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Ninnies, Tyrants, and those Damned Pants Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Thursday, 26 August 2010

Some years ago – long before we knew each other – my future wife was going to a formal event with a young man. He picked her up, drove a short way, pulled over to the side of the road, and angrily informed her that her dress was immodest. Did her dress have a plunging neckline? No, it was cut right to the collarbone. Did it show too much leg? It was to the ankle. What then did this young swain find so objectionable? The color was red, yes red, and the dress showed her back and we’re not talking lower back either. He drove her to a dress store and told her to buy a new dress or he would not go to the dinner.

There are many confusions in our age. How we are to act and dress are just two of them. And this confusion – particularly among men who are trying quite properly to uphold notions of traditional morality and to revive a Catholic culture – can turn some men into ninnies and also into tyrants. Red dress? Too much back? She should have punched him right in the kisser and gone home. She now wishes she had.

A blast email sent around last week brings this story to mind. Its title is “Regarding Not Wearing Pants.”  Would that it were an essay by Woody Allen rather than a Catholic ninny. The author, who shall remain nameless but who is a Catholic layman with a wide Internet following, wants women not to wear pants because he claims pants show too much of their figures, and women wearing pants can lead Catholic men to impure thoughts and actions.

The author says, “The godless, sexed-up, secular fashion industry is out to make money and convince you that vice is virtue. They, and their damned pants (italics mine), accentuate your flaws.”

He continues, “Sadly, and we understand you may not be aware of this, but almost every style of pants reveals private information about your figure (by way of contour) what only your husband (and if not him, no man, including your sons, if you have sons) should perceive.” 

There’s more: “Thus, even a woman endowed with the most spectacular genetic form, in the bloom of her youth, can be given the illusion of ugliness, if not cheapness, by wearing pants. Likewise, pants rarely do anything but exaggerate extra volume on our figures.”

Isn’t this all rather creepy?

The author is not just anti-pant: he is very much pro-dress, at least of a certain kind. “While some styles of pants can be attractive, in terms of beauty, pants will never trump a tasteful dress or skirt of similar material, pattern, and quality.” This guy is hardly a fashion plate, so what’s he know about fashion? What’s more, have you seen the dresses these days? They’re enough to give Caligula an aneurism.

The author is certainly correct that women’s fashions are out of control. There is a flimsy baby-doll dress women are wearing this summer that is cut right up to the curve of the back-side and even the slightest of breeze displays everything. Women’s fashions can be an occasion of sin. One sees men’s heads jerking around like bobble-head dolls as they ogle the babes.

But are pants really the problem? Pants? I would agree short shorts are a problem. Micro-minis are a problem. Plunging tops are a problem. But pants? And besides the rather silly proposition that pants are the enemy, there is something deeply disturbing about the author’s tone.

He claims to offer only “food for thought” not “hard and fast directives.” We are relieved – for now – but does he think that he can do that in the future? He certainly does.

He says, “In the day-to-day reality of the suburban lives most of us live, men almost always delegate the purchase of clothing to their wives.” He reassures us that “We have no problem with men delegating clothing purchases to their wives.” Delegating clothing purchases to your wife? Anybody want to try that at home?

And then there is this. “May we suggest…that your husbands…take you shopping for the express purpose of choosing everyday clothing for you. Men, be sure your women love the choices you make for them (italics mine).

My wife, a conservative and modest Catholic, got this email and hit the roof. A friend of hers said it well, “These guys want us to dress like the Amish.” And it’s true. What they really want is for Catholic women to dress in shapeless sack dresses. They want Catholic women to be readily recognizable and frankly strange and unappealing. And more than anything else, they want to be in charge, Biblical head of the wife and all that.

This kind of thing is quite common these days when people are grappling with a restoration of Catholic identity – and also reacting against the poisonous culture. It’s also quite common in orthodox movements within the Church, which can attract the slightly strange, the tightly wound, and those who want to impose it all on others. But we should resist. Catholicism must attract not repel. By definition, it should be normal and not odd.

There are ways forward. A group of Catholic women, for instance, runs a program called Pure Fashion that puts on fashion shows for teens around the country. The fashions are modern, stylish and entirely modest. Oh, and they wear pants, too.  

