Much of the discussion among Plain Christians online seems focused on modesty-as defined as not showing your body. Not attacting attention is a distant 2nd- and submission of women to men and to God. What part do these ideas play in your choices about Plainness? What about living a simpler life? Where does modern Plain fit in?

    I am feeling led in this direction, but find most of the dialogue about not tempting men, and submission to our husbands objectionable at best! What about you ladies and gentlemen?

Views: 1163

Replies to This Discussion

I find it odd to see "in that time" as though feminism its dead and we're all treated perfectly equal in all respects now. It's probably not as bad as construction, but I'm a computer scientist. The number of times other students said in my hearing (even in the middle of class with no scolding!) that women don't belong / can't do / are bad at computer science...don't ask me to count. And how often in tech media are there references to "so easy your [mom | grandma] could use it"? It's never "your dad", as though computer illiteracy and femaleness are inextricably linked.

Caroline Gulian said:

I did live in that time, and she seems to be right on the mark.  Bra-burning was actually a myth brought about by the media to belittle the women's movement.  And when a woman tried to get into the major market of careers (most of which were dominated by men) they were accused of women trying to be men.  They were women trying to make money, trying to break out of the myths.

 

I worked in construction before the recession affected real estate and hope to get back into it.  I wear hardhats and steel tipped boots on site as protection.  I'm not trying to be a man, I am dressing like the men for the same reasons men dress like men.  Safety.

 

Furthermore, a 'feminist' has been made out to be manhaters.  A true feminist can be a man or a woman who strives for women's equality in society and the workplace.

I really didn't intend to start a debate on the validity of feminism. But this conflict, even among Quakers, is part of my uneasiness with the language of submissiveness as it relates to headcovering especially. There is a sense of continuity and togetherness with a larger culture and what came before as Joe talked about. I find that very powerful, as a woman who has chosen (for now) to stay home with my children. But if all that history were good there would be no conflict!  The fact that women were, for centuries forced to submit, and raised to believe there was no other way, makes wearing those outward signs, something that *is* up for debate. I feel called to witness to simplicity, but I would not want to appear to support the view that we should return to "submissiveness" in all things. My rejection of the heirarchy is part of why I'm not Christian.  So that is where I'm stuck!

I've bought headcoverings from Sowers of Hope before, and they have a series on their blog called SEED where they interview their customers about their headcovering leadings.  Mostly there's a lot of references to submission in the responses, but there's an interesting one from a Quaker feminist I know else-internet, who says:

The more complicated answer is that modern western society demands that women make themselves attractive by forcing their bodies into a few very restrictive types of appearance, and then demands that they display themselves. I had been dressing modestly for a couple years in reaction to this, covering was a natural next step in my decision to declare that my body is for me and for the husband I choose to share it with, not for the world at larg

 http://www.sowersofhopeboutique.com/2010/10/s-e-e-d-andrea/

I also lived through that ERA period of time. I had aunts and a grandmother who lived through and were active in the suffrage movement as well as the ERA period. I can tell you stories of brilliant capable women including those aunts, my grandmother and my mother who because of circumstances were required to take second place in their careers and lives because they were women. They did not want to be men. They wanted to be women who were allowed to exercise their right to work and get paid as what they were - professionals in their fields (law, psychology, business, education). Except for my grandmother and my mother - who were widows who needed to support their families - these were not women who were "abandoning their families for their own fulfillment" or any of the other mythologies that were tagged on women who sought out opportunities worthy of their abilities. All the aunts chose to be single or childless so that they would not be caught in that trap of condemnation.  (A tragedy becasue they LOVED children, spent their lives serving them and all would have made great mothers.)

 

I am troubled because of the intransigent belief of the destructive nature and "results" of the ERA movement and even in some cases of that belief in reference to the previous efforts of women to obtain a more equitable distribution of rights and resources between the sexes. I find it disturbing that a woman would wish to deny other women the right to equal pay, what they can do for jobs and how they would live their life - choices that are allowed without any question to men just as I am troubled that there are women who would deny the right to other women to be as traditional in their feminine role and submitted to the authority of their husband as they choose.

 

In no way would I wish anything but rights to choose for a woman to live exactly as she pleases - whether in the most conservative of ways where she may live entirely as a completely traditional wife and mother, covering her head for reasons of submission and to show her husband's headship or whether to be as I am - in and of the world, working, living and following what works for me -  completely equal to the men in my career, which is NOT traditionally a woman's career, dressing in a simple but not submitted way, (pants as well as dresses/skirts and short easy to maintain hair not covered) and living a life that would not have been accepted as "correct" in the past - very active and very verbal in community affairs and local issues, as well as being very much an activist in other issues I support.

 

All I ask - and expect is that if I support your right to make your choices that you respect my right to make mine and you refrain from judging my beliefs and choices as I refrain from judging yours. This one goes back to the old saying - until you have walked in my shoes and know my life and my reasons - or anyone's for that matter - don't rush to judgement. Instead - come to me and ask me why I live the way I do if you want to find out how I came to my way of life and I will ask you how you came to yours.

