Thursday, 2 February 2012

Snogging versus Your Immortal Souls

Well, I certainly enjoyed writing that title. Wait a sec while I get even more caffeine.

By the way, this is going to be one of Auntie's franker mornings. You can warn your own teenage or generally more sensitive readers. Boys should probably avert their eyes, especially if they go to Mass with me, not that they EVER read this girly blog.

Snogging, first of all, is what the British call what the teenaged I called "making out" and what my American grandmother (born 1904) called "necking." It features in Archie Comics and films about the 1950s, and therefore the teenaged I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with unmarried people snogging like mad in corners at parties or dances or in front of the television.

Of course, me and my fellow snoggers used to worry a lot about where we should draw the line and what was okay and what was not. Dear me. How we studied the chastity manuals for an answer. There was no point telling us that chastity was a point of view because we weren't interested in the point of view, we were interested in where the invisible line had been drawn, so we could stay on the right side of it and not have to make egregiously embarrassing confessions.

But nowhere did the chastity manuals of the 1980s point out that snogging is what human beings do to begin the gradually accelerating process of [hem-hem]*. I got an email the other day from a perfectly nice girl who snogs her perfectly nice boyfriend a bit every weekend, and they have discovered that their sexual temptations are getting worse. And of course they are. It's the snogging. Snogging goes straight to that part of the brain that doesn't read Theology of the Body or even think that much, to be honest. It just registers snog and says, "Yay! Human reproduction time! Let's get cracking!"

However, it is so easy to justify snogging when you're Single, that it is often not until you are engaged or married that you face up to just how potent snogging is. Because even though snogging a non-fiance or non-spouse did not seem to be such a big deal, morally speaking, it certainly seems to be a big deal morally speaking now. And why is this, eh? It is because there is nothing like having a lot to lose to sharpen up your moral vision. Oh, and love sharpens it up a lot, too.

One interesting thing about snogging is that you don't have to be in love with the person to do it. You don't even have to like him. You just have to be attracted to him. And I suppose one of the higher impulses that prevents women from just snogging just every man we find attractive is the notion that it is not kind to exploit men in this way. So, ironically, what prevents a lot of snogging is fraternal--or should I say sororal?--love.

This is (or should be) particularly true of believing Christians, especially those of us who have what has become a counter-cultural code of sexual ethics. Love, real love, is desiring the good of the other. And the ultimate good of the other is, of course, God. So when we make moral choices, we don't just think "Will this bring me closer to or further away from God?", we also think "Will this choice of mine bring my neighbour closer to or further away from God?"

I find this interesting in light of the locker room philosophies of my all-girls high school. I remember a variety, from the declaration that So-and-so had acted like a putana by giving Such-and-such "the kind of kiss you only give your husband" to the arch-liberal "it's okay to do 'It' as long as you really love the person."

But even then I mentally countered that if you loved the person, you wouldn't do 'It' if you loved them--unless you were married to them--because if you really loved them, you cared for their immortal soul more than anything else, including the promptings of your reptile brain.

And now, although I am more in favour of the other-centered, wholistic, philosophical, what-does-it-mean-to-be-chaste approach to sexual ethics, I will draw the "how-far-can-you-go" line. I think Single girls should take as their cue of how affectionate to be with non-husbands from the attractive and sociable married women of their culture. In artsy circles in Edinburgh it's light arm clasp and cheek kiss (or cheek kiss, cheek kiss if you've been influenced by Europeans/French Canadians). And that, mes amies, is it. Why? It's because we are married, and we know we can't afford to play with fire. Can you?

*Sorry, but otherwise people doing creepy word searches will turn up. You'd be amazed at what word combinations call up my blog.

50 comments:

Cath said...

How can you convey to potential husbands that you are indeed very "into" them, if they think you're trying to treat them like a sister, and as far as they know people who only kiss them lightly on the cheek aren't that into them?

Serious question here; I am not just objecting (or I don't think so!).

AC said...

