Sick of talking about pants yet?  TOO BAD!  I want to talk about pants!  Some more!

Actually, I want to talk about creeps.  Because that’s what this is about: it’s about creeps forgetting to hide how creepy they are.  So many people said so many smart things yesterday — but the best comments were the ones which rooted out the worst part of the original pantsalog.  The worst part was this:

[Wear skirts] for us, the minority of chaste men who merit the gift of enjoying your beauty in such a way as to be grateful to your creator without temptation. Make it so it is good for men to look upon you, rather than requiring us to look away (which is a tragedy).

“Merit?”  “Make it so it is good?”  I’ll translate this for you:

I don’t cheat on my wife, and that’s really hard, so I’m entitled to some compensation.  So line up, girls, and show me something special.  Neutrally modest isn’t good enough — I deserve something niiiiiiiice.

Oh, you sound just like Padre Pio; really you do!

Several other men in various comboxes expressed a similar idea of their right, as a virtuous man, to enjoy all women in a virtuous way.  They’re not satisfied with cracking down on their own wives — they feel that they’ve won the privilege of savoring and setting the standards for everyone else’s wife, too.

A few guys said that they could tell by the way I talk that I’m a disobedient wife.  How can they tell?  Because their wives wear skirts.  I usually don’t.  Therefore I must be disobeying my husband.

Never mind that my husband likes me in pants.  Which I mentioned.  So I guess they’re saying . . . that I should be obeying them?

Luckily for me, I have a husband who is just dying for someone to say something like that, so he can punch their lights out.  He recently quit smoking, and is looking for someone to punch.

But, ladies, what if your husband likes you in pants, but you happen to leave the house without him?  What if you’re doing some errands, you’re wearing pants, and some pigeon-toed guy with a scaly neck sidles up and confronts you for revealing the fact that you have legs — two of ’em?

He scowls through his horrible beard and, once he gains control of the self-righteous quivering that shakes him from head to toe, he speaks:  “WHERE IS THY SKIRT, WOMAN?  WHY HAST THOU APPEARED AT WALMART IN THESE DETESTABLE PANTALOONS?  DOST THOU NOT RESPECT THY HUSBAND’S WISHES?”

Here’s what you do:  print out the following card, laminate it, and show it to the guy.

While he’s mentally translating it into Latin so it makes sense to him, you will be able to make a speedy getaway.  And since you’re wearing dem pants, you’ll do it without showing any skin!  Run, ladies, run!

(Pants Pass designed by my beautiful and talented sister-in-law, Rose Nigel)


  1. lololol.

    It is because of posts like this that I have you in my reader. I had to laugh a little softer at the pants pass since I don’t want to wake my sleeping children.

  2. BRAVO!!

    I do usually wear skirts- I’m short, its easier to find an OK length and not end up walking on them like I often do with pants- but now in shorts weather or even when I do occ. wear pants- leave me alone- TRUST me, I am careful to be modest. I hate it when I feel judged by people from Church by what I am wearing- from pants, to the length of my shirt, to the fact that I have lost 60 pounds and now my body doesn’t only fit in a sack anymore. I may even actually print this out and have Dan sign it- he’ll get a hoot out of it!

  3. I love your translation – it’s scary that you can channel Bud quite that perfectly. Ick! And while I’m on the topic, his “best-selling Catholic novels” make me want to take a shower with Lysol. But because the dirty talk is all dressed up with theology of the body language and stuff about marian apparitions, somehow we’re all not supposed to notice that fundamentally it’s just plain old garden-variety smut.

    And another thing: why do creepy guys of this type always refer to their wives as their “brides”? Do normal husbands do this? What’s up with that?

    • It seems like there is some deliberate misinterpretation of Bud’s original statement going on here. His 2nd point is nested on his first point and cannot be seperated from it:

      1…the female figure is…always enhanced, while adding…modesty, [by a dress].

      2. [wear a dress] for us, the [few Christian men who actually try hard to practice chastity (i.e. no sexual fantasies, no extra or pre-marital sex, and no masturbation either within or outside of marriage) who [in encountering women in their daily lives deserve for it to be a normal interaction rather than an ocassion of sin and, if the woman is pretty, to be able to pray, “Wow, thank you Lord for creating such beauty in this world”] Make it so it is good for men [as opposed to a venial or mortal sin] to look upon you, rather than requiring us to look away [which ALL Christians are obligated to do if you are a near occassion of sin] (which is a tragedy).

      Thats what I got out of his two points anyways. It seemed pretty clear from the first read too.

      I personally agree with his first point. I am a hetersexual male though.

      His second point when taken in context with the first seems unassailable from a Christian/eternal perspective.


      • If you take his second point in the context of his entire essay, though, he still comes out looking like a jerk. Sorry, I read it approximately 923 times, and that’s what I’m hearing. If the intended audience (faithful Catholic women) largely agree (at least on this blog! I realize that lots of women don’t like what I’m saying) that he sounds like a creep, then there’s something amiss with his message.

        • There are so many more women (good Catholic women) our there then just on this blog! And, there are probably a lot out there, like me, who think you calling him a creep is mean, rude and uncalled for!

          • OMG Simmy you’re such a MEANIE!!!111!!!

            (You get that a lot when your arguments are hard to refute, don’t you?)

          • Okay, Margaret, everyone has been pretty patient with you, but I swear if you say “mean and rude” one more time, I am going to block you. Why don’t you go have a glass of water and think about whether you life if getting better or worse since you started commenting here, and then figure out what to do next.

  4. SIMCHA. You are AWESOME.

    I’ve been watching this whole thing unfold with amusement and fascination. The pants debate is not unlike what comes out of uber-fundie evangelical churches but the kicker is that all of the women in those groups are generally way too “submissive” to respond in the way that you incredible Catholic ladies have.

    Again, this is just awesome. Such a brilliant way to start the day.

    • Submissive women? For one thing, it’s right in the bible about women being submissive to their husbands; do I need to write that quote right out here for you? Also, saying submissive women is very offensive to me since I was thinking of switching back to skirts/dresses before I even met my husband and switched completely on my own will after we met. 😛

  5. Simcha, you’ve got a smart mouth on you, you know that? (I said that like it’s a good thing, right???) This recent discovery in the blogosphere is WAAAY too much fun to pass up. I have GOT to write more on this subject.

    If you’d like, I can get a bunch of those cards laminated for you. They’d make great party favors at the parish hall.

  6. I hate to change the subject (really,) especially since it seems I am the only one who actually has need of the discussion. I have worn tank tops and mini skirts to church (at the same time, no less) and felt like the most modest woman in the place. I honestly had absolutely no idea others may have been judging me and I can say with near certainty I was moving no man to lust. I am going to have to re-think my standards after reading all of this….

    Anyway, as I said, I hate to change the subject but there was a post up briefly yesterday on the blog that said you, Simcha, had written an article on teaching first grade. I am desperately interested in this and am wondering if and when it will appear.

    Thank you so much and sorry you had to take so much slack for your slacks.

  7. Pretty good, but it needs to have some fine print; for instance “if possessor of this card can show documentations of being no more than 5 months post partum, she has the additional privilege of wearing a.) pants that are too big (i.e. maternity pants) and must be hiked up after bending over, or b.) pants that are too small and must not be bent over in.”

    that being said, I am firmly in the “i love wearing skirts, and when possible it’s my preference and I look nicer in them, but modesty and comfort fall by the wayside in fall/winter, during hard work, while playing or exercising, when you can’t afford shoes to go with them that don’t make you look like a dork, and when you have little boys who think they are tents” camp. And it’s nice that my husband is in this camp too.

    just to confirm my love of pants, I cried last week when I consigned some wonderful pants that i fear I will never fit in again. I wasn’t crying because I’m 5 sizes bigger, but because… they were wonderful pants!!!

  8. >>>I have worn tank tops and mini skirts
    >>>to church
    >>>I can say with near certainty
    >>>I was moving no man to lust.

    As a man, I can say with near certainty that you are very mistaken.


    • Tim, I’m sure you’re right. For the record: I believe that all mini skirts and many tank tops are immodest for wearing in public, and shouldn’t be worn at Mass. This seems fairly obvious to me.

      • Sorry to drag this out, I promise I am done. I also promise to bear neither shoulder or knee at mass. But allow me to say, for other women’s sakes, that I was never been taught or showed that this was a form of lust-inducing immodesty. Seriously. I grew up close to my father and in between four brothers, have been married (to a man!) for almost 17 years. None of them, or any of my conservative, homeschool mom friends (who dress similarly, REALLY) has ever, ever said this. I live in Florida where, I can assure you, that mid-summer there is barely ever a female shoulder covered on a Sunday morning.

        I am only saying this to point out that some who dress this way (like myself) would never consider their dress immodest and just do it anyway cause they don’t give a damn. We do not live in a society of accepted norms any longer, so for those of us who make concerted attempts at modesty and femininity, it can be easy to fail. So what seems “fairly obvious” to you, may not be so to all.

        • Rebekah, I’m sorry, I did come off as snotty. I always forget that there is quite a bit of difference in standards from region to region, and I don’t assume that women who dress in a particular way are doing it because they don’t care. In fact, I believe that most women (younger ones, especially) dress immodestly just because they are trying to look pretty, end of story. Why do I have to keep learning not to make generalizations? Try, try again!

        • Let’s not overcorrect for the creepiness of the anti-pantaloon maroons.

          I’ve been to Florida and Arizona and California, and noticed the tremendous popularity of sleeveless midriff-baring tops and tight microscopic shorts and suchlike, worn for most any or all occasion. This does not make me question my standards for what is appropriate and modest, in or out of church.

          Instead, it makes me wonder whether there is any connection between these habits of dress and the magnetic attraction these three states seem to have for pornographers and freaks of all kinds.

          • In warmer climates shoulders and knees are so commonplace they really don’t have the same effect as they would up north. I’ve talked to men about this and there is a certain desensitization or just less sensitivity to begin with in certain settings. Of course we should always dress modestly and consider the difficulties men might have. Having daughters I also think about all the perverts in the world and I want my daughters to be very modest. But think about it, teenage boys manage to remain lucid and on-duty as lifeguards at pools. There really are legitimate differences in standards for modesty based on setting, cultural and regional considerations. I’m in the south too and of course some people take it way too far but there are modest tank tops (wider over the shoulders, not tight) and modest mini-skirts (almost to the knee, not tight) and I guess it depends on your definition of mini. Some people hear mini and think barely-covering-the-derriere. Given the problems with really skimpy clothes at Mass, I wouldn’t mind if there were a common understanding similar to the standards in Rome at St. Peter’s. The spaghetti-strap crowd could don a simple scarf or wrap of some kind for an hour or so.

