Friday, July 30, 2010

PZ Myers is here to defend your rights!

Your right to dress as slutty as you want, I guess.

No doubt PZ Myers is patting himself on the back for making sure to put Christian young men in their placeHow dare we offer any input on what kind of clothes women wear!  It's not like the opposite ever happens.  I'm proud to say my wife has never told me, not even advised me, on what I should wear, not a day in my life.  If she did, I'd whip out my belt faster than you can say "Gaptooth Uncle Buck" anyway.  She knows better.
Come to think of it, my mom never told nor advised me either.  And I turned out OK - I dress equally as well as PZ does on a daily basis.  What can I say?  I'm looking good, and I didn't need no help from no womenfolk.

Along those lines, one has to wonder whether PZ would be so quick to swap genders in incredibly oblivious statements like these:

The boys are asked to judge whether an item of clothing is something that might cause them to think wicked thoughts…so once again, the women are to blame for inciting men's behavior by wearing tight jeans or a strapless dress. (Emphasis original.)
 --BECOMES--
The women are asked to judge whether an item of clothing is something that might cause them to think wicked thoughts…so once again, the men are to blame for inciting women's behavior by wearing tight jeans or a muscle shirt.

I don't know why it surprises me that a liberal like Myers would so easily and thoughtlessly equate thought with action.  After all, I believe he supports hate-crime legislation.  The most confusing thing about it is that the guy loves to talk about thoughtcrime.  Like a typical godless liberal, he doesn't appear ever to stop to ask himself the same questions he's asking everyone else.  At least he's a good source of iron(y).

So, let me set Myers straight on a few more things.
Because, of course, the girls need boys' advice...I get a Taliban tingle just reading it. It's a far more generous document than anything Islam dictates — young Christian men do not want young Christian women to wear burkas — but in principle, it's the same thing.
 1) I challenge Myers to show anywhere in the survey where it is implied that "girls need boys' advice".  Seems to me the message is more like "Here's what guys think of the way you dress, and you could throw them a bone by not showing 75% of your cleavage all the time."

2) Shall we really consider that a man whose blog contains a fair amount of obscenely-worded material and who deals with sexual topics in a less-than-chaste way is a better source for clothing advice than Christian men who are struggling to obey Jesus?
As for Myers, might one think he doth protest too much?
"No really, ladies, I'm a not-particularly-attractive atheist community college professor and biologist in my 50s and I think you have every right to wear whatever you want to my class and in public!  If you got it, flaunt it, yo.  Clingy and see-through lingerie get extra credit in your lab section." 

Now, for the objective lady out there, compare that with the heart expressed by these survey questions and responses, and by this excellent blogpost by DJP.  Why do you think these men want you to not wear a spaghetti-bikini that covers 3 square inches of your body and no more?  Is Myers really looking out for your best interests?

3) Myers apparently can't find any substantive difference between a group of young men putting their heads together and asking women to dress LESS provocatively, so as to help them not to think lustfully about said women all the time, and laws providing for governmental punishment of women who fail to cover every inch of their skin when in public.  So much for his critical thinking skills.

It's men declaring ownership of women's bodies and telling them what to wear
Where? 

Myers continues:
What they have to guard against? They should be plainer. "We're not telling you what to wear - we're just listing the stuff that will justify raping you."...with the the threat of justifiable sexual assault if they do not obey.

1) This is what really got under my skin in the first place this morning.  Where in the world is Myers getting this?  I'd like to challenge anyone to find any hint of this idea in the survey or its surrounding documentation.  Start by going to any given page and pressing Ctrl + F on your keyboard; type in 'rape' and see how many results there are.  Or 'assault'.  Or 'deserve'. 

2) Myers is putting his amazing ignorance of the Christian community on display when he imputes this idea to such people as Nancy Leigh DeMoss, CJ Mahaney, and Al Mohler.  I'd be willing to bet he doesn't even know who the first two are!  But he obviously has no problem implying their motives are one step removed from one of the most heinous crimes known to man. 
Is not unjustified demonisation of the opposition one of the oldest propaganda tricks in the book?  If we had any reason to call Myers "honest" in the past, we don't anymore.

3) The idea that these surveyors and promoters would like to justify rape is apparently a figment of Myers' extremely-biased imagination.
Or, he's nothing more than a rabble-rouser, inciting his drones to action.  Either way, what possible credibility could the man have left?

4) What, precisely, is Myers' moral problem with rape?  To what objective moral foundation can he appeal to say "rape is definitely always bad for all people at all times in all situations"?  Does his atheism allow for a consistent definition like that?
The answer, obviously, is no way, as more honest men than he have admitted to me in the past.

