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7 letters, each a link in a chain of control and always applied to women when referring to our choice of clothing. (How often do you hear fathers referring with pride at how modest their sons are?)

Recently while relaxing in a park near my house, I overheard a conversation between two women. 

“You chose a nice dress for your daughter” one mentions to the other in reference to prom. 

“Thank you. It was beautiful. I told them at the store that we’re conservative, and that we wanted a modest dress. Even for this dress, the neckline was almost too low for her. She is very modest.” The mother responds, in a tone of pride, proud to be a mother of a daughter who covers her body. 

“She was the most covered at prom.” The mother adds, this added with a sense that her daughter had somehow accomplished something noteworthy, something that warrants pride and recognition.  The other woman shakes her head, eyebrows raising with a face of “of course” at the notion that other girls were less covered. 

Is modesty superior? If some of the cultural constructs set in place by patriarchy are to be believed, then, yes, of course it is. Modesty affords a woman with virtue, and virtue allows her to inch higher to that oh so illusive glass ceiling, a window to a world where men swim shirtless and don’t have so many words lurking in the dark, waiting to jump out and label them. 

For the sake of modesty and the virtue and status that come with it, women around the world deny their bodies, their desires, their pleasure, their very comfort even. 

But why? I believe the story goes something like this: “Once upon a time, men were created as strong sexual beings, warriors and populators of the world, while women, on the other hand, were given a more passive, receptive appetite wrapped in a form so bewitchingly dangerous, that as to not fan the lust that resides in men, women must do their duty and control it for them.”

What a terrifying and manipulative bedtime story for girls. (For boys, it doesn’t seem like such a bad deal to be granted all the libido but none of the associated responsibilities.) 

But for us women, it’s Sisyphus’s boulder, an impossible task. For how can one control a mind that does not belong to them? A mind capable of viewing a lizard and transforming it into a dragon with a mere thought. Perhaps it would be more effective to teach men to see a naked woman and cloth her from head to toe in his mind if he so wishes. 

Yet, terrified by ever-present labels fluttering around ready to stick themselves to us, (or in search of those power-granting labels), women behave. I myself have partaken in such rights of passage so as to not be deemed a wanton woman. 

I recall a time when on a beach vacation with a set of particularly conservative relatives, I wore a one piece bathing suite, made worse by shorts placed over it, when all I wanted to do was wear a bikini, or better yet nothing at all, not to tempt the minds of men, but simply to feel the soft caress of the water across my skin and the sunbeams dancing down to kiss me. 

While my male cousins were utterly topples, nipples exposed to the world unashamedly, I,  and the other females, for the sake of modesty (one not even of my own conviction) were left to spend the day with a cold, sticky cloth sucking and clinging to our bodies, trapping sand in very uncomfortable places, but virtuous, I suppose,  that day we were.

However, as the world shifts and changes, virtue, perhaps, is no longer a virtue. In a world where women have economic choices beyond marrying for income and security, a door opens, a choice appears. Stay in the dark, in an ever frustrating game of avoiding and yet simultaneously seeking labels, or simply walk out and give no more fucks. 

So, reader/viewer, what do you assume about me based on these photos. What label would you slap across my own ass, so shamelessly prostrated across your own screen, this “altar of fornication” as I’m sure some might call my site. My body, unashamed, exposed to the world, while at the same time I place words together in rather compromising positions to remind you that contrary to the beliefs of some, women are equally desirous of sex as men.

Am I a hussy, a slut, a cheap woman, a tramp, a whore, a bimbo, a harlot, a jezebel, a floozy, a hooker, an easy woman…? All words that from a fear of, an avoidance of association, keep women subdued, docile even. 

Or perhaps I am none of these. Maybe I simply enjoy the freedom to be as I wish, rejecting the notion that my womanly value and right for respect come from my ability to deny myself the pleasures and intrigues that my feminine spirit demands. 

As the patriarchy cracks crumbling under the weight of, among many other example, WAP, Megan and Cardi in their shameless heels and terribly revealing clothes with their unapologetic lyrics do we need to worry about all of these words and their implications that for so many millennia have kept women obedient and bored? As you can clearly see, I think not. 

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