            • Okay, one thing to say to you about the lifeguards….they may be holding back and respectful physically, but do you know what is really in their minds? I really doubt it.

              Showing any skin on your shoulder is immodest. Also, any skirts or dresses (jumpers included of course) is also sinful and immodest. To be modest a skirt needs to be at least at your knees, preferably longer actually, and not tight. How modest is modesty to you?

        • I too Live in Florida, and I see several women wear things like thin strap tank tops, mini skirts and flip flops. Luckily, here in Florida, we have a new invention called air conditioning, also found in automobiles. As a result, the people wearing the clothes mentioned are shivering with goosebumps (I’ve seen it happen, I know this is the case). Something with a little bit of sleeve and skirts a little longer and shorts halfway down the thigh would be a help. The “obedience” factor is non-existent for me – it’s a case of we are in the house of the Lord. Here we all are, men and women both, going to the house of the Lord to participate in the Mass, to give Him reverence and praise. When you go to visit someone important like the president, or queen of England, wouldn’t you try to look your best? Well, how special is our Lord and Savior to you, especially as compared to these others? This applies to everyone, men in their cutoffs and women in their spaghetti straps. Everyone should be aware of how their attire reflects their respect (or lack thereof) of our Lord’s house.

  9. Go Simcha Go! Actually, this is all just nonsense. I wear what is comfortable and modest to me, which is usually crop pants that hit the chin or jeans in the winter. I don’t really care what others think about it. My husband does not really care what I wear (pants or skirts) though he appreciates skirts because of easier access (oops…did I say that out loud?) If everyone just minded their own business society would be much better. Of course, I say that while I contemplate joining the Facebook group: “Pull your pants up, you look like an idiot!”

    • Modest to you? That’s pretty scary!! If everyone felt and did the same thing as you it would be a pretty scary world out there. Someone might think being naked or practically naked is modesty to them. What do you say to that? There has to be a defining line, structure of what is modest and what is not modesty or this world would be pretty scary! Actually, it already is a scary place as far as modesty goes and we have set rules of what is modest and what is not.

      • It always does scare people like you, Margaret, when different people choose to live by different standards.

        Which is why people like you always scare people like me.

        Good luck raising money for your “Buy Proper Clothes For The Bushmen — And Make Them Wear Them!” ministry. Remember: it’s up to you can rescue such people from the boiling cauldrons of licentiousness and immorality in which they are trapped.

  10. Someone told me that their husband didn’t like pants on his wives and daughters because they looked like an arrow pointing up to a woman’s crotch.

    • Pansy, there was a whole blog post on that. With lots of illustrations. Seriously, someone tried to write a proof of that. (of course, the illustration of blue pants on a white background doesn’t really show how you see things in real life, but hey.) Maybe I can find it.

      And David, it doesn’t matter what it looks like on men, because women are not visual creatures like men — it’s men who need protecting from their base desires, not virtuous women.

      • What of virtuous men? And given the differences between the sexes (and I’m inclined to agree), why do I keep meeting women who are, by the standard implied here, less than virtuous? Do they not require “protecting” as well?

      • Speak for yourself…I openly admit to having some incredibly base desires…especially since Joe Montana moved into my building and works out in the gym…~sigh~…

    • Someone told me that their husband didn’t like pants on his wives

      Who cares what the Mormon thinks? This is a Catholic fight.

  11. “Someone told me that their husband didn’t like pants on his wives and daughters because they looked like an arrow pointing up to a woman’s crotch.”

    Why is it ok for THEM to have a crotch, and nobody else?

  12. Seemingly off topic, but very appropos in my opinion, is this article by Joshua Wayne:
    The title is “What You Think of Me Is None of My Business”. It is written in terms of diet and the choices we make, but it really applies to all facets of life.
    Here is an excerpt:
    “The more important question to ask here is “am I okay with myself and my reasons for doing the things I do?” If not, then you obviously need to take an inventory about the kinds of choices you’re making. But if you’re trying to be the nicest, best person you can be, then let other people’s hang-ups be their own. Let go of it! Literally see yourself letting go of all the threads of anxiety you hold in connection to other’s evaluation of you.”
    Of course, this is written about an amoral topic and from a secular point of view. In the matter of skirts vs. pants, you could preface the title with “Unless you’re God,…” and exchange “be the nicest, best person you can be” for “following the teachings of the Church and be the best Catholic you can be.”

    As has been stated before, for the skirts-only pushers (men AND women), it really is more about control than modesty. They are upset that some women (most women) cannot be bullied into following orders, regardless how arbitrary.

    • Actually it isn’t so much modesty as femininity. Modesty can obviously be important, but you can find modest pants, though I think it would be hard (at least it was for me when I wore them) aside from sweat pants. It’s not really control as much as wanting women to understand the beauty they can show in wearing modest dresses/skirts.

  13. Hahahaha! This is hilarious. This is my first time reading your blog and it was delightful. This pants thing is insane and has to die, but I’m happy it didn’t die before your sister made the PANTS PASS. I’m still laughing and I’m in an airport.

    Serious comment: as long as it is modest, who cares whether it’s pants or skirts, dresses or shapeless plaid jumpers? The arrogance of people saying you sound disobedient ought to be ignored wholly. Why are Catholics having a silly argument like this while the world burns? Sadness

    • If what Our Lady said at in her vision at Fatima is correct, and the most displeasing of all sins are the ones against purity, then “the world burns” for it. One problem is with the assumption that trousers are inherently male attire, and dresses/skirts are inherently female attire, simply on the basis of environmental conditioning (as obviously opposed to the bulk of world history and cultures). The other problem is with the notion of “biblical headship” in marriage, and a proper (that is, Catholic) understanding thereof, as opposed to the over-simplistic Protestant understanding.

  14. Virtues aside… I’ve always been somewhat astonished by the sizing scheme used for women’s pants. They typically have one number indicating size, much to the consternation of women trying to find pants that actually fit. I mean, really, women have three dimensions to contend with to get an appropriate fit. I’ve witnessed this harrowing experience time and time again with my wife, and it appears to be a common theme among the female crowd.

    Now, look at how they size men’s pants. We have two key dimensions. And the pants are sized in two dimensions too. Simple. Sensible.

    The question of the day is then… why are clothes manufacturers so stupid?

    Enjoyed the rant. Rant on!

    A suggestion for part three… the Pants Opera.

    • Big Tex, there’s a new development in women’s pants called the “curvy fit.” It’s for women who have proportionally small waists and bigger hips. So pants now come in straight and curvy, plus petite, regular and tall (those refer to length). So, things are improving in the realm of women’s pants sizes.

  15. I AM GOING TO LAMINATE THAT. That is hilarious!! Made my day.

    I get so very weary of men who think that me deferring to my husband means all women should defer to all men. Especially about the eye candy thing. Ew.

  16. You know what I find unfortunate about items along these lines? There’s no consideration of human weakness. There’s no sense of understanding. There’s no charity. It’s almost like there’s an automatic assumption that advocates of traditional Western dress for women are power-hungry and/or possible perverts. Are you willing to make a blanket statement to that effect? I’m sure there are people like that out there, but not everyone in that demographic is like that.

    There’s also a failure to acknowledge that men are obviously more visual than women. Women can so easily say, “oh, they can look in another direction.” Can they? Have you paid attention to the way your peers dress these days, particularly your younger peers? Walk on a college campus, as I did last night to attend a Mass. You’re literally surrounded by short shorts, plunging necklines, and bare mid-rifts. Every those out of college or not even in college don’t dress much differently.

    Baptism washes away original sin, but it doesn’t take away its effects. It’s called concupiscence, and one such effect is that men are much more susceptible to lust. I hope Christian women can learn to understand that and act accordingly. I’m not advocating the burkha or the frumpty Catholic Amish, but for sheer sanity in fashion, which translates to modest and charming fashion.

    • Matthew, you’re responding to someone else, and not to me and what I said. I’m not anti-skirt, and I’m not anti-modesty. I’ve been married for almost 13 years, and I know what skimpy clothing does to a man.

      As I’ve said several times in several places: I believe that women are responsible for dressing modestly. But I do not believe that women are responsible for making it impossible for men to lust after them.

      Some men, like the one who wrote the original article, make unreasonable demands. I don’t think it’s uncharitable to say “no” to unreasonable demands, especially when saying “yes” can, in some cases, be harmful.

      I think you are responding to my tone more than to what I said. My tone is angry and mocking. I think that’s an appropriate response to the stupidity expressed in the original post.

      To a man who asks women to dress modestly, I would not be angry, and I would not mock. I don’t like it when my husband is confronted with trashily-dressed women – it makes things difficult for everyone involved.

      You’re asking for sanity? Pants are sanity.

      • Right. There are two different issues here: should women dress modestly; and should women wear pants?

        In all the comments I’ve read, no one’s disputed women’s moral obligation to dress modestly.

        What’s being disputed is the claim that dressing modestly requires wearing skirts.

        On the modest dressing issue: once I had to find a pair of long johns for my son, who needed them as part of a play costume (it was Shakespeare, and no one wanted to wear tights, you see). It was spring, and I had a tough time finding them. I ended up in the men’s underwear section of a large department store, scrutinizing rows and rows of pictures of men’s crotches. It was an eye-opening experience! My husband claims it’s basically analogous to the experience men have every time they go out in public (especially in the summer).

      • “You’re asking for sanity? Pants are sanity.”

        THANK YOU! I knew there was an article of clothing that could cure crazy. You’re on a roll – what’s the meaning of life?

      • Pants are sanity? really? how?

        Please tell me the really unreasonableness of what that guy originally wrote? Maybe it wasn’t written very well, but he didn’t demand anything and he didn’t say anything unreasonable.

        Matthew, I really like what you wrote. 😉

  17. These comment threads are pretty hilarious.
    However, the comments about the catholicity founder’s marriage really don’t help–delete them?
    Most women I’m close to have no problem wearing pants. In fact, Sunday Mass is the only time I see my mother wearing a dress.

    • I agree, BUT if you actually dig into the court case .pdf file it actually helps prove Bud’s “non-creepiness” which really is what this entire discussion has devolved into: calling him a creep and implying he is some sort of pervert.

      The can of worms has been opened. Once you start calling names and implying perversion of some sort its just a small step towards having your commentators trying to join in the fun by hanging someone’s divorce decrees up.

      I don’t think that person who did so actually bothered reading it though because it has the opposite effect…

    • I disagree. You shall know them by their fruits. And leaving one’s wife and children is a public — not private — rotten fruit.

