Secular author: ‘Parents have a duty’ to forbid daughters’ immodest dress – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — British author Louise Perry, who is agnostic, recently declared that “parents have a duty” to not let their teenage daughters dress immodestly.

The author of the acclaimed book “The Case Against the Sexual Revolution” explained in a recent episode of her Maiden Mother Matriarch podcast that dressing immodestly has dangerous potential consequences for young women, such as enhancing the probability that they will be sexually harassed.

“I think that young women have no idea what they’re doing when they go out of the house dressed in very, very revealing clothing,” Perry said in response to a question about her opinion on modesty in women’s clothing. “And I think bless them for not knowing that. But I think parents have a duty to not let them do that, because they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Perry, who worked at a rape crisis center after college, suggested that dressing modestly is especially important during teenage years when girls are most likely to be sexually harassed or assaulted.

She recalled that “the most sexual harassment” she had ever experienced was in school at the age of 15, 16, and 17, adding, “The peak of sexual harassment victimization is also the peak of sexual assault victimization.”

“Men just find that age range very attractive for adaptive reasons,” said Perry, explaining that girls around the age of 16 are not only very fertile but typically have not yet had children.

“None of this is nice. And also, none of this excuses men who will harass schoolgirls on the way (to and) from school. I think any men who are making these girls feel uncomfortable ought to be dealt with very, very directly by other men. Ideally the police,” Perry said.

Her suggestion that immodest dress is correlated with sexual harassment or even assault is considered offense to many feminists, who insist that women should be able to dress as provocatively as they want without consequences. They typically accuse those who draw any sort of correlation between immodesty and sexual harassment of “blaming the victim.” 

However, many modesty advocates do not remove the burden of responsibility from harassers or sexual assailants, but simply acknowledge that immoral men can and will at times be provoked by immodest dress.

It is true that rape has occurred throughout history despite women’s modest dress. But those who completely shun modesty as an even somewhat helpful guard against sexual harassment or assault fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking: If much of rape or sexual assault has nothing to do with how a woman is dressed, then none of it has anything to do with modesty.

Abigail Anaba has shown, on the contrary, that there is evidence to suggest that modest dress will help reduce women’s risk of rape by strangers.

Police officers and even survivors of sexual assault have drawn this connection, to the ire of many women. In 2011, officer Michael Sanguinetti told female students in Toronto that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” admitting that he had been told by his superiors not to say this. His comments sparked a global “slutwalk” movement, in which women protest what they decry as “victim blaming,” many of them scantily clad. 

A surprising critic of immodest dress is an author best known for a 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Susan Brownmiller complained in 2015 that women “think they can have it all ways” without consequences.

“Culture may tell you, ‘You can drink as much as men,’ but you can’t … The slut marches bothered me, too, when they said you can wear whatever you want. Well sure, but you look like a hooker. They say, ‘That doesn’t matter,’ but it matters to the man who wants to rape. It’s unrealistic,” Brownmiller told the Cut.

While Perry did not specifically delineate recommended standards of modesty, she noted that “in our culture right now,” showing one’s knees, elbows, collarbone, and hair, “doesn’t register as being immodest.”

She pointed out that by dressing modestly, young women will have to forgo wanted sexual attention, and need boundaries to be set by authoritative adults in their lives, including both parents and school staff who create uniform rules.

The culturally conservative commentator has previously revealed that she espoused liberal feminist ideas about sexuality until she worked at a rape crisis center. The experience reversed her former beliefs that there is “nothing wrong in porn, bondage, sadomasochism and hook-up culture.”

Perry has stressed that she is not a “practicing Christian.”

“People often assume that I’m Catholic, but I’m not. I’m kind of culturally Christian, but I’m not starting from religious principles. I’m just ending up in agreement on some points,” she told the Irish Examiner in 2022. 

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