At the beginning of January, Veronica Partridge, a Christian woman, wrote a blog post telling women everywhere why she was going to stop wearing yoga pants and leggings in public. According to her, because such pants are tight and revealing, they cause men to commit the sin of lust. They can’t help looking at women in these pants in ways they should only ever look at their wives. Women, of course, have a responsibility to dress in such a way that men don’t lust after them.
The post touched off bit of a firestorm, because this speaks directly to rape culture’s idea that a man’s lustful thoughts and urges are a woman’s fault. One article, though, written last year to combat the idea of body shaming women, shines an outstandingly bright light on the double standard that exists here.
This woman, who goes by the initials L.P. on her post, talks about how men in suits are extremely distracting to her. Her main complaint is that lusting after men in sharply tailored suits has been a struggle for her for years, especially since she’s trying so hard to keep her mind and thoughts pure and Christlike.
Here is one particularly salient paragraph which explains the whole problem with these nuts preaching to women about not wearing leggings and yoga pants in public:
Don’t these men have any self respect? Do they even understand how their clothing affects me? I wonder what is going through men’s heads when they decide to dress this way. All I know is that when a man wears a nice suit with pants that are juuuust tight enough, I will notice.
Then she goes on to say:
Therefore I am issuing a plea to my brothers in Christ for an understanding of where I’m coming from. When you choose to exist in public looking well-groomed and sharp, you are basically extending an invitation for me to lust after you.
L.P. beautifully illustrates the double standard. Veronica, for her part, quite correctly points out that men are more visually stimulated than women. However, many women find men dressed in certain ways to be extremely stimulating and distracting as well. Saying that it’s a woman’s responsibility to police the thoughts of men, but not putting that same onus on men to police the thoughts of women, is the double standard.
It’s the same as telling girls in a school what clothes they are and are not allowed to wear for the sole purpose of not being a distraction to the boys and male teachers there. Because, of course,the problem is never those who can’t control their thoughts enough to not be distracted in the first place. Men are slaves to their base instincts, and women must bear the blame for that (sarcasm intended).
L.P.’s entire post is an absolutely epic response to Veronica’s article, which merely reinforces rape culture’s idea that women are mostly responsible for the thoughts and actions of the men around them. If a man checks her out, it’s her fault. If he touches her inappropriately, it’s her fault. If he rapes her, it’s her fault. What was she wearing? What did she say? What did she do? Was she drinking or doing drugs? How did she contribute to what happened? And it’s absolutely shameful when a woman supports these ideas. Kudos to L.P. for her outstanding post.
UPDATE 2-1-2015: L.P., the author of When Suits Become a Stumbling Block: A Plea to My Brothers in Christ,* contacted us to say that she actually wrote her post last summer, as a response to the overall issue of a culture that shames women’s bodies, and not as a response to Veronica Partridge’s article. However, we still view L.P.’s article as a fantastic counter to the idea that Veronica Partridge put forth.