I just need to take a moment to bask in your love and approval. I might lose it with this post. Then again, maybe not.
You see, I’m kind of a prude. Sure, I’ll put my hand up at a Weight Watchers meeting and casually mention that sex counts as an activity, even if it’s not listed in the program guide. And I’m not in the least bit inhibited when it comes to, uh, marital intimacy. And I’ve slept with every guy I ever dated (it’s true! Does the fact that I only ever dated one guy change how that statement sounds?)
But you know, most of those things happen behind closed doors. And with the exception of the first one, my sexual exploits (sexploits?) are known only to me and Mr. December. Which is as it should be, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a time and a place for everything.
So I hope you’ll all understand when I state, here and now, that it bothers me exceedingly when women attend synagogue in skirts that don’t even make it halfway to their knees. Or in tops that show a lot of cleavage. It just screams “inappropriate!” to me. Even worse, it smacks of disrespect – even if none is intended.
I find it strange that some women get all defensive and bristly when I say this, as if it’s their God-given right to wear whatever they want whenever they want. As if someone is imposing some medieval dress code on them. As if we’re passing judgment.
Okay, I’m passing judgment.
But why do women defend their right to wear too-tight and too-revealing clothing into a synagogue when they would travel to India and gladly take off their shoes in any given temple, or respectfully don long pants instead of shorts when visiting the great cathedrals of Europe? What gives?
I’m not an adherent to the standards of tznius (modesty) in dress that orthodox women follow. But you know what? We come to synagogue, many of us, to talk to God. Or to be part of a holy community. It’s hard for me to feel holy, or focus on God, when my eyes are constantly drawn to a woman’s cleavage – and I’m a heterosexual woman. Seriously, it’s that distracting.
Is this about ego? Is it about being blind to the effect of one’s clothing on other people? And is it so hard to remember that how we dress for synagogue (or anything) is an expression not only of ourselves, but also of our respect (or lack thereof) for the sanctity and importance of the occasion?
I don’t have any answers. Just questions that come up time and time again… so I’m turning to you, my readers. What do you think? And if you think that there should be standards, who gets to decide?