Sunday, June 23, 2013

Modesty Schmodesty

Or, Why I’m Fed Up With the Bikini Question

This blog post has been percolating in my subconscious for several years, and the summer solstice brought it to the forefront. I’m not going to tackle “The Bikini Question” head-on, but rather examine some aspects of modesty that aren’t talked about as much. In many ways this is a letter to my younger self, who wondered and worried about this so much.

Presented in numerical form, since lists are one of my favourite things.

1) One-piece bathing suits are inherently more modest than bikinis
In this video, Jessica Rey talks about the evolution of the swimsuit, noting that its inception was a “bathing costume” of many layers that was accompanied by a small hut on wheels that allowed women to enter the water without being seen in their outfits. She goes on to say that “we have certainly come a long way since then, from practically wearing a house of 36 square feet, to wearing about 36 square inches of fabric.” (Math is hard.) So yes, a 36 square inch bikini would be pretty “itsy bitsy.” But just exactly how many square inches does a bathing suit have to be in order for it to be modest? I have seen many, many one-piece suits that are just as, if not more, immodest than a two-piece. So who decides how much coverage is enough? Do we need to have a panel of pastors rate each style on a scale of hell-bound to angelic?
Furthermore, I’m certain that there are men who are more attracted to a girl in a one-piece. I’m not talking about a “I am attracted to her dignity and self-respect” kind of thing, either. I mean they just think one-piece suits are visually and sexually more appealing. “But Emma,” the masses say, “this one-piece is covering up my extremely erotic belly button.” Sorry, ladies. The world is full of all kinds of people and they all have different desires.
And honestly, can we really say that any bathing suit is modest? Let’s go with the popular “bikinis are the same thing as underwear!! gasp” argument. Would you wear a leotard and a microskirt to church? I don’t really think so. But that’s the same amount of coverage that you’d get from what would probably be considered a modest swimsuit. Even if I wore a wetsuit from knees to neck to elbows, it would still reveal all my curves. I think it’s time to acknowledge the fact that virtually all bathing suits are immodest, regardless of what they’re called.

2) Modesty is a sacrifice that women make to protect men
Now hold on just one diddly darn minute. Rachel Clark talks about this topic here, and it makes me want to have a quiet talk with her. I am responsible only for my sin. If I wear a bikini despite clear convictions that they’re not for me, I am accountable for that sin. If a man lusts for my stellar bod (regardless of what I’m wearing), he is responsible for his sin. And like I said earlier, some men may be just as stumbled by a girl in a one-piece. There are even perverts and sexual deviants out there who think random stuff is super hot. If I believed that my clothing makes me responsible for the way men treat me, I would wear a burka and never leave the house. I think this train of thought is particularly distressing because it’s an easy step to justify sexual assault with “she was asking for it because she wore a revealing outfit.” I cannot say it enough: how a woman dresses does not make her culpable for someone else’s sin. The heart of modesty shouldn’t be about women doing men a favor – it should be about honouring God and proclaiming His gospel. That being said, we all are to help one another not to stumble. This applies to both genders in every part of life, not just modesty.

3) Angels and Demons
Women’s modesty understandably generates a lot of discussion, but therein lies a dangerous double-standard. Men are expected to lust. Women are not. I don’t want to get into comparisons about who struggles more; I want to suggest that men should consider their modesty, too. Many Christian girls are conditioned as early as the womb that physical lust is such an unnatural, heinous crime that they can barely even allude to it even under duress – but we still experience it. Brett Harris talks a little more about men’s side of modesty here.

4) Swimsuit-Shaming
Bathing suits, and modesty in general, are a really hot-button topic. It’s easy to get defensive of one position or the other. One side shouts, “Don’t be so old fashioned! Womyn can wear whatever they want and be proud of their bodies.” The other side insists, “Have some self-respect! You look like a French whore in that tiny thing.” (That was obviously a dramatic reenactment.) No matter what our convictions about modesty are, we all need to treat each other with understanding and love. So you’re a hardcore one-piece girl; that’s awesome, but it doesn’t automatically make you more virtuous than the girl across the pool in a bikini.

5) In Conclusion
I’m not even going to tell you whether I wear a bikini or a one-piece, because that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I honestly believe that the modesty difference between the two is marginal. What we must remember about modesty is that as Christians, we have direct access to the Holy Spirit. God convicts our hearts individually! Instead of turning modesty into a legalistic analysis of how many square inches an item is, we need to approach it with a spirit of humility and gentleness. Modesty is much more about our heart attitude than how awesome we look in something. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Dreamcast: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Let's take a moment to enter an alternate universe where I am the casting director. Notice that I said the. Because in this alternate universe, I am the only person in charge of casting movies that I want to see. And just at the moment, in this alternate universe, I am casting The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Percival Blakeney: Ioan Gruffudd

somewhere in this parallel reality Benedict Cumberbatch is crying
The reason I chose Ioan Gruffudd is because he can do silly and serious with equal deftness. I know, I know, he's not tall enough. But if movie magic can make Robert Downey Jr not look out of place in the Avengers line-up, I feel like we can achieve equal results here. Ioan is funny and versatile and even though his name is too Welsh to pronounce, he's my only choice for Sir Percy.

Marguerite Blakeney: Natalie Dormer

i think she knows a lot of secrets ok
She's pretty in a really unusual way, which in my opinion makes her perfect for "the most beautiful woman in France." Plus there's something sly about the way Natalie smiles. I just think she looks fascinating, and Marguerite is everything that is charming and witty and interesting.

