Male modesty?


#1

This is inspired by the swimsuit discussion in another thread.

Many posters have taken issue with "bikinis", which makes sense in the context of a female OP inquiring about bathing suits.

I am curious what people think about the idea of bare-chested men on the beach.

Is it immodest and should men cover up? Why or why not? Is modesty determined by cultural convention or what women find attractive (chest/arms are pretty attractive to women)?

In addition, why do nearly all conversations around modesty devolve into a discussion of women's dress code with no attention given to what men wear. This is not meant to inspire people to proclaim that men can also be immodest, but more of an exploration of the source for this behavior in people (most clearly exhibited in muslim societies, where men have no modesty standards and women are restricted to the extreme).

Is it because men have historically been in power and have a biological desire to hide "their women" from other men? Is it because the story of modesty has been told from the perspective of male power, and since men are generally "tempted" by women and not other men the focus has been on what women wear?

Would a society where women had been "making the rules" have rules for male modesty but not female modesty, or do women just not care if other women see "their men"?


#2

It's an interesting question.

I find well-built male torsos attractive. If I see a well-built man in a speedo at a beach, I'll look, but I won't allow myself to start imagining him in bed with me. However, I'll also notice a well-built man wearing a T-shirt. Or a suit. Or a winter coat. :o

So, no, I wouldn't impose any 'rules' of modest dress for men other than covering the genitals (this would go for my culture, obviously, not every African tribe, I don't know the norms of decency there).


#3

It is certainly evident to me that woman modesty is focused on way more the male in all cultures. So yea would certainly like to know what the ladies think on this. Certainly isn't true that females can't be sexually tempted by males.


#4

According to what I've read about evolutionary biology, the development of human females' chests is an extraordinary characteristic compared to other primates, and they are believed to have been an adaptation stemming from sexual selection. In other words, males of our species may have an innate, hereditary reaction to them. This is not the case the other way around, though.


#5

I don’t know how the majority of men think, but when they see a women scantily clad, do they tend to think immoral thoughts? Not just, “Oh, she’s attractive” but more inappropriate thoughts?

Like one other female poster posted, I do appreciate a nice male chest. But it doesn’t cause me to lust or to think inappropriate thoughts. I’d just be inclined to think it’s an attractive male, which is a fact, nothing more.

Although this obviously isn’t the case for all women. But I wonder if it’s just that most men struggle more? I have no idea.

But then, I don’t like men speedos. I think those are immodest. I’d prefer board shorts type swimwear.


#6

I’ve read the same thing about breasts. (Though this doesn’t explain why men want women covered up.)

But I wouldn’t say it’s not the case the other way around. Women even more than men are designed to look for the most fit male. Having children is very expensive for women. It is 9 months of pregnancy, a lot of resources. For a man it’s just an ejaculation. From the perspective of evolution, it makes sense for women to be far more picky.

Physical appearance is the most obvious way for women to judge the genetic fitness of a man. It makes perfect sense for us to be attracted to well built men, and we are.

But this is tangent to the discussion. I don’t think anyone would seriously question whether women are attracted to male torso/arms or whether men are attracted to women’s bodies.

The point I want to discuss is why does modesty tend to be solely about what women wear. More specifically if it is primarily an issue men having had the power to make the rules, or if men for a biological reason want to hide their women.

I think this extends to discussion of purity as well. For example women rarely care if their male spouse has had previous sexual relationships, or at the very least if they do care it tends to be from an insecurity/self confidence “was she better than I” point of view.

Men seem to go beyond insecurity, and get very angry at a guy who’s been with “their woman”, who looks at “their woman” wrong and so on.

Maybe because men have no way to determine paternity other than controlling where the woman has been?


#7

[quote="Havard, post:4, topic:181706"]
According to what I've read about evolutionary biology, the development of human females' chests is an extraordinary characteristic compared to other primates, and they are believed to have been an adaptation stemming from sexual selection. In other words, males of our species may have an innate, hereditary reaction to them. This is not the case the other way around, though.

[/quote]

Sorry? Speaking as a female, the male chest is certainly an important feature in sexual attraction - the more muscular it is, the more attractive it is. If men don't want women to be distracted and thinking sexual thoughts about them, they do need to wear loose-fitting shirts over their chests.

