Friday, June 8, 2012

Why do bikinis fit Conservative women so nicely?

By the title of this post you might be wondering why a blog dedicated to Apologetics and Traditionalism has to do with bikinis fitting. Don't worry, this post isn't about some diet or exercise regimen that a lot of Conservative women must be into these days while gearing up for summer, but rather a different type of fit all together. All Conservatives "know" that Liberals are all about being promiscuous and immodest, but what Conservatives don't realize is the striking inconsistency with their own position. If you stop and think about it, wearing a bikini is the epitome of immodesty and promiscuity, so why do Conservatives (in general) see nothing wrong with bikinis?

As always, the first place to start with is definitions. What many people don't know is that "Catholic" is not a synonym for "Conservative," and in fact true, orthodox Catholicism is not Conservative at all. That's because Conservatism is a secular philosophy that doesn't say anything in particular about faith or morals. Conservatism, as its name implies, is about conservation, namely resisting radical or sudden change. But resisting change of what? That's essence of the problem, there is no benchmark or reference point of what must be conserved: there's only a vague notion that what our parents and grandparents did can only be changed gradually and with caution. But once things have changed gradually and with caution, they become acceptable and effectively the new normal. The alert reader can readily see what this entails: this Conservative mentality can create situations where what is objectively immoral or heterodox from a Catholic perspective can end up being perfectly acceptable by society as long as this immorality and heterodoxy is introduced slowly and cautiously. This takes us right to the heart of bikini issue.

The truth is, bikinis were developed about 100 years ago as a form of pornography, this form of pornography was called “soft core” to flirt with the viewer into getting sexually excited about even more devious images beyond the magazine cover. At the time, and even up to about 30 years ago, everyone was well aware of the original purpose of a bikini, that of a semi-nude woman putting herself on display for money from sexually aroused males. This is more popular than ever today, as nude and semi-nude women are all over tv and magazines, proving the slogan “sex sells”. But this has become so widespread and accepted that people today see no problem with it, including Conservatives. Whether they are living in a Red State or a Blue State, Conservatives take it as a normal thing that wearing bikinis is the thing to do. This has even led to putting bikinis on children at younger and younger ages. And why should they not do that if they see their mother or older sister wearing one? The problem is, Conservatism has blinded most people who are otherwise generally decent people, and that's because Conservatism is a false ideology.

The sad news is, Conservatism has gotten to many good Catholic women, as wearing bikinis is seen as perfectly acceptable in their minds even in the midst of their pro-life activity and being active in their parish. If there is a parish or school event at the pool or beach, you can be guaranteed to see bikinis present. Thankfully, there are a lot of Catholic women who don't subscribe to Conservatism who see the problem clearly, and they've written posts about it (e.g. Here). But, sadly, I've come across some Catholic blogs where the female authors are still in debate about the issue in their own mind, revealing just how entrenched the error of Conservatism is.

As a Catholic, one must be opposed to bikinis, as they're a clear violation of modesty. The original intent of bikinis was plainly about exciting sexual lusts, particularly to make money. No informed individual can deny bikinis are associated with sexual overtones, be they fantasy or reality. This has turned into a general corrupting of morals overall. Some Catholics have pointed out the irony of how a bikini shows just as much if not less than normal women's undergarments, and yet seeing a woman in her underwear is considered lewd and unacceptable while wearing a bikini is not. This is nothing but a mental disorder. There is no acceptable social context in which a woman, especially a Catholic one, should ever wear a bikini. Not only does this strip her of dignity by reducing her to a piece of meat, it leads men into sin and the near occasion of sin. The Scriptures and Tradition are very clear that Christians are required to avoid scandalous behavior that would put others in the near occasion of sin. So any woman wearing a bikini who is aware of this is, in fact, committing sin herself. This is particularly why some Catholics have written articles about why women should keep their bikini pictures off of Facebook and similar sites.

It is plain to see that the acceptance of bikinis has led to more and more revealing casual dressing as well, which is just as serious and can be just as sinful. While there are cultural lines that can be difficult to judge at times, there is still a principle of modesty that exists in virtue of Natural Law and Christianity. Once a woman wears a bikini, she's totally destroyed any principled way to distinguish immodesty from modesty. In fairness, men should not be dressing in a provocative manner either, since they can lead females into sin as well. So a good case can be made that men should not be going shirtless. That said, men are far more visual than women and get sexually aroused a lot easier, so in this case addressing the issue of women in bikinis is far more crucial.


Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Nick, to the best of my knowledge, the bikini originated in post WWII France, yet you claim that it came into being about 1912. Can you please provide some docmentation for your claim?

Nick said...

You appear to be right, so rather than 100 years ago I should have said 75 years ago.

Banshee said...

Actually, women wore bikini-like outfits for exercise in several ancient cultures: pictures of Roman bikini bottoms and tube-halter tops are easily found. The French were just doing ressourcement.

I appreciate your point; it is indeed silly for conservative women to advertise their blogs with bikinis and cheesecake. (Just because leftists simultaneously hate bodily beauty and claim that conservatives aren't good-looking, it doesn't mean that conservatives should think they have anything to prove.) We are the more enjoyable folks to know as well as being on the moral high ground on most issues; we don't have to get carried away.

