Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Women wearing pants.

Men dressing women.
Since most fashion designers seem to be male, one can get the idea that men dictate what women should wear. This may be true on some level, but wearing pants has clearly become a woman's choice and often times a preferential option. (Thanks to women like Coco Chanel.) Fundamentalist Christians and Mormons, as well as some traditionally minded Catholics, consider women wearing pants to be wrong, some claiming it an abomination to the Lord, citing Biblical texts, especially Deuteronomy 22:5, and other passages elsewhere. "A woman shall not wear an article of clothing proper to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's dress..." - Deuteronomy 22:5
Anyway. It is very difficult to use this text as an objection for the way men and women dress today - except in the case of drag queens perhaps - but I'm not going there. In ancient times both men and women wore tunics. Proper dress for a woman was a veil or some sort of head covering, and maybe a little pomegranate juice on her lips, with a little oil/wax and lapis powder mixture for eye shadow, along with a soft charcoal eyeliner. Seriously, I think - not sure though - proper dress for a woman was just more modest than for a man - yet they both wore 'dresses'. (Men in tunics or kilts were actually the only ones to wear short skirts.)
Much later - this is for Catholics - nuns and monks wore exactly the same habits - only the monks did not wear veils. That said, Eastern Orthodox priests sometimes do wear a veil - I know! Of course, Canon Law instructed women to cover their heads in church, but it is no longer binding - although, once again, some say it is. When it was binding, women wore anything from a piece of Kleenex to a scarf, to a mantilla, or more often in WASP country, a hat. Of course, Hassidic Jewish women must have their head covered as well, and many wear stylish wigs to do so. I digress.
Catholic Fundamentalism?
So, do some men dictate what a woman should wear? I knew a young lady whose fiancee asked her to start wearing a chapel veil to church, I only found this out because I saw her shopping for one. Teasing her about it she said to me, "I know, but he wants me to try it." After getting married, they are pretty traddy - although I am sure she still wears pants and jeans - not to Mass of course. Some trad guys permit their wives to wear pants in certain circumstances. Some trad women just do so - if they want to. I honestly can't believe this is still an issue with people - but it is.
What piqued my attention to this topic was the following comment I found on another blog discussing the difficulties some people may experience getting used to the TLM (Extraordinary Form of Mass). Responding to the writer expressing such difficulties, a commenter answered:
"I love that she" (the writer with the problem) "has put so much time into this. And, her reaction is perfectly normal.
My wife and I years ago had that reaction at first, but we also couldn’t stomach going to the novus ordo so we kept going. And now we cannot fathom life without it.
And these reactions won’t stop here.
Once she’s going regularly, she’ll have people suggest she covers her head for Mass and she may reject it. And there will be people suggest she wears a dress or skirt and not pants and she’ll possibly reject that as well. But, slowly, she’ll come to see the beauty behind both practices and lovingly accept them and urge new ladies just like her to do the same.
Then, years down the road, if she marries, the traditional ladies will urge her to not work as mothers shouldn’t outside the home, to reject contraception, etc." (Further on, in another comment, the writer suggests women who attend the Ordinary Form of Mass practice contraception, "Yet most who attend Mass outside a TLM are contracepting. No need to debate it—facts are facts.")
He continues, "She may struggle with that as well but the TLM and all the graces it provides will help her through that if she has struggles." - Source
Another commenter - I think I know who she is - responded to this husband's remarks saying: "Working outside the home? Sorry, but in this economy, your mileage may vary. If it’s simply a question of adopting a simpler lifestyle maybe, but I know plenty of traditional couples where the wife works some hours outside the home. It’s not a “career choice” so that they can spend lavishly, it’s by necessity. It all depends on what your attitudes are toward marriage, children and work. Obviously what kind of work matters too. And women wearing pants? Give me a break! There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for people’s dress choices. As long as modesty prevails who cares? We aren’t Amish or old church Quakers."
(Actually, Quakers are quite liberal and most have no problem with these issues.)

Last week I posted a video from a 1950's television show, Mr. and Mrs. North. In that episode, Mrs. North was signing up for modeling classes - just to improve her posture, hair, make-up, and fashion sense. As she was signing the paperwork Mrs. North was asked, "Will your husband permit you to do this?" I laughed because few people would ever ask a woman of today such a thing, except maybe in a church basement, while she and the other women were serving coffee and donuts to the men. (Which is why I titled that particular post, "Brick by brick" - LOL.)


All of that said - I see nothing wrong with women wearing pants - anywhere - ever. As I said earlier, I cannot even believe it is an issue in this day and age.
Art: An early example of women wearing pants. Women wearing pants really came into its own in the 20th century, especially during WWII when it became more practical for them to do so.


