Not a dick: a man’s perspective on modesty

There is so much to be said about modesty – more than what can be summed up in one blog post – and after my post about modesty and yoga pants, I realized there is so much more to the topic than what I can address as a woman. My dear friend Austin has offered to share some of his thoughts, and I’m so excited for you to read them. You can find him on Twitter at @LindnerAustin and Instagram at austincarrmusic.




I’m a man. And I generally like to think of myself as more than a penis.

As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s honestly how I feel whenever a heated conversation about modesty begins. The two sides of the debate form opposing lines, ready to attack the other side with thrown words or rocks at the drop of a hat. And without a doubt, whenever the “modest is the hottest” team steps up to defend turtlenecks and floor-length skirts, one of the first things out of their mouths is “Do you want men to lust after you? You know guys are more visual creatures. You know they can’t help looking. You don’t know how hard it is to be a man.


This argument is used to justify too many things in today’s society. Assault, sexual harassment, rape, really anything can be pacified with a good “boys will be boys” mentality. And as one of these “boys” myself, this logic has always seemed offensive.

It implies that I am little more than an animal. That I will uncontrollably lose my cookies at the slightest mention of the word “sex,” or if I walk past a girl in a mini skirt. That my hormones and sexual instincts control my life on a day-to-day basis and I am constantly resisting the urge to mate with anything that moves.

It implies that I am stupid. That I don’t know lusting after a woman is wrong, because I haven’t been taught not to. I never had the chance to attend “Human Decency 101”, so I get a hall pass. It’s okay girls, I didn’t mean to grab your butt- I’m just an idiot.

It implies that I have no restraint. That I have no power over my body whenever a girl with yoga pants walks in the room. That I’ll turn into an unhinged rapist if a girl’s shirt slips a centimeter too low.

And the part that bothers me the most about these statements is when I hear guys saying the same thing to excuse their own behavior.

Living on a college campus, I hear things like this all the time.

“If you wear yoga pants, how can you expect me not to stare?”

“Girls should really consider how distracting they can be before putting on stuff like that.”

Growing up I understood these sentiments. Yeah, why does she have to wear that? If she dresses like that, she’s obviously a slut. Which means I can stare. Because she wants me to stare. Right?

Society told me that I wasn’t responsible for these feelings. It told me that when a girl trespasses some invisible line in the modesty department it is suddenly okay to judge her. To view her as less than a person. To objectify.

But after maturing a little more, I realize how selfish this line of thinking is, to demand that someone slap some more fabric on her body for the sake of my own comfort.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of guys comparing “immodest” women to food (go figure). These pro-modesty dudes say things like, “When you dress like a slut it’s like you are turning yourself into a big mac, and then asking us not to look at you or touch you. How can you expect us not to try something?”

Look. I get it. Big macs are the bomb. And I may instinctively want to snatch a big mac out a stranger’s hand if I’m in public around lunchtime, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to. And it definitely doesn’t mean that I have the right to complain about all these strangers walking around with their slutty, unwrapped hamburgers. Or request that everybody around me refrain from eating big macs in my presence because of my own issues and preferences.

I may love a good burger, but I’m not an animal running on pure impulses. I’m a human, and so is the burger-woman. And we both deserve to be treated as such.

And maybe a good place to start would be to stop comparing the opposite sex to inanimate junk food.

– – – – –

Something that Hannah has mentioned before that I wholly support is the idea that lust is a choice, not a reaction.

I may be instantly attracted to a woman wearing a bikini walking past me at the beach. I can’t stop the quick rush of those feelings, it’s biological. But that isn’t lust, which seems to be where a lot of guys get tripped up.

Lust is turning around to get a better look. To imagine what’s underneath the fabric. Lust is shying away from her face so you can see her only as a body, an object. Lust takes time and active thought.

Since I’m not a woman, who are the ones most affected by the modesty debate, I honestly don’t know how to address this issue as a whole. Modesty is a complicated topic, dealing with things like self-expression, cultural standards of respect, public decency, and freedom of choice. The answer isn’t as clear as society often tells us, with nasty sluts on one side and respectable women on the other.

All I know is I plan to view members of the opposite sex as people, even when it may seem easier to objectify. Even when I have a society-supported excuse to act like a bundle of sexual impulses.

But I know that as a man, I am more than my genitals. I don’t need to be coddled because of my sex. And one day, I plan to teach my future sons the same thing. Not to see themselves as boys being boys, but as men who respect the people around them, no matter what they are wearing.