      That goes quintuple for laymen who set themselves up as heads of unaccountable apostolates — many of which I consider crypto-Protestant in nature even if flamboyantly orthodox in expressed theology. Many of these people have fled from traditional accountability for a reason, and the only way to keep the skeevy among them in check is to publicize their creepy and hypocritcial behavior whenever or wherever it takes place in public or becomes a matter of public record.

      The clever among them, knowing that such naming and shaming is the only way they can be held accountable, often try to keep the genie in the bottle by guilt-tripping those who would expose them. Don’t fall for this trick.

      Now of course, we should always be open to those who wish to acknowledge and repent for their failings. But the impression I get is that this individual is more the type who carries on pretending nothing happened, hoping that the “shh! private things are private!” tactic will guilt enough people into silence that it blows over.

      P.S. I feel it is my obligation, at the bottom of a post such as this, to acknowledge that I myself am a divorced Catholic with children. I did not initiate or want the divorce, but am not blameless either (nobody is ever entirely blameless in a divorce…the blame may be closer to 90/10 than 50/50, but it’s never 100/0). My children are a joy and delight, but it pains me every single day to think that they have been deprived of a home with a mother and a father–in fact, deprived of contact with either mother or father every weekday and at least half the weekends (it’s a long story).

      My name is Kevin M. James and I live in Watkinsville, Georgia. True stalkerish people could probably look up the records of my divorce if they liked (though it would surely take more work than it’s worth, as many rural counties here in Georgia still aren’t completely up to speed with that fancy Interwebs stuff).

      Now that that much is out on the table, I’ll say what I like about Bud Macfarlane.

      • I posted it, I read every word of it before I did, and I do stand by posting it (though of course it’s Simcha’s blog and I won’t protest if she decides to delete it).

        As I said when I posted it, I posted nothing but facts from the public record. I didn’t slander him, make anything up, or pretend to know anything secret about their marriage.

        I suppose whether he looks like a creep or not is a matter of perspective.

        Personally, I think filing for a divorce for the reasons stated in the court case is pretty ‘creepish’ regardless of the other factors involved.

        Finally, I don’t see how this is irrelevant. This guy is putting himself forth in public as an arbiter of moral choices regarding issues that deal directly with the relationships between men and woman. The public facts regarding his own relationships bear very much on this. It smacks terrifically of the speck in your brother’s eye, log in your own parable.

        I am not trying to cause scandal…divorce is the scandal, and Bud undeniably filed for the divorce.

  18. Really? That’s how you translated that one man’s comment? And why is it that you’re putting all men that appreciate a women in a modest skirt into the category of a chauvinistic pig?

    Your translation of his comment is ludicrously inaccurate. What an injustice! I would agree that there are some men out there that inappropriately pressure their wives and children to dress in particular ways, but I highly doubt that this man is one of them. There is nothing creepy about his comment, but rather his honesty stands out – sharing the beauty of the feminine he sees when a woman is dressed modestly.

    It sounds like you have been severely wounded by some man (or men) who have pressured you to wear skirts -and if that’s true, I’m really sorry.

    I don’t think you should feel unjustly pressured to dress in one particular way or the other by other humans, but I do think that it’s important to dress modestly and to properly discern and pray about what dressing modestly actually means. Assuming that we both agree about the basics of covering private parts, after that, as with all things, it’s never about what “I” want, but how the Lord would want you to dress. For some women, this means wearing skirts all the time, for other women pants are acceptable – but towards neither of these choices should there be any kind of bigotry.

    While I understand the temptation to rant, especially when one feels they have been done an injustice, it’s important that in doing so one is not unjust in the same manner as the first offendee.

    Matthew made a great comment, and I’m glad that someone else sees the lack of charity in this article. Why is it men against women? Why set it up to be a fight? If someone is uncharitable, is it best to spit back in their face the same way they did to us? Will that really solve anything? What about mutual charity? Helping each person become holier and reach heaven? I just can’t see how these past couple articles, though perhaps a good topic, actually addressed the pants/skirts issue in a profitable, charitable way – instead it just seemed to raise up arms on both sides of the argument and spread seeds of disgust for people of the other opinion.

    • Amanda,

      I have been damaged by ultra-trads, and have a lot of baggage, so the original article brought up old wounds. That makes sense to me. What took me by surprise was how many women like me seem to have similar baggage! They can’t all have past connections with the SSPX. What is going on here? Why are so many women hurt? Why did the original article touch such a nerve?

      I am seriously trying to figure this out.

      I think you are on the right track when you speak of “pressure.” I thought it was only the rad-trads who put pressure on women. Evidently not–it looks like feeling pressured (and feeling like a failure) is very common among docile and assenting Catholic women. Why? Where is this pressure coming from?

      • In my experience, those of a traditional bent, though they may be relatively rare “in real life”, have a very vocal presence in online Catholic interactions. I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone in person who suggested I might need to wear skirts, but I’ve certainly come across the opinion online any number of times.

        Given that Simcha’s readership probably includes a high number of women (like me) for whom online interactions are a major portion of their social life, it does not surprise me that many of these women have also felt pressured by traditionalist ideas.

  19. After reading both posts I came to the realization that as a guy, it doesn’t matter how much or how little clothes a woman wears. If something inside of me says she’s hot I will fill in the blanks, thus I must “take out my eye” since it is my eye that is causing the problem and not the lady.

    On the flip side, going to Mass in a bikini is not cool and neither is looking like a “hot mess.” This is my personal opinion and applies to both men and women.

    For me, the ideal attire for Mass consists of something along the lines of what I wear to work or better – shirt and tie, ironed and matching. This is not always practicle because sometimes I bike to Mass but I at least wear pants and not shorts!

    So ladies, don’t worry too much about them crazy dudes and their skirt fetish. Wear what you want but consider the usual:
    1. If you would wear it to work it’s probably okay.
    2. If you would wear it to a nightclub it’s probably not.

    Or something along those lines.

  20. We spoke earlier of how “visual” men are, as opposed to women. I could make a case for the opposite, at least in this culture, and that’s with regard to swimwear. Women will wear bathing suits that, however modest, will generally conform to the skin. Men, however, do not. (This is not the case at most European beaches, or so I’m told.) Now — and I’m going to have to emphasize this for the attention-span challenged, and there are a few of you — I AM NOT ENDORSING MEN WEARING SPEEDOS, at least not most men, and certainly not myself. But it is precisely in the case of men where such apparel would be more likely subject to leaving too much to the imagination. I would submit that those complaints would come largely from women, which means they would have to be (brace yourselves) visual.

    Please note the big words before you respond, cuz if you just skimmed over this comment, I can tell.

    • One thing I’ve learned from travelling through Europe, David, is that the women wear even less on the beach than they do here, and for the men…well, let’s just say you’re never too old for a Speedo.

      • I had Greek friends post pictures of a family get together and the young women were topless. There were kids and grandparents and no one seemed to be batting an eye. They were playing badmitton on the beach. I wouldn’t do it, but “immodest” didn’t come to mind. “Different” is what came to mind.

  21. Here are some reasons why I think it is best for Catholic women and girls to wear skirts or dresses instead of trousers:

    1. Whilst I think that loose-fitting trousers can be modest, the majority of the trousers I have seen women wearing tend to be quite tight-fitting (and very unflattering as well). It is very difficult to tell, when wearing trousers oneself, exactly what kind of fit they have when walking down the street.

    2. Consistently wearing skirts and dresses instead of trouses does make one stand out in a crowd a bit, but I find this very beneficial. Catholics are not like everyone else and they ought to be marked in some way; it acts in some ways like a priest’s cassock or a nun’s habit, but not quite as obvious, as is fitting for lay Catholics. I have very often seen orthodox Jewish girls wearing nice, lovely skirts–their holiness stands out and makes an immediate impression on the observer. And it serves as a way for them to recognise each other. The typical Catholic girl, on the other hand, is usually in jeans and a shirt with no sleeves…not only doesn’t it look as nice, but it blends in perfectly with the secular culture.

    3. I lived in New Hampshire for four years, and for three years out of those four I wore skirts. Provided one wears leggings and boots, skirts are just as warm if not more so than trousers.

    4. I have quite an active kitten at home, so I spend plenty of time on the floor playing with him. If a skirt is long enough, it is so impediment whatsoever. And if one is really worried about a skirt flying up, then one can wear leggings or tights (depending on the weather), and the problem should be solved.

    5. Small inconveniences that come from wearing skirts should not actually be an issue; our goal as Catholics is to become holy like Christ (with his help), not merely to do as little as possible.

    6. Catholic women traditionally wore long skirts and dresses–the Blessed Virgin, most the female saints, etc.

  22. Amiss with his message? He doesn’t say anything new to Catholics, its fairly old fashioned stuff that he reiterates.

    All this stuff was addressed pretty plainly in the old St Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism and other tracts, pamphlets, books, articles, and artistic illustrations of that past era. All the women covered their hair in church and wore skirts and all the men wore fedoras outside if you could believe the illustrations in those various books and pamphlets.

    Obviously his sense of humor didn’t translate well though for some, i.e. as I guy I immediately thought his Braveheart comment was deliberately inserted to salt some self-deprecating humor into his message whereas lots of women found it creepy (i.e. code talk for sexually perverse).

  23. You know, one thing that nobody has brought up yet is the issue of evangelization. Surely we can all understand that Catholics are supposed to be in the world and not of the world, and that if wearing skirts sets us apart, then so much the better.

    But what about people who would never approach or take seriously a woman who dresses in a way that sets her apart? There are people like that, and they need to hear the gospel, too.

    It’s a good argument to say that we can sort of preach God’s word by the way we dress. But I think it goes both ways: Ladylike women send a good and valuable message. But women who blend in can reach people in the crowd – do you see what I’m saying?

    I’m not saying that I wear pants (sometimes – I do wear skirts and dresses, too!) BECAUSE I want to be an evangelist to the hip, neutered modern world — I’m just saying that — well, if I’m standing in a crowd of women, and I look just like them, one of them might want to strike up a conversation, and then later find out that I’m a Catholic. Then she might think, “Hey, Catholics are real people, just like that Simcha person. But she seemed so normal!”

    See? I, personally, would feel comfortable striking up a conversation with a woman in atypically conservative dress – but many woman would not. So do we just say the heck with those women? Or do we say, Okay, maybe women in pants have a special job, which the all-skirt crowd isn’t suited for?

