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Rethinking Masculinity: Dress and immaturity

Men need to mature their eyes rather making women cover up.   |   Eliana Park/THE CHIMES


Across campus, I hear time and time again about the sentiments of women having to cover their bodies so they do not act as a stumbling block for the sexual prowess of men at Biola. Although this thought sounds appealing, this reasoning for gender-specific dress codes on campus lies in the idea of female inferiority. Men need to have more mature eyes rather than being hidden from contraband parts of the female body.

A need for maturity

In the student handbook, Biola clearly defines how students should dress on campus. Students should avoid short shorts, halter tops, short or tight dresses and skirts, including mini-skirts, tight, strapless, backless, or low-cut shirts and visible undergarments. Although the guidelines call students to not dress so as to attract attention, it seems apparent that these specifics of the dress code tailor to women only. Although this code is not heavily enforced, it is problematic. There does not seem like there is a clear intent to bar dress styles against men. The idea that “we have the calling to avoid being a hindrance to one another's growth in all areas of life,” as it states in the modesty code, only calls after women at Biola.

Rather than limiting women to what they can and cannot wear for the sake of men, why are men unable to simply act mature and not stare?

Unrealistic perceptions – and expectations 

The dress code also hinders against men because it undermines their maturity level. When women have to cover up for men, not only does it discriminate against women through inequality, it tells men they do not have enough maturity to face the bodies of women on their own. The simple act of learning how to divert a gaze is a necessary tool.

The mindset that men can be protected by the way a women dresses promotes sexism. Men need to be more mature rather than hide behind the notion that they are superior. Men and women are at equals, therefore they should have the ability to look at each other and dress as equals. Males need to step out of the bubble that this campus culture creates for them and realize how to fully live amongst women in society. It is not realistic for men to have the luxury of women covering up for their sake. That does not ready men to have a Christian worldview. It causes men to have an unrealistic perception of women — that women will submit to them and dress for them.

My intent is not to mansplain the struggles of women and dress on this campus. Rather, this acts as a plea to men to regard the bodies of women on campus with high respect, just as we are called to with everyone we encounter. Purity does not exist in women covering up. Real purity exists within the idea that men have enough discernment to not look at a woman’s body as an object, independent of how a woman dresses.

To wrap up the series

Masculinity is a colorful area, rather than a grey area. People need to feel, make friends, make lovers and ultimately, make mistakes. So many different types of men exist within the spectrum of what Christian and secular society deem as regarding to the concept of masculinity. Men can be complementarians. Men can be egalitarians. Men come with different viewpoints on life, love and God. Men should not fit into a mold and should never feel as if they need to do so.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Steve

    You are right Tim, if the girls on campus want to go topless and or bottomless, who is the administration to tell them otherwise. What is a dress code doing at a private Christian college anyway, maybe helping young men and women to stay pure?. March 30, 2017

  2. John Smith

    LOL @steve, the miscategorization of the authors argument in your comment is appalling. Of course Tim isn't advocating for nudity across campus. He is simply stating that he thinks the dress code unnecessarily focuses on how women dress and is advocating instead for a different view of purity. If your going to critique anything critique the lack of oxford commas, geez.

    Just read one of his final quotes,
    "Real purity exists within the idea that men have enough discernment to not look at a woman’s body as an object, independent of how a woman dresses."

    Even if we concede your baseless assertion that Tim advocates nudity, and the campus suddenly gets flooded by naked women, nothing wrong or immoral would occur if everyone accepted and followed Tim's advice. Now you can debate the feasibility of everyone following Tim's advice, but to so haphazardly dismiss his entire article on those grounds alone is concerning and completely unfair.

    The article is about changing the way we view purity. It is, in his view, less about what a woman wears on a particular day, and instead about how men choose to view women. You can debate that point as much as you want, but I really think you've done yourself a disservice by not engaging with the material in the article.

    March 30, 2017

  3. Lauren

    Though Steve's comment may have been a little out of proportion with the author's intent, I still think the perspective in this article is largely skewed by the drive to make equality a problem seen in every matter. True, it may not be fair that men stare or have distracting thoughts based off of what women wear or don't wear. And it is possible that it is just a case of maturity, but a mature man will often still be distracted if he sees a beautiful woman, or a woman scantily clad, even if he doesn't act on it. It may not be true for all women, but I can honestly say that I do often dress to get attention/compliments or to help identify with a particular group or style. For people who really care about what they wear, this is usually the case. And if you are thinking, "I've never done that! Or thought that! Or been pleased when someone compliments my style!", then I ask you to reconsider and be honest with yourself. If it is still a "no", good for you, that's not everyone. But this kind of thinking is "me-focused". And I think Biola's rules are more deeply rooted Biblically than a cultural practice of "female inferiority". As Christians we are called to be different. To be set apart. So in a place filled with Christian women the goal should NOT be to cultivate a place similar to the outside world where men are made "ready to have a Christian worldview" by putting them through all the temptations at the university first. And to women, we are called to be different and respect our bodies, and to not seek narcissistic attention (I am the first to admit that I have struggled and do struggle with this sometimes, particularly having to do with clothes).

    Now, I totally support the idea that a women's body should not be viewed as an object, and any actions that support the idea that we are objects should be viewed as wrong. However, I think this article could use some perspective to consider the value of setting limits and making boundaries on our freedoms, in order to help people around us become better people and better Christ-followers. March 30, 2017

  4. Catherine

    Just wanted to pop in here and say @ john smith the reason why Tim didn't use Oxford commas is because AP style (aka the rules of journalism writing) state to not use them. March 30, 2017

  5. Steve

    Hey John,
    I know I have taken it to the extreme, but sometimes that is where you need to go to make the point, because sooner or later if not broached, the extreme is where you end up. I mean, what about this quote, "It is not realistic for men to have the luxury of women covering up for their sake."? I definitely do NOT advocate burkas, but as Lauren stated, women know what is going to be provocative, as do TV and movie producers, and marketers, using women as objects of temptation. How about, "Real purity exists within the idea that men have enough discernment to not look at a woman’s body as an object, independent of how a woman dresses.", I would venture to say that most of the guys at Biola would have a hard time not looking at fellow female Biolians in a sexually objective manner if they were wearing nothing but lingerie around campus. Use the Bible as the guide, not Godless society, because Godless society unchecked, is a broad wide road indeed. March 30, 2017

  6. Karissa

    Tim, this article is very disheartening to me. I have witnessed countless buttcheeks on campus, which I personally would rather not see, even with our 'extreme, sexist, dress code.'

    I think you have a wrong view of masculinity here. A man who knows his masculinity knows he was made with a greater inclination towards visual stimulus, whereas women are more inclined towards connectivity and emotional stimulus. A mature man who knows this puts up boundaries for himself. Likewise, a woman following Christ must set boundaries for herself in what she wears. To ignore men's makeup is disrespectful to the way God created man and women. I would argue that a woman who dresses modestly respects herself and the others around her. There are boundaries for both male and female.

    Tim, we must be careful how we let the world's views speak into our own. We must make sure we read the Bible rightly, and let God speak into our worldview, not the other way around. As a woman on Biola's campus, I think women should love our brothers and consider their purity as well as our own when we dress. This is not a blame game, but instead a responsibility. We have a responsibility to our Creator and each other to worship God in the way we live - including how we dress. Considering the present culture, and the number of buttcheeks I see on campus, I think this generation needs guidelines to help remember the beauty of modesty. Even further, as humans who have all gone astray, we need to live by a set of God-given values or rules to help us live life abundantly. Right rules are not in fact controlling, but life-giving. April 7, 2017

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