Originally Posted by EFmom
I find the basis of these "modest" dress practices offensive and demeaning.
That doesn't mean that I have any need to run around half naked. But there is nothing inherently offensive or shameful about one's shoulders or my calves or any other body part that one can see during a trip to the mall or the grocery store. I refuse to have such a low opinion of humanity to think that men and women are such animals as to become unhinged at the sight of a naked shoulder. Any person who cannot contain themselves at the sight of a naked calf is going to find some other excuse to get themselves worked up--maybe a naked ankle or wrist. We know where that leads. And in reality these practices generally are overwhelmingly sexist.
If your religion believes this and you believe it that's perfectly fine with me. But I don't and I would be offended to be expected to participate in it.
The OP referred to a wedding in an Orthodox church, where the standards of modesty are roughly the same for men and women. If anything, the women have less stringent requirements. I cannot see how this could be considered sexist. The reason women's clothing is being discussed exclusively is because men in this culture tend to automatically wear modest clothing to an event like a church wedding.
I think the modest clothing request is being seen as something special and extraordinary being required, like wearing an elaborate costume and a mask; while most women regard their usual clothing as "neutral," modesty-wise. I would argue that it is not neutral at all. Present-day women's clothing, especially special occasion clothing, is designed to emphasize sexuality. How is such clothing typically described? If it looks right, it "shows off your legs" or "emphasizes your waist and bustline;" it "flatters your figure" or "makes your butt look terrific."
Asking for modest clothing for a church ceremony is simply requesting that, for this one occasion, you do not
choose clothing intended to draw attention to the body - like the male wedding guests would do without being asked.
Most women, especially young women, have absorbed this attitude so fully, they are not even aware of it any more. This makes it difficult to discuss, because we have the weird dichotomy of women wearing clothes specifically designed to attract the opposite sex, yet becoming offended when men respond as intended.
Personally, I find it far more "sexist" and "demeaning" that women are only considered nicely dressed if they wear things that display or call attention to their secondary sexual characteristcs, while the same does not apply to men.