    • Yes, Simcha! Many of my real life friends or family-I’m the ONLY practicing Catholic they come into contact with. I’m the sole representative of my faith. The only contact with Catholicism people have in many functions I go to is someone who was “raised Catholic” but can’t believe what that Church teaches, or simply Ash and Palm Catholics…if at all. I get enough stares because of my Miraculous Medal.

      Here where I live in Upstate NY, it’s not so odd to dress Amish wannabe. But when I go down to the NYC area where most of my family resides, uh uh. I’d rather NOT stand out like a sore thumb.

    • Simcha,

      Thank you for articulating the response that I have been trying to craft in my head for 24 hours. I am related to people who don’t know the Gospel and yet, if they saw me in a skirt ALL THE TIME they would immediately put me in a box (“fundamentalist” or some such) and never listen to anything I had to say again.

      I believe that it is entirely possible to be modest in our behavior (and our pants) and be attractive Gospel witnesses. What has always blown my mind is that, to me, modesty isn’t “fitting in” but not “standing out”. If I’m dressing in the Amish uniform (not all skirt-wearers do this, I’m just using hyperbole, for clarity), I think people will think “wacko” and move on.

      And I understand about the quote of Our Lady of Fatima, but was she referring to skirts vs. pants, or was it tube tops?

      And, yes, while the Blessed Mother and other female saints did wear robes and long dresses, weren’t those the fashions of the day?

      • This is great! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I think it proves Simcha’s point beautifully.

  24. As a man who struggled for years (or really didn’t struggle, just lived like a pagan) with lust, pornography, and a whole gamut of sins against chastity, never once have pants been an item to arouse lust, and I can say that most men I know would agree. I always assumed the pants debate was some silly Pentecostal thing, especially since the most devout women most people know (little old ladies) almost all seem to be wearing pants.

    Modesty is very important, and Simcha and no one else here have denied that. Tight jeans on a woman’s backside can certainly make men stare, but not all pants are cut that way. Tight jeans are simply analogous to miniskirts in my opinion. But “wear skirts so that chaste men like me will not have to avert our eyes”? Come on! What average man in America today is drawn to ogling simply because of pants?

    And this whole “arrow to the crotch” thing is appalling. Only someone who takes the time to think of crap like that would ever think of it. I imagine a conference of SSPX nuts in a basement trying to come up with reasons against pants. “Oh, good one, er, I mean ‘bonum!’ His excellency Bishop Williamson will be most pleased with our work.”

    Most men (and women) know immodesty immediately when they see it, and unless, like good little Muslims, we are trained to see immodesty and lust EVERYWHERE, pants in themselves do not register on the immodesty radar of most men, even those looking to ogle women. Of course, if we think anything that outlines a woman’s shape is immodest, then anything up to a burqa is immodest.

    I guess my point is that the “chaste” whistleblowers have trained themselves to “root out immodesty”, so pants, short sleeves, athletic outfits, even modest bathings suits, all must go! Most chaste men think nothing of these items in themselves.

    • Great–fantastic–points. Where is the line drawn? Almost anything may be seen as immodest according to these standards. There’s no solution, short of going burqua.

    • As a man, Mercury, I would have to completely disagree with your post. Most pants, which are form fitting, do draw attention to women’s body parts in a way most skirts and dresses simply do not.

      • And blouses? and dresses? Brennan, have you ever met a lustful leering man who got his rocks off staring at women’s crotches in dresses? Of course they “draw attention”, but a normal blouse “draws attention” in a way that a potato sack wouldn’t.

        The point is “draw attention” is not the same as “attract and incite lust”. And the purpose of the clothing is also important. Pants are not designed to “draw attention” to her form any differently than a waistline on a dress is. Or is that immoral too? What about a dress that allows one to see the form of the TWO breasts? All women’s fashion “draws attention” to her form. And there is nothing inherently immodest in that.

        And they “draw attention” in a way that only a certain kind of person ever thinks of. Like I mentioned, I think most men have never thought of this until coming across people who say it.

  25. Oh, and this whole “it shows an outline of her legs and nether regions” crap … most dresses and sweaters show an outline of a woman’s breasts, which last time I checked, are quite erogenous in Western culture nowadays … so why is no one advocating that women simply wear a big lumpy sack to hide every single curve. Skirts and dresses emphasize hips, which an also be erotic to men … where does it stop? Do we want to cover necks, elbows, etc (there are some out-there Catholics who believe this)?

    So, I don’t think pants which can show that a woman has a butt and a crotch make a man think “vagina!” any more than a dress that shows that a woman has two breasts make them think “nipples”. This is totally stupid, and I sympathize with a poor soul who struggles … but please understand, poor soul, this is as abnormal as a man being incited to lust by feet …. it exist, but woman has no obligation to consider the lustful thoughts of any hypothetical horny man she can think of. The problem is YOURS then, and you must find a way t deal with it, much like a man who is sexually attracted to other men, children, animals, furniture, must.

  26. Elizabeth:

    1. Whose standards of tightness apply here, yours? Should a woman’s blouse hide her figure as well?

    2. Take some time and read how woman are viewed and treated in Orthodox Jewish circles. Also, remember how Christians have always viewed observance of an external Law.

    5. You are operating on the assumption that pants are inherently less modest, less holy, and therefore assuming that Simcha is saying ‘do not strive for holiness’. What she is saying is that skirts are nice, and more power to women who feel like they are more modest and feminine in skirts, but there is nothing AT ALL which make skirts an objectively higher standard of holiness than pants.

    6. So what? The Catholic female saint who lived most recently (St. Gianna Molla) wore pants. The Blessed Virgin and most female saints lived in cultures where women did not wear pants, and neither did men for most of that history. Did Sr. Faustyna mention Jesus appearing in slacks? A female saint wearing slacks in the cultures most of them lived in would have been as silly as someone wearing a tin-foil hat today.

    This actually refers back to your second point – I would venture to say that most female saints *gasp* blended in with the secular culture as far as appearance is concerned.

    If you wear skirts, and if you think Catholic women should wear skirts, that’s awesome. Frankly, I do find them more feminine and ladylike myself. But when people get on a high horse and act like it is self-evident that skirts and dresses are more holy than pants, and that pants must be excused – that’s where people are disagreeing, and where the skirt advocates come across as sanctimonious jerks (not you necessarily, but others)

  27. Since, I will be writing a post that is against the tide, I must preface my thoughts. First, I am a new mother (of an almost 7 week old) so please excuse any typos or such things that might seem off in that nature. I am very sleep deprived and am just above a survival level of existence. Second, I must note that despite what my post might suggest, I am not what some might picture: a stereo typical home-schooled (I am all for home schooling so I do not mean this offensively) jumper, plaid skirt with tennis shoe wearing woman. I am totally against ALL and I mean all frumpiness (particularly frumpiness in skirts). Third, I thought the “pants pass” was hysterical!

    Now onto what I actually have to say about skirts:
    First, I thought that the originally email that sparked all this discussion was basically comical (a few years ago as my former fem-nazi self, I would have literally wanted to punch his lights out, now I just feel bad for him). I don’t think the author’s points are very good though I think the topic is a good one to discuss. I particularly found his idea of having your husband shop with you outrageous – I mean seriously I don’t think that is good for most people’s marriage (my husband hates shopping as most men do)! I think what would be interesting is for people to give the topic of women wearing skirts primarily more serious thought. And by thought, I mean disregarding one man’s obviously overly emotional comments. I have to admit that his thoughts would really turn me off to wearing skirts all the time, but that does not mean it is something that shouldn’t be done. So the bottom line is let’s just throw out his comments and get to the topic of women wearing skirts without the emotion of being annoyed with him.

    Second, I am the first one to admit wearing skirts is not a moral issue. It is not a sin to not where skirts or some mixed up notion like that. I also have to make the point though, that just because wearing pants is not is a sin it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider the possibility that it would be better not to wear them or wear them less often.
    It is important to make the point that someone saying women should wear skirts and dresses instead of pants does not mean they think women should dress in a potato sack (this is a very common thought). I am a young and about 3 years ago stopped wearing pants and have wore skirts/dresses exclusively since then (except at home on occasion). I will note that I am far from frumpy. In fact during college, I would quite often have my peers (being women) comment on how nice I looked and asking where I bought my clothes from. All my clothing is from normal stores and has a modern and up to date style. I do not just wear long dowdy skirts or jumpers. I have knee length to long items that are classy & modern and pieces that others would buy as well.

    I have to say that the experience of switching to not wearing pants has been great. It is almost undeniable that women feel more beautiful when in a skirt or a dress. Women are made beautiful and I think it is fitting that their dress should reflect their beauty. Why shouldn’t women be made to feel beautiful everyday? For the person who will say well I feel just as beautiful in pants – I challenge you to try just skirts for maybe 3 to 4 weeks and then see how you feel. Also, how many women when getting truly dressed up and trying to feel their very best wear pants? Not many.
    Another note from my personal experience is that dressing in skirts/dresses has helped me to become more of a lady. Dressing in skirts/dresses forces one (or hopefully does) to sit like a woman and this acts as a physical reminder that we are different from men. Just as our interior disposition shapes our outward actions, physical things such as dress can help shape our inward dispositions. So beyond sitting and moving in a way more becoming of a lady, my change in wardrobe also helped me to not act like one of the guys when surrounded by men. I also think I have experienced more doors being opened, etc. because my dress reminds men that I am different from them and my more beautiful dress promotes their inward desire to be chivalrous towards what is most delicate and beautiful. So to conclude this point I think our clothing is in some way sacramental, meaning that they are a sign of an inward reality and help us to realize the difference between men and women.

    On the topic of modesty and skirts, we need to remember that modesty is more than just how much skin is showing. It also has to do with how much of a women’s shape is being revealed. I know catholic women who would deem themselves modest who have a short skirt on with leggings or tights underneath. That look shows a lot of their shape and yet can be considered as covered up as if modesty only had to do with covering our skin. I also think it is obvious to most that many skirts (that aren’t short) can be immodest because they are so tight that they reveal too much of the beautiful feminine shape. But, it is important to note that our eyes are naturally drawn to lines (as anyone who has done art or fashion knows). Pants have a line that naturally draws one’s eyes to a women’s bottom and the entrance to her womb. I know that isn’t a place I want attention drawn by any man other than my husband.

    On a purely aesthetical note, I have to say that I think skirts/dresses, when well designed are truly more flattering on the feminine figure (especially anyone with hips, particularly, the more full figure of a women who has had children). Many women have a hard time finding pants that fit properly because they fit in the waist and not the hips or vice versa. I would say this is in part because the feminine figure is more beautifully shown by the draping of a skirt/dress. These items are much more forgiving and tend to show the beauty of the feminine hourglass figure more fully. So from a purely style point of view, I think women should really consider more skirts and dresses, even modern shows like “What Not to Wear” encourage women to wear skirts/dresses in their everyday life (granted they are not always modest but the point that women look quite lovely in them is clear to secular culture).