5) In fact, all high-sounding but empty platitudes of "we can rise above our genes" (as expressed by Dick Dawk in the last chapter or two of The Selfish Gene and echoed ad infinitum by many others) aside, given that "rising" and "above" are moral statements and atheism offers no foundation by which we can know objectively good morality from objectively bad morality nor a telos or purpose toward which we should aspire, I don't see why rape (as long as you're strong and clever enough not to get caught) wouldn't in fact confer an evolutionary advantage on the rapist.  Each agent in an evolutionary scheme is motivated to pass his genes on to the next generation, and in this competition, agents vying against each other, the stronger tend to emerge and tend to pass on their genes more successfully.  "Advancing" and "evolving" is the closest an evolutionary atheist will get to a telos, and impregnating dozens of females (as opposed to, say, one) (or none, if Myers' wardrobe, job, and manner of speaking on his blog are any indication) is probably a successful strategy.  Does Myers criticise dogs in heat for their willingness to jump on anything that moves that is approximately dog-sized? 

You know, I think about blogging a fair amount.  I see stuff out there in the world or on teh 1nterw3bz or the news or whatever and digest it, and sometimes an idea for a blogpost pops out.  Half the time or better, there's not enough there and I throw the idea in the trash.  Myers has a large audience, though it could always grow if he were less of a coward and didn't disdain debate challenges from people who know a bit of philosophy.  Plus other bloggers like ERV rely on him for a good amount of their material, so I understand he could be under a bit of pressure.  At the same time, there is something to be said for producing material that isn't consistently half-baked and not well-thought-out.  (Not that I would know from firsthand experience; I'm just saying.)  The self-censoring filter that should be in place between brain and mouth (or keyboard) didn't act quickly enough to stop this spew from issuing forth.  But it is quite telling about his thoughts, and as we all know...

47 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Somebody's Sarcasm Detector is malfunctioning.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My apologies.

    I will delete the malfunction.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very decent of you. No hard feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rho:

    3) Myers apparently can't find any substantive difference between a group of young men putting their heads together and asking women to dress LESS provocatively, so as to help them not to think lustfully about said women all the time, and laws providing for governmental punishment of women who fail to cover every inch of their skin when in public.

    I don't consider this an effective argument regarding his "Taliban tingle" comment. He's not equating the Christian men with the Taliban just noting some similarities. Pointing out differences when he's pointing out similarities, is a tacit agreement regarding the similarities.

    ReplyDelete
  7. And yet the similarities he wants to exist... don't.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What similarities do you think he wants to exist?

    ReplyDelete
  9. There's only one reason to mention the Taliban - to demonise Christians with bugaboos about extreme oppression of women. Those extremes don't exist.
    That kind.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Another reason to mention the Taliban is to say: "except for the separation of church and state, go we."

    Methinks your Demonization Detector is set to go off at the drop of a hat. Just the opposite problem as with my Sarcasm Detector.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ironic you should say that, given Myers' own incredible powers of demonisation. Calling out someone as wrong (which I did) is not demonising. You want demonising, read Pharyngula.

    ReplyDelete
  12. So you would agree that it's never legitimate for a man to excuse misconduct toward a woman by referring to her clothing, right? And when you hear others saying that a woman was "asking for it" or "should have known better", you usually speak to correct them, don't you?

    I imagine that you, like the guys whose responses are displayed on the "Open Questions" section of the survey results, will be quick to assert that the responsibility for action falls entirely on the man. But this is hard to square with the well-established tendency for people to blame the victim of rape, especially if the victim was dressed provocatively (http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=162805). Honestly, it just seems plausible that many of the people who are investing time in telling women how they would like them to dress are the same people who would say "she shouldn't have been..." about a rape victim.

    Also, if this is not about men controlling women's bodies (as you want to claim) shouldn't there be a "Modesty Survey" where young women tell young men which behaviors and outfits cause the young women to stumble?

    And finally, that phrase "to stumble" is so incredibly vague that it almost constitutes a threat in itself. What do young men do when they stumble? Do they think lustful thoughts? Do they masturbate? Do they call the girl a slut? Do they stalk her? Do they ask her on a date? Do they ask her to go parking? Do they date rape her? What kind of risks is a girl taking when she "causes her brother to stumble"? Maybe if it were more clear, the entire message of the survey would be less ominous.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Actually I think Prof Myers has a valid point. There's no substantive difference, after all, between saying to your lab partner or co-worker "Excuse me, but I find it very distracting when you whistle; would you mind whistling softer?" and stoning her to death the first time she dares to whistle in your presence.