While I'm not sure I agree with everything in this post, I very much appreciate somebody pointing out that making out leads, at the very least, to temptation to do more. As someone who never knew this, and didn't learn it until it was too late, I think you've done the world a great service with this particular post. Thank you, Seraphic!

Charming Disarray said...

Married people have more of an obligation to be discreet than single people, though. For example, a married person won't go on a date with a single person, but it's perfectly fine for another single person to do it. I'm not saying anything goes but I think waiting to kiss until you're married is excessive. Affection is good and necessary and does not equal [hem hem.]

Clare said...

I think MrsDarwin covers it pretty well.

http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/kiss-me-you-fool.html

sciencegirl said...

If the Church doesn't teach that it's a sin, I tend to think that it's not.

It could be prudent to avoid making out, naturally, but I think layperson declarations of sinfulness without Magisterial backing aren't worth much.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Aw, sigh. Make me look like the bad guy.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2351: "Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes."

It's listed as an offense against chastity. But the CCCC doesn't go otherwise into detail.

Seraphic said...

And now I'll just leave you girls to duke it out about where affection ends and lust begins.

aussie girl etc said...

Aunty Seraphic
I also was influenced by tv and archie comics. I though snogging was just what couples did. I never realised how difficult it is to think clearly while doing it! I think you give good advice but i would add that not spending excessive time alone. The knowlege that somebody may walk by chastens one a great deal!

Sarah said...

You've got some great points here, and the exact location of that "invisible line" is something that I still fret over a bit.

But I wouldn't say that minimal married PDA is just because spouses don't want to turn each other on. It's also because they ARE physically intimate at home; they don't have to subsist on date-night hand-holding. Also, emotionally intimate moments in public are awkward.

Seraphic said...

Ohhh... I wasn't talking about spouses' PDA. I was talking about how married women show affection for men to whom they are not married, i.e. their male friends.

Lena said...

What then is the difference between a buddy relationship and romantic relationship if there's no male-female physical affection. Otherwise how do you figure out if there's sexual chemistry? And I am talking about staying on the right side of that invisible line. Yet, I do think you make some valid points.

KimP said...

These days, I am engaged. (Wedding in about 2 weeks!) And while in my younger days, I didn't think there was anything wrong with making out with a boyfriend, my fiance and I have avoided it - not because we don't want to but because the chemistry is off the charts! I now know that I play a dangerous game with intense, prolonged kissing, and I would rather wait, anyway, for the honeymoon. I think when you casually date someone, making out creates excitement; when you are engaged to the right person, no excitement needs to be created - just holding hands is highly intimate.

Mustard Seed said...

KimP - thanks for your post! What you said was very wise and made me rethink some things. Congratulations to you and your fiance on your upcoming wedding!! :)

Seraphic - I posted earlier and it didn't display, and I hope my questions didn't offend you. It was sincerely not my intention to be snotty, and I'm sorry if it came out that way.

Adam's Rib said...

Lena, Serpahic didn't say no physical affection, i.e kissing/hugging etc, just no 'making out', which I understand to be pro-longed 'sessions' of kissing etc!

Seraphic said...

I very rarely erase anyone's comments--you basically have to insult a reader or me--so I don't know why your comment didn't stick, Mustard Seed!

I definitely don't have a problem with hugging, holding hands and briefly kissing people I'm not married to, although since in my culture holding-hands-in-public is a public sign of a bond of affection, I generally hold only the hand of my husband or little nephews.

I am struck, meanwhile, in an amused way, about how in our culture currently it is the sexuality of married ladies that is the more restricted. Single girls could, technically, snog a new guy every weekend, deriving a great deal of sexual enjoyment from this, and few would blame them as it was "just snogging" and "not like she was going all the way" (which, yes, would indeed be much worse and very stupid).

But a married lady could NEVER respectably snog one or two guys in a MILLION year, even if her husband was in a coma or had been away on the battlefield, in a submarine or on the oil rigs for a year.

Anyway, over to you. I'm going to see where Mustard Seed's comment may have gone. Sometimes stuff ends up in "Spam" for no reason.

sciencegirl said...

