Sunday, September 4, 2011

Margaret Thatcher in Yorkshire, on a Rainy Thursday Afternoon

Yesterday I read another hearthfelt plea from a Christian mother of boys to girls and mothers of girls to dress their daughters modestly to protect their sons' purity and prevent their sinning in their spirit. She then also proceeded to post pictured of their beach vacation.
Well, I have to say, my mind blew.
First of all, as a man, I'm offended by her implication that the males of the homo sapiens sapiens species are utterly id-driven creatures, lacking any self control and and acting on any and all desires. As a man I feel like that I am responsible for my own thoughts and reactions. I also don't feel like that women should be serving me, being it always making the sandwiches, mending clothes or completely hiding every square milimeter of their bodies. No, let's face it: men can and should take responsibility of their desires, the welfare of their soul and their purity.
Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy (standing on the right) with family and friends at lake Balaton a long time agoI will never forget the lesson one of my elder brothers taught me about this. I was a young kid, and he was newly married and really living his faith, yet he ended up in a situation when he worked at a beach hotel. Many of the ladies going to that particular beach and the hotel made the girls of Baywatch look as if dressed for the Siberian winter. So I asked my brother how he managed to avoid bad thoughts and he gave 2 very good pieces of advice:
1. Always look the girls in the eyes.
2. When you can't do #1 (because they are far, or looking away), just think of Margaret Thatcher in Yorkshire on a rainy Thursday afternoon. BTW, if you don't know who Margaret Thatcher is... well, click here.

Other tactics I heard was reciting scriptures of humming hymns or repeating the periodic table or some epic poems that are otherwise super boring. Parts of the Illyad come to mind. Or very simply, thinking of the person in front of you as a person rather than a body. It really is not that difficult. It just involves exercising some self control.

The other thing that makes me furious about posts like that is the double standards. After mom pleads for girls to cover up, I see her sons run around without shirts most of the summer, and in short shorts, and wearing pretty much speedos to the beach... but girls should be wearing burqas, because otherwise they might taint poor boys.

That just doesn't fly well with me. I'm a father of both boys and girls. Of course I have been a father of boys a lot longer than that of girls. I am not opposed to modesty, actually, I'm enforcing some of the "oddest" rules according to my secualr neighbours. Like... my no sleeveless top rules, unless it's for the beach/swimming. But then I'd prefer my girls to wear the Muslim Swimsuit Tukha once posted about, because they are all prone to get sunburns. Yes, even my biracial daughter. In my family both boys and girls are to wear sleeves. Neither the boys and girls shouldn't wear shorts/skirts shorter than a certain length, and so on, and so on. But the point is: modesty needs to apply to both genders. If you expect girls to dress modestly, you should expect boys to do likewise. Of course I don't want to dress my daughters to look like sex workers.

Definition of modesty varies between cultures and families. Here we live in a world of extremes, from segregated beaches and buses along gender lines for the Ultra-Orthodox to the ultra-sexy-hardly-any-clothes night and beach life of Tel Aviv. The key for my family has been finding the balance.  There's a middle ground between the burqini and the string bikinis. And I think we did find it, we did find what works for my family.


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