Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Modest Proposal

Readers may have become weary of that Catholic blogosphere cliche: the concern over male modesty and the oversexualization of male fashion in the world today. However, I don't think it can be stressed enough how much of a temptation it is for women--how much of a pitfall--to see men  in attractive clothes or, indeed, skimpy outfits. Now that spring is upon us, it will not be long before the young men of the  world actually take their shirts off and run around soccer fields topless, as if there were no married women over thirty around to look at them.

I don't want to be too hard on the boys. After all, it is very difficult for a young man to understand the sexual temptations of women. When he wears sleeveless shirts, he just sees nice toned arms that any guy would be proud to have. He doesn't understand that nice toned male arms act like dynamite on the female psyche, especially female psyches that have been around for over 30 years. Also, when men deliberately buy jackets with shoulder padding, they merely think they look nice. They don't think about what the illusion of huge shoulders might do to generations of women who grew up reading romance novels about men with huge shoulders. 

At this point the male reader may feel uncomfortable, and in that charming way men have followed since Adam, our first father, pointed the finger at Eve and said "She done it," protest that maybe women should not read romance novels at all.  But, alas! The laddies must understand that in some ways they are the stronger sex, and women the weaker, and women have a weakness for romance novels, for which we must be forgiven and understood. It hasn't helped us that as children such magazines as Tiger Beat were on display at our eye level and even sold to us, so that we might pass them around the school yards, pull out the photos and put them on our bedroom walls. And now with the internet---! Men can't seriously expect us not to use the internet to look at pictures of attractive men, especially when they are thoughtlessly tempting us all over the shop, from Daytona Beach to Savile Row.

This scourge of male immodesty continues even into our churches. As shocking as this may sound, they wear their padded jackets even to go to church, so that the women behind them are forced to see that artificial inverted-triangle shape that acts like catnip on our feline sexuality. And those who wear pullovers instead sometimes take them off when they feel too warm, sometimes exposing inches of bare male back and tummy flesh for whole seconds. Can you believe that? Men taking their clothes off in church? And I can't even write about the souls that are imperiled by men coming to church wearing cargo shorts, their hairy, muscled calves for all Catholic women, young, old, married, single, and consecrated, to see, for my tears would drip into my laptop and cause a short-circuit.

Again I realize my male readers will feel indignant and want to say something about custody of the eyes. After all they have eyes, too, and they manage to keep them off our bodies, so why can't we keep our eyes off theirs? Ah, boys. Boys, boys, boys. My little flowers. My little flowers of the forest. My little flowers of the forest in your kilts and woolly socks stretched over swelling calves that meet muscular knees and visible over those manly knees is perhaps an inch of bare, muscled...Where was I?

Oh yes. Custody of the eyes. It is all very well talking about custody of the eyes, but we are your sisters. We need your help. We need you to stop wearing what you like, or what is fashionable, or what looks nice, or what is available in stores. After all, what is taste, fashion, beauty and availability to our own, personal, ever-shifting comfort zones

So I have a proposal, a modest proposal.


The orange jumpsuit. 


Men may protest that the orange jumpsuit, being prison garb, is a garment of shame. However, when we get right down to it, shouldn't men feel shame at the lustful thoughts their thoughtless attire and even lack thereof has caused women, even before we turned on the TV or the computer or bought the romance novel or the dirty Tiger Beat magazine? If  you men were to see the inside of my mind in an unguarded moment, you would most definitely feel shame. 

Meanwhile, neon orange is a terrible colour that suits nobody, and whose primary purpose is to make the wearer visible. Since men by their clothes (or lack thereof) seem to have an at least unconscious desire to have women notice them, their orange jumpsuits will indeed continue to make women notice them, only with the salutary reminder of how dangerous men can be to our souls and how, because of them, we might end up in that cosmic state penitentiary that has no end.

And therefore, men of the world, our brothers, whom we wish to love chastely and sweetly, in a spirit of self-gift, self-loan and self-donation, I beg you all to leave aside your sinful fashions (and running about fields half mostly naked), and don the noble (if shameful) orange jumpsuit.

Amen.


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45 comments:

thisjourneyofmylife said...

Thank you! This really made my day!

JustAnotherCatholicGirl said...

I can not stop laughing! Lol

JustAnotherCatholicGirl said...

Oh and I pre-ordered your book!! Can't wait!!

Seraphic said...

Smiles upon you!

Sheila said...

It took me an embarrassingly long four paragraphs to realize you were joking. What can I say. Guess I've been staring at too many finely-toned arms and manly calves lately. Or something.