Of course the sexuality of married ladies is more restricted -- they have taken a vow of fidelity.

healthily sanguine said...

Yes, but the point is that virginity and a good reputation were once something just as valued in a single woman as fidelity is in a married woman. The analogy holds; and the advice is spot on. I especially like the input from KimP above . . . it seems like the main reason to want to snog, apart from just letting the non-thinking part of you take over, is to manufacture something. "How can we know if we have chemistry?"--so you create it. "How can I show him I care about him more than just a friend?"--so you give away the mystery that says he has to WIN you. It is hard to be traditional about these things in a culture that is all too casual about everything, but the fact is that everything to do with courtship has meaning, from the words you choose to the physical gestures you practice, and no amount of modern shrugging it off can change that.

Seraphic said...

(Cheers!) Well said, H.S.

The point I am clumsily trying to make is that physical expressions of sexual attraction belong to married people, and yet it would seem that single people are more free to physically express sexual attraction, and in a way that is neither truly unitive (because you haven't been united) nor procreative (you hope). And because this is a social convention that gives single people some of the "goodies" of married life, single people don't mind--until they discover that some goodies take them places they didn't think they would ever go.

I don't know if there is a social problem with women saying "Right now I can make out with lots of men, so why get tied down to making out with just one man?" but you can see the logic of this, unless you have only fallen in love with one man in your whole life and can't imagine ever snogging another.

But, like most Single Catholics (I imagine), I didn't think making out was (in itself) such a big deal, that way until (A) I heard a married Theology of the Body speaker actually nix it (B) I got engaged myself and thought "Whoa!"

Aitana012812 said...

I found this post very fitting to the current situation of my boyfriend and I. Currently living in two different cities, constantly bombarded by brutal exams in medical school (my boyfriend) and the overwhelming pressure of being on my last year for a doctorate's in Chemistry, the temptation to 'make the most' out of the weekend when we do get to see each other grips us, for we do realize how much we want to 'make out' but our traditional Catholic upbringing reminds us to steer clear from getting too physical, as it does get in the way of us really getting to know each other in a very real sense - a marital sense, if you will allow, where we can be more secure and grounded in our commitment to each other.

We have talked about it earlier during the week and we agreed that the age-old question of 'how far can we go?' is utterly selfish because essentially, it is expressing something along the lines of: 'How far can I go to please myself before God gets mad at me and utterly gets displeased at what I do?'

And we thought about it more, and realized that the more appropriate question to ask should be something more simple: "How far can I go to please God and not myself?"

Anyhow, we have started praying together as a couple to keep the devil away from us. It is one thing that we both go to mass (separately and occasionally together when we can) but we have found praying together is really different and it is in itself, a great help for us to grow in a healthy way. So now even our hand-holding and short hugs and kisses suffice.

And like they say sometimes, laughter is as intimate as it can get, without touching each other.

All these has been such a realization for us knowing how passionate each of us are about the physical side of things.

We aren't always as strong, but we sure do try to please God more than anything. It is a constant struggle. I brought the topic up, although I was fearful at first that my boyfriend would not like my thoughts about my not wanting to 'make out' for the mere sexual kicks we both get. Talking about it with each other, openly and in the light of the faith really helps.

Hope I didn't blabber too much.

Johannes Faber said...

The Church has taught that 'snogging' is a mortal sin:
----------
According to a decree of Pope Alexander VII in 1666, a kiss is not "merely a venial sin when performed for the sake of the carnal and sensible delight which arises from the kiss, even if the danger of further consent and pollution is excluded.”{1}

- Alexander VII, “Condemned Decrees” proclaimed on the 18th day of March in 1666 (Denzinger 2060, 1140 40).
----------
It's from one of the old style decrees Basically they list a whole bunch of propositions, and then at the end condemn all of them. Hence the funny way it's written. He's condemning a position - changing it into an assertion, it would read: "Kissing for the sake of carnal and sensible delight is a mortal sin, even when the danger of consent and further pollution is condemned".