One final thing about that red dress; my future wife returned it tearstains and all, and to this day she rails against the lame Catholic men she met when she was dating. No wonder there is an epidemic of wonderful yet unmarried Catholic women. They want regular guys, faithful Catholics, not ninnies or tyrants.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

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Comments (44)Add Comment
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written by Rudy Lohse, August 27, 2010
A dress will always make a woman appear more attractive and wholesomely feminine than if she wore pants.
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written by Ars Artium, August 27, 2010
We are dealing with a complete breakdown in understanding of human sexuality. Young people are seduced into premature sexual activity before they have any chance to integrate their desires into the wholeness of their personhood. Their dress is a symptom of our degenerate culture. What on earth is the matter with us?
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written by Fabulous at 44, August 27, 2010
Oh for heaven's sake! Where do I begin? There are so many reasons for pants that it's hard to know what to say to a ninny like that so I just say, "Thank God he isn't my father or more especially my husband."
Plus, it always seemed to me that it would be far easier to rape a woman wearing a dress of any kind than a pair of pants, especially tight pants.
This ninny needs to put on blinders if he can't control his dirty mind around the youthful beauties -- or move to a colder climate where all he has to suffer is parkas and muck-mucks.
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written by sd, August 27, 2010
Thank you, Austin! I received this same column by email, and was disgusted. Why can't we just keep the pendulum in the middle??
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written by Other Joe, August 27, 2010
Mwthinks he doth pant too much ...
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written by helen alvare, August 27, 2010
You go Austin!
By taking off only on pants-wearing-women, and not men, the author of that ridiculous commentary gave himself away.... For pants by their nature outline the lower half of either sex. So the author seems then to be suggesting that women have some kind of seductive "mens rea" that men do not? We all know the difference between clothes meant to enhance the natural beauty God gave to each, and clothes intended to scream "Look at me, I'm a sexy body that may or may not be joined to a mind and soul!!"
Puuleazz, Mr. Anonymous Author, go fry some bigger fish.
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written by Joe, August 27, 2010
Wonder who wears the pants in the ninny's family.
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written by Tinkus, August 27, 2010
How about only two guidelines? Ladies, please only show your cleavage to your husbands. Then please feel free to look as attractive as you can.
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written by Umberto Sanchez, August 27, 2010
I apologize, but I must disagree. Well, I could agree that perhaps this unnamed gentleman's tone was condescending and perhaps boorish, but I cannot disagree with the content of his message.

If only we could draw a line at hot pants and make it stop there. Unfortunately, as human beings we are not so subtle. We need well-drawn, obvious, and dinstinct lines. We need to say in big letters, that everyone, man and woman alike, can read that say "MODESTY".

My daughter is currently too young to worry about such things, as she is still in diapers. But when she is old enough, I will encourage her (probably though her mother, to be honest) to wear long skirts and dresses.

And this is not really a fringe perspective. Before Vatican II, that great cultural dividing line, any faithful Catholic would have abhorred the sight of his wife or daughter in pants. Why was it so universal amongst the faithful of any religion then, but has suddenly become an absurdity? Have we "evolved"? I doubt it.

So, I sympathize with your desire not to be talked down to. But I agree with the gentleman: Ladies, more skirts, please.
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written by A sometimes pants-wearing woman, August 27, 2010
Oh mylanta! One wonders what the this Puritanical e-mail authout would suggest we single women do. Shall I request that my father escort/chaperone me, his 30-year-old daughter, to the clothing store because I have no husband to pick out my purchases? Good grief.

His argument, “While some styles of pants can be attractive, in terms of beauty, pants will never trump a tasteful dress or skirt of similar material, pattern, and quality," is flimsy. The logic is ridiculous, because if you carried the same logic into the world of men's attire, it would follow that becuase a man will never, ever look as handsome and classy in Levis as in, say, the dress uniform of the Marines, men should always wear military dress and never jeans. Or tuxedos and never jogging pants. Sheesh.