– – – – –


_MG_0601I’m a college student studying journalism and music. I try to tell the truth in a funny and genuine way. I love fast walks on the beach and collecting sharks’ teeth to throw at my enemies. Also I Boggle. 



146 thoughts on “Not a dick: a man’s perspective on modesty

  1. Thank you for this insight. I personally like to cover up. I wear body hugging but not body revealing clothing and I think it’s just because I grew up watching old films from the 20’s to 50’s. Glamour was being fully clothed. The silhouette of the body did all the talking. Sexy was in the face. That sort of thing.
    Modesty as a woman for me, shows respect for ones self worth. But that’s only my opinion.

  2. I’m a good guy, a gentleman, and respect women. I hold doors open, genuinely care about them and their feelings, and I would never lie to a girl to get something from her. But I have to admit that I do lust after girls that walk by that are great looking. It’s not what they’re wearing but their attractiveness, although I’ve checked out less than attractive girls because they’re wearing next to nothing. I don’t grab their butts or make improper comments towards them, but I seriously cannot control that temptation of getting a second look. I can even hear a group from afar and know if the group is worth a look or not. You really don’t know what it’s like, so stop judging the ones that just look. You give us zero credit on things like that being uncontrollable, but you give us so much credit on why we do it. “We’re just sociopaths that want to objectify women, because they aren’t equal.” We aren’t that in-depth. It’s more like “hey that girl is gorgeous, I wonder if she has a nice butt too.” We’re pretty simple in that regard. Stop trying to change us or guilt trip us because some guys are assholes that take those urges and go do other things because of them, then they try to blame their actions on the urges themselves. That isn’t fair. I’m sure I’m going to get a bunch of crap from people about this, but I genuinely appreciate a woman’s body. It’s beautiful. I like to look at them, especially when they are my preferred body type. Does that mean I’m some asshole that objectifies women and has no respect for them as human beings? I guess it depends on who you ask, but I know I’m genuinely a good guy and good human being.

    Also, you show me a guy that doesn’t check out women, and I’ll show you a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • thank you for your candidness. i don’t “fault” you for this. it’s just the way it works, but i don’t think women should have to flaunt themselves scantly just to get attention. it’s. just. the. way. it. is.

  3. i don’t know which i love more. Austin’s bio or the clarity of his perspective on this topic. I can’t really add anything to this honestly. He said it very well. For me, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that both sides have a responsibility to be decent human beings. Women need to be considerate of men and men need to be considerate of women. The definition of “considerate” is quite vague and may vary from person to person though so this debate may never end Lol

  4. Since I’m not a woman, who are the ones most affected by the modesty debate

    because women are the ones that are ½ dress! when was the last time a man showed up to the oscars in a form fitting jock strap? why not parade around the beach in miami in a speedo? you’re comparing apples to oranges here. i can agree with you partially, but women have been conditioned to wear basically nothing to get noticed. thank you for your perspective but you still have some growing up to do.

    • I have a slight qualm with your statement. You mention men being fully dressed at the Oscars, while women, you imply, show up in nothing. Is this not how it has been in popular culture for decades? I really don’t see how it’s the fault of women for lacking modesty when a male-dominated industry of directors and producers have women strut around stage barely clothed, perform in practically-nude scenes (sometimes with the MAN still clothed), and pose for magazine covers in crop-tops and bikinis. Girls grow up seeing this, and think it’s more than okay. They think it’s the way to behave. They don’t do it “to get noticed” but to fit in: a fundamental, psychological need. Stop behaving like your own gender is just one big attention whore.
      In the same sense, boys dress the way that they see their role models dressing in film, magazines, on their TV shows, and in commercials. Naturally, as Men’s fashion hasn’t changed since the early 1900s in any huge way, at least in terms of the amount of clothing being worn, it is unfair to even compare the two genders for their “choices.”
      Not all women are attention-whores. We are simply products of our time.

      • mallory-

        products of our time? male dominated industry? grow some balls sister. lame excuses thus you’re part of the problem.

        attention whore? good one…

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I have thought this for years of how degrading it must be for men in our current north America society. That men can easily be baited and provided as if they where animals, which is very wrong. you are humans who can show self control as well as decency. Thank you again for such a refreshing post.

  6. I really appreciate the honesty. It is raw and refreshing. It isn’t everyday that people share how hot topics like this really effect them. Thank you! 🙂

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