I wasn't sure which forum would be best for this but I think since views vary with the area and culture, the community forum might be a good fit.

Here in Utah, "modesty" is huge. The typical Mormon standards are sleeves, no bare midriffs, and shorts/skirts should reach about the knee. It's fairly strict for a modern culture, and the standards are apparent even at schools, where dress codes are strict.

Since it's a cultural norm, there's great demand for modest clothing that is still cute and in style. They have bridal shops that specialize in modest gowns, which are hard to come by anywhere else. They're also a good deal more expensive than other gowns, since they corner the market somewhat. A few companies have built business on modest undershirts. And of course, there's the infamous magic underwear.

But there is still a growing urbanized group of youth who wear their shorts a little too short and don't mind the stares that accompany a tank top. The community responds with "Modest is Hottest", a popular slogan, and remind girls that their body is a temple, not to be defiled in any way.

The other day I saw a clothing store called "Sexy Modest". Here's why it confused me: Modest essentially implies understaded; unsevere. It can be beautiful or attractive, certainly. But sexy? Sexy has a sexual connotation-- almost provacative. I was under the impression that in religious cultures, the purpose of modesty was to repress sexuality. After all, premarital sex, or even sexually-indicative acts such as french kissing, are frowned upon in my society. Not to mention that clothing is not the only indicator of sexuality.

This type of issue is gaining more speed recently, particularly with movements such as Boobquake. What is your opinion? How does your society treat sexiness and modesty, and how should it? Can they be acheived together? Does it matter?

 Does the picture fill you with a terrible rage? 

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Sexiness, like love, is really a bit of an abstract construct dependent largely on social contexts. Several centuries ago, in Renaissance and medieval Europe, women were sexy if they were a bit chubby, but now it is the opposite. So someone back then seeing a thin model or actress would think they were horridly unattractive, not sexy.

So, from a Mormon's point of view, modest clothing might be the "sexiest" thing of all, what gets their love juices flowing and gets them attracted to someone of the opposite sex, while revealing clothing would be a turn-off. And even today, what is "sexy" varies across the world, so sexy modest is not necessarily an oxymoron; it depends on the cultural context.

Good question, though!
Wait, so it's sexy not to be sexy? Because the only vaguely logical reasoning for why immodesty is immoral I've gotten is that men go sex-berserker if you don't cover up. It's like a paradox. I agree with what you're saying though.
Good point. Maybe they mean "sexy" in a spiritual way. Sounds strange, but heck, a lot of Christians can get pretty riled up looking at images of Christ on the cross for goodness' sake. So "spiritual stimulation" might be the "sexy" here...

In the case you mention, "sexy modest" probably is a paradox if the whole point of modesty is directly to prohibit sexual feelings. My hunch though is that they are doing more to recontextualize "sexy" here to take it away from LUST, which is a Christian sin and the "sex-berserker" side of romance.
Which is weird because Sexy Modest is a really weird name to me. It's just stringing words together. Those sillies.

Yes, Jezzy, it's stringing words together.

I do it often, as I am doing here, and I want people who read my strung together words to react. In my favor.

If two people react similarly they might be happy living together.

Sexy Modest? What's sexier than being a little bit clothed?

Importantly, does a clothing store using the term increase its sales?

(Okay, doing sex might be sexier.)

There is also the idea in many religious cultures that sex is FOR PROCREATION PURPOSES ONLY, not something to actually be enjoyed.
And it's one of the strongest drives of humankind, which means it's another aspect of a person's life to be controlled by those seeking power. Throw in some arbitrary rules about food, arrange marriages, add some sleep deprivation...and some programming to create that wonderful sense of guilt, and your subjects become properly docile.

As people have observed before, those control mechanisms are an adaptive trait for a religion itself (not its human hosts) to be strengthened and spread:

Hijack and coopt a strong natural drive; surround it with lots of "god-given" regulations. Set people up to fail. Make people feel guilty and dirty and ashamed. Offer (temporary) "cleansing" and "forgiveness" (and continued dependence) through the same institution that created the problem in the first place. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of interest: Sex and Secularism, by Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown. They found that people in conservative religions have just as much sex as those in liberal or no religion -- they just feel guiltier. (In their sample, the people with the least sexual guilt were UUs, Jews, agnostics, and atheists; those with the most were Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals, JWs, and Mormons.) And leaving religion led to less guilt and better sex. (Alternet article) (The full study is attached)


Sexual morality is a manufactured principle from which others have no justifiable excuse, but from which the sexual moralist can claim mitigating human weakness as an excuse for the same behaviour.


When we manufacture, or rather derive morality from reason, compassion, and empathy -- as Joan Denoo put it, "from being born a social animal" -- it has a much stronger claim than if some "god said so" in a way that just happens to strengthen tribal or parochial boundaries.

I've probably mentioned this concise sexual ethic I heard somewhere:

  1. Tell no lies;
  2. Spread no diseases;
  3. Conceive no children;* and
  4. Break no hearts.

* I'll add, "unless the two of you have specifically made the free, serious, and considered decision to have a child."

(Anyone know a source? Please let me know.)

Within a framework like that -- basically an elaboration of the "be good to each other" ethic that doesn't require any supernatural "mandate" --  there are many right answers! Some people need an emotional relationship before wanting to having sex with someone; others find casual sex terrific. Some need to be with just one partner who's similarly exclusive; others are happy with various forms of responsible nonmonogamy. And so forth.

The bottom line is GC it's nice and therefor forbidden.

Don't tell me, lemme guess: this is aimed mostly if not exclusively at WOMEN, right? Guys don't have to worry about opening up a button more at the neck than usual or, to use the words of those wild and crazy guys, Dan Ackroyd and Steve Martin, "wearing tight jeans which give us nice bulges!"

Boil it down, the whole "Modest is Hottest" BS is just a more subtle form of what islamic women get laid on them with the burqa ... but it's the same razzmatazz, make no mistake.
Yep. Except with the provision that they don't like men who wear their pants low.




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