When I was a teenager I remember dressing quite frumpy. I was self conscious of my figure and didn't want to reveal too much skin or have clinging clothes. I think part of this was that I felt overweight (looking back in photos I was nowhere near fat! I want that figure now). Another part of it I believe was the constant messages at church about dressing modestly. We were taught that if we dressed immodestly then boys would not be able to control themselves!
"We are responsible for the effect our dress standards have on others. Anything that causes improper thoughts or sets a bad example before others is not modest. It is especially important that we teach young girls not to wear clothes that would encourage young men to have improper thoughts."
That is just the start of it though. I expect that some mormons would say that the above statement is quite tame and that they believe that it is a true statement. Well I have a lot of problems with the above statement and I will get to that. Before I do though, I think it is important to say that at lot more gets said in a classroom situation. I have been present in Young Women's lessons (12-18 year olds taught by older women) as a teenager and later as a teacher where much worse has been said. I have been told that my boyfriend would be unable to control himself sexually if I dressed inappropriately. Now this is a lot further than just 'causing' him to think 'bad' thoughts.
Later, when I was the teacher, I still had to update the lessons (with the help of a fantastic blog for responsible leaders who want to encourage respect between the sexes!) and then tackle the inappropriate comments from other teachers. I could not believe that the young women were still being taught that it was their responsibility to dress modestly to help the young men behave properly!!
As if that weren't enough one youth leader (in an adult mtg with no teenagers around thank God!!) said that Rhianna deserved what she got because she dressed and behaved like such a slut. OMG! and this is the kind of person that the church wants teaching its youth, aaaaaaah!
Mormons take note! Everyone is responsible for their own thoughts and actions. The church is behaving very irresponsibly by confusing young people about who is to blame for sexual and physical abuse. The church needs to look at this issue very seriously.
Even today I still feel uncomfortable about male attention. Even though I do not follow the church's restrictions on dress anymore I have found that I feel quite bare in a singlet (not to mention that blackbikini that I'm negotiating with!). I still cover up quite a bit and feel vulnerable when in male company. These are personal issues of course but I do know that the multitude of negative messages that I received about my sexuality throughout my childhood has played havoc with my mind.