For all its affirmation of little girls’ intelligence and humor, it’s hard to get past the mixed messages in Secret Keeper Girl’s modesty doctrine: We shouldn’t care about how the world perceives us, unless we’re talking about our clothing, in which case that’s the only thing that matters.
Modesty taught me that my first priority needed to be making sure I wasn’t a “stumbling block” to men. Not being sexually attractive was the most important thing I had to consider when buying clothes, putting them on, maintaining my weight (can’t have things getting tight!), and moving around (can’t wiggle those hips, or let a little knee show). Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing. Worrying about modesty, and being vigilantnotto be sexy, made me even more obsessed with my looks than the women in short shorts and spray tans I was taught to hate
Women have been quietly making gains in education, leadership, respect in the media, and power in the office. Obviously, that’s why we’re suffering from an anti-feminist backlash. But this time, it’s all about ridiculous standards of chastity.
How can so many American feminists have come out against a burqa ban in France? The answer is that singling out the burqa as the only article of clothing patriarchal enough to merit legal regulation is racist.