In general religious discourse (at least in the context of the Abrahamic religions), modesty, particularly for women, is considered to be a key virtue. While both sexes are theoretically supposed to be modest in terms of dress and behavior, modesty, like chastity, tends to be seen as a uniquely feminine trait. Within conservotrad Catholicism, we see an emphasis on cultivating “Mary-like purity” among the young, as well as disseminating a gender essentialist view of relations between the sexes as outlined in Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body. John Paul II, author of the afore mentioned TOTB, spoke a great deal about “the dignity of women” as well as “the feminine genius,” concepts that were supposed to lead Catholics to respect women and avoid secular notions of feminism. It is this concern with the female modesty that lead the Pennsylvania bishops to ban male/female wrestling in Catholic schools, which I wrote about previously (https://extraecclesiamestlibertas.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/women-who-fight-and-the-bishops-who-disapprove/). I was discussing this incident on another blog, and one of the male conservotrad participants asked why traditionally-minded men couldn’t be taken at their word that they were truly honoring women by being concerned with female modesty and by trying to be a “gentleman.” What follows is my answer to him.
I recently found out about this story from October, in which Pennsylvania’s Catholic hierarchy decided to take a brave stand against the perceived scourge of male/female high school wrestling:
“The diocese therefore believes that it is incompatible with its religious mission and with its efforts to teach Gospel values to condone competitions between young men and women in sports that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact,” said Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg in a letter to students.