But in our culture, such a demand seems ridiculous. Women are expected to be able to control their thoughts and focus on the task at hand, regardless of what the men around her are doing or wearing. A sexually attractive man going around without his shirt on can't be expected to "know" what kind of an effect he is having on the women who can see him. The women are expected to control themselves, and behave politely to him, or else ignore him completely.

Women are expected to maintain a professional demeanor at work regardless of what their male colleagues are wearing, even while being pinched on the bottom by their male colleagues. Furthermore, she is expected to take the blame for "causing" her colleague to pinch her on the bottom, because of something she said, did, or wore.

Based on this, it really seems to me as if it is the men who are the weaker sex. :shrug:


#8

It is true that pregnancy and bearing a child is a big commitment in every way for women. Therefore from an evolutionary perspective women generally look for other characteristics in men rather than purely good health (which is important). They are generally selecting for men who will stick around, partner with them and provide for the child. So evidence that a man is capable of providing and has a good track record of doing so are attractive to women.

From a personal perspective, once I become a mom I could completly see why a curvy figure and full breasts would be attractive to men. Those figures shout "I am fertile" and full breasts (which are what ALL breasts are like when they are lactating) say "And I'm ready to feed a baby too".

Men and women do have different triggers for what they find sexually attractive. I could look for the studies but from what I have read visual cues are number one for men while women find smell to be a stronger sexual trigger. We might not be aware of these differences on a day to day basis but might explain men's obsession with what women look like and if they are modest or not.

Men's modesty? Most women can appreciate a fit and healthy man and take pleasure from looking at them, but I guess physical power relations are different for men and women. Women rarely attack a man sexually. An average sized women cannot drag an average sized man into a dark corner and force sexual congress. This may seem off the point of modesty but I think there are many layers of meaning in human behavior and for men they look for signals that women are sexually available while most women don't have to wonder if a man is sexually available :rolleyes:. I'm not suggesting that a moral man who is in a committed relationship is available in that manner but if you are talking evolution and basic human traits men are in those terms always available while women are not (unless forced). This brings about different behaviors because men and women are sending out different signals and looking for different traits in the opposite sex.

As discussed on another thread women on chemical birth control actually choose different men than they would if they didn't have these drugs in their system. Showing that we are choosing consciously or unconsciously and attracted to certain traits.


#9

I am a huge promoter of this. :thumbsup:

Women always have a God-given responsibility to help the men by covering up more, but the reverse issue is never addressed. :( Like we weren't made with hormones to? :rolleyes:

I say to the men, for the sake of our raging hormones, cover up. Don't go around public w/out a shirt. Don't wear skin tight shirts, pants or short shorts. Don't wear sagging pants that show your boxers. Please show us the respect that you EXPECT us to automatically show you. We're human too. It's too much of a temptation for you to dress like you do so stop it already.


#10

I’ve read that when we are ovulating we are attracted to men with masculine features, which would suggest those are the men we want to be having sex with when we can get pregnant.

At other times of the cycle we prefer more “feminine” men, which would imply we might want to marry a committed, devoted man, but carry the offspring of the powerful alpha male with the best genes.

Maybe it’s not so surprising that men are preoccupied with controlling women’s sexuality. The non-alpha males would want to avoid having to put in resources to the alpha male’s child, so they try to hide their woman.


#11

Male modesty can definitely be violated by choice of clothing, but perhaps we need to investigate whether it is more often violated by action and speech. Men seem to be much more into crude gestures and language than women are. When men do these sorts of things in front of women, I would suspect that it is a temptation against modesty for women.

I don't mean to downplay the issue of male modesty and modesty in dress. Modesty in dress code seems to be one aspect of modesty in general. Perhaps-- and this is just a suggestion for investigation-- we may find that men and women are typically tempted more by one area of immodesty, and typically are guilty of a different form of immodesty.

Thoughts?


