Mind Your Plate! Or Should You Mind His?

Mind Your Plate is an Ortho-ism referring to fasting that I first heard on the Our Life in Christ pod-cast. Fasting is part of pastoral discretion. There are guidelines that, in general, everyone will follow. Then there are those who, under the direction of their priest, wont follow all or any of the general rules.

The question: Who is responsible for a man’s wandering mind, you or him?

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to why we cover and who’s responsible for  lusty thoughts caused by various modes of dress. At the extreme ends of the spectrum the theories are:

  1. Men are entirely responsible for their own thoughts regardless of what a woman does not cover.
  2. Women are entirely responsible for instigating men’s inappropriate thoughts – so cover up.

My personal thoughts fall somewhere in the middle.

I think ultimately you cannot control or prevent men from being the visually motivated creatures they are.  Denying men are visual creatures is disingenuous. It is not a slight or insult to men. It is a simple fact. Nothing more and nothing less. Nor can you control or prevent any particular thought or thought process.

You cannot hold a woman entirely responsible for the thoughts or actions of a man regardless of her clothing. However, going out barely dressed will elicit certain reactions and she should be cognisant of that fact. It is not that she deserves cat-calls or that she should be assumed to be “easy” but that we must all take responsibility for how we interact with the world.

Two clichés come to mind: “Actions speak louder than words” and “We teach people how to treat us.” In the context of our clothing and men (though I suppose women really should be included for the sake of political correctness) this means our clothing shows the world what we think of ourselves and how we expect to interact with the people around us.

A scantily clad woman, perhaps unfairly, indicates that she has little to offer. She offers the world what little she believes she possesses. A woman who is more modestly attired demonstrates her pride in herself. She knows that she has much to offer the world; they can enjoy her company if they demonstrate their respect towards her.

There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they would mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.  ~Virginia Woolf

I do not get dressed in the morning thinking about whether or not the men of the general public will be staring at me. I do think about if I’m going to flop out of my clothes or if I’m going to be comfortable with the amount of coverage. I do think about showing too much.

The way I dress, or any other woman dresses, cannot excuse the inappropriate behaviour of some men. We must all be responsible for ourselves. But I expect respect, and not to be treated as a “pretty girl.” I, therefore, dress the part.

It is a difficult issue. There is no “good answer.” I think as long as there are people we will run into these kinds of issues. I think that humans will continue to use their bodies and minds to manipulate and control in certain situations.


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