    I mean, I can't see any distinction whatsoever between the two, and I'm a biology professor with a PhD who has also been certified a Seventh Degree Bright who has been cleansed of all his remaining Superstition Engrams, and who is completely objective, impartial, and free of any hidden theological or personal agenda.

    Logically, one follows the other as night follows day. If you find loud whistling annoying, and politely ask whistlers to tone it down, then you endorse violent or state-enforced coercion of whistlers.

    And the only reason these dumb fundoes don't "get" this is because they don't know their John Stuart Mill.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tom, your satire is stupid. There is no history of whistlers being punished for distracting people, but there is a broad and deep history of claims about the importance of female modesty being escalated all the way up to rape and murder. That's a fact.

    ReplyDelete
  15. (Tom slaps forehead repeatedly)

    Yes, yes, Irredenta, I see your logic. Thieves used to get their hands amputated, so therefore no one today is allowed to complain if their car gets burgled, right? Indeed, given the - what's your phrase again? - "long history" of punishing convicted criminals savagely (up to and including torture and death), you should be very careful about demonising "rapists", because that might lead to them getting lynched.

    And then Christians get to play the "many Christians have been persecuted horrifically, from first century Rome to present-day Pakistan" card to prevent anyone from claiming to be annoyed by assertive evangelistic tactics.

    After all, if you find your co-worker's ostentatious cross, WWJD bracelet, or evangelistic tracts distracting, you're providing aid and comfort to al-Qaeda and the BJP. The blood of the next murdered missionary is on your hands.

    By your logic.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wait, what? I've lost track of your analogies. Are you saying girls who dress "immodestly" are like annoying whistlers, car burglers, rapists, assertive evangalists, or workplace tract distributers? Or some subset of that list?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Here's an analogy back at you:

    Imagine a "Black Modesty Survey" directed toward African Americans in the south. It might say things like, "Your white brothers are sometimes weak, and often succumb to wrathful pride when they see an uppity negro. To better serve go and help your brothers, consider stepping off the sidewalk when you see a white man coming toward you." Or, "White men are very protective of their womenfolk, which is godly and noble, but you shouldn't provoke their sinful wrath by talking to white women in front of them."

    Does that give you a clearer idea of what it's like for a person who doesn't share your belief in thoughtcrime to read the Modesty Survey? I'm sure that the authors of the Black Modesty Survey would say that their only intent is to help African Americans help their brethern (in Christ) more easily walk the straight and narrrow, and that they certainly aren't threatening or trying to control them... but seriously, would you believe them? Would you take that claim at face value?

    Do you see what I mean?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Irredenta,

    If you don't know what "stumbling" means or what these men are getting at, that means Myers didn't tell us. And if Myers didn't tell us, it means he doesn't know. And if he doesn't know, that means he just shot his mouth off w/o doing any basic research. What a surprise that Myers would just blurt out some chickenpoop and hope it sticks!

    You know, if you're really curious, you could try reading the articles I linked to. Particularly the DJP one and the Bible psgs. (I realise that's a very big IF, though.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Rhology, I did read the DJP article, and I'm aware of the "adultery in your heart" passage.

    If all you, or the purveyors of the Modesty Survey, mean by "creating a stumbling block" is "being the object of a feeling of lust", why not use a phrase that conveys that meaning? Or, since you think feeling lust is equivalent to commiting adultery, you could say something like, "By wearing revealing clothing, women cause men to commit adultery with them". But if you commit adultery with a woman who isn't willing to have sex with you (most women, probably) isn't that rape? Man, this thoughtcrime stuff is confusing! It almost seems like a woman who walks around in a tank top is making men rape her in their hearts.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "If all you, or the purveyors of the Modesty Survey, mean by "creating a stumbling block" is "being the object of a feeling of lust", why not use a phrase that conveys that meaning?"

    The people who have any interest in the survey know exactly what the phrase means. A survey by Christians for Christians doesn't need to translate Biblical language.

    " Man, this thoughtcrime stuff is confusing!"

    The word we'd use is "sin," and it doesn't translate into "thought crime." Not all sins are crimes. As Steve Hays already pointed out in the original post, it's the anti-Christians who are criminalizing thoughts, not the Christians. It's likely because you've already bought into the notion of thought crimes, though, that you're getting so confused.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oops, sorry. I mean Rhology, not Steve Hays.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Irredenta, here's the distinction.

