Modestly Speaking - Why the Way I Dress Doesn’t Mean Yes

You can lie in the middle of all these people, naked, and it still does not mean they can touch you. This is your body, and yours alone.
— mum.
screenshot - Google

screenshot - Google

I am trying to find the words to say, because I simply cannot comprehend how there is a correlation between someone’s clothing and how we behave towards them.

We all know that archaic views on the female body still haunt modern societal norms. Just a century ago women were expected to cover the majority of their body to be considered ‘modest’. In some cultures, this still is a norm. I mean, again, I am struggling with language here because I really think there should be more clarity when using the word ‘modest’. One of the best synonyms suggested for this word is ‘keeping ones light under a bushel’. A few more favourites are ‘apologetic’, ‘meek’, and ‘unassuming’.

Now, I think before continuing, it is imperative that we distinguish what it is here is problematic. A woman decides how she dresses. She decides because this is what makes her comfortable, because it makes her feel good. She decides because it is her decision to make. If a woman wants to parade butt-neked, be my guest. If she decides to cover herself head to toe in cloth, so be it. Is she happy? Is she comfortable? Then it’s all gravy.

But, when a definition of modest comes up like the one above, we have to admit there are some gender inequalities. I mean, there’s a whole definition dedicated to the way a woman should dress. Can a man even dress modestly? I don’t know, I am feeling very betrayed by the fact that according to Google’s definition of modesty, to deter any unwanted sexual attention, I must dress a certain way. I mean, that’s fucked up, what is that teaching us?

It is our responsibility to continue growing as a species. We can redefine what things mean. Words are just made up letters put together, right? Opinions can change. People can change. We are at the dawn of great change. Don’t act like I am spewing some hippie crap, I know we all see it. Thanks to the internet, we have come further in the past 20 years than we have in 2000. Race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity.. we are redefining what these mean to us. Because we can change and grow.

I know (or at least hope) I have some male readers here. I hope you know this is also about you. This is no attack; I see my greatest ally in you. I, a woman, know that my worth is not based on how I dress. I know that the way I dress is not how you judge me, how you value me. I know I am more than the clothes I choose to wear. I know as well as you do, that the way I dress does not mean yes. My body is mine, whether it be covered or naked. I know you respect me, my body, my rights. We are equal, no?


At what point do we say, ‘we are not our predecessors, bodies are just bodies, skin is just skin’. Having women hide their bodies to avoid sexual attention is not normal. This behaviour is more than archaic, it is nonsensical.

What do you think? Is there such thing as dressing modestly? Do our clothes speak for us?