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.