  1. This is asshattery that I have absolutely no patience for. I grew up in a "holiness" church, and thank God, I left this BS behind.

  2. I have nothing against pants on women as long as they are modest. The past few Sunday's in church the women sitting in front of us have been wearing such ill fitting slacks that the middle seam was pulled up into the nether regions of their posteriors.

    It distracted me because it looked so dang uncomfortable, but I'm sure males would have been distracted for a different reason.

    And I refuse to get started on polyester on a big bum....Ugh!

    When I attended an SSPX chapel, skirts were required!. I remember one little pretty gal that wore her long skirts made of clingy fabric to the huge distraction of the males present.

    Bottom line (no - that's not a pun), clean, neat, and modest is the way to go. Still plenty of room there for attractive...

  3. Thom - I suppose the women couldn't cut their hair either.

  4. No, they couldn't Terry. And they used the same I Cor. justification for it as the veil crowd.

  5. Thom - thought so.

    Adrienne - Thanks - I'm not all that concerned about style here. But what would you say if your husband told you he wanted you to wear dresses from now on instead?

  6. My husband said whenever I take the oxen out I have to wear a skirt.

    I told him to take the oxen out himself.

  7. That just would not happen in our house. Evah!However - I would see nothing wrong with a husband who bought pretty dresses for his wife and complimented her on how she looks. But to tie "holiness" with your clothes is nonsense.

    I spent years watching those SSPX drones follow three paces behind their "peacock" husbands. My husband also thought it was ridiculous.

  8. Now I have to make dinner....all talk, no action. :>

    Maybe I should take up fencing....

  9. Adrienne - did you ever see "Waiting For Guffman"? Corky always bought the clothes for his wife Bonnie... ROFLMAO!

  10. It all sounds like a creepy cult the way that you describe it. :0

    I am looking for the PERFECT dress to wear around the house.

    No jeans skirts, and no hairy legs with Jesus sandals. (Yes I've seen it) AND , A N D ! with knees socks.hahahaha

    I am looking for a dress with a full spin. That's what little girls do when they get a new dress. They like to spin to see how high it will go. Like Cinderella.

    I'm gonna be dead in no time, and I want to look good till the end. :) I would still check the spin even if I were 105 years old, with one good eye left, balding ,and wearing a "Depends".

    I need matching toe polish too. How are your nails Adrienne?

  11. I wear jeans to Mass AND receive in the hand. Oh my gosh- I am going straight to h-e-double hockey sticks!!!

  12. Carol9:47 PM

    I shouldn't have looked in tonight -- an image of Andy's and Opie's ever-bunned/ever be-dressed "Ain't Bee" came to mind; I'm going to have to sleep with the lights on.

  13. Perhaps how people in Biblical times dressed looked identical to us, but it did not to them, since in the times of Christ there were very strict rules for what men wore compared to what women wore.

    As for women in slacks, Cardinal Siri wrote back in 1960 that it is not that pants are immodest for women, they are not and are sometimes more modest than some dresses. The cardinal thought that if women masculinized their clothes to excess it would destroy their femininity or at least the "symbol" of femininity in the eyes of men. The "feminine genius," as later spoken of by Pope John Paul II, is very important for bringing healing to the world. The cardinal said that women dressing like men would contribute to their behaving like men, and would lead to promiscuity and rough behavior. I am just telling you what Cardinal Siri predicted and it is not something anyone is absolutely required to agree with but interesting in the light of what came after.

  14. I wear jeans AND a veil. Go figure.

  15. I realize that such Catholic fundamentalist types take this attitude about slacks vs dresses to an extreme. However, it should perhaps be realized that they did not just make it up out of the air but got it from a Cardinal of the Church.

  16. Elena - thanks much - you bring up very good points and sound advice.

  17. I wear pants with my veil usually. They're more modest for me and more practical with the kneeling and such. I'm too clumsy to wear skirts much.

  18. In Wigan in Lancashire, women used to work down the mines 130 or so years ago. They carried the coal up to the surface in trucks to which they were harnessed, a bit like pit ponies. Wigan was unusual for allowing the women to wear pants to do this.

    The down side of this was that the town became a little notorious for its pant wearing women and a "certain class of photographer" was known to photograph these women in their work clothes where their pants near the top of the thigh had become worn away due to the rubbing of the harness. These photographs were highly sought after by Victorian gentlemen.

    I suppose the reason why I'm mentioning this is that the issue is complex and that there is no knowing what someone else will find titillating and how one can best avoid arousing another.