However, I'm pretty sure you've gone a bit too far. Which bikini is intrinsically immoral?

Clearly, for example, a two piece outfit on a baby girl is not immodest. My parents were pre-Vatican II types, plenty conservative and full of insistence on modest dress, but even they saw nothing wrong with reasonably cut halter tops on a prepubescent girl, or a bikini swimsuit on a young kid. Heck, there are plenty of old-fashioned people who let their very young children run around naked in the backyard, just like their great-great-great-grandparents did.

So clearly the immodesty of a bikini depends on the wearer and her circumstances.

That being established, I think it's also pretty clear that there's a big difference between a bikini that's simply a two-piece suit, cut in a relatively robust way; and a bikini that consists of dental floss and a few triangles. A lot of people have totally forgotten that "bikini" originally referred to the former, not the latter, because "string bikinis" have become so common (at least in internet photos).

So no, I don't think a bikini is immodest. I think a bikini is immodest that my mother would think is immodest.

Now, the point is largely moot, since my personal conservative physique is one that was never meant for bikinis even when I was skinny, and I haven't been skinny for many many years. In fact, I haven't been had the opportunity to go swimming for at least five years, and don't have a swimsuit to my name. I'm pretty sure that the last time I wore a bikini was when I was five or so.

But my past bikini ensemble did not constitute immodesty; and if I were to find some suitable bikini that actually fit me and didn't destroy the eyes of all beholders, I seriously doubt that my choice would be an immodest one. Structural considerations alone would protect my modesty more than sufficiently.

Bikinis aren't intrinsically immoral, as such. There are plenty of Catholic countries where good Catholic women wear not very much (due solely to heat concerns) and still have good morals and modesty.

You don't need to get carried away, any more than the women you're criticizing. Just say that what they're doing is stupid and imprudent, which it is.

Banshee said...

You said: "men are far more visual than women and get sexually aroused a lot easier"

Let's change that to "Most men don't have a clue about what gets women interested, and most women leave men in the dark so men won't get embarrassed or be able to take advantage."

I don't want to be mean here, but this is why most men who play Internet moralists say stuff that strikes women on the Internet as amusing or infuriatingly beside the point. There's a huge gap of intuitive understanding.

Briefly, though, I would say that apparently identically shirtless men have very very different levels of immodesty or modesty when seen by women, partly by comportment and attitude, and partly by formality and cut of whatever else they're wearing. My dad is the kind of guy who comports himself in a modest way; I don't think anybody would think him immodest ever. For him, taking off his shirt just means it's hot out. For other guys, taking off your shirt is about impressing or intimidating women; some of them are incapable of doing anything in a modest way. There are plenty of guys out there who manage to be both attractive to women and civilized company, whatever they are wearing or not wearing up top. There are some shirtless guys who are just gross and should bring a coverup.

Now, it's possible that women go more by comportment, intent, and style of dress, whereas men at least think they go solely by the simplest visual components. But women watch how men actually react to other women; and it's usually comportment and intent that really carry the day, although most women try to dress according to how they intend to emphasize comportment and intent.

Banshee said...

The major problem is that there is a certain level of disconnect between women's assessment of fashion as a semantic statement, and the understanding of these signals by the various and sundry populations of men.

Women pressure each other a lot to adopt similar understandings of the semantics, so there are usually only a few different major groups (although ethnic, age, and regional understandings may vary somewhat). The major complication is that younger women raised in certain ways often have radically different ideas in these matters, so there's a sort of hermeneutic of discontinuity.

Men, on the other hand, only have pressure to understand the semantics of their own sex's fashions, and in the current US, there's not much they need to know. Most don't have a clue why any women are wearing what they wear, or how women read what they are wearing.

What men do read is intent and comportment, which is why you will often hear women being horrified about "how a guy could possibly want _her_, she's not really all that good-looking, but she sure is a...." They're unhappy because a really unsubtle, unscrupulous use of comportment and naked intent has captivated a guy whom they think should have known better.

So... yeah, what often happens on the Internet is that some male Internet moralist makes some kind of pronouncement that totally is clueless about what is going on, and women either meekly rearrange their whole life around it (if not very confident) or explode with anger (if more assertive).

So yeah, all this verbiage isn't really for you (other than it hopefully being helpful background info), but rather for way too many years of clueless pronouncements.

Banshee said...

Oh, and of course some guys who aren't successful in love are also horribly bad at reading comportment and intent, so they tend to focus only on the actual clothing in front of them as clearly the source of the problem. When you add cultural conflict to this (as with Muslims or some of our more weird Catholic brethren), you get the spectacle of modest young ladies dressed in modest clothing being made embarrassed to even exist, fruitlessly searching for a way to stop being "distracting" to men.

Which is probably what the conservative cheesecake women are also trying to fight, but again, they've obviously gotten carried away.

Arimathean said...

Have you watched any country music videos lately? Lots of culturally conservative and religious references, along with big crowds of women in bikinis. And a lot of alcohol consumption. The entertainment/advertising industry has managed to make us feel ideologically virtuous while corrupting our morals.

Nick said...

I know what you mean. Many modern Country music songs make reference to Christianity, but it's done in an ultimately mocking way. "Jesus is cool with how I live my life" type stuff.

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