Chauvelin: Martin Freeman

hedgehog filled with rage
Don't be fooled by how adorable Martin Freeman appears to be. Despite his fluffy and endearing persona, he is actually a grumpy old man. I think he would portray Chauvelin's quiet creepiness extremely well... plus I just love Martin as a baddie.

Armand St. Just: Aidan Turner

googling him was a real trial
This is mostly because I always imagined Armand with big wooby puppy-eyes. There is nothing else I can say here.

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes: Tom Hiddleston

a puppy is born every time he smiles
I didn't know about Tom Hiddleston when I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel. It's possible that I may have seen him in some BBC stuff, and therefore my subconscious was in play when I created Andrew Ffoulkes in my mind. But if you don't think that Tom Hiddleston is the perfect actor for this character, I'm not sure if we're speaking the same language.

Suzanne de Tourney: Imogen Poots

ignore the fact that her name sounds like a cute way of saying "fart"
She's blonde. She has delicate features. But she's actually pretty tough. I know Suzanne kind of comes off as a ditz in the book, but that's just because she's young. My personal headcanon for her relationship with Sir Andrew is that he's this lovable, affable delight, and she's much more socially savvy and gently steers him through society.

The Comte and Comtesse de Tourney: Colin Firth and Elizabeth McGovern

you'll always be Darcy to me
Who else but Colin Firth? I'm actually going to make a confession here: no dreamcast of mine is complete without him. In my alternate universe, he is in every movie ever. And of course, Elizabeth McGovern is a classy lady.

Well, that's it for the major players. Perhaps another day I'll return to this for some of the other characters, but for now please enjoy my dreamcast! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Greener Pastures

So I started a new job on Tuesday.

Now, don't get me wrong -- this is good. Like, super good. It means I'm in the home stretch of paying my dues. It means I have the potential to grow and grow and grow. It means in many ways, I'm now my own boss. It means better hours, better pay, better clientele.

But it also means a new job. Ugh, scary.

One quick thing you should probably know about me: I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of burning my lips on hot coffee and I'm afraid of talking on the phone and I'm terrified that my car will be stolen. Don't get me started on being home alone when it's dark out. Ghosties and gremlins and filing my taxes. Most of all, new things frighten me. New faces, new places, new stages. So a new job is a mingled thing. It's good, and it's scary.

After a tepid first day, in which I was pretty much an unpaid receptionist, I felt a little spooked. Oh no, I thought. This isn't going to work. There were layers upon layers of insecurity all starting to boil and bubble and stir. I won't get into all of it, because it's ugly. The point is, I was not a happy camper on the drive to my second day of work. The only things I could think about were how alone I felt, how insignificant my contribution seemed to be, and how much I wanted to go back home.

God works in funny ways. This time, He reached through the radio and put His arms around me by means of a song that has been very comforting many times before -- Home by Phillip Phillips.

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost you can always be found
Just know you're not alone
I'm gonna make this place your home

I think God can redeem what might have been intended as a frivolous, worldly song and use to to speak directly to us. There have been lots of times when I've heard songs on the radio and felt the voice of God saying "Hey, listen up, the rest of these lyrics are not applicable, but I'm saying don't you worry child directly to you." So hearing settle down, you're not alone, you might feel lost and overwhelmed but I know exactly where you are while I was wallowing in self-doubt -- well then!

I wish I could say that poof! That made all the difficulties of a new job just disappear, or that my fear completely evaporated, or that I'm now raking in fistfuls of money. Those things haven't happened. But I serve a God Who not only has the grand design in place, but also paints with a fine brush. I am grateful that my God cares for me in even in such a little thing as being afraid of new places.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

I May Have Met Mr Collins IRL

Not too long ago I went to a contra dance at State. Once upon a time, I went with a a big group of people so it was quite the social event, but in later years that group has dwindled and often I go alone. When that happens, I like to bring a book to read during the twenty-minute intermission because a) I don't want to talk to anybody and b) books are awesome.

This time I had Fahrenheit 451 laying face-up next to me as I sat during the first waltz of the intermission. I was on the floor, huddled over my cell and obviously not interested in human contact. Mid-text, I noticed a pair of sneakers walk up purposefully and then stop, facing me. I gave it a hot minute, hoping the sneakers would go away, but after a moment I realized I shouldn't be rude. I glanced up with my practiced combination of a winning smile and a questioning quirk.

"That's some pwetty heavy weeding matewiel," said the person attached to the sneakers -- a somewhat acneic, soft-featured manboy that had gotten lost in the gap between puberty and adulthood. I wish I could say that I'm making the lisp up, but I'm not.

Stunned by his gracious opener, I fumbled for words. "I...? enjoy... it?" I finally managed, every syllable a question.

"That's pwetty sewious weeding matewiel for yow fwee time," he elaborated, as if reading classic novels outside of school is either to be commended as high learning, or shunned for pretension.

Still reeling from the sheer awkwardness of the whole situation and struggling to control my wild fight-or-flight instinct, I too attempted to clarify my side of our conversation. "I'm... re-reading it?"

"That's pwetty sewious weeding," he said again with a sanguine nod. "I myself am mow into manga."

In that moment, time slowed down and everything came into crystalline clarity. He is actually chatting me up right now. This is genuinely his actual real-life pick-up line. Bless.

"Ooh," I said slowly, closing my eyes and tilting my head back in a thoughtful yet mildly horrified gesture. I have to emphasize the fact that I closed my eyes for no more than one second, because in that second that it took me to close my eyes and then open them again...



He didn't acknowledge me for the rest of the night.