    If I (or anyone else not raised in the deep South before 1965 and socialised with the belief that white men address black men as "boy" but never vice versa) sees a black person acting assertively, my innate response, I can assure you, is not to want to lynch them. (How many whiteboy fans does the average gangsta rapper have?)

    Whereas if I (or any other heterosexual male on the planet) sees a woman dressed in a way that exposes more than a certain degree of skin, my innate - and involuntary - response is to feel the temperature rising, a reaction akin to annoyance, at least when it occurs in a public place and involves a woman not my spouse. (Perhaps this has something to do with a hard-wired instinct to pass on my genes by any means necessary. Possibly the Great Darwinist, Coqnueror of the Communion Wafer, could shed some light on that.)

    How I deal with this urge, of course, is within my control, and I agree with you completely that raping the woman concerned is an... inappropriate response. (Trying to avoid simplistic terms here like "wrong" or "evil"). Just as if I were to stab to death the person at the supermarket who runs over foot with his shopping trolley, or the next door neighbour who plays his stereo loudly at midnight on a workday.

    However, the fact that an extremely coercive response is... inappropriate does not mean that a non-coercive response is also inappropriate. I am still allowed to say to my fellow shopper or my neighbour, "Er, would you mind not running over my foot/ turning your music down at 11 pm".

    One intervenes at the point where the annoyed person responds coercively, not at the point where they express a polite request for the other person to tone it down.

    Any clearer?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Or, since you think feeling lust is equivalent to commiting adultery, you could say something like, "By wearing revealing clothing, women cause men to commit adultery with them".

    Should be obvious that "commit adultery with them" is too simplistic. "Adultery in the heart" is not the same as adultery in the flesh. Both are sinful. One is more bad (ie, worse) than the other.
    And since this is a Christian survey directed at Christians, why should your outsider's incomprehension bother us? When did we ask you to comment?


    But if you commit adultery with a woman who isn't willing to have sex with you (most women, probably) isn't that rape?

    Yes. And this is equivocation on your part. I'm willing to chalk it up to ignorance, but I suggest you stop making your ignorance so evident.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ree, you and your co-religionists are the ones who believe in thoughtcrime, not I. I don't think beliefs and desires have moral implications by themselves, while you do. This entire issue seems to be about men committing sins in their heads, whether or not they physically act them out.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Steve Ruble,

    Assertions in search of arguments.
    Looks like we both believe in thoughtcrime. Only one of us will admit it.


    I don't think beliefs and desires have moral implications by themselves

    1) Strictly speaking, neither do we. God's character is what determines the rightness or wrongness of an action, desire, or belief.
    2) Then presumably, since believing in thoughtcrime doesn't have a moral implication by itself, you actually are trying to say that it's perfectly fine that we believe in thoughtcrime.

    Try another moral theory.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Posting screeds is a behavior, not a belief. Perpetuating the idea that people should feel guilty about finding one another desirable is a behavior.

    Hitting someone with your car accidentally, with no intent to harm them, has minimal moral implications. Hitting someone with your car because you want to kill them because they are white has moral implications (it's immoral), because you were expressing your belief/desires into the world. Wanting to hit someone with your car is not immoral (although it's undesirable for other reasons).

    When one someone decided to interpret the Bible as saying that "covetting" and "lusting" were sins (immoral), even with no corresponding word or deed, thoughtcrime was born.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Perpetuating the idea that people should feel guilty about finding one another desirable is a behavior.

    1) And are these behaviors morally wrong? How do you know?
    2) What about perpetuating the idea that people should feel guilty about feeling guilty about finding one another desirable? That's a behavior, and one that you're engaging in. Why is that OK and what I'm doing not-OK?

    As for the rest of your pontifications, please give me a reason to think you're worth listening to as a moral authority or as reporting a moral authority. Either bring forth your credentials as an authority or point me to the authority you're citing, and whichever you choose, let me know why it applies to me or anyone else.

    And I'm trying to remind you that Myers has also engaged in delimiting thoughtcrime. So both sides are guilty here. You just need to be honest enough to admit it.

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  28. "Looks like we both believe in thoughtcrime. Only one of us will admit it."

    Rhology,

    I'm not sure why you aren't challenging him on the idea that a thought having moral implications makes it a "crime," but it doesn't. As in the novel, a "thoughtcrime" is punishable by law, and no Christian advocates punishing lust by law. Some sins are (and should be) criminalized, but sin and crime aren't synonymous.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Fine point.
    I was just using the word as Myers uses it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm sorry, what I wrote is not very clear at all. I was just trying to delineate three different things - action without intent; action with intent; intent without action - and that's all the examples with the car killing people were intended to do. I don't think that it's a very good example to argue over, but I think the distinctions are valid.