    On some practical notes, I have to say that the whole idea that women can’t easily wear skirts because of weather is a weak argument. It might take a bit more initial effort but leggings, tights, and nice knee high dress boots have carried me a long way. I am from a cold climate and walked through all sorts of weather in college in a skirt. Actually this past winter, I walked in 2-3 feet of snow twice, with my husband to Mass (we literally couldn’t drive because the streets weren’t plowed. I wore a skirt with underarmor pants as leggings, warm hiking socks, and knee high dress boots (they were Naturalizers for any woman wondering what fantastic dress boots could withstand such a trip). I think that storm would have definitely been a time to break out the pants, but I didn’t have anything that would be warm enough. I mention the story to note the bottom line is that with some creativity winter in skirts is entirely possible. I have to say skirts have made winter less depressing for me as I feel much more beautiful in skirts and don’t feel that is something I now have to save just for warm weather.
    There is one other practical note regarding the blue collar work of motherhood I would like to bring up. I think that being a mom is probably one of the most demanding jobs in the entire world. It is 24/7 demanding, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is also something that with the right wardrobe choices and practice can definitely be done in skirts. I am not saying that especially while at home pants can’t be practical, in fact I have a pair on right now, but it is totally doable to wear skirts while being a mom. In fact, I think that wearing skirts has helped me in the early weeks of motherhood. The last few weeks have been the most difficult of my entire life. It has been great to be able to feel lovely and feminine by putting a skirt on, especially my tired body and dirty hair (who has time for a shower as a mom? – really I want to know). Anyway, as I previous brought up I think skirts naturally make a women feel more beautiful (even if they feel beautiful in pants most feel more beautiful in skirts) and motherhood out of all jobs on the earth seems like one that can use the extra boost of feeling pretty (especially on those extra difficult pull your hair out days). I mean we in general should dress for the dignity of what we are doing – isn’t raising souls for God one of the most important and dignified things we will do in life? I am not saying wearing pants demeans the dignity of motherhood – for all those who are going to go on about that. It is just a thought, mothers do a really important work and I think previous generations might not have fought things like being a homemaker as much because they dressed beautifully for the job and in some sense that lifted their spirits, even though the main events in their day to day life consisted in cleaning bathrooms and baby’s bottoms in between cooking for their clans!

    Well, I probably could go on but this is already super long, I am a typical woman who likes to take 20 words for what might be said in a few. Anyway, I just want to conclude by saying it doesn’t really seem so absolutely ridiculous that someone would claim that women should not wear skirts. I think women would be surprised at how much they would enjoy the shift in wardrobe once they got used to it!

    • Hmmm…I .don’t have an hourglass figure at all — I’m built like a straight line, and a very thin one, at that — I’m a distance runner. Dresses look silly on me — I have no boobs or hips to speak of. Good jeans and heels and a great white blouse and trendy jewelry make me look much more feminine than a dress would — with my figure (or lack thereof) I look LESS feminine in a dress than I do in pants.

      Anyways, I don’t feel pretty or feminine in skirts or dresses — I feel vulnerable. I had to wear those stupid Catholic school uniform skirts from kindergarten through senior year in high school, the last four years on the NYC subways, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all.

    • Your points are well taken, and I doubt people are arguing with you here. I think skirts are more feminine, and that they look nice, and that there would be a lot to gain if women wore skirts more often. But it is not a moral issue. We could say the same thing about men and collars and ties.

      It is also decidedly NOT a modesty issue. My one beef with your comments is the idea that the lines on pants “draw attention to the entrance to a woman’s womb”. While jeans can show off a woman’s backside, I have NEVER, NEVER heard a man outside of super-traditionalist websites claim that pants draw attention to the crotch. Never. This is coming from a man who used to ogle women and participate in the impure banter with other men. I have NEVER heard of such nonsense. Such men are always attracted to skirts, though, and for reasons far from chaste and pure.

      In this day and age where a woman wearing pants is as normal as a man wearing them, only a man who scrutinizes women’s bodies for “signs of immodesty” would ever say such a thing. And most men who write such claptrap do just that. It IS possible to overthink such issues. If we WANT to, we could find immodesty everywhere, which leads to a total sexualization of every part of a woman’s body. After all, Muslims believe a woman’s hair is too erotic to be exposed, and Orthodox Jews believethe neck is too erotic to be exposed. Where should the line be drawn?

      In sum, this whole issue of “drawing the eyes to the crotch” is out-and-out bunk.

    • First of all, Jackie, congratulations on your new bundle of joy! I’m snuggling with my 3-month-old as we speak. I totally commiserate with the lack of sleep thing.:-)

      Like Deidre wrote, though: “So, skirts all the time AREN’T a problem– if you’re good at buying them, enjoy wearing them, and are happy.”

      Living in a one-car family with four children under the age of seven, I don’t have the time to go shopping for skirts that might fit me right (I am very long-legged, so unless I want a skirt to my ankles finding ones that hit at or below the knee is very hard). Nor do I have time to find tights or comfortable shoes (my feet, legs, and back muscles have become very sensitive since my most recent pregnancy) that would match up with skirts.

      Secondly, I don’t have the money to buy really nice knee-high boots along with a myriad of skirts and dresses and leggings. I get one new pair of tennis shoes about every other year. And when I have the money to buy one or two clothing items a new pair of jeans seams like a much better (versatile) purchase than the majority of skirts which can only be paired with specific tops.

      Third, like Simcha said, I feel more vulnerable in skirts. I wore skirts through 12 years of Catholic school, and I always felt compelled to wear shorts underneath them (and I never even rolled my uniform skirt into a mini). I feel more exposed in skirts.

      Fourth, I find personally that most modest skirts/dresses (which like I said normally have to go to my ankles) make me more clumsy. I trip over them going up and down the stairs, especially since at any given time my hands are full with at least one kid and a laundry basket. It’s also made for some interesting arrangements when a toddler has tried to wrap her arms around my legs for comfort.

      It’s one thing for someone to explain why they prefer to wear skirts/dresses only and explain how they handle situations that others would find off-putting, like cold weather. It’s another thing to decide that their way is the best way for everyone else.

  28. Simcha– I’m basically indifferent to pants v. skirts (Well, except skits over pants– that’s UGLY. Pick one.) BUT I have to disagree with you on the “wearing skirts all the time hinders evangelization.”

    It depends. Yes, looking like “Catholic Amish” may make people put you in a box–

    BUT I have friends who almost ALWAYS wear skirts to leave the house. They always look stylish and put together and pretty and confident. Noone would put them in a ‘crazy’ box. In fact, I doubt anyone would put them in a ‘skirts only’ box. Probably most people think ‘she looks nice today’ and move on.

    So, skirts all the time AREN’T a problem– if you’re good at buying them, enjoy wearing them, and are happy.

    Cathlico-Amish skirts as penance to show what a HOLY and DEVOUT woman you are, and what HARLOTS those other women are, are a problem.

    Even ankle length shapeless denim jumpers can be good (if worn in a spirit of ‘I like denim! And Jumpers! And pockets!” or bad “I am SO HOLY I ONLY WEAR JUMPERS”)…actually, once you hit a minimum level of coverage, it may not be what you wear, but how you wear it….

    (My husband likes to point out that under current ‘decency standards’, my scary-huge nursing bras are actually more modest then a lot of shirts… obviously our society as a whole seems not to be hitting the ‘minimum level’)

    • Deirdre, just to be clear: I said that women who only wear skirts evangelize some people, and women who sometimes or usually wear pants evangelize other people. I guess you will just have to take my word for it there there are, indeed, many people who find skirts off-putting –even stylish, modern skirts.

      There are people who find stylish clothing off-putting, too – and that’s why there are Catholic slobs in the world: to evangelize to the pagan slobs.

      The Catholic Church: Here Comes Everybody.

      • Oooooooo!

        “The Catholic Church: Here Comes Everybody”

        Can I have an Amen? For the whole comment, but especially the money quote.

        • Simcha– I’d still argue that if you like your clothes (whatever they are) and are comfortable in them, most people aren’t going to NOTICE the clothes.

          They won’t say “Here comes skirts all the time lady” or “here comes the pants all the time lady”– they’ll say “Here comes Mrs. So and so, she looks happy today!”

          Honestly, beyond certain standards of decency, I’m not sure most MEN pay this much attention to clothes. My husband doesn’t really register the difference between “slacks and blouse” “skirt and blouse” or “jumper and blouse” other than “That looks nice.”

          And when I mentioned the peeptoed shoes = harlots storm brewing over at Shea’s place, he said “Straight men don’t even NOTICE a woman’s shoes”

          Which, honestly, is why these pants/skirt posts get so many comments– it’s an excuse to talk about clothes. 😉 Not to impugn the manliness of all you guys who are happy to spend hours lamenting trends in hemlines…… but…….

  29. There is NO obligation for a woman to wear skirts instead of pants, and no obligation for her to make “just a little effort” to put on leggings, stockings, etc. to wear under a skirt in winter.

    One does not have to “justify” or “excuse” wearing pants.


  30. I haven’t had a chance to read through all of the comments today, so please forgive me if I’m repeating a point already made.

    1. I AM NOT A LOOSE WOMAN!!!!! And pants don’t make me one. Please stop assuming that I must have loose morals if I wear pants! That is quite possibly the most offensive thing that I encounter when I leave the house. ‘Chaste’ catholic men assuming that I must be loose and misguided because I wear pants is even worse that the crazy people who assume that I have kids and stay home with them because I am incapable of anything else.

    2. My husband has custody of his eyes and is perfectly capable of going through his day not noticing if the persons that he encounters are male, female, purple or three headed. They are persons, and his brothers and sisters in Christ. Period. When we marry, our spouse should be come the only ‘woman’ or ‘man’ in the world for us. All other people are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And he just doesn’t look at his sisters that way. Ewwww. And he IS a good Catholic MAN who has overcome all sorts of purity issues. He got over them, so all you guys out there, it’s possible and you should stop feeling sorry for yourselves.

    3. The problem with ‘Dressing with Dignity’ is that the first draft ( I reviewed a galley when it was first published, I haven’t seen any others since) was largely plagiarized from Alice von Hildebrand, Rita Davidson (Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue), and Helen Andelin (Fascinating Womanhood). And the writing was much to talk about either. But like I said, I haven’t seen later editions. But, also, like I said in another comment yesterday, bad fruits and all.