It will take a lot of sophistry to get out of that one. I know I would have been capable of that sophistry when I was with my ex-girlfriend.

I think Seraphic's practical guidelines are good, and chastity certainly is a virtue and state of mind. But it's useful to have this solid undergirding of, pet shop boys style, 'It's a sin!'

I heard it originally from a FSSP priest, but my internet source for it is: http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2010/11/is-french-kissing-mortal-sin-pope.html

Johannes Faber said...

I followed the link and, pace Clare and Mrs Darwin, I'm pretty certain that she's dead wrong. And if I'm right Re that quote from Alexander VII, she's in fact dangerously wrong.

And doesn't understand the male psyche/biology!

Johannes Faber said...

And pace Auntie:

"And now I'll just leave you girls to duke it out about where affection ends and lust begins."

Christian charity dicates our standard is that which protects the weakest - in this situation, that's the men. Wherever it is that affection ends and lust begins in women - that ending is much, much earlier in men.

Of course, as men it's our job to protect ourselves. But men are weak in this sphere of life and need help, not 'Oh, man up' or 'It's your dirty mind' - again, it's about Christian charity.

This is, I think, the problem with the Theology of the Body. It was the reason for my reversion so I'm not totally against it. But I think, a la Gaudium et Spes, it's overly optimistic about human nature. It's not calvinistic or Jansenistic to insist that concupiscence really does not go away in this life. ToB can be a helpful tool for looking at these things, but if it encourages you to run before you can walk, and then to fall, that is very bad indeed.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, Johannes, for that guy's eye view (and Alexander VII's eye view--I am agog.) I know many of my readers very much long to read guys'opinions!

I realize I haven't really answered the initial question about how you show a guy you are into him. I think if you kiss him once on the lips and then escape into the house, he'll know. You don't have make out to make a guy think you like him! You just have to refrain from slapping him when he does kiss you. And saying "I would love to kiss you, but I don't want things to get out of hand" is also a good indication either. Meanwhile, if you hold his hand, that's also sending a clear message. Would you walk down the street holding the hand of a guy you're not into? Because I certainly would not!

Charming Disarray said...

I'll start believing that guys are weaker in this area than women when I start seeing more of them get married.

Johannes Faber said...

Thanks Seraphic :)

Charming Disarray,

Are you appealing to the idea of marriage as a remedy for concupiscence? That's another thing about ToB (and its public proponents) - it seems to treat the total conquest of concupiscence as a prerequisite of marriage. Is that what you're referring to?

Charming Disarray said...

I've never read TofB. I was appealing to St. Paul's advice. It just seems to me that many Catholic men are quick to invoke their onerous temptations whenever it's a question of what women should be doing differently, but then make no effort to prepare themselves for marriage or even to seek it. Plus there's a pretty common phenomenon of young men not planning ahead to be able to support a family until they're already in a relationship, which results in delayed engagements. I just honestly don't believe anymore that either those temptations are as great as men claim, or that they really care about avoiding them, because from what I see many of them are content to drift along in a state of non-religious celibacy indefinitely, which really isn't normal, and is certainly opposed to St. Paul's advice for people with temptations against purity.

Johannes Faber said...

Charming Disarray,

Well then it seems we agree about the hopeless fecklessness and/or navel gazery of most of my sex!

I however got up at 6.45 to get on with my law coursework. Aren't I great? Well no, because right now I'm writing on blogs rather than working, lol.

I do think the dispositions and concupiscential things are true, just that most men don't care. So yep, you're dead right.

Seraphic said...

Ah ah ah. There's nothing more I enjoy in the morning than a good sparky quarrel between an intelligent British man and an equally intelligent American woman! ;-D

Johannes Faber said...

Me an' all!

Charming Disarray said...