    Some people are aroused by women cutting their hair, some by women in tight pants so I presume others are aroused by women in burkahs. The plan must be to do ones best to avoid scandal...having rules about dress that aren't directly related to modesty will always give rise to perversions.

  19. You are welcome, Terry. Here is Cardinal Siri's letter (I apologize for the length):

    By Giuseppe Cardinal Siri
    June 12, 1960

    To the Reverend Clergy,
    To all Teaching sisters,
    To the beloved sons of Catholic Action,
    To Educators intending truly to follow Christian Doctrine.

    The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate that there is this year a certain increase in the use of men's dress by girls and women, even family mothers. Up until 1959, in Genoa, such dress usually meant the person was a tourist, but now it seems to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are choosing at least on pleasure trips to wear men's dress (men's trousers).
    The extension of this behavior obliges us to take serious thought, and we ask those to whom this Notification is addressed to kindly lend to the problem all the attention it deserves from anyone aware of being in any way responsible before God.

    We seek above all to give a balanced moral judgment upon the wearing of men's dress by women. In fact Our thoughts can only bear upon the moral question.

    Firstly, when it comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of men's trousers by women cannot be said to constitute as such a grave offense against modesty since trousers certainly cover more of woman's body than do modern women's skirts.

    Secondly, however, 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.

    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:--

    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.

    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.

    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.

    In truth when relationships between the two sexes unfold with the coming of age, an instinct of mutual attraction is predominant. The essential basis of this attraction is a diversity between the two sexes which is made possible only by their complementing or completing one another. If then this "diversity" becomes less obvious because one of its major external signs is eliminated and because the normal psychological structure is weakened, what results is the alteration of a fundamental factor in the relationship.

    The problem goes further still. Mutual attraction between the sexes is preceded both naturally, and
    in order of time, by that sense of shame which holds the rising instincts in check, imposes respect upon them, and tends to lift to a higher level of mutual esteem and healthy fear everything that those instincts would push onwards to uncontrolled acts. To change that clothing which by its diversity reveals and upholds nature's limits and defense-works, is to flatten out the distinctions and to help
    pull down the vital defense-works of the sense of shame.

    It is at least to hinder that sense. And when the sense of shame is hindered from putting on the brakes, then relationships between man and women sink degradingly down to pure sensuality,
    devoid of all mutual respect or esteem.

    Experience is there to tell us that when woman is de-feminised, then defenses are undermined and weakness increases.

    All children have an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of their mother. Analysis of the
    first inner crisis of children when they awaken to life around them even before they enter upon adolescence, shows how much the sense of their mother counts. Children are as sensitive as can
    be on this point. Adults have usually left all that behind them and think no more on it. But we would do well to recall to mind the severe demands that children instinctively make of their own mother,
    and the deep and even terrible reactions roused in them by observation of their mother's misbehavior. Many lines of later life are here traced out -- and not for good -- in these early inner dramas of infancy and childhood.

    The child may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity or infidelity, but he possesses an instinctive sixth sense to recognize them when they occur, to suffer from them, and be bitterly wounded by them in his soul.

    Let us think seriously on the import of everything said so far, even if woman's appearing in man's dress does not immediately give rise to all the upset caused by grave immodesty.

    The changing of feminine psychology does fundamental and, in the long run, irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the effects of wearing unsuitable dress are not all to be seen within a short time. But one must think of what is being slowly and insidiously worn down, torn apart, perverted.

    Is any satisfying reciprocity between husband and wife imaginable, if feminine psychology be changed? Or is any true education of children imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so woven of imponderable factors in which the mother's intuition and instinct play the decisive part in those tender years? What will these women be able to give their children when they will so long have worn trousers that their self-esteem goes more by their competing with the men than by their functioning as women?

    Why, we ask, ever since men have been men, or rather since they became civilized -- why have men in all times and places been irresistibly borne to make a differentiated division between the functions of the two sexes? Do we not have here strict testimony to the recognition by all mankind of a truth and a law above man?

    To sum up, wherever women wear men's dress, it is to be considered a factor in the long run tearing apart human order.

    The logical consequence of everything presented so far is that anyone in a position of responsibility should be possessed by a SENSE of ALARM in the true and proper meaning of the word, a severe and decisive ALARM.

    We address a grave warning to parish priests, to all priests in general and to confessors in particular, to members of every kind of association, to all religious, to all nuns, especially to teaching Sisters.
    We invite them to become clearly conscious of the problem so that action will follow. This consciousness is what matters. It will suggest the appropriate action in due time. But let it not counsel us to give way in the face of inevitable change, as though we are confronted by a natural evolution of mankind, and so on!