    • “…not noticing if the persons that he encounters are male, female, purple or three headed.”

      “When we marry, our spouse should be come the only ‘woman’ or ‘man’ in the world for us.”

      Even accounting for hyperbole, that seems a bit extreme.

      It’s true, purity and modesty are huge issues in our day. And men have a duty not to sexualize every woman they encounter, or unduly indulge lustful thoughts.

      On the other hand, beauty is beauty and it is good in and of itself. As I noted before, I advise undergraduates all day long. Some of them are strikingly beautiful. I notice this. I do not leer, I do not hit on them, I do not imagine them naked or in any sort of sexual situation. But I notice, and I appreciate.

      I do not justify this by blowing some silly pious smoke about how I’m simply glorying in the goodness of God’s creation or whatnot. I know much better than to take myself for the sort of super-Catholic who can always remember to follow the mental exclamation of “Holy cow! That’s a beautiful woman!” with “For which I thank God for the beauty of His creation, just as I thank Him for this lovely sunny day.”

      (Also I suspect it’s actually more degrading to a woman to claim that you’re appreciating her beauty only in the same way as you would a graceful fawn or a babbling brook. But maybe that’s just me.)

      I do not think there is anything wrong with noticing and appreciating. It does not make me any less attracted to or faithful to my fiancée. I also do not think women have any right to expect that the Sacrament of Marriage will render their beloved blind.

      The one time in my life I found myself thinking about cheating on a fiancee or wife — and I might actually have followed through, if only I wasn’t too shy and lazy to do much about it, and wasn’t absolute pants at being a lady-killer when I do try — is because I was feeling abused and unappreciated and lonely, not because some scantily-dressed hussy made my hormones fly out of control.

      Now it is true that the more skin is showing and the more curves that are accentuated, the harder it is to stay on the right side of the line between appreciation and lust. Upthread I myself even called into question some of the sartorial habits people have in places like Florida. On the other hand, I recall that less debauched societies than ours still produced the Venus de Milo and Michelangelo’s David and thousands of other such works of art, and few people except for complete cranks have ever had a problem with them.

      I also think of the time I was at the beach in Italy with my children and spotted a lovely young woman who preferred to sunbathe without the top half of her bikini. Yes, after spotting her I calmly steered my children the other way, because we are not Europeans and there were certain talks I didn’t need to have with them at that age. But I also remember noticing both how pretty she was and how serene she seemed, and that there was nothing sexual about that noticing, and that I was able to happily return to swimming and getting sunburned with my kiddos without any lust-related ill effects.

  31. I’d like to say here that I’ve gotten an extra kick out of all this because across the pond, the word “pants”:

    a) Generally refers to underwear, not outerwear
    b) Is slang for rubbish, bad, etc. Example: “England were absolute pants against Algeria.”

    For much much more (if you’re inclined), see

    So, adopting my British accent for a moment, I would like to declare that:

    1) Surely wearing pants is more modest and hygienic than not, for both sexes.

    2) The whole sola skirtura arguments is complete pants.

  32. 1. The original pants guy is a creep. He is a Christopher-West-TOB creep, to be specific. He is clearly ascribing to himself an immunity to lust which is at least semi-Pelagian in flavor.

    2. The amount of thought and energy that has gone into this discussion is at the point of surpassing the total effort expended in the first few ecumenical councils. Sheesh!

    3. No woman on earth who is in full possession of her faculties has ever dressed immodestly without 100% (OK, 98%) awareness of the fact. She knew exactly what she was showing and she hoped they/it would be seen and appreciated. To say otherwise is a manifest untruth.

    4. This is not an area of life in which there can be firm and fast rules. Were I the pastor of a church I would routinely toss the inappropriately attired out into the street. After a few weeks, were I still alive, folks would start erring on the side of caution and all would be well.

    5. Any outfit (pants, skirt, dress) can be inappropriate. At a typical mass at the Cathedral in Atlanta, I would estimate that 60% of the womenfolk look like “high class” hookers (oxymoron). Period. Were he to stumble in, St Jerome would have them flogged and ejected forthwith.

    6. Simcha: You are a true card…Keep up the excellent work!

    • Larry, thanks for the compliments, but I have to disagree with a few things:

      (1) – I would have a drink with Chris West – I wouldn’t even give B McF my fake email address. West at least had the humility to say, “Hey, I’ve noticed that I’ve become a little creepy lately. I’m going to take some time off to figure this out.”


      (3) I think young girls are incredibly slow to figure this out. You see a sexy young woman with heavy eyeliner, tight clothes, outrageous jewelry and a knowing look in her eye, and you assume that that’s what’s on the inside, too. I can see how you would think that! But, as someone who was a young woman not SO long ago (I’m a creaky old 35), let me tell you that there can be a near-schizophrenic bifurcation in the mind of a young woman, where her appearance is concerned. Gosh, I don’t have the time to go into this – maybe it’s fodder for another post – but seriously, please believe me, it’s not necessarily the way it looks.

    • Larry,
      I don’t know if there are any ties between Christopher West and Catholicity, but I am not sure point 1 seems right.

      I am not any kind of expert on West’s TOB, but I did listen to his talks a few years back. I remember him saying exactly the opposite of the original article. He was urging that the issue was with men, not with women or their dress. I recall him specifically saying that it was the man who needed to get his lust under control, not the woman.

      If my recollection is correct, I don’t think your first point is fair to Christopher West.

      • Yes Steve. West’s error is (was?) that he thinks men can conquer lust, which is a lie. Ask St Jerome, who described seeing “the dancing girls of Rome” even in the desert! West seems to be coming around, but he is way too “pop” for me, so I won’t be following him.

        Simcha: Yes; when I said that about women “possessed of their faculties” I should have made clear that a certain age is implied…I hope it kicks in before they reach 20 or so!

        • Larry,
          I am not defending (or not defending) West. I know about the big brouhaha around West and is critics and I don’t care all that much.

          My point was that the lumping of the two together seems off.

          If West is saying that men can conquer their lust (right or wrong), he is by definition saying the opposite of what the Catholicity article says. The original poster is not saying at all the immunity to lust. He’s saying the exact opposite (I can’t conquer my lust at all, so you must dress to protect me).

          Criticize West all you like, but be fair and consistent is all I am saying.

          Then again maybe I am misunderstanding who you are talking about in point one when you refer to the ‘original pants guy’. I thought you were talking about the original catholicity post author.

    • #3 really remind of what Wendy Shalit was talking about in her first book…how most girls do know deep down when they are wearing immodest clothing. It manifests in constantly having to check if one’s bra straps/underwear are showing or making a conscious effort that they do show.

      I remember wearing an extremely short dress out in my early 20’s and consoling myself that it was ok because I put a pair of biker shorts underneath. Deep down I knew that there was something wrong, but I just didn’t have the faculties to fully understand that I should have never bought that dress in the first place.

      • Yep. It’s not the “rules” (no pants). We as women know when we’ve crossed that line. Many of us do not feel that lines is crossed simply when we put on a pair of pants. And that line is different for everyone.

  33. My husband loved the Pants Pass!!

    He also commented what a ridiculous argument this is. Pants on women is the least of things that men have to worry about tempting them, considering how many sexually suggestive commercials, billboards, television shows, and websites there are. Men can’t even go to Sports Illustrated’s website without seeing some advertisement with a big bosomed woman in a bikini.

    Why don’t we worry about cleaning up all those temptations before we start harassing married, Catholic women who are probably wearing “mom jeans” or sweat pants with spit-up stained shirts while juggling several kids, housework, homeschooling, and taking care of their husbands.

  34. OK, first, some of this made me laugh until I cried.

    Second, Simcha, this is a wonderful thing you’ve done.

    Third, being Catholic is not being the Taliban or Shiites.

    I live in a part of town where there are a lot of women in abayahs and hijab. And I would defend their right to the death to wear it. If they choose to. Which most of them do, since as many have explained to me, “I want men to talk to me, not look at my body.” Great. Many are professional women, too.

    But when it becomes control of women by men, it is not OK. One day, I was driving to work and saw a young woman, covered head to toe, face veiled, but all in shocking candy pink. This is a girl who is rebelling and good for her, too!

    Moral of the story: If you want to wear a shapeless denim jumper, or you want to wear jeans, go ahead. It is not a moral issue. The only issue is your freedom to dress as you please, and your responsibility to be modest.

    The end.

  35. I haven’t read through any these comments yet, but I have a couple of things I want to say to you Simcha! You are VERY rude to men who want to see the beauty of a woman without worrying about lustful thoughts. Unless us women stay indoors locked up from men, we are going to be seen from men. It’s just a fact of life…we are out among you, you see us! How about you? DO YOU NEVER, EVER SEE A WOMAN WHEN YOU ARE OUTSIDE? That was a very, very rude for you to say and I am very upset by it. Men want to be chaste when they see a woman, since afterall we aren’t hiding in our houses or underground from all of you men! 😛 Grow up!!!! Actually I have nothing more to say to you mean, rude Simcha! One thing I ought to add though is I actually respected you and thought you were a nice, decent guy! Well, I guess you just showed me how wrong I was in saying that!!!!

      • You enjoy her comments, but you don’t think she is a nice, decent guy (you mean woman anyway…haha)?

    • Margaret, I am a woman. I’m sorry these posts were so upsetting to you, but I think you are profoundly misunderstanding the point of what almost everyone here is saying.

      Please don’t keep reading if it’s causing you pain. When I read a blog that upsets me, I just quit reading after a while, because what’s the point? Of course you are welcome to stay on if you like, but that’s my advice to you.

      Best wishes!

    • Here’s a clue, Margaret — I think it is not only beyond rude of your husband to want to check out my beauty even though both he and I are married to different people, I think it is beyond creepy and maybe even criminally dangerous.

      Men like your husband are, frankly, walking sexual harassment lawsuits, and deservedly so.

      I sure as heck wouldn’t leave one of my daughters alone with him.

      Also, why are you supporting your husband’s desire to enjoy the beauty of other women? What does that say about you?

    • No one has anything against men who want women to dress in a way that would not induce lustful thoughts. No one has anything against modesty. What we do have a problem with is people who have outlandish standards of modesty and who assume that women in pants will make them have lustful thoughts.

      A woman showing deep cleavage can be assumed to arouse lustful thoughts in men. That’s what deep cleavage signals to most men in America in 2010.