And I'd like to remind him that men aren't the only ones who have issues with attraction to the bodies of the other gender. I'd be interested in knowing if he realizes that bare male chests (or those horrible Speedos *shudder*) at the pool or beach can be present a big temptation for many women, as can the really loose shorts that guys wear in the summer that, when the guys sit down, practically provide a view of the, um, 'equipment' area. So, if he's going to rant and rave about women's dress, he needs to put his money where his mouth is and discuss men's dress as well, which can be just as bad at times. Indeed, women VERY MUCH need to rethink their attire, but there are many men who need to do the same.

And I'd like to remind him that if you look at all the ancient Roman art, and iconography from the time of Christ and the early Christians, you'll see that NO ONE wore pants then. They all wore full-length robes and cloaks. I'd like to ask him what he'd think of wearing robes himself because, you know, that's what Christ did. Maybe we should just all go back to wearing robes. *riddled with sarcasm here*
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written by Pass him a burka, August 27, 2010
I suppose he wants those dresses to be beige and the footwear to be Birkenstocks...

My ultra feminine friends and I, who love nice dresses AND slacks and jeans, find men who play and engage with children a "turn-on." Perhaps Catholic men should avoid children because the sinful thoughts that might cross our minds.
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written by Margaret, August 27, 2010
I agree with a lot of what the ninny said but his tone was so disturbing that it overwhelmed what he was trying to say.

I do feel that women look better in dresses and that pants accentuate the flaws in a woman's figure.

I also agree that husbands and wives should have input into each other's clothing choices and obviously parents need to exert much more influence into the clothing choices of their children.

To me these are common sense ideas. What is astounding is how the ninny was able to express these simple concepts in such a snide and twisted manner so that anyone who reads his column would be offended.

If Chesterton was here he could give us an epigram about how the mark of a true idiot is the ability to present common sense in such a way that it sounds like deranged nonsense.
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written by Pete brown, August 27, 2010
Great piece Austin. I used to teach at a private Catholic school (non-diocesan) that forbade the female teachers from wearing pants. I never asked the rationale for this but I suspect it was not because pants were too sexy (does anyone actually think pants suits are sexy?) but because of the need to avoid the supposed gender confusion and continue the unreflective cultural push back. And I know many Catholic moms (usually home schoolers) who insist on wearing shapeless jumpers everywhere. I don't get it! At any rate thank you for this breath of fresh air and common sense. Be modest fine but also be reasonable!
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written by erj, August 27, 2010
I too agree that the gentleman's approach was not the best. However, I am in favor of women wearing more modest, feminine and attractive skirts and dresses--NOT potato sacks!
I highly recommend the book "Dressing With Dignity" by Colleen Hammond. While some may still find it extreme, I think the information she has gathered is convincing. She shows the history of fashion, includes quotes from the saints (Padre Pio) and directives from the Vatican. She also brings up psychological aspects of women "dressing like men." She also quotes Alice von Hildebrand who wrote "The Privilege of Being A Woman"--another excellent read!

Look into these books and see what you think about their approaches...I think it is worth it.

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written by Dan, August 27, 2010
I am opposed to women wearing pants, but on different grounds: they are masculine and, very often (but not always), unflattering on women (I thought Hilary Clinton might have won the nomination had she stuck to skirts).
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written by Chris, August 27, 2010
Perfect. Perfect article. I loved it.

Perhaps in an ideal world we wouldn't need to worry about pants..... but then again, in an ideal world, we might also have a benevolent monarch aligning society with the social reign of Christ the King.

Your wife is absolutely right.... there are far too many lame idiots out there obsessed with this type of thing.
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written by Brian Jones, August 27, 2010
Dear Mr. Ruse,

I just wanted to let you know that your article on Catholic Thing this morning was excellent. Your story made me think of a dear priest friend of mine who used to drive Archbishop Sheen around quite often. He said Sheen used to tell jokes that, if told in the pulpit, "would cause many to gasp." Authentic humor, as well as dress, are truly Catholic because they are so deeply human. Thanks again for the article and your apostoloate.