#12

Personally, I don’t find crude gestures and language to be temptation against modesty. I find them to be violations against modesty. For example, a number of years ago, I took my teen sister and he friend to lunch. As we were walking to the restaurant, a construction worker made an incredibly vulgar and rude comment to us. We shouldn’t have been subjected to that, and especially the two teens, who never were exposed to that type of graphic language before. I’m not a man. but I can only imagine those types of comments are used to intimidate, not entice. :frowning:


#13

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:12, topic:181706"]
Personally, I don't find crude gestures and language to be temptation against modesty. I find them to be violations against modesty. For example, a number of years ago, I took my teen sister and he friend to lunch. As we were walking to the restaurant, a construction worker made an incredibly vulgar and rude comment to us. We shouldn't have been subjected to that, and especially the two teens, who never were exposed to that type of graphic language before. I'm not a man. but I can only imagine those types of comments are used to intimidate, not entice. :(

[/quote]

Good point. These are certainly offenses against modesty, but not necessarily temptations for someone against modesty.

So we've definitely found an area where men are much worse than women when it comes to acting immodestly, but it is quite different than the discussion about bathing suits.


#14

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:12, topic:181706"]
Personally, I don't find crude gestures and language to be temptation against modesty. I find them to be violations against modesty. For example, a number of years ago, I took my teen sister and he friend to lunch. As we were walking to the restaurant, a construction worker made an incredibly vulgar and rude comment to us. We shouldn't have been subjected to that, and especially the two teens, who never were exposed to that type of graphic language before. I'm not a man. but I can only imagine those types of comments are used to intimidate, not entice. :(

[/quote]

I would agree with this, vulgar comments by men are not attractive or tempting, they are either scary or disgusting depending on the context.

I don't know if Rob meant this or a guy making heavy breathing sounds, which would be tempting if the guy was attractive, but the last time guys did that was high school.


#15

Women may be attracted to bearing an Alpha-Male’s child because he would protect her and her children more successfully as well as provide for them. Back in a time with no police, no state, no standing armies I’m sure that would hold more weight than now. Although I am always very glad when we hear a weird noise downstairs in the middle of the night it’s dh who jumps out of bed to investigate :o.

However, hopefully we have all moved on and have enough intelligence and will power to choose a future spouse wisely, although I’m sure many of our basic human instincts are still in play without us knowing it. I wonder for example if Alpha-males smell better to women but we are not consciously aware of it? Now we have many (hopefully) more civilized layers in place for human interaction a man who is rude and crass as RobNY suggests is considered very immodest and a bad bet for a partner. Mostly because they haven’t achieved even a veneer of civilization.


#16

[quote="Kindness, post:15, topic:181706"]

However, hopefully we have all moved on and have enough intelligence and will power to choose a future spouse wisely, although I'm sure many of our basic human instincts are still in play without us knowing it. I wonder for example if Alpha-males smell better to women but we are not consciously aware of it? Now we have many (hopefully) more civilized layers in place for human interaction a man who is rude and crass as RobNY suggests is considered very immodest and a bad bet for a partner. Mostly because they haven't achieved even a veneer of civilization.

[/quote]

I don't know, probably depends on the woman. I have a complete weakness for alpha males, I find them to be incredibly attractive. I also find it very attractive to watch them dominate other males, and the better they are able to decimate the other males in physical competition the more attractive they seem.

I think it might be pretty common, take for instance the entertainment industries. The male leads have strong masculine, alpha-male features. This probably appeals to men and women alike. Can you think of any "sexiest guy" who didn't have the alpha male look?


#17

#18

I left it ambiguous so it could cover the full range of ridiculous things many men do. :rolleyes:

Vulgar comments don’t seem to be the sort of thing that would be enticing… but since I am not a woman, it’s good to put it out there to see what women actually think, rather than what I think women think.

It is my tentative thesis that men and women tend to sin against modesty in different ways, which I think might go some way to filling out a discussion about differences in dressing habits for men and women.


#19

Question, do they dress this way out of consideration of modesty and not being sexually attractive to women?


#20

Hah, tight shirts on men isn't just immodest, it's totally cheesy in my opinion. As a 6'5" ex-football player, uber-Alpha (I get compared to Puddy from Seinfeld ALL the time), I can't help but laugh when I see all sorts of guys buy shirts that are clearly too small to try to show off whatever pectoralis muscles they've tried to develop.

It's relatively easy to see the shape and fitness of a man's body without the too-small DKNY clubbing shirts. :p I prefer my flannel lumberjack shirts on the weekends, and Brooks Brothers during the week.

And as for male toplessness? I think it can be appropriate, but only at the beach and on athletic fields/courts.


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