Thou Shalt Wear Appropriate Clothing? A Ten Commandments’ Tale

appropriate clothing is increasingly becoming a difficult societal issue.
there are religious christians, jews and muslims who believe in modesty.  while these groups may have a well defined “bright line,”  societies, as a whole. struggle with the concept.   this concept in societies with free expression are hand-cuffed to some extent.  fashion trends combined with consumerism also come into play.  perhaps even social media may also come into play.  while this trend is continuing, there is also ever increasing concerns of sexual harassment.  recently, i recall the story company executive who attended a business meetings with his pants down.  the concept of sexual harassment can translate into the notion of a hostile work environment. 
girls embrace and value fashion more than boys.  while boys may gain adoration and attention with their sporting talents, girls can gain adoration and attention with their clothing and fashion sense.  with girls maturing earlier than boys, their interest in clothing gets a head start.
parents have the opportunity to be gatekeepers with respect to their children’s attire. i  vividly remember the day that my daughter showed up at the breakfast table wearing fashionably torn tights.  she was sent back to her room for a clothing change. 
attending my son’s high school baseball away games offered me a greater insight into the problem.   while attending various schools, i observed a clothing trend that was shocking at some schools. there was literally a street walker” culture emerging.  young girls dressed up to school as ladies of the night.  their clothing was disruptive for an educational institution. 
sexually inappropriate dressing has reached the workplace as well. at a large multi-billion dollar corporations.  a union representative told me the tale of a woman who showed up to the job in a bikini with only a fishnet shirt on top.  in essence, she wore a sexy swimsuit to work as the top was see through.  the outfit was so outrageous that even the representative had to concede the inappropriateness of the clothing.  the clothing was indefensible. she sent the employee home to get a change of clothing. 
in israel, it was recently reported that a bus driver prevented a 13 year old girl from boarding a bus on the grounds of “sexual harassment.”  the girl reportedly wore a tank top and short pants.  it was a warm june day and she was going to a mall.  the driver asked her whether she had anything to cover herself up.  apparently, she did not.  ““i was shocked,” she told haaretz. “i couldn’t understand what was happening. I later regretted not confronting the driver. i don’t think boys would have been treated like that.””   
the young girl believed that he was acting in a chauvinistic fashion.  was this a case of lack of self-awareness?  some people may not be able to see what they are wearing may be over the line.  in this instance, without the benefit of seeing her outfit, no opinion can be made. 
in the united states, it was not too long ago that teen and pre-teen beauty contests were condemned as hypersexualing little girls.   now, the sexualization of children is being encouraged as they are opening being taken to drag queen performances and invited to walk the runway and perform.  
mainstream society often lacks the clarity that religion offers on the topic.  thus, society is forced to use a classic standard to assessing appropriateness.  the rule is one upon which indecency was determined. the “i know it when i see i” standard.  now a days, however, even that standard may not apply.  we have one part of society that is racing children to become sexual objects while another part of society wants to pump the breaks on that objective.  
it was not too long ago that young teen beauty contests were condemned as hypersexualizing little girls.  jonbenet ramsey’s unsolved murder brought this issue to the public as many of her videos as a contestant were shown on television.  now, with the push concerning gender ideology, arguably, there is a move to hypersexualize children.  what was condemned in one arena may be encouraged in another.
the question, how can society address this concern?  in addressing obscenity, supreme court justice in jacobellis v. ohio 37 us 184 (1964), stated ” i shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material i understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps i could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. but i know it when i see it.” 
while living in venice california i saw countless amounts of questionable clothing.  the venice beach culture encourages people to be creative and on the edge.  this is an area where vistors expect this.  while he was laughed at, a man walking around in a thong passed muster.    one day, however, in mid-day when children were present,  i witnessed a homeless man, on the famous venice boardwalk, making a fashion statement by dispatching of his pants and exposing all of himself.  this was a true moment when i both knew it and saw it.  fortunately, government workers approached the man and offered him some fashion advice. 
in sum, the story from israel offers a glimpse into what will become a societal conflict.  questionable clothing, which is in part a subset of open expression of sexuality, and legal issues of sexual harassment and hostile work environment are on a collision course.  over the next decade, i anticipate from very interesting lawsuits on this issue. 
be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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