Starting combox quarrels is getting to be my particular weakness, I think. :D

I'm not trying to defend snogging. I just think it's a modern idea that men are so weak with temptations against purity that women are supposed to keep it in mind all the time. That just seems weird and creepy to me. It leads to excuse-making and an obsessive, disrespectful overemphasis on modesty and women being under an obligation to be the stronger one. I mean I just don't think men should sit around thinking about how weak they are and how women need to make an extra effort because of it, you know? There doesn't seem to be a precedent for it before the 20th century, either. Even the pre-Christian Romans put a lot of emphasis on self-control and probably would have considered the idea of being weak with regard to chastity to be effeminate and decadent. It would be nice to see an attitude like that emphasized among Catholics instead of the ubiquitous "be careful not to tempt weak men" school of thought.

Okay, off soapbox.

Mustard Seed said...

Wow there has been quite a bit of interesting conversation here! Seraphic, I think maybe I clicked "preview" instead of "publish"... oopsy, not my smartest moment. But thinking that my comment got deleted actually made me feel sheepish, reconsider things much more critically, and take it to God yet again in prayer, so it worked out well.

Adam's Rib said...

Seraphic can you pleeease do something about your singles club idea? Maybe JF and CD need to meet! : D

Seraphic said...

Did I have a Singles club idea? If I didn't have a serious philosophical problem with Catholic dating websites, I would just encourage Searching Singles to go to their little conferences and cruises or whatever. Maybe we should all arrange to meet up at the next World Youth Day--not that I have ever been to one, not having felt like a Youth since I was 27.

Charming Disarray, the man's not telling you what you should wear. He's just suggesting, quite credibly, that affection turns into lust a lot faster for men. It's not just a modern idea.

The Classical world definitely prized chastity and celibacy in men, but it ABSOLUTELY demanded it of women and thought women with desires of their own were, well, very wicked. The Classical world was wrong, of course.

We could argue that women are just as likely as men to be caught in the grip of impure desires after a make-out session, but I really don't believe that that is generally true.

Meanwhile, given that we expect men to make allowances for the fact that we are (usually) physically weaker then them, I think we should respect the fact that they believe that they are weaker than us when it comes to chastity. It seems only fair.

I mean, can you imagine if men got mad every time we underscored that they were stronger than us?

Woman: Listen, Mr. Architect, you have to fix these doors. They are really too heavy for the average women to open.

Man: You know what? I really like how I build doors, and I like these doors, and I get sick of women complaining about men building doors too heavy. There are a lot of strong women. Half the female Olympians could break me in two.

Woman: Yeah, but the chances of female Olympians working in this building are relatively slim.

Man: In the ancient world, there were Amazons and stuff, and they would not have complained about these doors. Woman up.

Woman: Hello. What we know about the Amazons is at least semi-mythical and if they existed, it was before 400 BC and modern architecture. We are in a different situation now, okay? Just take it from me, women in general are weaker than men and it is hard for us to get through these doors.

Man: How do you know you're weaker than a man when you've never BEEN a man?

Woman: Are you kidding me?

Man: I refused to be oppressed by feminist, woman-centered conceptions of gender and strength. It starts right there in Genesis with poor old Adam having to dig and delve and sweat for his bread, and I'm sick of it.

Sometimes a guy is not being a jerk. Sometimes a guy is just appealing to mercy. It's kind of sweet, actually, and I like it better than the Stoics trumpeting chastity on the one hand while--it would seem from Peter Brown and other authorities on Classical sexuality--just forcing themselves on a handy slave from time to time.

Seraphic said...

Oh, I should mention that celibacy was only prized when the Classical world was becoming Christian. Celibacy was actually frowned upon.

If I get this straight, a lot of men no longer marry young because of A) economic realities and B) they are absolutely terrified of being divorced and having to pay large sums to their ex-wives for the rest of their lives.

Johannes Faber said...

This is awfully fun lol. Should I interpret CD's comment to be an indirect accusation of weirdness, creepiness, obsessiveness, disrespect, effeminacy and decadence? :P

Well anyway AS, CD and everyone else, I'm pretty sure that it is a very small minority of men who sit around actually worrying about these things, and I am certainly not one of them!

Charming Disarray said...