    As far as I know, thoughtcrime isn't a technical word. I don't have any particular attachment to it... "heart sin" or "mental immorality" would work just as well. Again, I've been using it to refer to the idea that having certain thoughts and feelings is intrinsically immoral, without any further action or speech on your part. If anyone would like to suggest a term which captures that concept more precisely, I'd be happy to start using it.

    Rhology, you've said that Myers "loves to talk about" and "delimits" thoughtcrime. I think that Myers definition is different than mine - again, it's not a technical term, it's just an idiom - but every post on Pharyngula on the first page of your "thoughtcrime" link consists of Myers or a commenter criticizing people for trying to criminalize thoughts or beliefs. So I'm not sure what you meant. Want to clarify?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Tom R,

    I think you started off going in the right direction by pointing out that visceral responses to people of a different race are a socialized behavior, but you went off the tracks here:

    "Whereas if I (or any other heterosexual male on the planet) sees a woman dressed in a way that exposes more than a certain degree of skin, my innate - and involuntary - response is to feel the temperature rising, a reaction akin to annoyance, at least when it occurs in a public place and involves a woman not my spouse.

    You must be aware that historically and (even today in many places) nudity or near nudity has been the norm rather than the exception. I think it's undeniable that millions of heterosexual men on this planet routinely encounter women in a state of undress without experiencing arousal. Therefore, I think that your claim that your arousal response is "innate" is incorrect.

    It may be, of course, that your socialization is irreversible, and you are condemned to be involuntarily aroused by any and all scantily clad women who are not married to you... or you may have some physiological or psychological peculiarity which causes you to be so easily aroused. I don't know, and I wouldn't want to make any claims in that domain. But to say that it's "innate" for everyone, or may be a "hard-wired instinct" is, I think, incorrect.

    But thank you for your thoughtful response. I understand where you're coming from... you just need to be a little more careful with those universal claims.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "As far as I know, thoughtcrime isn't a technical word. I don't have any particular attachment to it... "heart sin" or "mental immorality" would work just as well."

    Just plain "sin" works and, of course, it's Biblical. Whether in thought, word, or deed, it's called sin.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Steve Ruble,

    Glad we are closer to consensus. I am happy to be sarcastic about Myers, who is a dill ("Hey! If a desecrate a communion wafer and God doesn't strike me dead right away, then I've disproved Catholicism's truth-claims!") but Irredenta is making a more serious case.

    HOWEVER...

    "nudity or near nudity has been the norm rather than the exception"

    Yes, but... particular "off-limits" areas are still a constant, even if the specifics vary. Agnes Sorel, mistress of the King of France, would bare her breasts in court, but her ankles were too erogenous to be seen. I once taught some students from a Pacific Island nation. One had to be asked to take down a "National Geographic"-style poster of some topless "native" women. But, he protested, that was his mother and sisters in traditional dress! Therefore it could not be obscene! Yet these same fellows would not swim in a pool alongside girls in swimsuits, even one-piece.

    The irony with the "modesty survey" is that a lot of feminists would agree with the basic idea - as long as you (a) replace the word "modesty" with, eg, "don't commodify your sexuality for the male gaze" and (b) reassure them that of course they still have nothing in common with those dreadful Christian Right theocrats.

    The litmus test is (assuming you are a heterosexual woman): Would you dress differently for a dinner date with a man you find attractive, than you would for a job interview with a female boss? Of course you would. Admitting this in no way means you grant blanket assent for any passing male to rape you, harass you, or wold-whistle you.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Steve Ruble,

    you've said that Myers "loves to talk about" and "delimits" thoughtcrime

    Yes - see the link I put on the word "thoughtcrime".



    Myers or a commenter criticizing people for trying to criminalize thoughts or beliefs

    1) So for Myers, thoughtcrime is a thoughtcrime.
    Yep, that's self-defeating. The point is that he's a shallow thinker and should've figured this out. Since he didn't, well, that doesn't speak well for his reliability.
    2) The whole post to which I'm responding is convicting the Modesty Survey of thoughtcrime. The thoughtcrime that he finds deplorable is thinking that it's better for women to dress modestly.

