Lately, there has been an explosion of modesty blogs from Christian women who are trying to teach the younger generation that modesty is the best policy. I agree that the Bible says to be modest. I grew up Apostolic or Pentecostal. I wore the long skirts and long sleeves, but that didn’t protect me from being sexualized by the MEN that I went to church with. Modesty did not protect me from being raped.
As a teen, I was not a flirty girl. I was quiet and easily embarrassed. I was super modest. I would have rather read Native Son by Richard Wright than go to a party at the church. I wanted solitude and a great book. I had crushes, but none were ever interested in me. However, multiple older married men were interested in me as an underage 15 year old.
When I read these blogs that Christian women write to the younger girls about how modesty is suppose to protect them from being over sexualized and modesty is a protection against rape, I can’t help but to verbalize no. Modesty is something a Christian woman should do out of respect for HERSELF. A woman should love herself enough that she should say that no man deserves to see this except for her husband. On the other hand, I know men have trouble with lust and modesty does help them control that. As for the part about protection for sexual assault, I am proof it doesn’t work.
What these women need to understand about rape is that it is motivated by violence. Most rapes are meticulously planned and 80% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Sometimes the rapists are so patient that they plan every last detail and sometimes wait years taking the time to groom their victims. I was groomed for 5 years before I was raped. However, when convicted rapists were asked what the victim was wearing, none of them remembered what the victims wore. How does the fact that the rapist can’t remember what the victim’s wore configure into the idea that modesty is a protection against rape?
After being raped, myself, and seeing that my sisters in Christ are blaming the women for what they wear tempting a man to rape them I just had to speak out. Most people would just read that and say I am trying to start a fight, but this is their argument. If women wear provocative clothing, they are tempting men to lust and that leads to rape. As a logical and educated person, I analyze their argument into something easier to understand as the following: A woman gets up, gets dressed in whatever she wants to wear, walks down the street and her clothing provoked a man to lust which leads to her being raped. My only question is, what does that say about how Christian women view rape?
What right does a man have to say I raped this woman because she was wearing shorts? What right does a rapist have to say I raped this woman because her cleavage was showing? What right does a man who violates someone with violence have to blame the victim? What right does another woman have to tell a victim of sexual assault that she was raped because her clothes attracted the attention of a bad man? What right does a woman have to look down on the sisters of her sex and say she is to blame because she made a man lust after her?
To all my dear Christian sisters, Jesus talked more about love and compassion. The lady that was caught in adultery is a great example for that. Instead of picking up a rock and telling her that her problem was how she dressed, Jesus showed her love. Love for the fellow man and the love of God is what is commanded of us to do. Who are we as Christians to judge? We have the least right to judge someone. Instead of judging a girl for her clothes, why not wrap your arms around her and be her friend? Instead of criticizing those who were not raised to know how to correctly dress, take her shopping. Instead of blaming, take action. A woman who has been sexually assaulted doesn’t need judgment, she needs love. She needs a friend to say that she are not to blame. Instead of focusing on the clothes, focus on helping victims move on from their trauma. Be a hero instead of part of the problem.