On Modesty

A few days ago, I clicked on a YouTube ad for a video by Classically Abby. The video was about being newly married or a 10-things-you-should-know-before-getting-married vlog. I was intrigued because, based on this woman’s youth, I had the feeling she couldn’t have been married for very long. What type of woman would give advice with visibly little matrimonial experience under her belt?

The video didn’t disappoint. The woman–with A-game eyebrows I might add–gave the most basic advice, which you could easily already know after being roommates with anyone for a year. Whilst the advice wasn’t horrible, it also wasn’t enriching, nuanced, or invigorating. Regardless, I couldn’t help but delve deeper into Classically Abby’s channel. The next video I watched was about dressing modestly.

Aside: I am pretty sure curiosity is both one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses.

Well, I watched the full video and then amused myself by also reading the comments. People of the Internet are equal parts inane, cruel, compassionate, and hilarious. The comments section never disappoints. Of course, all of this got me to thinking about modesty.

As Classically Abby explains in her video, women must dress modestly because–and here I’m paraphrasing–you don’t want men to be distracted by your body; If you are scantily clad, the men folk will only see you for your body and not for your other merits. Men are visual creatures, according to Classically Abby, and they cannot be blamed if, upon seeing your cleavage, they discount you as an intelligent human being and objectify you.

This is an extremely old and tired–and frankly, disproved and boring–argument. Conservative women should really find a new playbook. I thought to myself that I could spend time exposing the logical fallacies here, which several women took time to do in the comments, or I could instead explore what is modesty. I find the latter far more interesting because understanding what modesty is might better inform our understanding of what it means to dress modestly.

The definition of modesty starts with the word moderation, which means avoiding extreme behaviors or to be calm and temperate (mild). Modesty is also defined as neither bold nor self-assertive, as being unpretentious. The etymology of the word is moderate, but more at the word measured (taken from the Latin modus). It’s important to understand the definition of words before you can begin to use them to address or redress others.

With this definition of modesty, in particular its etymology, we might begin to grasp what might be meant by dressing modestly. Because at the heart of the definition is the word measured, we can exclude haute couture from being modest, since anything created by excess or expense cannot be modest. But what else might we exclude from being modest now that we know what the definition is?

Let’s think about how our clothes are designed and made these days. Most of what we buy is not made at home anymore nor by seamstresses in the United States. We tend to buy off-the-shelf fashion, which is imported mainly from China, but also from India and Mexico. Are these all made moderately without excess simply because we can purchase them for $13 at Walmart?

From the films and documentaries exposing this part of our fashion industry, especially from the revelations about the warehouses in China, where young girls are propping their eyes open with clothespins to work through the 15th hour of their 18-hour shift, we could ascertain that the expenses and excesses used in our fashion are the bodies of young girls from the poorest parts of the world.

Every pair of jeans or blouse or dress we put on costs in bodies rather than dollars. We might pay $13 for a dress, but that dress came at the expense of a teenage girl’s actual blood, sweat, and tears. In some cases, it might have been paid for with her life, since these factories are locked tight and sometimes burn to the ground with everyone inside it.

Is not the torture and enslavement of young girls for cheap, off-the-shelf clothing the definitive excess of capitalism? Is this not a high cost for the clothes we wear? Could it be then that nothing we wear here in the United States, one of the main beneficiaries of the Global Economy, is modest? Based on the definition of modesty, I would say that the clothing we wear is too pretentious, extreme in its making, and immoderate to be so.

Perhaps, if we were very concerned about modesty, we might rethink how we get our clothes, how we can defend the rights of the workers who make our clothes, and how we ourselves might be more moderate in our purchase patterns for clothing instead of worrying about how much the clothing covers of our bodies. Just a thought.

The Sappiest

For the last few days, I’ve been watching puppies, kittens, and love stories in an attempt to erase the horrors of the weekend. Tonight, I watched A Walk to Remember for–I dunno–maybe the eleventieth time.

Why do all of Nicholas Sparks’ stories end so tragically? Someone really needs to sit him down and say, “Nick, even Shakespeare wrote a comedy every once and awhile. Would it kill you to write a happy ending?” I mean…I get it. I don’t even know if I’m capable of writing a happy ending.

More than 10 years ago, I had this dream of becoming a Romance novel writer…like the Harlequin, bodice-buster style of Romance novels. I loved that every single drug store grab always ended happily. You’re never disappointed at the end of one of those.

But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t write about love or create a happy ending. I think I started three books and never finished them. What I’ve realized is that I don’t have a frame of reference for it. Sure, it’s all fiction, but you should be able to write convincingly about the relationship–it’s the only plot point. You really can’t phone that part in.

Again, I don’t have a frame of reference for a good relationship. I mean I’ve been in love, but not the kind that leads to any sort of long-term, stick-it-out-together, let’s-get-married kinda thing. My longest relationship was about 2 years. Before that, 8 whole months. In between those, 5 long years. Wouldn’t you know, my last relationship (the 2-year one) will have ended 5 years ago this September (I think)?

I’m not a fan of dating. I don’t know of anyone–guy or girl–who enjoys dating these days. I’ve heard horror stories. In fact, I have horror stories. Once, at the end of a date that didn’t go very well for me because the guy was extremely rude and pessimistic the whole evening, he told me that I was fat with crooked teeth. Then, he proceeded to ask me out on another date. He negged me. Ugh.