    Hope that helps.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Rhology, this is getting really confusing. I'm going to completely retract all my uses of "thoughtcrime" with the definition "immoral thoughts without any additional action", in favor of "mental sin", meaning the same thing. I think that Ree is correct in pointing out that "thoughtcrime" is more often used to refer to the criminalization or punishment of thoughts or beliefs, including the expression of those thoughts or beliefs.

    So, anyway, have you actually read any of the posts you linked to under "thoughtcrime"? Myers has stuck much closer to Ree's definition of "thoughtcrime" than I did - as I said, he's criticizing people for attempting to criminalize or punish thought and beliefs. He's not advocating criminalizing criminalizing thoughts and beliefs, so under Ree's definition your claim that "for Myers, thoughtcrime is a thoughtcrime" is misplaced.

    Likewise, the word "thoughtcrime" is nowhere to be found in the Modesty Survey post, nor is any mention of criminalizing anything at all. I think there's plenty to criticize in his evaluation of the message of the survey - why didn't you just stick to that, rather than bringing in "thoughtcrime"?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Tom R,

    I actually think that the Modesty Survey is a very interesting and probably valuable (even if it's not strictly controlled) collection of information, from an anthropological perspective. For example: why, do you suppose, do 51% of Christian guys think that a girl sitting with her legs spread apart is a stumbling block, while only 14% think a girl sitting cross-legged is a stumbling block?

    And the open questions are awesome! For example, here's an answer rather like your argument above (the question is about attractiveness vs. immodesty):
    Something that is immodest is something that is unnaturally revealing. Many times, it will be sexually attractive. Pretty much, I think that most girls know when they're dressing immodestly. It's when they show cleavage, or midriffs, or a whole bunch of leg. That seems obvious. However, something that is attractive is something that is more natural. I find a girl's eyes extremely attractive. It's really how a girl carries herself. Whether she believes in herself or not and how she acts and behaves. A girl should treat herself with reverence. You can be modest and attractive. Trust me, it may be tough, but there's enough cute and modest tops, skirts, and pants out there. You just may have to look a bit harder, but it's totally worth it.
    Isn't that fascinating? He thinks that eyes are more natural than legs, that "unnaturally revealing" makes sense, and that a woman treating her body with reverence will cover it up. I'm really curious about the kind of upbringing that makes a 20 year old think such peculiar thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Steve Ruble,

    Here's what I said in the post about Myers and thoughtcrime:
    I don't know why it surprises me that a liberal like Myers would so easily and thoughtlessly equate thought with action. After all, I believe he supports hate-crime legislation. The most confusing thing about it is that the guy loves to talk about thoughtcrime. Like a typical godless liberal, he doesn't appear ever to stop to ask himself the same questions he's asking everyone else.

    The 1st sentence quoted is the key to understanding what I mean.


    I think that Ree is correct in pointing out that "thoughtcrime" is more often used to refer to the criminalization or punishment of thoughts or beliefs

    Yes, that is true. More often, but not always.



    he's criticizing people for attempting to criminalize or punish thought and beliefs

    Correct. And here he is saying that Christian men think that they are permitted to rape women who dress slutty b/c they dress slutty.
    And he is criticising that kind of thinking.



    I think there's plenty to criticize in his evaluation of the message of the survey - why didn't you just stick to that, rather than bringing in "thoughtcrime"?

    Look, I don't have a problem with that. You may have noticed that there are more points made in the post than just the one about thoughtcrime.

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  38. "Isn't that fascinating? He thinks that eyes are more natural than legs,"

    He doesn't say that legs are unnatural. He says that revealing too much leg is unnatural (unnaturally immodest).

    " that 'unnaturally revealing' makes sense, and that a woman treating her body with reverence will cover it up."

    You're full of it. Assuming you're heterosexually inclined, you know as well as that guy does the difference between attractive and "hot." You know when a woman (or even a young girl) looks self-respectingly modest and when she looks seductively alluring. Your standard might not be exactly the same as his, and it's almost certainly different from the standard of some native island tribes, but you know what he's talking about.

    " I'm really curious about the kind of upbringing that makes a 20 year old think such peculiar thoughts."

    What's really curious, and quite sad, is the kind of conditioning that would cause a society to dismiss the very concept of modesty as a standard worthy of upholding.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ree, you wrote,

    You know when a woman (or even a young girl) looks self-respectingly modest and when she looks seductively alluring.

    You're missing some other combinations: "self-respectingly alluring" and "seductively modest". Those are some of my favorites.

