Saturday, April 25, 2015

Yeah, that's not what "respect" means

Image source.

There was one particular line from this article- When Kylie Jenner Challenged Sadie, Her Response Was BRUTALLY Honest- that stood out to me. Overall the article is kind of ... bizarre... using terms like "promiscuous clothing"... what on earth is "promiscuous clothing"... and telling us all about how Sadie Robertson is a good and godly role model for Christian girls- but doing this by totally mocking and shaming Kylie Jenner... in a very loving Christian way, I guess? Oh, actually nope.

Anyway, take a look at this one line:
Tyga [Kylie Jenner's boyfriend] obviously has no respect for Kylie or any woman judging by his acceptance of her provocative outfits.
Wait, stop right there, because that is not what "respect" means.

How on earth could it ever be the case that you show your respect for someone by refusing to accept the choices they've made for themselves?

How on earth could accepting someone be proof that you don't respect them?

You guys, I teach ESL, and if one of my students wrote this sentence, I would tell them it doesn't make sense because that's not what "respect" means. Perhaps what you mean is "he is not concerned with protecting Kylie" or "it doesn't matter to him how other people view Kylie" or even "he doesn't value Kylie".

This badly-written sentence reveals a deeper problem within modesty culture. Proponents claim it's about respecting women- but how on earth is it "respect" to tell someone "your clothing choices are wrong, you need to dress according to the rules I tell you"?

You could sell it as protecting women from men's lustful thoughts. (But are those really caused by women's clothing?) You could sell it as "other people will respect you more if you dress this way." (But shouldn't we also talk about how this is an indication of a deep problem within our culture?) You could sell it as "if you value and respect your body, you won't let people see you looking sexy." (But... wow, who died and made you the judge of what "value and respect your body" means?)

But the one way you CANNOT sell modesty culture is "I respect women, therefore I tell them what to do, and judge and condemn them for their clothing choices." The word "respect" cannot be twisted to mean that.

Libby Anne also wrote about this recently, even linking to a video where a bunch of teenage boys tell us, in much detail, how they judge women based on their clothing- the "modest" women are good and the "immodest" women are bad- and they don't respect women who are "immodest". And those boys probably thought themselves to be very good and godly for saying that.

You can't police women's clothing and claim that you respect women. I get that sometimes the modesty teachings can come from a place of love- a misguided desire to protect girls by not allowing them to love their bodies and make their own choices. Okay, sure- you want to protect girls? Then say that. Don't use the word "respect."

Modesty culture has tortured all the meaning out of the word "respect."


  1. What a mean-spirited article, anyway. Even her declaration that people should love their own looks was portrayed as "ignorant." Seriously, who writes this stuff?

  2. Yeah the whole thing was full of modesty-culture cliches and badly written, I was like "is this even worth responding to?" But apparently it's been shared thousands of times on facebook... like... whattttttttttttttt?

  3. "Respect." Yeah-- and it means something totally different when it refers to women than it does when it refers to men. For men, "respect" is something women are supposed to give them unconditionally out of reverence for their headship. For women it's totally conditioned on how they look, and it's all about whether they are to be considered a "good girl" or a "bad girl."

  4. This article is totally inappropriate in many ways (it reeks of judgement, there's no love, and it shames women for showing their bodies, etc), but fundamentally because Kylie Jenner is SEVENTEEN. Legally, and psychologically there are, like, reasons why the legal adulthood age is 18. What kind of human being writes such a nasty piece about a child?