But in all seriousness, I WISH they would keep their shirts ON! The heat is just as uncomfortable to women, but we manage somehow. I'm not sure which is worse, the attractive guys strutting their stuff ... or the old fat guys lettin' it all hang out. Ew. Men should wear clothes.

Meaghen said...

I am ON the floor laughing!

Sarah said...

This is why I read your blog. I LOVE THIS.

Maggie D said...

"Ah, boys. Boys, boys, boys. My little flowers. My little flowers of the forest. My little flowers of the forest in your kilts and woolly socks stretched over swelling calves that meet muscular knees and visible over those manly knees is perhaps an inch of bare, muscled...Where was I?"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I have nothing productive to say but THIS IS AMAZING!

Rose said...

Love it!

It's the suits that do me in. They may think they're just dressing up for a nice occasion, but how can they not realize how it affects the women around them? And I'm with Sheila, shirts should stay ON!

Lara said...

Brava! If I knew how to add a gif, your post would get the slow-clapping Orson Wells.
And no speedos!

Sarah said...

Lol! dying of laughter. Seriously...but you forgot to mention the dangers of the cumberbun and bow tie. Very Very Tempting Things. Should be outlawed. LOL!

Tommie Gold said...

BRILLIANT! Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Seraphic said...

@ Sheila. Joking??? Joking!!! ME??!?!

Why, I had a penitent in the confessional, I mean in the hallway after a lecture, and she had actual tears in her eyes when she said, "Oh, Auntie, I want to give up my sinful reading, viewing, downloading and thinking habits, but what is the point of doing the hard work of taking personal responsibility for myself when all around me men are wearing SHOULDER PADS or NO SLEEVES!"

Why, if I had a pound coin for every time I have heard this, well, golly, I could buy an orange jumpsuit for my husband, and he'd better wear it or I'd like to know why not.

Orange Jumpsuits Now!

priest's wife said...

:) love this!

Bernadette said...

See? This is why I love you. And your writing. With a deep and abiding passion that will never die. Also, as soon as I get paid again, I'm totally going to pre-order your book, see if I don't!

Christine Rebecca said...

Oh, brava, Seraphic!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

*Adore!*

Rae said...

Yup, this was a nice chuckle. But, like a few others, I do believe men should leave their shirts on. Some lines must be drawn for both men and women - nothing wrong with that. But the emphasis for both should not be focused on hiding, rather protecting, and also on actually looking NICE, rather than "sexy." Just my 2 cents.
Hehe - there is another factor, too. Not even the orange jumpsuit can save some of us poor little girls, if the gent happens to be one we especially like. Or even a really good zombie make-up job….

american (not) in deutschland said...

I respectfully disagree. Orange jumpsuits would not display the God-given, woman-policed masculinity of these men.

When I am out in public I deserve to see men who both please my tastes AND provide a low-level buzz of attraction. Nothing TOO explicit, of course. But something flattering (uh, I mean, intrinsically evocative of timeless masculinity) and perhaps also traditional (since, of course, masculine fashion, more than most things, is timeless).

My solution is that all males between 2 and 50 be greatly encouraged by all their benevolent sisters in Christ to wear lederhosen at all times (but especially in public or at church).

Lederhosen reveal that charming hairy knee, and some are short enough to hint at (um, completely reveal) that symbol of masculinity, the thigh. But they rise high above the belly button and so guard against any shameless eyeing of the navel. Moreover many styles include an extra flap of material right over the man's most intimate area, combining convenience of bathroom function with a shape-obscuring function for modesty.

This is just a suggestion, but a suggestion based on Biblical principles and probably also a few papal encyclicals, so remember: God made lederhosen for a reason.

Anonymous said...

This. Is. Genius.

Fifi

Leah said...

This is brilliant!!

I wish this had been around 10 years ago when I was attending a very Catholic college, so I could post it for the young gentlemen to read. It may have made them(And male staff, at that. One of the married male staff actually gave several rather explicit talks about how we girls needed to dress more modestly. How creepy is that??) pause before going on yet another tirade about how immodestly the young women at this college dressed. Despite the fact that we had to adhere to one of the strictest modesty dress codes in the universe.

Although in all fairness, this was probably mainly a vocal minority. Many of the guys there were pretty awesome. :)

Seraphic said...

It is good to be loved.

And if men loved us better, the way they are supposed to, they would protect our souls, eyes, comfort zones, need to blame them for our own dodgy habits, etc., etc., by donning orange jumpsuits

n.panchancha said...

