Mankind’s survival on earth has depended on his social skills in order to form groups that could survive better than we could as single individuals. We first formed tribes and extended families, and later larger groups, then nations. Many nations formed alliances for protection from other groups or nations. Each subgroup had its own culture as part of the larger whole, but was, at times, forced to make some concessions for continued survival for all.
Groups, large and small, formulated rules to limit certain actions to protect members from harm. Rules concerned the covering of both male and female bodies in order to limit or decrease the sexual tension between them were well established, and nearly all included covering of the reproductive organs. Outside of that, society’s agreed-upon conventions varied widely, and to some extent, climate dictated the amount of total body covering.
In most cultures, dressing modestly has been seen as one way to help control unwanted sexual impulses when and where it would be inappropriate. Most early societies depended on limiting sexual activity to only men with the means to support a wife and any children. Prior to effective birth control, such rules were designed to provide any children born into a society with security, nurturing, and the full support of stable parents who were committed to each other.
With the strong, vital, and normal sex drive between men and women, sometimes rules have been overly oppressive or lacking in effectiveness. Seldom has a good balance been struck that gave maximum freedom with a minimum of unwanted pregnancies.
With the industrial revolution and progress in technology, people in many countries enjoy a wealth of convenience and spare time now. Effective birth control, and a great deal of personal freedom, has facilitated the rules of modesty being dictated more by individuals at times, rather than the group as a whole.
Freedom of expression in what is worn, may seem to some people to leave few boundaries. But even the mini skirt of the 1960s halted it’s rise, and when skirts could go no shorter, fashion suddenly dictated that they should be extra long and the “midi” (mid-calf length) skirt became quite popular. You wonder about about lack of bodily coverings on TV and in movies? The naked human form has always been shown in various art forms, and electronic mediums are no different. Our concern should lie what our sons and daughters do, not with art that’s in the museums or otherwise in view.
Modesty in dress is dictated at any given moment in any society. In the 1800’s, the sight of a woman’s ankle, though covered by a stocking, would give a man a heart-pounding rush of excitement. The woman in question usually deliberately bared that ankle to create the desired response. Boys and girls, men and women, will always attempt to attract each other with every possible use of clothing, jewelry, expression and speech. The sex act can be fun, even glorious, and thankfully it is, or we might never have been born. We are, by design, sexual creatures. We struggle with appropriate methods to find a balance in decreeing what actions are allowed or simply too far.
Using force to punish those disagreeing with our view of modesty will not help. Only teaching children how to become fully responsible human beings from an early age will bring about the result society expects.
It does not take a village, but it can help. Do not criticize and complain. Be kind, instructive and mentor our children.