I hadn't been either.
Why weren't we? Well, I've concluded that for us the way we think about dress is not separate from our faith.
Trying to live that faith is our spiritual journey, and maybe we are just on a different path on that journey than the people who became upset. I do know that Emma and I have gone through a gradual transformation in our thinking since we started wearing dresses and skirts exclusively, and it has not stopped.
We are light years from where we started when we first read Immodesty, Satan's Virtue and Dressing With Dignity in 2004-05.
We "see" differently than we did, and our seeing gets more and more sensitive. I feel like we have been given eyes from women a hundred years ago with which to view current modes of dress. Things to which we were oblivious, even as recently as two years ago, now stand out and embarrass and sadden us. We've both noticed that where at one time we were satisfied just to find a sleeve that was 3/4 length, now a straight 3/4 length sleeve appears ugly to us. It needs a puff or some lace or something to beautify it. We have left mere modesty behind to embrace the feminine.
In other words, we have, as footnoted in this article, "sensed the connection between the giving of a flower to a girl and the placing of a flower on an altar"; From there it is easy to to see how a man can look at a woman and admire her without lust if she is dressed in such a way to allow this--that her appearance can actually help lead him to God. We see this as one of the great privileges of being a woman.
Conversely, we see how a woman can bring a man down by the way she dresses. Though I read numerous statements in the pants debate to the effect that men should not look if they are tempted by what they see, I believe that a woman wearing pants naturally draws the man's eyes where they should not go. Here's a supporting quote from Dressing With Dignity by Colleen Hammond:
Advertising agencies quickly prepared marketing research to find out the reaction of men to a woman wearing pants. Do you know what they found? Using newly developed technology, they tracked the path that a man's eyes take when looking at a woman in pants. They found that when a man looked at a woman in pants from the back, he looked directly at her bottom. When he looked at a woman wearing pants from the front, advertisers found that his eyes dropped directly to a woman's most private and intimate area. Not her face! Not her chest!
Advertisers figured out a long time ago how to apply Gestalt psychology and the Law of Closure and the Law of Good Continuation when divising advertising that is aimed at men. Gracious, what does all of that mean? It means that the eye will follow a line, and a viewer will complete the picture with his or her imagination. Think of the little AOL logo man. A stick figure, right? But we all know what he's doing.
Advertisers know that the same holds true when a man views a woman wearing slacks or a skirt with slits. Men's eyes will follow the lines right up her legs and finish the picture in their imagination. Women's eyes may do the same thing, but since women don't have the same type of temptations, their imaginations don't complete the picture in the same way as men's do.
I have received letters and emails from men who had read the first edition of the book and wanted me to tell women that they didn't need that marketing study to tell them what they already knew: When a woman is wearing pants, a man's eyes will (much to his embarrassment) fall to a woman's crotch. These men also pointed out that it is something that happens without their wanting to do it, or without their realizing it. It's the nature of men "to look" ... and they do! By the way, you'll notice that, in ads, models in trousers will sit with their legs far apart. This isn't being done by accident.
Yes, it is the nature of men "to look". And I think it's critically important that we women recognize this and think about what role we are playing in it.
And if you conclude that women wearing pants causes no harm, you will not be criticized by me. I agreed with you not too long ago. But you, too, may see differently one day.
Doctor, My Eyes
by Jackson Browne
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying.
Now I want to understand.
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding.
You must help me if you can.
Doctor, my eyes. . .
Tell me what is wrong.
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
'Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I've been waiting to awaken from these dreams.
People go just where they will;
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it's later than it seems.
Doctor, my eyes. . .
Tell me what you see.
I hear their cries.
Just say if it's too late for me.
Doctor, my eyes
Cannot see the sky.
Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?
All photos by N. Ballester.