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written by Jackie, August 27, 2010
Since I was not able to read the gentlemen's email itself I can't really comment on what he wrote.
I can however comment on that fact that someone saying women should wear skirts and dresses instead of pants does not mean they think women should dress in a potato sack. I am a young woman who about 3 years ago stopped wearing pants and have worn skirts/dresses exclusively since then (except at home on occasion). I will note that I am far from frumpy. In fact during college, I would quite often have my peers (being women) comment on how nice I looked and asking where I bought my clothes. All my clothing is from normal stores and have a modern and up to date style. I do not just wear long dowdy skirts or jumpers. I have knee length to long items that are classy modern and pieces that others would buy as well.
I have to say that the experience of switching to no pants has been great. It is almost undeniable that women feel more beautiful when in a skirt or a dress. Women are made beautiful and I think it is fitting that their dress should reflect their beauty. Why shouldn't women be made to feel beautiful everyday? For the person who will say well I feel just as beautiful in pants - I challenge you to try just skirts for maybe 3 to 4 weeks and then see how you feel. Also, how many women when getting truly dressed up and trying to feel their very best wear pants? Not many.
Another note from my personal experience is that dressing in skirts /dresses has helped me to become more of a lady. Dressing in skirts/dresses forces once (or hopefully does) to sit like a woman and this acts as a physical reminder that we are different from men. Just as our interior disposition shapes our outward actions, physical things such as dress can help shape our inward dispositions. So beyond sitting and moving in a way more becoming of a lady, my change in wardrobe also helped me to not act like one of the guys when surrounded by men. I also think I have experienced more doors being opened, etc. because my dress reminds men that I am different from them and my more beautiful dress promotes their inward desire to be chivalrous towards what is most delicate and beautiful. So to conclude this point I think our clothing is in some way sacramental, meaning that they are a sign of an inward reality and help us to realize the difference between men and women.
We need to remember that modesty is more than just how much skin is showing. It also has to do with how much of a women’s shape is being revealed. I know catholic women who would deem themselves modest who have a short skirt on with leggings or tights underneath. That look shows a lot of their shape and yet can be considered as covered up as if modesty only had to do with covering our skin. I also think it is obvious to most that many skirts (that aren’t short) can be immodest because they are so tight that they reveal too much of the beautiful feminine shape. Also, it is important to note that our eyes naturally draw lines (anyone who has done art or fashion knows). Pants have a line that naturally draws one’s eyes to a women’s bottom and the entrance to her womb. I know that isn’t a place I want attention drawn by any man other than my husband.
Finally, on a note unrelated to modesty, I have to say that I think skirts/dresses, when well designed are truly more flattering on the feminine figure (especially the more full figure of a women who has had children). Many women have a hard time finding pants that fit properly because they fit in the waist and not the hips or vice versa. I would say this is in part because the feminine figure is more beautifully shown by the draping of a skirt/dress. These items are much more forgiving and tend to show the beauty of the feminine hourglass figure more fully. So from a purely style point of view, I think women should really consider more skirts and dresses, even modern shows like “What Not to Wear” encourage women to wear skirts/dresses in their everyday life (granted they are not always modest but the point that women look quite lovely in them is clear to secular culture).
So to conclude it doesn’t really seem so ridiculous that someone would claim that women should not wear pants. I think women would be surprised at how much they enjoy the shift in wardrobe!
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written by Linda, August 27, 2010
EXCELLENT article! I thought you did a great job balancing the need for modesty, which our world often lacks, with common sense! It is difficult to struggle and grow in holiness and virtue, but Christ calls us to that. If seeing a woman in pants is really a big temptation to impure thoughts, then get a spiritual director because it's time to grow up! Our call is to holiness, not cowardice. Senore Ninny is looking for others to change so he doesn't have to. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Having women walk around in dresses is not going to produce a pure heart, only prayer and God's grace accomplish that!
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written by Jacob, August 27, 2010
I don't know but for some reason I got the feeling I was reading Nancy Pelosi just there (I must be a ninny or a tyrant?)
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written by Jay, August 27, 2010
" No wonder there is an epidemic of wonderful yet unmarried Catholic women. They want regular guys, faithful Catholics, not ninnies or tyrants."

While agreeing with the ninnies or tyrants line. The rest of this quote is the only part that I find objectionable in a non-bitter way(because I have success with women). There are many Catholic women and friends I know who pass up on perfectly good men(other than myself) who are neither tyrants or ninnies but are good solid men, and from what I can tell they do it for a mostly arbitrary reason. These women are perfectly willing to forsake marriage and children for something that they want which is close to Hollywood romance, to be "swept of their feet" when real life is not like that.