    Anyway, I think this whole thing is off base. Do you all start thinking lustful thoughts when you see a "hot" woman? Personally, although I may enjoy looking at a woman, I don't actually start wanting to have sex with her until I know her pretty well, and have established that she has a personality that I like, and that she likes me as well. Then I may want to have sex with her. In fact, I've wanted to have sex with several women who weren't particularly physically attractive (certainly not "hot") purely because of their personality. Some of them were actually quite modest in clothing and behavior.

    On the other hand, every day (in the summer, anyway) I see dozens of "immodestly" dressed women who arouse me not at all. I don't want to have sex with them, I don't fantasize about having sex with them... They're just people to me.

    And that, I think, captures the basic problem with the Modesty Survey. Even granting your idea that lusting after a woman is a sin, the obvious solution is to learn to control your own thoughts and desires. Even if the Modesty Survey was completely successful, and all Christian women began obeying its recommendations, every guy who hadn't learned how to control his lusts would still find plenty of things to lust after. In countries under Sharia, men claim to be "inflamed to lust" by a glimpse of ankle, or by a woman without a male companion.

    So if the people behind the Modesty Survey were actually interested in reducing the amount of male lusting (rather than, say, controlling women) they would be trying to teach men how to redirect their thoughts or suppress their sex drives... trying to reduce lusting by reducing the number of things to lust after is never going to work.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ree, you wrote,

    You know when a woman (or even a young girl) looks self-respectingly modest and when she looks seductively alluring.

    You're missing some other combinations: "self-respectingly alluring" and "seductively modest". Those are some of my favorites.

    Anyway, I think this whole thing is off base. Do you all start thinking lustful thoughts when you see a "hot" woman? Personally, although I may enjoy looking at a woman, I don't actually start wanting to have sex with her until I know her pretty well, and have established that she has a personality that I like, and that she likes me as well. Then I may want to have sex with her. In fact, I've wanted to have sex with several women who weren't particularly physically attractive (certainly not "hot") purely because of their personality. Some of them were actually quite modest in clothing and behavior.

    On the other hand, every day (in the summer, anyway) I see dozens of "immodestly" dressed women who arouse me not at all. I don't want to have sex with them, I don't fantasize about having sex with them... They're just people to me.

    ReplyDelete
  41. [cont'd]
    And that, I think, captures the basic problem with the Modesty Survey. Even granting your idea that lusting after a woman is a sin, the obvious solution is to learn to control your own thoughts and desires. Even if the Modesty Survey was completely successful, and all Christian women began obeying its recommendations, every guy who hadn't learned how to control his lusts would still find plenty of things to lust after. In countries under Sharia, men claim to be "inflamed to lust" by a glimpse of ankle, or by a woman without a male companion.

    So if the people behind the Modesty Survey were actually interested in reducing the amount of male lusting (rather than, say, controlling women) they would be trying to teach men how to redirect their thoughts or suppress their sex drives... trying to reduce lusting by reducing the number of things to lust after is never going to work.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "Do you all start thinking lustful thoughts when you see a 'hot' woman?"

    Well I know I don't but, then, that's probably because I'm not a man. But girls and women today are expressly encouraged from every side to flaunt their sexuality, and that's exactly what a woman who desires to please God should not be doing because her sexuality is designed to be a gift exclusively for her husband. It's just dandy that you're impervious to the allure of women walking around in clothing that would've once made a hooker blush, but, apparently, most men aren't.

    Obviously, both men and women do have a responsibility to rein in and "put to death" their own sinful desires, whether they be lust, covetousness, or any other sinful thoughts. But those who desire to please God also have a responsibility to avoid behaviors that would likely cause a significant number of people to stumble (as well as would cause the name of Christ to be profaned.) And conducting ourselves in ways that cause significant numbers of men to be sexually stimulated is one of those behaviors.

    And I don't consider it "controlling" for men to clue us in on how certain things we might do in ignorance are a stumbling block to them. It's up to us how we choose to respond to that information, but to just dismiss it because "no stinkin' man is gonna tell me what to do" is not an attitude a Christian woman should want to cultivate.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh, and your comparison to Sharia is the same ridiculous association that the original post was responding to. Encouraging basic modesty to women whose desire is to please the God who tells women to conduct themselves modestly is not in the same category as forcing women to keep themselves covered in a sheet from head to toe in public and not allowing them a shred of independence.

    The Bible set women free from the oppression they were under, while the Quran keeps them lower than slaves. Sorry you can't see the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Ree, I thought the purpose of my reference to Sharia was pretty clear, but I guess it wasn't. I was trying to point out that men will find excuses for their lustful thoughts no matter what women are wearing - even if a woman's body is completely obscured, men will say that their lust is inflamed because her face is visible. I wasn't saying that the Modesty Survey comes close to Sharia (and neither was Myers, incidentally), I was using Sharia as an argument ad absurdum to show that this whole idea that you can make men less lustful by being more modest is a fool's errand. You can only make men less lustful by teaching them to be less lustful, not by trying to hide from view whatever you think they're lusting after at this moment.