      Pants do not trigger lustful thoughts in the average man in our society, so matter how much ultra-trads can try to conjure up ‘reasons’ that they do. If a man is overcome by lust by seeing a woman in pants, that is HIS problem, as pants are not in themselves immodest by the standards of time and place. Some pants can be immodest, sure, and in that case a woman should be aware of it. But saying all pants on women at all times and places is immoral and lustful is WRONG.

      And how could anyone who reads Simcha Fisher’s blog think she is a man?

  36. I love how it just comes down to “obey”. 😛 It’s all about control (and overcompensation for… something).

  37. You know something else I want to say to you: I have been at the store sitting down waiting for my husband or someone to check out, I look around and do you know how many women I see out there? Tons. I guess how they are dressed? You guessed it….well, maybe you did! 😛 They are dressed in the most horrible, immodest clothing. That is me, a woman seeing them, not trying to, but they are just there! So, it is very fair for someone like Brennan to say what he said. Without trying to, women are just out there and either they can dress in ways that are going to encourage a man to lust (without him intending to) or for him to see them in the beautiful way God intended us to be! You know, unfortunately, I just figured out you are a woman and I am so sad to be the same as you: a woman! You don’t respect men who want to see a woman and respect her that way God created us to be respected! I’m sorry that my last message and this one hasn’t been the kindness, but honestly I’m doing the exact same thing as you do (and I’m sure a lot of other women who have responded), but with more respect from the men’s point of view! My husband says and wants to do exactly the same thing that Brennan does and there is no way he is trying to cheat on me.

    I realize from this message and the other one, a lot of you are going to be mad at me, and honestly after yesterday, I really don’t care anymore. None of you want to give any respect to men like Brennan and my husband (who feels the same way as Brennan)! If I am wrong on this, then speak out and prove me wrong about your respect to men like Brennan!

    One last thing I wanted to say yesterday, but wasn’t able to because they closed everything down was: after talking to my husband yesterday when he got home from work, the issue of pants and skirts for women is so much modesty since you can find modest pants (I bet they are hard to find outside of sweat pants though), but feminity. Yes, you all want to argue that you can look feminie in pants, but not really like you can in skirts! Sorry, ladies, but that is the fact, no matter what you think. Yeah, I will say that you ladies can wear pants if you want to (obviously I think you wearing skirts is better, but obviously that is only my opinion)! You can wear pants and as long as they aren’t really immodest, I want think you are bad or evil, I just think you are more beautiful in a modest skirt/dress! This is just purely my opinion….agree or disagree that is your choice! I’m sorry I have upset many of you, but a lot of you have done the same to me.

    • Isn’t that a lot like saying ‘you may think you can look feminine in blue, but pink is a lot more feminine!’ You’re talking about a matter of taste and not morality. I also agree that skirts and dresses are more feminine and often more beautiful on women. But that is my taste, my opinion. The problem is that some women feel like they have to DEFEND THEMSELVES for wearing pants. Why? Because some people accuse them of immorality, immodesty, unchastity, cross-dressing, you name it.

      And it’s only ‘more feminine’ because we are conditioned that way in the West. We think of skirts as feminine because of the culture we live in. In most of the Middle East and Europe for most of history, there was nothing distinctly ‘feminine’ about skirt-like garments. It only changed when men started to wear pants, which was not that long ago. And women started to wear pants for the same reason men did – practical considerations.

      Oh, and the Romans thought Celtic barbarians were immodest and unmanly because they wore trousers. The Jews thought the Romans were immodest cause their manskirts were too short, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

  38. “When we marry, our spouse should be come the only ‘woman’ or ‘man’ in the world for us. All other people are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And he just doesn’t look at his sisters that way. Ewwww.”

    “All other [baptized] people are our brothers and sisters in Christ.” My sister, my bride. Catholics need a dispensation to marry outside the family. Also, custody of the eyes may mean not looking, as opposed to not noticing. To the pure all things are pure, but that is for the innocent and perfected. One can see a striptease without being aroused, nature having been perfectly transformed by grace, but not if one tries to.

    But you are right in a sense. Men and women who live in the same culture with the same accepted behaviors and the same fashion sense will not be driven by normal clothes into a paroxysm of lust, or envy in the case of apparent wealth. But granted our multicultural diversity, all hell breaks loose. Brotherhood, like marriage, takes work.

  39. There were some very excellent points made, which I should address. I am also writing in a hurry, so please excuse the disorganisation and the potential errors.

    Perhaps I should begin by noting that one *can* be modest by wearing loose-fitting trousers (if one is careful), but it is preferable that one should wear a skirt. And, of course, in the privacy of one’s home one can wear (more or less) whatever one would like to wear, as long as only family members are present. Photographs of St Gianna Molla demonstrate just this: they show her predominately in dresses or skirts and occasionally in trousers. And on those occasions that she is wearing trousers she appears to be hiking in the mountains.

    (As an aside, I am certain she never wore trousers to Mass and that she covered her head inside church, but these are other issues.)

    One can be perfectly stylish and modern (in the good sense of the word) in a skirt–no one needs or ought to look Amish. A group of girls in skirts stands out *a bit*, but not to the level I think would be frightening to anyone.

    Although certainly Catholics should evangelise different groups of people, I think there are some limits. For an extreme example, I think it would be sinful for a Catholic to visit a nudist colony without wearing any clothes for the sake of fitting in with the nudists. We should try to transform the secular culture without it transforming us.

    As far as standards of tightness in trousers, this certainly needs to be addressed, and I had not thought of it. I should hope that any practising Catholic who values modesty would agree that wearing something skin-tight is not modest. That is, we should leave some elements of our form to the imagination. And so (I guess) trousers are considered too close-fitting if they cling so much to the body that none of the shape is left to be imagined. But this is just a guess. I find that if one stands on a street and watches people pass by, there are not many trousers that pass this test.

    I have spent plenty of time in orthodox Jewish circles (Chabad), and women there are treated just the same as Catholic women are; I am not exactly sure to what you are referring. And Christianity proposes that both internal and external actions should conform to Christ‘s law, neither one without the other. For example of external actions, committing adultery should not be done, and one must attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, etc.

    Skirts in themselves are to be preferred over loose-fitting (modest) trousers because of the tradition associated with them. As I think G. K. Chesterton said, whenever someone wishes to important, he wears a robe. For example, judges, students at school graduations, Scottish kilts, etc. These are remnants of the robes both men and women used to wear in late medieval times, but men adopted trousers, and women, because of their dignity, remained in ‘robes’, whereas men only wore robes on important occasions. Catholic women, from the Blessed Virgin, the martyrs, the saints *including* St Gianna Molla and Joan of Arc, seem to have this view. It is a type of ’hermeneutic of continuity’, if you will.

    If the female saints blended into the secular culture, it is because the secular culture was not very secular. It was more Catholic. The further the culture departs from Catholicism, the more Catholics will stand out.

    So I think that no one *must* wear skirts or dresses, but it is best to do so. I don’t think Christ wants us merely to do the bare minimum.

    • “So I think that no one *must* wear skirts or dresses, but it is best to do so. I don’t think Christ wants us merely to do the bare minimum.”

      You deny that you say women *must* wear skirts, yet you essentially say they should if they want to be *real* Christians. Jesus does not want us to do the bare minimum, and it’s deeply insulting that you even think Simcha is saying that. The Church commands men and women to be modest, and she does not in any way say that certain items of clothing which are at best neutral in a culture are in themselves immodest.

      I am so sick of people saying that women who wear pants are “doing the minimum.” I could wear a tie to work every day, since it’s much more respectable looking and exudes a certain dignity. I choose not to because I don’t necessarily care to. I’m sure this is NOT a moral issue.

      “If the female saints blended into the secular culture, it is because the secular culture was not very secular. It was more Catholic. The further the culture departs from Catholicism, the more Catholics will stand out. ”

      There is nothing essentially “Catholic” about skirts over pants. It is a cultural issue and not a moral issue. Most male saints didn’t wear pants either. I don’t believe a Catholic woman should wear a deep-cleavage top because the sole purpose of something like that is to arouse attention. Pants have a different function. Period.

      And as far as Orthodox Jews are concerned, like Muslims, they can be very wonderful people and treat women quite well. It doesn’t erase the underlying theology that a woman is essentially ‘unclean’ because of her bodily functions, or the idea that it’s better to be made a man than a woman.

      • You have a very poor understanding of Orthodox Jewish laws of family purity. It has nothing to do with a woman being unclean. It has to do with the fact that when a woman gets her period, in Orthodox Judiasm it is viewed in a small way as a tiny “death” – a sign that the egg was not fertilized and was washed away. The laws of purity surrounding a woman’s menstrual cycle very closely match the laws surrounding Jewish handling of death as well.
        From a biological point of view, following Jewish laws of family purity would have the husband and wife coming together precisely at the usual height of a woman’s fertility- day 12 to
        Your second statement, that in orthodox Judaism it is better to be a man than a woman- is simply ludicrous. Men and women are viewed as having “Separate but equal” roles to play. One is not more important than the other.

        • Well, let’s all remember that, surprise, Orthodox Jews are not monolithic! And I can accept that one those issues I may not know what I am talking about.

          But I get leery when Catholics say ‘oh, the Orthodox Jews do this …’ and then try to make it sound like Catholics should do it as well. I have no problem with seeing good there and admiring certain things, but I have seen people try to justify banning pants based on Orthodox Jewish prohibitions. I’ve also seen Catholics use the same ‘evidence’ to say sex during menstruation or pregnancy is immoral.

          If someone like what the Jews do and admires it, fine. But we shouldn’t use modern Jewish practice as a club to beat Catholics. Judaism places a lot of emphasis on external conformity to purity laws and other laws. I think that sort of thinking is dangerous because people use it as a stick to beat others, or to measure their own holiness.

          I’m not knocking Jews … I’m just saying a Christian and a Jew goes about these issues differently, and that there is a MAJOR temptation among Christians to adopt or to make ‘rules’ which they then use to be ‘sure’ of their own holiness and condemn others.

    • “I have spent plenty of time in orthodox Jewish circles (Chabad), and women there are treated just the same as Catholic women are;”

      That’s the problem; they don’t think much of ANY women. Let’s start with their morning prayer: the men pray to thank God that He made them men.
      The women pray to thank God that He made them…as He saw fit.

      Yeah, that’s healthy. Sign me up for a denier-war (and if you don’t know what that is, then you don’t know from frum).

  40. I’m sorry, one last thing to Simcha, I do appologize for calling you mean, rude Simcha! For this, I do appoligize for!

    If you think, however, that I am missing the point, then please explain to me what I am missing? And, yes I would stop reading these except I really dislike the not so kindness you all have (and yes I am generalizing) been saying and acting towards guys like Brennan and my husband!