So how can I possibly develop a relationship between two characters that can be felt as genuine? To tell the truth, I don’t even know how people actually decide to get married. I don’t know what you have to feel to really want to make that happen. I’m not against marriage or anything. It would be great to feel that strongly about anyone. I just don’t know what that feeling is. What is it?

Maybe when I was younger–15 to 25 range–I felt emotions much stronger. Every feeling was life or death. Being with someone felt necessary, as if I needed that connection to really feel alive. Now at nearly 40, I don’t feel anything at all. It all feels empty, perhaps vaguely like an emotion I might have felt when I was 16 and wanted more than anything in the world to be in love, but tastes bland like the box the Twinkies came in.

And yet, I still cry when I watch A Walk to Remember. I still have hope that love exists, but maybe not the way I imagined it in my adolescence. Most of the time I think I would be keen for someone who could remember to take the trash to the curb on Sunday nights and unload the dishwasher after the cycle is done. That’s not quite passionate, but it’s very helpful, which I suppose can be better than passion.

From what I can tell, passion doesn’t age well. You know what does age well, though? Consideration. That never gets old, but it is–I find–extremely rare. Let’s just imagine that there is such a considerate, helpful, and passionate guy out there (nice to have all three). The chances of us meeting at this point are zero because I am a homebody and that was before ‘Rona.

So yeah, I have a dog for companionship and Netflix for reliving impossible Romances. What more do I need? Well, that–that is none of your business.

Until next time.

True Crime Brain Is A Drag

I’m disturbed. I’ve wasted most of my weekend binging true crime docu-series on Netflix. I watched every episode of Unsolved Mysteries and every episode of Filthy Rich. I’ve learned two very important lessons (neither one of them make me happy):

  1. No body, no crime.
  2. The truly evil are master manipulators.

The latter of these terrifies me the most because it demonstrates the high level of intelligence and the low threshold for brainwashing it takes to commit atrocities in plain sight. A master manipulator can Jedi mind trick almost anyone. I guess that makes them Sith.

They understand the human mindset: They easily read a person, pinpoint their weaknesses, and weaponize this knowledge against them. They are constantly playing a game of chess with everyone they meet whilst most people are playing an unaware game of solitaire.

The question I heard most often–even in my own mind–was how could this individual get away with this magnitude of evil for so long? Why aren’t they in prison already? The answer isn’t as simple as “because we don’t believe women.”

Someone like a Jeffery Epstein, has played the game out to checkmate in their minds. They know that most people would rather rationalize behavior than to believe the absolute worst case scenario. This plays to their advantage because they know also that the people who can decipher what their behavior means have a tough time trying to convince others of the truth.

The strategy is to go big–or go home–so big that it’s impossible to believe. The average person cannot accept that anyone could actually do something like this and get away with it, so therefore, they actually can’t be doing what it is that they are doing.

The absolute worst, most abominable things break us–traumatize us. Trauma impacts the brain to such an extent that it changes human behavior; Our actions and reactions will not be what they ought. This too works to the advantage of the master manipulator. By being human and experiencing trauma appropriately, we aid their long game.

A master manipulator has both a high IQ and EQ. The EQ is how they are able to get away with so much for so long. They themselves might never feel emotions like guilt, remorse, or sympathy, but most people do. This is what makes it easier for them to exploit others. Guilt, especially, can be harnessed to control others, as is often done at a societal level via religion, codes of ethics, or laws.

Not everyone can be controlled and a master manipulator knows this. They know who is susceptible and who is not. Those who cannot be controlled can still be manipulated. Part of this manipulation is the persona: The Philanthropist. Doing good deeds is not in any way a part of retribution, but rather a distinct part of the deception.

Having not personally met Jeffrey Epstein, some might assume that they would have known–that they would have hated him and perhaps stopped him–but it’s more likely that they would have liked him or at least liked being around him. By all accounts, he was charming, charismatic, and a good listener.

In fact, he had a personality quite similar to a cult leader. Think about that for a minute. Cult leaders are able to manipulate the men in their flocks to the point that the men feel privileged when the leader sleeps with their wives and daughters. They can even manipulate cult members into committing suicide or homicide.

Down this rabbit hole is dark. Fair warning.

If murder and suicide can be a part of the cult ritual, then too can child molestation. If Jeffrey Epstein was a cult leader, then his flock was being groomed in the moralization of child molestation and trafficking. The survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s cult kept saying it’s bigger than the general public or media know. Maybe it’s bigger than they had the words to describe.

Maybe Jeffrey Epstein created and funded a cult, and the island–Pedophile Island–where his wealth is held in a trust, is their holy city. Their enigmatic leader is dead, but does that mean the cult died with him? Did he groom another to take over? Is he a cult leader or simply a very smart child molester who Ponzi schemed his pedophilia?

This has weighed heavily on my mind, as I recount the experiences of the Palm Beach police detectives, who found a number of women unwilling to testify on account they fancied themselves in love with Jeffery or the young girls who brought him other young girls and are now facing a lifetime of guilt for aiding and abetting a child molester.

This is easily the story of wealth and power and corruption in high places. It’s almost comforting as a narrative because it can’t happen to me if it’s the corruption of power and money. I can’t help thinking that it’s not; I can’t stop thinking that it’s a much more terrifying event. It reveals the underbelly of humanity–the soft point at which humanity can be split open.

It’s The Lord of the Flies. It’s The Lottery. It’s the Holocaust. It’s the ease at which we destroy human life with a smile upon our faces.

Like I stated at the outset: I’m disturbed. I think that’s enough true crime for me for awhile.