Dear Beth,

I think I understand your question better now. Thanks for getting us back on track. You wish to know whether submissiveness is part of modesty/simplicity in the Society of Friends?

We need to turn to our most basic belief for the answer. The seed of God is in every person. Each of us has direct access to the Divine. Thus no one person is inherently better than another. We are well known in our Society for our testimony of equality. Many of the leaders of the first wave of feminism in the 19th century were Quakers. In the 20th century, Quaker Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment.

Simplicity is another of our testimonies. There is another active thread on this website that is exploring the meaning of simplicity; you might want to check it out if you haven't seen it. Anyway, it is largely out of this testimony of simplicity that plain dress finds its explanation, rather than out of modesty.

We have no testimony about modesty, and certainly don't have one about submission to anyone on the face of the earth! We are famous for our refusal to take off our hats to so-called superiors, including the king. Hat honor, as it is called, plus plain language (second-person familiar, i.e., "thee" rather than the formal "you"), and refusal to take oaths or swear loyalty to a person or country, all these marked us as people who submit to no earthly power. We call no person "master."

Keep your eye on the source: We submit to God, and God alone. Simple!! What you make of that in your life is for you to discern. If you feel drawn to plain dress, consider that in the context of simplicity and following God.

 

In Friendship, Paula (old enough to have lived "in that time")

 


Beth Belch said:

I really didn't intend to start a debate on the validity of feminism. But this conflict, even among Quakers, is part of my uneasiness with the language of submissiveness as it relates to headcovering especially. There is a sense of continuity and togetherness with a larger culture and what came before as Joe talked about. I find that very powerful, as a woman who has chosen (for now) to stay home with my children. But if all that history were good there would be no conflict!  The fact that women were, for centuries forced to submit, and raised to believe there was no other way, makes wearing those outward signs, something that *is* up for debate. I feel called to witness to simplicity, but I would not want to appear to support the view that we should return to "submissiveness" in all things. My rejection of the heirarchy is part of why I'm not Christian.  So that is where I'm stuck!

I think that if one is being led, one had better go.  That is submission to God. 

Where one ends up when obeying a leading is not where one starts, and your feelings on this subject may well change and deepen and broaden because your submission to your leading (if it is one) brings you openings that you can't see now.  If you have objections to your leading, you can voice them to God, but in my experience that doesn't make the leading go away. 

I do cover.  It was not an intellectual decision to start covering; it was in response to a leading.  I can tell you several years into it that it's had effects I didn't imagine when I started and it hasn't had some other effects I imagined beforehand.   I'm learning not to dissect my leadings and then use the dissection to decide for myself whether I will or will not follow.  When I obey, I (and others) gain much more than when I try to keep control.  But every leading does lead to change.

"We have no testimony about modesty, and certainly don't have one about submission to anyone on the face of the earth!"

One has to be careful on this website when describing Quakers as a "we" and making statements like this. Conservative Friends do have a mind for outward modesty and for submission, though perhaps "testimony" is not the word I would use. We have occasionally had visitors to Conservative Gatherings in shorts and tank tops, and those are not considered appropriate. We also submit to our faith community: when we have a leading, particularly a leading to travel in the ministry, we submit it for approval to the faith community.  They can say no, but then they have to "bear the burden" of the leading.

 

Paula Deming said:

Dear Beth,

I think I understand your question better now. Thanks for getting us back on track. You wish to know whether submissiveness is part of modesty/simplicity in the Society of Friends?

We need to turn to our most basic belief for the answer. The seed of God is in every person. Each of us has direct access to the Divine. Thus no one person is inherently better than another. We are well known in our Society for our testimony of equality. Many of the leaders of the first wave of feminism in the 19th century were Quakers. In the 20th century, Quaker Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment.

Simplicity is another of our testimonies. There is another active thread on this website that is exploring the meaning of simplicity; you might want to check it out if you haven't seen it. Anyway, it is largely out of this testimony of simplicity that plain dress finds its explanation, rather than out of modesty.

We have no testimony about modesty, and certainly don't have one about submission to anyone on the face of the earth! We are famous for our refusal to take off our hats to so-called superiors, including the king. Hat honor, as it is called, plus plain language (second-person familiar, i.e., "thee" rather than the formal "you"), and refusal to take oaths or swear loyalty to a person or country, all these marked us as people who submit to no earthly power. We call no person "master."

Keep your eye on the source: We submit to God, and God alone. Simple!! What you make of that in your life is for you to discern. If you feel drawn to plain dress, consider that in the context of simplicity and following God.