But, Seraphic - the orange jumpsuit is itself associated with a certain kind of hyper-masculine bravado, albeit of the incarcerated variety. I can't be held accountable for objectifying my neon-clad brother in Christ under such provocative circumstances - I blame the media, particularly TV shows like "Prison Break." Surely these gentlemen will appreciate that it's for their benefit as much as ours if we request that they all, please, sit in the rearmost pews at mass so we won't be distracted by their shoulders and arms. Alas, that we live in a fallen world!

PS: It took me a few paragraphs too, Sheila.

Kayla @ We're Just That Awesome said...

I love this!!

Maggie D said...

In past ages, men dressed more modestly. for example, in the late 19th century, nearly all men wore the orange jumpsuit, except those men who were universally agreed to be of bad repute.

Even in the dissolute late Roman empire, men were chastely draped in many folds of pure linen. How scandalous is it that avowedly Catholic men dress with considerably less modesty than the pagans? Huh? Huh?

Caelaeno said...

And LEDERHOSEN.

sciencegirl said...

I heard Padre Pio once threw a man wearing cargo short out of his church.

Hannah said...

Downright hilarious and flat-out brilliant!

Sarah said...

haha, I want to print out American's suggestion and tack it to parish bulletin boards.

There is really nothing more modestly attractive than lederhosen and I don't think I would ever marry a man who didn't wear them.

MaryJane said...

Sheila, you're not the only one! I think I was halfway through when I thought, "wait a minute...."! I blame it on only 4 hours sleep, though. (I'm in a culture where men spend WAY too much time on their appearance...total turnoff.)

CKL said...

This is pure genius.
Absolutely.
I'm going to share this with all my friends tomorrow.

Seraphic said...

I heard Father Pio refused absolution to a man because he sold tweed jackets.

Shiraz said...

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Snort. Hiccup. OK. I'm done now.

Rebecca said...

That. Was. Marvelous.

I'd have to agree with Rose that that suits in general - unless they are badly tailored, horribly large and in strange colours - truly ought to be banned for the good of all womenfolk.

Sheila said...

SNORT about the lederhosen. Perfectly parallel AND perfectly creepy at once.

Some men might argue that they can't easily climb trees or play soccer in their lederhosen. I would say this is simply a sign that those activities aren't appropriate for men in the first place. Also, the constant adjusting of socks that may be required should simply be an occasion to remember that they are fallen creatures. Perhaps they could say a brief silent prayer at such times.

I die.

Seraphic said...

Yes, American (Not) in Deutschland perfectly captured how fast modesty lectures by the opposite sex can so quickly descend into the creepy. And I do mean creepy. And obviously quite flagrantly immodest, too.

I was just reading some guy saying something along the lines of "Well, if girls can wear X, than I can wear Y, and that'll show you." Well, I had never ever HEARD the concept of Y in my entire life. I'm still not sure I know what Y is; I just know I would never write such an expression on my blog or say such a thing in mixed, or any, company.

I shake my head. Really, sometimes we are happier not knowing what they are thinking. Honestly.

not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...

Spot on, as always!

Alisha said...

Gold, Seraphic. Love it. Frankly, just to be safe, all men should wear lederhosen OVER the jumpsuit, and then learn to dance. That way modesty, acceptable masculinity and good breeding would all be covered. In the great Renaissance era dance was primarily social and a courtship ritual, so dancing skills had to be mastered in one's youth before being of marriage age which was sometimes as early as twelve, so they often began training at the age of six. If we could only go back to that sort of thing, it would be like a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine of misogyny go down.

Anonymous said...

I understood the satire immediately! This is brilliantly witty, and it's exactly what many Catholic men need to hear. I attend one of the most Catholic colleges in the states, and people were stating that we needed girls to hand out long skirts on the mall to instruct the rest of women here the concept of modesty. We Ev(e)l temptresses!

Anonymous said...

This post and so many comments are brilliant! I especially like your suggestion, Alisha, for making the medicine of misogyny go down!

Heather

Seraphic said...

I agree about the brilliant comments. Again I congratulate myself on having attracted so many intelligent women to my blog (and some rather intelligent men, too--thanks for the shout-out on Catholic Forums, sprachmeister, if that was indeed you).

Seraphic said...

(The compliment to B.A. and me, I mean. I realize someone else must have linked to this post on C.F.! Thanks to her, too.)

defeatingthedragons said...

I've been saying for years that a well-tailored three-piece suit is just lingerie for women.

This had me rolling.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. :D

I will also point out that the orange jumpsuit is worn proudly by astronauts, those finest (if spaciest) of men and women. Yesterday at my wonderful Anglican church I saw a little boy wearing one. Now that is good parenting.

Amie said...

This is cool!