    ...those who desire to please God also have a responsibility to avoid behaviors that would likely cause a significant number of people to stumble...

    Uh huh. And you can post a link to a survey telling men how to avoid flaunting their sexuality, so that they can help women control their lust for them, right? I'm sure you have books and websites about what turns women on, and how man should avoid doing those things. Because this isn't about controlling women, right?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I got your reference, and my point is that there's a categorical difference, not just a difference in degree, between the two. Similar to the kind of categorical difference between a wife who expects her husband to get off the internet porn sites and start acting like a husband, and a wife who cuts her husband off sexually if he ever dares to have a conversation with a woman other than herself. The first is about expecting disordered behavior to be corrected for the benefit of everyone, and the second is about manipulation and control.

    And the reason you don't have parallel surveys or the like for male modesty is because women are not just men with different biology. As a general rule, male and female sexual responses are triggered by different types of stimili and women, as a rule, aren't as visually stimulated.

    I know that this is radical stuff for those of us who grew up during and after the feminist movement, but it's really pretty basic. To help reorient yourself to what should be incredibly obvious, I'd recommend Wendy Shalit's A Return to Modesty as a place to start. She's not even a Christian, but a liberal Jew.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Ree, you're talking about rules, I'm talking about outcomes. We could quibble about whether there is a categorical difference between asking women to cover up a little and asking them to cover up a lot, but that would continue to miss the point I'm trying to make. What I'm saying is that if you are justifying your rules of modesty by saying that women should be modest to help men reduce their lusting, your cause is is doomed to failure, because those men bent on lusting will continue lusting no matter how modest the women around them are.

    As a general rule, male and female sexual responses are triggered by different types of stimili and women, as a rule, aren't as visually stimulated.

    Right. So the men's Modesty Survey wouldn't focus so much on dress. But there are things that men can do that turn women on (or at least that men think will turn women on); you do seem to think that there are "stimuli" which trigger "sexual responses" in women. Can you link to a resource which tells a man how to avoid creating these stimuli, so as to reduce the chance that he will inspire sinful lust in his Christian sisters?

    Why don't you give up the increasingly humorous pretense that this is all about helping women help men reduce their level of sinful lust, and admit that what you're really interested in is having a standard of modesty for women? You seem pretty sure that your personal standard of modesty is "natural" and "worthy of upholding", and that God Himself "tells women to conduct themselves modestly", so why keep up the sham that you're only trying to protect the poor menfolks?

    ReplyDelete
  47. "What I'm saying is that if you are justifying your rules of modesty by saying that women should be modest to help men reduce their lusting, your cause is is doomed to failure, because those men bent on lusting will continue lusting no matter how Women should be modest modest the women around them are."

    Women "should be modest," for lots of reasons, the ultimate one being for the glory of God. But the point of the survey isn't to promote all the reasons why women should be modest. It's purpose is more specific than that.

    "Can you link to a resource which tells a man how to avoid creating these stimuli, so as to reduce the chance that he will inspire sinful lust in his Christian sisters?"

    You're still on the wrong track because the inadvertent sins that men tend to commit against women are generally not related to causing them to lust. This isn't to say that women never have problems with lust, but not on the same scale as men and it's not their primary problem. The general way of things is that men are tripped up by their desire for women and women are tripped up by their desire to be desired by men. What generally turns a woman on is turning on a man.

    "Why don't you give up the increasingly humorous pretense that this is all about helping women help men reduce their level of sinful lust, and admit that what you're really interested in is having a standard of modesty for women?"

    Because there's no pretense. That is the purpose of the survey.

    Of course I'd love for society in general to recognize and value modesty as a standard. But since that isn't the case at the moment, some guys apparently hoped that a survey like this would be a good way to inform women of the effects of their actions and to ask them for a little help. No one involved in this little survey expects it to change society.

    You keep saying that men will lust regardless of how women dress, and of course this is true. But surely you can't deny with a straight face that men are generally more distracted by attractive women in skimpy clothing than they are when the women are a little more covered. Of course, most men today aren't exactly complaining that attractive young women are readily exposing themselves. But there are some men who desire to please God, and they're just asking their sisters in Christ to give them a little help in that area.

    ReplyDelete