It is a disturbing trend amongst Catholics when the lust of Catholic men is to blame for all the ills in Catholic dating and the pride of women is never addressed.
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written by SJM, August 27, 2010
I did not see the referenced column. However, I would like to say that I, too, prefer skirts lately. One day in church there was a woman in front of me whose pants were too tight - then I looked around, and many of the pants were too tight. It was just plain unattractive. Since then I have been wearing skirts, at least most of the time - for church - and noticing that more and more women seem to be wearing skirts. I just feel more graceful and feminine in a skirt.
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written by Emina Melonic, August 27, 2010
Great column, Mr. Ruse!

@Linda, I love your comment "If seeing a woman in pants is really a big temptation to impure thoughts, then get a spiritual director because it's time to grow up!" Hilarious!

I think that the "dude" who wrote that article, urging women not to wear pants has missed an important point; and perhaps a lot of women miss this point as well. Woman's style comes from within, as great Audrey Hepburn used to say. I agree with this. Woman's personality, edge, humor, will also be visible in the clothing she wears. So, if she prefers pants, then it will be pants. If she loves skirts, then it will be skirts.
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written by Austin Ruse , August 27, 2010
Jay,

I could not agree more. That is a future column.

-AR
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written by kkollwitz, August 27, 2010
Women look better in dresses/skirts; men look better in pants.
Not that there are any physical reasons why each can't wear the other.
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written by Bob Trujillo, August 27, 2010
Austin makes an excellent point when he talks about the epidemic of wonderful unmarried Catholic women--except that it is not just women. There is an epidemic of singleness among highly marriageable young Catholic men and women in their prime family-building years. Basically, if you're a serious Catholic who wants to marry another serious Catholic, without special intervention of providence, you are not going to get married for long, long time. It's emotionally and spiritually devastating for long-term singles, and a whole generation of Catholic children will never be born. I find it ludicrous that we are talking about pants when there is a much more urgent problem before us.
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written by Jeannine, August 28, 2010
I DID receive this email. I stayed on the author's organization's mailing list in spite of the scandal of his breakup of his marriage, but when I read that one, it was the last straw. I de-subscribed to the email newsletter. To me it seemed that the whole thing involved projection of this man's temptations onto the women he sees. It WAS creepy! I'm a middle-aged woman, and I often wear skirts, but they aren't always practical. I remember Dorothy Sayers writing once about trousers as a natural and practical form of clothing for a two-legged creature, male or female! Moreover, not every dress is modest, and not every pair of pants is immodest. I see many older women in my parish wearing pants, presumably for reasons of comfort. Let's be adults and use our common sense.
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written by James Cathelineau, August 28, 2010
Alas, like many American Catholics, Mr. Ruse responds out of his own limited perspective rather than turning to the sources of authentic tradition. I would suggest that readers seeking wisdom turn instead to the following:

"Notification concerning Men's Dress Worn By Women" by Giuseppe Cardinal Siri.

Here they will find the following wisdom:

"Firstly, when it comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of men's trousers by women cannot be said to constitute AS SUCH A GRAVE OFFENSE AGAINST MODESTY, because trousers certainly cover more of woman's body than do modern women's skirts."

He moves to the more important issue:

"In truth when relationships between the two sexes unfold with the coming of age, an instinct of mutual attraction is predominant. The essential basis of this attraction is a diversity between the two sexes which is made possible only by their complementing or completing one another. If then this "diversity" becomes less obvious because one of its major external signs is eliminated and because the normal psychological structure is weakened, what results is the alteration of a fundamental factor in the relationship."

"The problem goes further still. Mutual attraction between the sexes is preceded both naturally, and in order of time, by that sense of shame which holds the rising instincts in check, imposes respect upon them, and tends to lift to a higher level of mutual esteem and healthy fear everything that those instincts would push onwards to uncontrolled acts. To change that clothing which by its diversity reveals and upholds nature's limits and defense-works, is to flatten out the distinctions and to help pull down the vital defense-works of the sense of shame."

"It is at least to hinder that sense. And when the sense of shame is hindered from putting on the brakes, then relationships between man and women sink degradingly down to pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual respect or esteem."

