The short answer is modesty – dressing and acting modestly – is anything but sexist.
Of course, however, such a short answer is unacceptable and oftentimes ignored by a society that holds up as role models celebrities that act in the polar opposite – like Beyoncé or Miley Cyrus. To much of society, the demand to dress and act modestly is an affront to women’s rights and liberty. Modesty, to many, means the subjugation of women – a tyrannical way of living, brought on by the church (and by church, is meant all of Christianity as an organized religion) and religious extremists.
To put it succinctly, the demand to be modest is sexist and misogynistic – a way for men to control women while disrespecting them. However, modesty is the complete opposite of what society ridicules it for being. To turn feminist principles on its head, modesty is the true liberation of women.
Modesty – What Exactly Is It?
To understand why modesty is not sexist and instead liberates women, we must first understand what is meant by modesty. First of all, modesty is more than dress. It is behavior, attitude, and how one speaks and acts. It also does not just pertain to women, but includes men as well. Although it’s one of the main motivations for many people, modesty is also more than just preventing lust and temptation.
Modesty is a way of living as virtuous sons and daughters of God. It is the ultimate show of respect for the dignity of the whole human being – both the body and the soul. Scripture (Matthew 15:18) teaches that sin begins in the heart and is manifested through outward action. This is why modesty is not just dress and action, but behavior and thought as well. To be truly modest means to have purity of heart, which is shown through purity of dress and action.
Dignity, Respect, And Modesty
To agree with feminists and much of society, sexism is the ultimate disrespect of women. The beliefs, thoughts, and actions of a sexist treat women as unequal to men. Misogyny is usually in tow for someone who holds sexists beliefs. Those who are sexist and misogynistic hold dislike and contempt for women, seeing them only as objects to be used (most often sexually) and not human beings to be respected – and definitely not seen as daughters of God.
It’s strange and unclear how modesty fits into any sexist or misogynistic beliefs. Modesty, on the other hand, has the innate quality of respect for the human being as a whole. Furthermore, every person – regardless of gender or sex – is called to be modest and virtuous. Unlike sexism, which is a one-way ideology, modesty requires both men and women to act accordingly. While sexism holds contempt for women and objectifies them, modesty raises women up to the respect deserved as daughters of God. Modesty demands that women be seen as whole human beings created in the image and likeness of God, not objects to be used for selfish gratification.
Modesty liberates women in that women are no longer seen as physical beings only, but spiritual ones. Feminists believe that dressing modestly imprisons women. Conversely, dressing immodestly confines women to a sexual role only for the benefit of men.
So, while sexism and misogyny seek to destroy femininity, modesty raises up true femininity. The question, then, to be asked is what is more sexist – being confined to a sexual role for the selfish gratification of another, or being respected as a whole human being?