I didn't mean to suggest that I don't believe situations like that can turn into temptation faster for men. I've never questioned that, not in all the many years it's been repeated to me in all its different forms. I just feel sometimes like this particular male weakness gets far more attention than it should and at the expense of a lot of other things. It almost looks to me sometimes like men are encouraged to be weak in this respect and to use it as an excuse. I'm not saying this is what JF did at all, but I did find his comment that women should understand male biology and psychology troubling. I just don't think that's a woman's job. As long as she's not going out of her way to lead men into sin, and is being reasonably cautious about it, there's no need for her to get inside a man's head and carry part of his burden for him.

I also, respectfully, don't think physical weakness is the equivalent of moral weakness. Physical weakness doesn't result in sin; giving in to temptation does. Women aren't obliged to become stronger in order to be able to open heavy doors, but everyone is obliged to be morally strong and not sin. I mean, I could say I'm weak and easily annoyed by men giving opinions on what women should do, but I'm pretty sure if I did most people would tell me to just try to put up with it and not ask others to alter their behavior. I've seen--not here, but other places--some incredibly insensitive and uncharitable things said by Catholic men about women, particularly when topics like this come up, so I wonder how much charity actually means in this context.

That's true about the ancient Romans. They had plenty of problems of their own and in all honesty I had my doubts about invoking them.

Johannes Faber said...

Charming Disarray,

I must apologise for that then. I was referring to Mrs Darwin's post anyway and when I said that her and Clare didn't understand male etc, I was in no way saying they should - I was responding to the universal assertions that I found on that blog. I don't understand women at all, but if I were to make sweeping statements that are perfectly true about men, but are not about women, I should expect to be corrected.

Anyway more of a meal is being made than is necessary: the simple solution is 'avoid occasions of sin', and if the man is the one with the occasion of sin it is, as you say, absolutely his responsibility. Women are not mind-readers, if a man consents to sin that's his own wretched fault.

I would be interested to know what you, AS and others think though when a man recognises that something is an occasion of sin for him, that for you is just fine, and has the fortitude and the gumption for himself to just not go there, not relying on women for help. Do you think it's fair to insist he does otherwise, or to be grumpy because he won't (say) kiss you how you want? Well clearly that's a rhetorical question, being willfully pointed, but I don't know how to phrase that in a more irenic fashion. I have found that when I have said 'No', the response has been surliness.

TGWWS said...

May I suggest--pace all parties--that if one wants to find a weakness in women that is analogous to man's sexual weakness, then the one that would be more apropos than physical weakness would be emotional weakness? (Seraphic talks about this all the time!)

Men are wired to reproduce, and consequently original sin makes them (somewhat) weak in the sexual area. Women are wired to select a stable, loyal partner, and consequently original sin makes them somewhat weak in the emotional area. So the proper comeback, if a man is complaining a little too long and loudly about women's tempting attire, would be to complain about men's tempting flirtatiousness, indecisiveness, "friendgirling," etc.

Not that I recommend complaining. :)

healthily sanguine said...

Wow, this combox really exploded! I have to say, though I agree with Johannes Faber, I sympathize with Charming Disarray. I think the issue is with the tone and HOW something is said (to women): there's a big difference between "Would you please wear a longer skirt or less tight-fitting pants?" and "You MUST wear what I say!" In other words, to be asked is acceptable, to be ordered insufferable. Yes, we are all called to bear one another's burdens, but it's nice (especially for the more imperfectly charitable among us, like myself) to feel that this is an act of generosity on our part and not just grudging obedience to a surly demand.

As for JF's question, I'd say the route you describe, of "just not going there," is the most manly option. The thing is, there might need to be a conversation about it, because cultural expectations--often unchecked by any sort of religious education on the topic--might lead a girl to expect such kisses. So, out of charity to (or taking into account the weakness of!) the girl you're with, you might need to explain why you want to reserve that kind of physical affection for later in a relationship.

Charming Disarray said...

