The Flip Side of Modesty Culture

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.

2 Responses

  1. Nancy Babbitt says:

    This is an interesting post.

    We might consider why this debate of rape culture and modesty culture exists. The U.S. is a multi-cultural country. With this reality, comes the very real possibility of intercultural miscommunication. It is important to consider that approximately 80% of communication is non-verbal. The messages that we send are both through our actions and non-actions in addition to our verbal language and how we choose to use it. We (all of us, male or female) send messages that we might not intend to send, depending on the perception of the receiver. How we understand messages is embedded in our diverse cultures.

    To compound this situation even further, the social construct of gender and what is perceived as acceptable male/female behavior (and also what is inappropriate) is not universal, but instead the product of socialization. The media (and it’s tendency to ‘entertain’ through portrayals of power imbalances and violence) plays an enormous part in this socialization and ideas about gender behavior for many folks. So too, does the family, community and country we grow up in. Notions of gender, and acceptable gender behavior are not the same between different cultures and societies.

    The western worldview promotes objective and oppositional thinking – ‘us and them’ so to speak, and this has an impact on relationships also. Folks socialized in the ‘western’ societies tend to take sides (red/blue, conservative/liberal, black/white, north/south, male/female). This is very convenient for those who do not wish to take a look at their own actions, but instead place blame on those that they perceive as ‘others’. This objective way of thinking also tends to block the way to another way of perceiving. We can learn to see the world relationally, and think in terms of relationships.

    Thinking relationally, and using the knowledge of the complicated interactions and perceptions that take place within the framework of a multi-cultural world might position folks to make decisions about the actions and words they choose so that they may increase the effectiveness of what they communicate and therefore build positive relationships and decrease incidents of violence.

    Understanding rape culture and modesty cultures as two ends of the same spectrum may help us to discover a way heal our social ills.