    • Honestly Margaret, in the last hour I’ve gotten 2 pieces of news: a relative (a baby) who needed emergency surgery to keep from DYING, and an acquaintance in our community who has been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. If women wearing pants gets you so upset, then you should say a prayer of thanks that things that are so trivial have such import in your life, because you certainly have nothing else to worry about.

      And if you’re so worried about your husband’s reaction to women on the street, then you might really have a serious problem. This year alone I’ve heard of 3 “orthodox Catholic” couples, with skirt-wearing wives and large familes getting divorced. One of these people used to regularly appear on EWTN.

      Here’s the thing: if he is prone to wander, he will. Get out of this trap before you get too much older.

      • I don’t understand what you are saying about my husband’s wandering eyes, Kathleen? He doesn’t have wondering eyes at all, but women are out there! He does, however, he does his very best (and I think he has done quite well) to look past and not notice it, but he still knows they are out there. My husband and I notice very well when we see a woman dressed very beautifully and modestly. You are just drawn to the beauty… 🙂

        Also, I’m sorry for the problems you are going through, but you have absolutely no idea the problems I am going through, which have been very tough and upsetting, especially sense it involves my family.

      • I am genuinely sorry to hear of your awful news.

        On the other hand, I have a hunch that mentioning it in an unrelated internet debate must invoke some corollary of Godwin’s Law.

  41. Nobody answered Larissa’s question, so I’ll ask my related one – is there a modification of the pants pass for single ladies ?

    • Someone would have to create one, but using the whole of history and non-Western cultures as the norm, an unmarried woman would require the permission of her father, or other male guardian (oldest brother, uncle, nearest male relative with a pulse) to wear trousers.

      • Well, my dad’s dead, and I have no siblings or uncles. Heck, I’m not even sure who my nearest male relative is !

  42. This all brings something to mind.

    Last week I was walking up the street. In front of me were two young women, one of them wearing a rather short dress. As they walked over a subway grate, there came the draft, and the predictable results. Her dress flew up, and it was apparent that she was wearing only a thong. I happened to be looking ahead at the time, the direction in which I was walking, which is the only way I know. (Just my luck, right?) I appeared not to notice in the least, even as I passed them and they looked around to see if any men noticed.

    As an art student in my younger days, I suppose I had seen enough of this. Such an experience — both then and now — did confirm a theory once postulated by Father Benedict Groeschel, that most people look better with their clothes on than off. (This is the first time I’ve shared this recent story with anyone, by the way.)

    My point? Had the young lady been wearing trousers …

  43. Great posts, Simcha. (longtime lurker/admirer, here)
    As if Catholic women need more pressure put upon them. There have been times after taking care of my very young children when I have dragged myself to Mass- a few minutes late- *guilt*- had nothing but pants that were clean and would fit *guilt* had to nurse my child publicly *guilt* forgot to put the nursing flap down *guilt* had to ignore my toddler’s cry thus disturbing the Mass *guilt* did a half-ass job of homeschooling my children during the week *guilt* let the baby cry it out *guilt*had to practice NFP for three years to regain consciousness *guilt*
    So- what issue to tackle next?

    You, my dear Simcha, are the one who is being charitable, here. Thank you for this. I console myself with the fact that our Lord has the eyes of only love for me and my small efforts.

    Also, as a woman I have had to learn to control my eyes, as well. I really don’t think men are so sex-crazed that they can’t learn this skill. God forbid that I tuck my skirt into my slip next Sunday.

  44. I so love this. Seriously. My day is much better for having read this post. I think this evening I’ll be printing up my pants pass and laminating it. That way I’ll be able to pull it out whenever I need a good laugh. Thank you.

  45. Someone should tell the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to wear pants.
    If Fr Gabriel can do all of this in a habit, I’m doubting you can’t bend to wipe a nose in a skirt. You just don’t want to:

    I am sure those friars in their habits are very off-putting, eh Simcha? Nuns in habits too. Very off-putting. They are so Amish-looking.

    Glad to see your true, oh-so-charitable colors.

    • Confusing religious vocations with lay vocations never leads to anything good.

      (And in my experience, this confusion runs rampant in lay apostolates…such as the one that touched off this controversy in the first place. Coincidence?)

      • Not really. The same arguments have been made for throwing off the shackles of the oppressive habit.

        • Well, then, should we ban pants altogether, for men and women ? Hey, if a cassock’s fine for Father, it should be fine for the guy next door, right ?

        • Ditching the habits and living in apartments is simply the same confusion running the other direction.

  46. I would love to wear skirts and dresses more often than I do. The main problem is that the shoes you must wear with skirt/dress hurt my feet like the dickens. I simply cannot walk more than a couple of blocks in those dress shoes, and wearing the frumpy walking shoes with a dress/skirt is a horrible trade-off.

    So men out there who want us to wear skirts/dresses – get busy making comfortable shoes that actually look good with such outfits.

    Till then, the answer is clear. Pants.

    • Sally R, I have found the answer: Dansko clogs. A bit of an investment, but they last a long time, look great with skirts, and are soooo comfortable.

      (And I am almost exclusively in skirts because it makes me feel and act and be treated more often like a lady, but I do wear capris to hike and such, and think that if you like pants better, go for it! Love the Pants Pass!)

          • Only harlots and temptresses wear shoes! Many saints went barefoot! The Blessed Mother is frequently shown barefoot!

            Therefore, GOOD Catholic women go barefoot, regardless of weather or local custom!

            Shoes show you’re uppity, disobedient, and on the prowl!

            • Those women on “Sex and the City” are notorious for their shoe obsession.

              In a more moral, pre-Vatican II time, shoes probably weren’t a problem. But today they’re clearly an occasion of sin. Down with shoes!

              Besides, why would you need shoes when you’re going to spend all day in the kitchen pregnant anyhow?

      • Clogs? And they are cute. Ok, I will check them out, but I am skeptical. I remember the 70’s, and it wasn’t pretty.

    • Of course then we go into that whole being “disobedient to my husband” thing because then he says “ha ha, that’s silly”, but it’s a trade off, comfort under the guise of fashion and it gives you the ability to wear skirts in winter in upstate NY. But then again, skirts!

      • Saaay. those are classy combat boots. Are they comfortable? Though I think they would only work with certain kinds of skirts/dresses. Not exactly for a business setting.

        I am a single working gal with no husband to direct me on my moral clothing choices. Help me Bud McF!!!

  47. “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, now hear the word of the Lord!”
    When people get too hung up on their own version of the Only Morally Acceptable Dress Code and Etiquette For Truly Religious People, one can’t help but hear Jesus in the background…”like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” Why would we spend so much time worrying about whether our neighbour wears a skirt, that we forget ALL the most basic instructions of Jesus, including looking to the beam in our own eye first? I just don’t get it.

    • OH! For clarity’s sake: To *recommend* something like modest dress is great. It is dictating the *terms* of modest dress which can be harmful and insulting to both parties. (e.g. “Only long skirts are modest, and would it kill you to put on some heels and pearls?”). CatholiCity isn’t right about the details of modest dress. I’m not right either. It’s a matter of opinion and context. I will decide for myself what constitutes proper attire and I hope everyone else will decide for themselves too!

  48. I think we should start trying to figure out if women are allowed to cut their hair or not…or wear it down. or if we’re allowed to eat potato chips and allow our figures go to pot….ohmygosh, corsets and girdles!!! Now talk about being reminiscent of a better time…

    • Oh, Pansy…please spare a thought for the poor husbands! How many picayune decisions are you going to heap on our poor male shoulders?

      Guess we’d better just suck it up though, because the alternative — of letting the womenfolk make decisions and take control of their own lives — is just too horrible to contemplate. What if they keep deciding wrong?!?

      So, to do my part: Yes to the chips, so long as they’re Baked Lays or Sun Chips, and your husband carefully monitors your intake with the help of the parish nutritionist. Yes to the corset, so long as it’s plain…too fancy or kinky-looking and you may give him unwelcome thoughts. No to the girdles…if we menfolk don’t get help holding in our tummies, the women shouldn’t either.

      Hope that helped…but whew, I’m exhausted now. It’s hard out there for a paterfamilias…

  49. OK. I know I’m a bit late to the discussion, but I have a question.

    Two of the primary arguments against pants are:
    1) Women should wear skirts because they are more feminine and pants are inherently masculine and 2) Pants incite lust.

    So…if both are true, is the concern that men are incited to lust by women who dress like men?

    • Now you know why they had to burn Jeanne d’Arc.

      It gets ugly when some peoples’ categories are violated.

  50. Just for the record: I can be incited to lust by a woman in a burqa, especially if she has happy eyes, is witty, and has read 200 good books.

  51. Thinking of the pants pass, didn’t clothing used to be particularized to identify the wearer?

    Should we also consider not only its use in warding off malicious looks, but in acknowledging our own achievements, as scholars and professionals, as single, celibate or married, as heroes and villains?

  52. Margaret,

    One thing I wanted to say to you yesterday, before Simcha closed the comments on the previous thread, is that I believe that yes, wearing only skirts could be something that God calls some women to, but not all.

    One example in my own life of something like that is childbirth. I had epidurals with my first three children, and always secretly regretted it. With my fourth child, God made it clear to me that it was His will for me not to have an epidural (at least not then). And it was a liberating experience for me. But the Church does not condemn epidurals or medical pain relief in general, and I have talked with women for whom having an epidural was just as liberating an experience as not having one was for me.

    I think it is the same with wearing only skirts. I have thought before, and am still considering the idea, that God might be calling me to wear skirts all the time. But I am also sure that if it were true that God wanted all women to wear skirts all the time, then the Church would teach us that. She would be just as clear about skirts as she is clear about the wrongness of contraception. That’s what we rely on her for. When the Church does not speak out clearly about an issue, it is usually because God’s will in that matter varies from one person to another, or even from one time in a person’s life to another time.

  53. Okey doke, folks, I’m closing comments again, just because I kinda want my inbox back. Sorry if I cut off anyone who needed to respond to someone, but them’s the breaks. Thanks for all the thoughtful, civil, and witty comments. And for the other ones.

  54. […] Korrektiv, Alexandria, and others, I got a lot more attention than I’m used to for all this pants stuff.  And, as Mark Shea’s readers pointed out, with great pants comes great responsibility.  […]

  55. […] However, I believe I could use a day away, even if I have to wait for April!  And I know you could, too.  It really does sound like it’s going to be a wonderful time.  If you can make it at all, I would absolutely love to meet you there!  And yes, if I can get my act together, I will be handing out Pants Passes. […]

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