, he should receive the same treatment, and in terms of #MeToo, they have. If women want to be like men, they will need to act appropriately to earn the same respect as their male counterparts.
The T-shirt’s definition of modesty, based on the ideas that they are rejecting, is that women have to be timid creatures who should have no voice in the world. That is how one defines modesty if they look at immodest men who have a false ideal of women. Modesty is genderless and can be defined as being respectful of others, not shouting and screaming, acting demeaning, etc. As a result of this wrongful definition, women feel that they have the right to act like boors – acting crude, shamelessly unveiling their bodies for the world, and screaming instead of discussing – and still deserve to be respected. Women have become open books who have no self-worth unless their post hits ten thousand likes. No one deserves respect, and these methods are not how one earns respect.
People who are modest have a certain quality that separates them from everyone else. They tend to be dedicated to upholding a value system. This helps them earn the respect of others because it is easier to throw away the value system when it becomes arduous. A better quote for the T-shirt would be, “Respect yourself by being modest, and you will be respected.”
According to this T-shirt, modesty doesn’t matter anymore, that it’s archaic and we’ve got better things now. But the T-shirt is wrong. It’s not our values that need changing, but ourselves. Modesty is what we need to strive for, not to use excuses for our problems.
Read between the lines. What is our problem with modesty?
This answer is personal for each person, so I’m not going to make a sweeping generalization.
But I can respect anyone who thinks about it.Published in