I’m all for women dressing how they want, including modestly. However, it makes me so incredibly sad to see a woman give up clothes that she obviously used to love because she was shamed by purity culture.
1. This woman was shamed by her husband for his thought life and the thought lives of other men. He blamed women for how he and other men think about women sexually. This isn’t fair, he and he alone is responsible for how he thinks and what he does about it. Men think sexually about women in all sorts of attire; he might personally go for girls in yoga pants, other men are attracted to long flowing hair or have a foot fetish (I know Christian groups that don’t allow open toed shoes or hair to be done up pretty for this very reason). Where do you draw the line? How are women expected to stop all men from lusting after them? Do we wear full body burkas like they do in parts of the Middle East? Even those women get raped, so it’s obviously still not enough.
And why is it my job to make men not think about me that way? That’s not really fair. If I’m sexually attracted to a hot guy, I make no excuses for it- I acknowledge that it’s alllllll me. The poor guy can’t help looking sexy in that tailored suit or in his swim trunks that show off his sexy abs… and that other guy can’t help that his face is just so damn cute and his lips look so kissable… oh and that girl has such a hot butt… where was I? Oh yes, sexual attraction.
2. The harm applies to the husband too. This husband was shamed by purity culture, which unrealistically expects him to be devoid of all sexual attraction just because he’s married. Biologically, men and women (and everybody in between) are hardwired to be sexually attracted to other humans, because otherwise our species would go extinct. Being sexually attracted to other humans is normal and healthy! Purity culture expects people to never even THINK sexual thoughts about another person, but this expectation flies in the face of our biological reality.
Purity culture shames us for unintentionally having and/or causing sexual attractions, even though that’s a completely normal part of human life that shouldn’t be considered shameful.
Being sexually attracted to a human body that our mind considers sexy is pretty unavoidable biologically, and it does not make someone unfaithful to their spouse. It’s what they DO with those attractions that matters. Sexually harassing women, having an affair, etc are unacceptable responses to our sexual attractions; we’ve evolved the ability to control our urges, separate violence from sex, and stay faithful. We’ve also evolved the ability to have a brief sexual thought and then say “ok, I’ve had my moment of attraction but I’m moving on now. I’m not going to fantasize about that woman/man, I’m going to mentally focus on my spouse instead.” Yes, we do actually have that kind of self control.
I support this woman’s right to ditch her yoga pants if it makes her feel more comfortable. I’m just very sad that she was shamed into it, and I hope that other girls are not also made to feel guilty by her example.