Friday, May 01, 2009

Fashion, modesty, decency and menswear for women.

After my post yesterday, I'll be exploring the topic further.
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First, from the current Catechism of the Catholic Church:
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2521. Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
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2522. Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires ones choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
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2523. There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body.... Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
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The catechism says nothing about menswear on women - or is it implied?
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I'm beginning to think it may be implied. Compare the CCC citations with a document on the subject of modesty and menswear styles for women, composed by Cardinal Siri in 1960 - the same year Sr. Lucy of Fatima stated the secret was to be opened and read, since it would be better understood at that time. And do recall that the '60's were a time of radical change, and not just in women's fashions.
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"...Clothes to be modest need not only to cover the body but also not to cling too closely to the body. Now it is true that much feminine clothing today clings closer than do some trousers, but trousers can be made to cling closer, in fact generally they do, so the tight fit of such clothing gives us not less grounds for concern than does exposure of the body. So the immodesty of men's trousers on women is an aspect of the problem which is not to be left out of an over-all judgment upon them, even if it is not to be artificially exaggerated either.
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However, it is a different aspect of women's wearing of men's trousers which seems to us the gravest. The wearing of men's dress by women affects firstly the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; secondly it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; thirdly it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children's eyes. Each of these points is to be carefully considered in turn:
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Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. - CCC 2523
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A. MALE DRESS CHANGES THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WOMAN. In truth, the motive impelling women to wear men's dress is always that of imitating, nay, of competing with, the man who is considered stronger, less tied down, more independent. This motivation shows clearly that male dress is the visible aid to bringing about a mental attitude of being "like a man." Secondly, ever since men have been men, the clothing a person wears, demands, imposes and modifies that person's gestures, attitudes and behavior, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing comes to impose a particular frame of mind inside.
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Then let us add that woman wearing man's dress always more or less indicates her reacting to her femininity as though it is inferiority when in fact it is only diversity. The perversion of her psychology is clear to be seen.
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These reasons, summing up many more, are enough to warn us how wrongly women are made to think by the wearing of men's dress." - Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, 12 June 1960
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Like I said in an earlier post, I don't really care about this issue - although I don't mind seeing women in Ralph Lauren (photo)... Anyway, I doubt many contemporary women could ever be convinced to go back to house dresses. It seems to me, it is too late, just like the Fatima secret and consecration of Russia - the horse left the stable, the train already left the station. However, I find the Cardinal's warning, as well as the timing of his "notification" to be terribly significant. I can't delve into it at the moment, but I hope to post a thing or two in the days to come.
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Cardinl Siri was a leading candidate for the papacy in the conclaves which elected John XXIII as well as Paul VI, and I believe those which elected John Paul I and II. Some Sedevacantists believe Siri was indeed elected but shoved aside in favor of John XXIII, I have no interest in that sort of intrigue - way too Ron Howard for me. Suffice it to say, Siri was a very prominent churchman, and his teaching deserving of great esteem and worthy of serious consideration. Likewise, I don't think I should be making fun of people who reject certain contemporary fashions any longer either. My apologies.

17 comments:

  1. I appreciate your reflections about all this, Terry and look forward to any further thoughts you have to offer.

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  2. Thanks Elena - especially for making me aware of this notification.

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  3. Interesting. But I will stick with my pants.They are simply too convenient.

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  4. Angie - I realize that, but what he (Siri) wrote is now able to be more clearly understood. I never connected some of those dots. Like I said, it's too late now.

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  5. michael r.8:51 PM

    I'm curious to see how you connect the dots....the timing business makes no sense to me. The Catechism in right on the mark with it's definition of modesty. Pants can be modest on women; sometimes more so than a dress. What about jeans on men? Cardinal Siri (or Pope Gregory XVII?) was wrong. He was a reactionary and arch-conservative. "The perversion of her psychology is clear to be seen." Please.

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  6. Yes , yes you are so right. I should have never made fun of the way that they dress, but I still think that these women have an obligation to look reasonably desirable for their husbands, and perhaps not looking like they just arrived from a Peter, Paul , and Mary get together.

    I mean the orignal group with
    the apostles ,and our blessed Virgin Mary.

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  7. Michael - do you think? I don't know, I think he was on to something. I'll try to explain in another post about connecting the dots - the clue from the catechism is the reference to "ideologies". Heaven knows people will not agree with me or the Cardinal, nor do I expect they should.

    I suspect John XXIII may have had Siri in mind when he referred to prophets of doom - I don't know if you are familiar with that particular allocution or not.

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  8. Carol9:59 PM

    I just saw a photo of 75-yr old (gasp!) Gloria Steinem --gorgeous-- and I don't recall one item she wore, ever.

    Personally, I just wish the catechism, or Siri, or even Williamson would've clarified about this coat of mail I'm wearing. It's not only modest, but good for keeping sailors at bay (heh). And for cracking walnuts. But if it distracts in some good way, it's still distracting..

    I'm kidding; I think the greater concern is how low-necked the dresses are getting on the male guests in my soup kitchen. Seriously, someone should speak with them. But.. who?

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  9. Modesty, femininity and pants can certainly go together, and they do every day in places like India and pakistan. The Shulwar suit (also called Shulvar, sulwar, or sulwar-kameez)comes in an endless array of fabrics and colors, with a beautifully coordinated scarf to add an additional layer over the breasts. The most beautiful and feminine I have ever felt is when I wore my Indian clothes (with pants underneath) in India.

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  10. Re: your photo. If that model's going to wear a scarf, it should at least look like this or this

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  11. Dr. Who - one of my favorite shows ever.

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  12. As the Cardinal makes clear, I don't think that the modesty of slacks was the issue, but rather the gradual breakdown of femininity. As Georgette says, in many cases and in some cultures, slacks can be quite feminine. It is a matter of women being feminine as opposed to being androgynous.

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  13. Elena and Gette - I still like Ralp Lauren. But anyway - yes - the gender confusion is the point I latched onto in the Cardinal's notification.

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  14. You are right, Terry. Gender confusion is at the heart of the matter here.

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  15. Terry - you have good taste in campy sci fi shows.

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  16. I don't know... women look so much more womanly in long denim skirts, bob socks, white Keds, and horse tail ponytails.

    With 30-65 extra lbs., mind you.

    And speaking in tongues.

    And driving vans.

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  17. I'm sure Cardinal Siri was a good man. I'm also sure that the Holy Spirit knew what He was doing.

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