Monday, July 1, 2013

Asking for help

I don't even know if I have any female readers, but this post is as much for us men as it is for them, especially in the summer months. From PopChassid's blog:

Dear women, I have a request. 
I just hope you’ll listen. Because I think it’s important. 
Anyway, here it is: I would like to ask you to dress modestly. 
Now, I know, I know, that this is not something you’re interested in hearing unless you already agree with me about this subject, but maybe you could give me a minute to let me explain myself. 
I’ve come to accept something about myself. 
That inside of me is something dark. Something disturbing. It’s the evil, conniving side of me. 
I think that all people have that side. 
It’s what Freud called the Id. It’s what Jews call the “evil voice”. It’s what I call my friggin’ bastard within. 
It’s the side of me that doesn’t respect people, that wants to use them. The side of me that tells me I am what matters most in the world, and everyone else is a means to an end. It’s the side of me that turns people into objects. Especially women. 
And see, I am spending my whole life working on this side of me. We all are, aren’t we? Anyone that’s trying to become a better person is trying to fight that voice off, to focus on our true selves, the selves that respect others, that sees past the external and into the internal. That respects people as ends to themselves. 
And so when people discuss modesty and say that it’s the man’s obligation to work on themselves, to transform themselves, and not the woman’s obligation… I totally agree. It’s my job. I need to respect you no matter what. I need to work not to objectify you no matter what. Even if you’re dressed in a bikini or even, for some reason, running around naked. 
But here’s the thing: just like anything in my life, whether it’s not gossiping or getting angry or anything else… I screw up. I screw up a lot. That’s who I am, that’s who (I’m guessing) you are, and that’s who everyone else. 
I’m a screwup. It’s my natural state of existence. 
I work every day to improve myself, and I hope that today will be better than yesterday and yesterday will be better than today. 
But the reality is that no matter what, I screw up. Even on the good days. 
And so that’s why I need your help. And if you want to turn down my request, I understand, but I’d like you to at least understand why I’m asking. 
Just like it’s much harder not to get gossip when there are people gossiping right in front of me, and just like when it’s much harder not to freak out on someone when they’re yelling in your face… when someone dresses immodestly… it’s just harder for me to not objectify them. To see past the external and into the internal. To me, as to most guys, the dark voice within is suddenly alive, kicking, stronger, when a woman is more undressed than dressed. I fight it, I really do, but the voice is always there. 
And I’m aware that this is a fault in me, this is something I need to work on, something I need to fix. 
But the thing is, I think that it’s a strength, not a weakness, to admit that I am fallible. And I think it’s also a sign of strength to admit that I need help. And I do need help in this respect, I really do, and I think most men do as well. 
If the women of the world helped the men in this respect (and vice versa, by the way… I’m just talking from my own perspective), I think that both people could grow to love and respect each other more. I really believe it can only help. 
Because, see, I think this whole debate is put in black and white terms: saying that guys either need to be so perfectly in control of themselves that they never objectify women… or that women are the only ones responsible for the way guys control themselves. 
And I don’t think that’s right. I think that there is a middle path in this discussion. I think that when guys demand the obedience of women, and blame women for their transgressions, they are straight up sinning fools trying to avoid their own fallibility. 
But I also think that when women reject the idea of modesty, that it comes from a similarly extreme place. A place that puts rights and freedom above all else. 
And it’s true: the most beautiful part of living in our society is freedom and rights. 
But there is a step that needs to be taken after freedom. A step of partnership. Of dialogue. 
And I want you to know, I really want you to know, that this side that’s in me exists within every man, and no matter how much they’ve refined and worked on themselves, they are always going to struggle with it. 
And so, even those guys that aren’t asking you to dress any different because they respect you and admire you, are struggling with it, whether they admit it or not. Whether they show it or not. 
And so, the best way you can help them, help me, see past the external, straight to your soul, is by dressing modestly. It’s a charity, a giving, a sacrifice. 
And you don’t have to make it, of course. I’m sure that most people in your life won’t blame you for not doing it. 
And, of course, there will always be women that dress however they want, and so those guys will always have to struggle with that side of themselves. It’s their job, no matter what. 
But I honestly believe that you will be doing men, and especially the men close to you, a great service if you do. 

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