"Experience is there to tell us that when woman is de-feminised, then defenses are undermined and weakness increases."
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written by Columcille, August 29, 2010
I appreciate Jackie's comments above. She is a young woman who understands why pants are antithetical to a sacramental worldview and a civilization of love.

The question of women wearing pants is the same as the question of men wearing saggy pants - neither should adopt the trend.

The question is: Where does the any trend come from? A Culture of Life or a Culture of Death?

Saggy pants comes from prison culture. Draw your own conclusions.

Women wearing pants comes from the marxist currents of feminism that seeks to eliminate the idea of intrinsic nature to the person, and complimentary of the sexes.

If as Catholics we are trying to recover an authentic Catholic Culture, we need to be able to evaluate trends in the culture and make judgements that reflect the mind of God - the cosmic order - and not some current fad arising from a culture of death.

As someone who works in young adult ministry, I tell young adult to imagine they are living in a Civilization of Love and then dress accordingly.

That culture is splendorous and beautiful because it is rooted in a deep understanding of the cosmic liturgy and what it means to be a man and a woman, it is not banal or androgynous or ugly.

In that culture women will not wear pants - not because there is a garb police, but because to wear pants is to reject the full splendor of being a woman. It is like the People of God holding onto their idols after the return from exile in Babylon - eventually the idols get tossed.

Women wearing pants is an idol. The next time you are with a group of women, just mention that you think that women shouldn't wear pants and just watch the reaction. It might be a similar reaction to saying that you think homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, as that too is an idol of our culture.

In the 2000 years of the Catholic Church, women have NEVER clamored for the right of ordination until they started wearing pants. A coincidence?

We are sacramental people, our clothing is a sign of invisible realities. In Scripture we see that what is holy is veiled. There is a sacramental reason why women wear skirts and dresses. Their bodies are touched by God in a way men's bodies are not. This is significant.

It is the same reason why men should wear dignified hats. Their heads are anointed in a significant way in which women's heads are not.

In short this issue shouldn't be about curves, defects or ninnys etc. it is really about the ability of the People of God to recognize themselves and their culture as being called to a higher more splendid standard.




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written by Austin Ruse, August 29, 2010
I am sure the Archbishop of Genoa was a wise and holy man. He, however, does not in and of himself represent "authentic tradition", at least with regard to the wearing of pants. I will point out that the ninny-tyrant who wrote the offending email actually defended men wearing skirts. Presumably Cardinal Siri and the author of the post above would also object to that.
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written by SJM, August 29, 2010
I've googled "regarding not wearing pants" but to avail - could anyone tell me what address to use to access the blog?
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written by Bradr Miner, August 30, 2010
To SJM: I believe Austin Ruse indicated the message in question was an email, not a blog. -ABM
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written by Ashley, August 30, 2010
I have often thought about switching to exclusively wearing skirts and dresses, but I run into a few problem.
#1--What do I wear when I go running? A skirt is not really practical!
#2--I teach young kids, and that means it is frequently necessary I sit on the floor. I find this to be difficult to do modestly in skirts and especially dresses. In pants, I find I have no problem worrying what might become uncovered when I sit on the floor.

So until I can resolve that, I'm hanging onto my pants.
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written by SJM, August 30, 2010
To Brad - thank you...

From SJM
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written by Erin Manning, August 30, 2010
Wonderful, Mr. Ruse! I could not agree more. The only "private information" a woman reveals by wearing slacks is that her legs are not connected, mermaid-like, to the knee or the ankle (or, indeed, all the way to the feet). Since this is something any intelligent man could deduce merely by observing a woman's capacity for movement, even if she is wearing the most modest of ankle-length, heavily opaque, and flowing of skirts, I can't help but think that any man capable of being either shocked or stimulated by the confirmation of this hypothesis (as it appears in a pants-clad female form) is a ninny indeed.

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written by James Cathelineau, August 31, 2010
I am sure that Cardinal Siri would make distinctions. For instance, traditional forms of male dress that have the same form as a woman's garment (a Scottish kilt, a priest's cassock, a friar or monk's tunic) are male forms of dress, not female forms. The same would apply to garments from non-Western culture.