    Men may come and men may go, because God has left plenty of room for the to and fro of their free-will; but the substantial lines of nature and the not less substantial lines of Eternal Law have never changed, are not changing and never will change. There are bounds beyond which one may stray as far as one sees fit, but to do so ends in death; there are limits which empty philosophical fantasizing may have one mock or not take seriously, but they put together an alliance of hard facts and nature to chastise anybody who steps over them. And history has sufficiently taught, with frightening proof from the life and death of nations, that the reply to all violators of the outline of "humanity" is always, sooner or later, catastrophe.

    From the dialectic of Hegel onwards, we have had dinned in our ears what are nothing but fables, and by dint of hearing them so often, many people end up by getting used to them, if only passively. But the truth of the matter is that Nature and Truth, and the Law bound up in both, go their imperturbable way, and they cut to pieces the simpletons who upon no grounds whatsoever believe in radical and far-reaching changes in the very structure of man.

    The consequences of such violations are not a new outline of man, but disorders, hurtful instability of all kinds, the frightening dryness of human souls, the shattering increase in the number of human castaways, driven long since out of people's sight and mind to live out their decline in boredom, sadness and rejection. Aligned on the wrecking of the eternal norms are to be found the broken families, lives cut short before their time, hearths and homes gone cold, old people cast to one side, youngsters willfully degenerate and -- at the end of the line -- souls in despair and taking their own lives. All of which human wreckage gives witness to the fact that the "line of God" does not give way, nor does it admit of any adaption to the delirious dreams of the so-called philosophers!

    We have said that those to whom the present Notification is addressed are invited to take serious alarm at the problem in hand. Accordingly they know what they have to say, starting with little girls on their mother's knee.

    They know that without exaggerating or turning into fanatics, they will need to strictly limit how far they tolerate women dressing like men, as a general rule.

    They know they must never be so weak as to let anyone believe that they turn a blind eye to a custom which is slipping downhill and undermining the moral standing of all institutions.

    They, the priests, know that the line they have to take in the confessional, while not holding women dressing like men to be automatically a grave fault, must be sharp and decisive.

    Everybody will kindly give thought to the need for a united line of action, reinforced on every side by the cooperation of all men of good will and all enlightened minds, so as to create a true dam to hold back the flood.

    Those of you responsible for souls in whatever capacity understand how useful it is to have for allies in this defensive campaign men of the arts, the media and the crafts. The position taken by fashion design houses, their brilliant designers and the clothing industry, is of crucial importance in this whole question. Artistic sense, refinement and good taste meeting together can find suitable but dignified solution as to the dress for women to wear when they must use a motorcycle or engage in this or that exercise or work. What matters is to preserve modesty together with the eternal sense of femininity, that femininity which more than anything else all children will continue to associate with the face of their mother.

    We do not deny that modern life sets problems and makes requirements unknown to our grandparents. But we state that there are values more needing to be protected than fleeting experiences, and that for anybody of intelligence there are always good sense and good taste enough to find acceptable and dignified solutions to problems as they come up.

    Out of charity we are fighting against the flattening out of mankind, against the attack upon those differences on which rests the complementarity of man and woman.

    When we see a woman in trousers, we should think not so much of her as of all mankind, of what it will be when women will have masculinized themselves for good. Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.
    This letter of Ours is not addressed to the public, but to those responsible for souls, for education, for Catholic associations. Let them do their duty, and let them not be sentries caught asleep at their post while evil crept in.

    Giuseppe Cardinal Siri
    Archbishop of Genoa


  20. Elena - Thanks very much! My goodness - Cardinal Siri was insightful to our times. I have to study this closer - naturally, I had no idea - as the document states:

    "From the dialectic of Hegel onwards, we have had dinned in our ears what are nothing but fables, and by dint of hearing them so often, many people end up by getting used to them,"

    Thanks for posting this.

  21. A woman can look just as good or bad in a dress or pants--so wear what is clean, modest, and comfortable. My husband likes me wearing a dress--but then he get's all "fresh" and well...

    But the good thing about being a girl--is you have a choice. I think guys should wear skirts--cause most guys have "hunky" legs, and oh, my, still thinking about your picture above--stop it, stop it!

  22. Elena's response was perfect.

    Catholics are the most brilliant people on the planet. I love and admire them so much. I will always feel like the outsider looking in especially when I read great blogs ,and posts like this one.

    You people know so much about
    Catholicism- it's just out of my reach ,but I keep trying to grab on to it... Good thing there isn't a test at the end.

    I'm such a wanna be...

  23. Belinda you are correct - I want to do another post on what the Cardinal wrote, I think it is very important.

  24. Interesting information!! I'm looking for spring/summer dresses.


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