JF, oh, it's okay. I appreciate you trying to see it from the other side. I honestly think that men who mention things like that have no idea how often us Catholic girls hear about it or what kind of effect it has, which is why I speak up about it. Like TGWWS said, women are more emotionally fragile than men, and while I can't speak for all women, the effect that it has on me emotionally to be constantly reminded of men's temptations is that I feel like I've already done something wrong just by existing. The secular world already seems to revolve around men's desires, and everything women do is seen in relation to them, so I personally find it frustrating that men's desires are also treated with so much importance and reverence by Catholics.

The example you gave is actually one where I think a man should speak up, though, if it seems like it's going to be an issue. It's important for two people considering marriage to be honest about things like that with each other and try to be understanding about it.

Johannes Faber said...

Gosh I'm really spamming up your comboxes, sorry Aunt S.

Cheers HS. I don't know who's advocating bossing women around Re modesty - they always seem to be faceless forum people though I guess! As for the conversation/explanation - that's the forum in which the surliness will arise, surely? I guess the same advice applies - if that happens in a relationship, 'just don't go there!'

Seraphic said...

No, no. It's all good.

Johannes Faber said...

Oh sorry CD, didn't see your response. You're right, no idea how often you hear that sort of thing. I don't like to bring it up anyway, and only do in response to something else - not particularly macho to be banging on about one's weaknesses, lol. Pretty awful that that is how it makes you feel. Hope my comments didn't have that effect :O

Re example, it's a moot point - all in the past and won't be taking any truck again!

JC said...

Wanted to second the points already made about emotional weakness and constant reminders about modesty. For me, when someone says "Don't dress/act immodestly, it's a temptation to others", it's hard not to hear "You are dirty and disgusting and only exist to drag others down, so hide yourself as much as possible". I don't think every woman, or even most women, have as much of a problem with it as I do, but in general women do seem to be more prone to that kind of irrational guilt. That's not to say that exhortations to modesty and such are bad - if you have a bad reaction to them, it's your own responsibility to deal with it - but it is nice when people make allowances and soften up their rhetoric a bit when they're "preaching to the choir".

I wonder if that couldn't occasionally be the cause of "surliness" such as JF mentioned? I'm sure that much of the time it is just selfishness. But I do remember that when I was engaged and my fiance said "I think X is too much of a temptation," I panicked a bit and he ended up having to explain (bless him) that it wasn't because he thought I was disgusting and undeserving of existence.

Seraphic said...

Now I'm at a loss at how a post warning against premarital recreational snogging turned into a discussion about excessive exhortations to women to be modest in dress, etc.

Johannes Faber said...

Lol. Well, it was nothing to do with me. I'm wondering if JC is referring to what I've said, because I've only been talking about this 'premarital recreational snogging' as you so wonderfully put it, haha. However I tend to write a little unclearly on these things, so perhaps that's why JC thought I was referring to modesty when talking about surliness. I don't think I'd know where to begin with telling a girl to dress differently - what a terrifying thought! :O Talking about it when asked is one thing but bringing it up... I value my life, you know :P

Johannes Faber said...

I blame Charming Disarray, lol.

Charming Disarray said...

Well I don't know if this will help or make it worse but I was actually not talking about modesty in particular but ANY mention of the fact that men are more prone to temptations against chastity in ANY context. It usually comes up in modesty discussions, but I wasn't trying to make that point. Just that people love to talk about how men are easily tempted against purity all the time and not so much about less interesting topics, like how it affects women to be caught in the middle of all this mess.

But now JF is probably never going to mention the topic again as long as he lives because I gave him such a hard time about it. :D :/ Sorry.

Johannes Faber said...

Sounds about right - but it was a valuable 'learning experience' lol!

But anyway, the solutions are pretty clear:

See a someone you think's dressed immodestly? Look away!
Finding your girlfriend is pressuring you into something like premarital recreational snogging? Split up!

Perhaps that's a little hamfisted?

JC said...

Ah, sorry - I think I was conflating the original topic of "making out" (immodest actions, I guess?) with the asides that had come up in the comments about modesty of dress, and out of this foggy mess of ideas came a similarly foggy mess of a post. I won't mind if you delete it, as I can't do it myself.