Amanda wrote a post over at Friendly Atheist, talking about the harm done by religious concepts of modesty encouraging hatred and fear of women’s bodies. I suggest everybody who considers the harm done by religion or gender inequality to be worth opposing go over and read her post. I think she does a wonderful job of bringing home how something simple like standards of dress can be used to demand conformity and submission to ideas with which the individual would never agree if they were given an honest choice.
I would just like to add that there is something fundamentally warped about any system where all of the power is given to one group and all of the responsibility to another. In religious concepts of sexuality, women are innately enticing and seductive and they are given the responsibility to avoid giving out irresistible siren calls.
Men are given no responsibility, but all of the power to act on their desires- with other men as the only potential threat to acting out those desires. They are assumed to have no restraint in the face of women’s magical seductive abilities. That is a hell of a rigged system against women, and anybody who disagrees should first check their privilege.
In reality, both men and women manage to be enticing and seductive at times, (news flash) and other times they are just perceived that way without having done anything to encourage it. If a person feels sexual attraction, that does not mean they somehow lose all responsibility for their actions. And people manage to be attracted to other people when they are wearing sackcloth and ashes (there’s probably a website for that) so you can’t sensibly blame a neckline or a hem line for a human’s lack of control.