Interesting post, Happy. You make several good points. Someday when I have time, I'll write a response to it. Actually, I may several.


"At the office, the men are covered from neck to toe in suits while I, on my most modest day, am likely to be showing more of my arms and at least part of my legs. Women have to do a much more precarious balancing act between showing too much and showing too little. "

Are you showing too much ankle again?


I think the survey was well-intentioned, to give women insight into how men think. (I have some familiarity with the Harris family, and they're anything but woman-oppressors.) But I'm in agreement with Zan about the way the survey comes across. There's something unnerving about the scrutinization of EVERY LITTLE DETAIL of female dress. It's a little creepy to imagine that men are concerning themselves with the neckline-shape of my shirt, or whether I'm wearing layers, etc. I'd rather keep the focus on overall presentation, myself, rather than obsession over every little detail of my hair, jewelry, makeup and clothing.

The Happy Feminist

Will, you old dog. Good to see you again!

(And what can I say? My ankles are a stumbling block, if I do say so myself.)

The Happy Feminist

Hi Erin! Long time, no see!


Glad you're back safe and sound, HF!


It is nice to see you back Happy.

I seem to recall a previous discussion about your ankles....


The modesty survey skipped over attitude and heart. The picture of the girl on the Modesty Survey advertisment was immodest, in my opinion, because of the girl's "come hither" expression. You can be dressed in an Amish cape dress and be immodest with your expression and the way you act.

The whole survey just seemed wrong.

Erin, glad you agree with me. I was getting frustrated that no one was talking against this. I think it is great that they are concerned with modesty, but leave it to the older women to do the teaching. Young men have enough things to worry about.

Brett Harris

Let me begin by thanking you for your criticism. Alex and I have much to learn, even from our feminist friends. By submitting the following clarifications regarding the Modesty Survey, we hope you can gain a more accurate understanding of its purpose:

1) The survey questions were submitted by Christian teenage and college age women. The guys did not decide to scrutinize every little detail of female dress and design a survey about them. In fact, if guys had written the survey questions you can be sure it would have been much, much shorter. As it was, we cut the 148-question survey down from over 360 submitted questions. It should also be noted that we (and 99% of the guys) had no idea what gauchos, sheer sleeves, or empire waists were until this survey. The items and terms were appropriately photo-illustrated or defined throughout the survey to avoid confusion.

2) TheRebelution.com merely facilitated this conversation. We had no control over the results. We tell young ladies that the results are accurate of what the respondents think, but are not necessarily true of what God desires for men and women in their interaction with one another. It is a resource—a glimpse into the minds of a group of 1,600 men—not a list of rules.

3) I believe you could benefit from looking for the good in the survey, rather than just looking for the bad. It's unreasonable to expect every single one of 1,600 men (many young teens) to have an accurate view on this issue. There are many inaccuracies (on both extremes), but there are also many balanced and reasonable answers. If you view it as a resource (not a dress code) you have the freedom to keep the good and disregard the bad.

4) If you read our two-part series, The Responsibility of Modesty, you will understand the view Alex and I actually promote. I still don't expect that we will agree on everything, but I want to be honest about where we really stand. Combating harsh male dominance and promoting equality between the sexes are goals we share.

5) Finally, if you read the responses to the question, "As a guy, what is your responsibility in this area? What is your role in guarding your eyes and mind (as opposed to the women's role of dressing modestly)?" you will find that many of the respondents identify themselves as primarily responsible for their own lust.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Our only desire is to improve in representing accurately the truth of God. Our goal will never be to please feminists, but we welcome constructive criticism wherever we find it.

In closing, Alex and I don't believe that Christianity has ever perfectly modeled God's beautiful plan for men and women. I hope that you can think of Alex and I as young men who are trying to love and respect women the way Jesus demands and who aren't satisfied with the status quo. If nothing else, we are all devoted to change and have a common enemy in those who want to keep things the way they are.

The Happy Feminist

Wow -- considering the hundreds of links to the Modesty Survey throughout the blogosphere, I am thrilled to have gotten a response (and so quickly too) from Brett Harris of The Rebelution!

I did note that the survey consists of questions submitted by Christian girls -- but that doesn't change my outlook on the survey. The fact that thousands of Christian girls have internalized the belief that they should be worried about their every move lest they incite young men to sin is in fact one of the major problems I see with the modern Christian modesty movement.

It is also quite fair to point out that quite a few of the male participants expressed laudible sentiments with which I wholly agree. For example, one young men noted the following:

The ultimate responsibility is absolutely my own. No matter how a woman is dressed, it is my responsibility to treat both her and myself with respect and to honor Christ with all my actions. If I ever feel that I might not be able to control myself or my thoughts, it's my responsibility to leave the situation. Guys who blame women for their own bad behavior are a major problem. Furthermore, it's my responsibility to dress and act modestly as well; women have their own God-given sexuality as well, and if I ask them to help me control my libido, I am honor-bound to do the same to help my sisters in Christ.

Hear, hear! Nonetheless, this sentiment seems at odds with the whole notion of a modesty survey focusing only on the woman's responsibility to be modest. While young girls may not be fully aware of the way teenaged boys think sexually, I think the libidinous desires of girls and women are an even better kept secret, partly as a result of a long tradition in our culture of viewing women as passive objects rather than agents with drives and desires in our own right (including drives and desires that aren't necessarily always that nice!)

Finally, I look forward to reading the Rebelution's other articles on gender and feminism -- although I suspect we define "equality between the sexes" quite differently!

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