I'd trust the disciples of Cardinal Siri more than I would trust the disciples of Maciel running the "Pure Fashion" program. Not that I doubt the latter's good intention. It would have been a better development under the guidance of Catholic tradition.

I would also suggest that in a discussion of these matters we might learn something from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The first time I heard the issue raised, it was by a Greek friend of mine, whose sister had received from a priest a list of sins for her to use to prepare for confession. Among these were "dressing as a man." She asked what this meant. The priest replied, "Cutting your hair, wearing pants, wearing shirts with collars."
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written by James Cathelineau, August 31, 2010
By the way, only men with Scottish blood should wear kilts.

And there should be a law enforcing this.

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written by Austin Ruse, August 31, 2010
My point, Mr. Cathelineau, is that the comments of the Archbishop of Genoa, who died in 1989, are hardly proof of "Catholic tradition" regarding the propriety of women wearing pants. Perhaps there is an encyclical you can cite? Non Pantsum?
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written by Clare, September 01, 2010
Gianna Beretta Molla wore pants, and is a canonized saint of the Catholic Church. That's enough authentic tradition for me.

I read Dressing With Dignity and loathed it. Aside from the cloying tone, there are major problems with her arguments. Some of the claims she makes about the history of fashion are not true, and I think her approach of taking the 1918 papal directives on dress and making them binding for all Catholics in all times and all cultures shows a poor understanding of the virute of modesty and the structure and hierarchy of Church authority.

This, by the way, is coming from a young Catholic woman who wears knee length dresses 90 percent of the time.
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written by St. Fashionista, September 01, 2010
Saint Gianna Molla (1922-1962) was often photographed wearing pants. So the Vatican scandalizes once again. And she was a physician! What would she think of surgical scrubs?? The interesting thing about her is that her pants were groundbreaking, at the time. She drew on no tradition to wear such a thing. Imagine what some Catholics must have said about her behind her back at the time.

And someone should tell St. Joan of Arc that the whole armor and cutting your hair like a man thing is a big problem.
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written by Justine, September 01, 2010
Oh, I am dying to link to something hysterical for you to read but I'll respect your wishes and not. Do Google "My New Wife" and "Dan Lord" if you are looking for some hysterical commentary along these lines. God bless!
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written by Donna , September 03, 2010
What's really odd is that half of the comments dissing women in pants says they are too sexy and and the other half says women should wear pants because they are 'unattractive' . (I'm reminded of somthing Dorothy Sayers once remarked. She was listening to some man gripe about how "unattractive " women look in pants, and she shot back, "Well, maybe they aren't all that interested in attracting you !" )

Some years ago, I heard a report on the radio of a young woman who fell asleep on a long plane flight. She woke to find a male fellow passenger attempting to sexually assault her - an assault that was prevented because the zipper on her jeans jammed. Horrific as that poor girl's experience was, if she had been wearing a skirt her attacker could gently slide up, it probably would have been a lot worse.

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written by David, September 14, 2010
"And more than anything else, they want to be in charge, Biblical head of the wife and all that."

I'm confused - is Mr. Ruse attempting to dismiss Ephesians 5 as an outmoded conception of the relationship between husband and wife? What is his view on the matter?
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written by Nancy, July 04, 2011
There is an obvious problem I see here. You think that you are right in your assumption that it is alright for females to wear pants. It has apparently never occurred to you that you might be wrong. The problem with this is that you are most definitely wrong. Females should not wear pants. I, being a female, and of course growing up wearing pants happen to know exactly how you feel, since I have been there and done that. I suggest that you lose the prideful attitude, and ask God how He feels about it. I guarantee you that He will not agree with your judgment. Believe it or not, my dear Catholic blogger, He does answer us when we ask Him with a sincere heart. Then and only then will you be able to hear Him.

You are obviously blinded by our corrupt culture and unless you open your mind to what God wants instead of what you so desperately believe is right, you will never find out the truth while you are still breathing.

It is shameful to see a Catholic acting this way toward something that is as basic as women (and girls) wearing dresses. And, no it is not okay to show our backs, either. Good grief, this is why teenage Catholic girls look like tramps while their fathers stand around looking like idiots! Wake up, man!!

I wear skirts and I assure you they do not look like sack dresses. It is easy to find pretty feminine long skirts and pretty modest blouses to match.

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