 

In Friendship, Paula (old enough to have lived "in that time")

 


Beth Belch said:

I really didn't intend to start a debate on the validity of feminism. But this conflict, even among Quakers, is part of my uneasiness with the language of submissiveness as it relates to headcovering especially. There is a sense of continuity and togetherness with a larger culture and what came before as Joe talked about. I find that very powerful, as a woman who has chosen (for now) to stay home with my children. But if all that history were good there would be no conflict!  The fact that women were, for centuries forced to submit, and raised to believe there was no other way, makes wearing those outward signs, something that *is* up for debate. I feel called to witness to simplicity, but I would not want to appear to support the view that we should return to "submissiveness" in all things. My rejection of the heirarchy is part of why I'm not Christian.  So that is where I'm stuck!

Sorry you've had to deal with that.  Construction for a woman is a definite uphill battle and I have seen some things happen on worksites that I won't repeat here.  Male workers doing things to let the female workers know they are not wanted.

Most industries were once male dominated, and certain jobs such as yours regarding science have been especially difficult to enter.  Most women I have known who are engineers are immigrants - much of this stereotyping is done right here in America.



Mackenzie said:

I find it odd to see "in that time" as though feminism its dead and we're all treated perfectly equal in all respects now. It's probably not as bad as construction, but I'm a computer scientist. The number of times other students said in my hearing (even in the middle of class with no scolding!) that women don't belong / can't do / are bad at computer science...don't ask me to count. And how often in tech media are there references to "so easy your [mom | grandma] could use it"? It's never "your dad", as though computer illiteracy and femaleness are inextricably linked.

Caroline Gulian said:

I did live in that time, and she seems to be right on the mark.  Bra-burning was actually a myth brought about by the media to belittle the women's movement.  And when a woman tried to get into the major market of careers (most of which were dominated by men) they were accused of women trying to be men.  They were women trying to make money, trying to break out of the myths.

 

I worked in construction before the recession affected real estate and hope to get back into it.  I wear hardhats and steel tipped boots on site as protection.  I'm not trying to be a man, I am dressing like the men for the same reasons men dress like men.  Safety.

 

Furthermore, a 'feminist' has been made out to be manhaters.  A true feminist can be a man or a woman who strives for women's equality in society and the workplace.



Mackenzie said:

I've bought headcoverings from Sowers of Hope before, and they have a series on their blog called SEED where they interview their customers about their headcovering leadings.  Mostly there's a lot of references to submission in the responses, but there's an interesting one from a Quaker feminist I know else-internet, who says:

The more complicated answer is that modern western society demands that women make themselves attractive by forcing their bodies into a few very restrictive types of appearance, and then demands that they display themselves. I had been dressing modestly for a couple years in reaction to this, covering was a natural next step in my decision to declare that my body is for me and for the husband I choose to share it with, not for the world at larg

 http://www.sowersofhopeboutique.com/2010/10/s-e-e-d-andrea/

 

Thanks for sharing that, it reflects much of how I feel.

Thank you, Isabel! I agree with you about having "a mind for outward modesty." And certainly we owe submission to our faith community. You have nicely rounded out some particulars of modesty among Friends meetings. What I wrote about submission to individuals and the testimony of simplicity doesn't contradict what you have written at all. 

I wonder: Could it be that shorts and tank tops are too casual, rather than simply immodest? Would a dressier tank top--of nicer material--and short skirt be acceptable, or would that be immodest as well? I find myself a bit taken aback by some of the T-shirts people wear to meeting, but that's not a modesty issue so much as simply inappropriate clothing.

Thank you for writing about "bearing the burden" of the leading. Very interesting and helpful. I'd like to learn more, but that's a subject for another thread.

Thy fFriend Paula


Isabel Penraeth said:

"We have no testimony about modesty, and certainly don't have one about submission to anyone on the face of the earth!"

One has to be careful on this website when describing Quakers as a "we" and making statements like this. Conservative Friends do have a mind for outward modesty and for submission, though perhaps "testimony" is not the word I would use. We have occasionally had visitors to Conservative Gatherings in shorts and tank tops, and those are not considered appropriate. We also submit to our faith community: when we have a leading, particularly a leading to travel in the ministry, we submit it for approval to the faith community.  They can say no, but then they have to "bear the burden" of the leading.

 

RSS

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.


You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Kirby Urner posted a video
7th month 24
William F Rushby shared Rob Fensom's photo on Facebook
7th month 23
Scott MacLeod updated their profile
7th month 17
William F Rushby commented on William F Rushby's blog post 'Wisdom from an Old German Bpitst Brethren website'
"I tried to get "Baptist" spelled correctly, but editing didn't work for me."
7th month 14
William F Rushby posted a blog post

Wisdom from an Old German Bpitst Brethren website

From Leanna Peters O'Riley in <Old German Baptist Brethren>We cannot pour from an empty…See More
7th month 14
Keith Saylor commented on Keith Saylor's blog post 'From William Salt's 1663 "Some Breathings of Life ..."'
"Full text if Salt's pamphlet can be found…"
7th month 13
Keith Saylor posted a blog post

From William Salt's 1663 "Some Breathings of Life ..."

And theſe two things feel me in (and therein abide with me.)My heart fixed in the Spirit of Love,…See More
7th month 2
Donn Weinholtz posted a discussion
6th month 22

© 2021   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service