What’s the purpose of the constant focus on Tznius for women. You actually hear less about the women’s Mitzvos that were historically emphasized than you do about Tznius these days. Tznius shiurim and tapes have taken over.
From this you might imagine that there’s some sort of epidemic of frum women walking around dressed in immodest ways but there isn’t one! Frum women today dress far more ‘modestly’ than their mothers did back in the 70’s. Women’s clothing in the frum world is more standardized and bland than ever. But the Tznius obsession is now actually greater than ever.
How do you explain that?
Easy, take a look at the Muslim world where women are covered from head to toe and yet there’s entire industries dedicated to pursuing immodesty in women. You see the more you cover up, the worse it gets.
Covering up women doesn’t make a society holier. It doesn’t reduce immorality. Only teaching genuine character and values does. Obsessively pushing new Tznius chumras and pushing the sexes further and further apart stops being a Geder Le’Arayot and becomes a cause for Arayot itself.
In Saudi Arabia, pornography use and homosexuality has exploded. The more the country has repressed and segregated women, the more men have found other outlets because MALE DESIRE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON WOMEN. Male desire exists regardless of women. Catholic Priests who segregate themselves from women will molest boys. Men isolated in the military and prison turn to Homosexuality. Covering up women doesn’t prevent perverted male behavior.
Men find it convenient to blame women for their own desire. But whether or not women walk around dressed or undressed, in bikinis or covered from head to toe, male desire doesn’t go anywhere. The sight of a woman can help bring out male desire in a particular moment but from day to day, men will nevertheless deal with the challenge of their desires. If you take women too far out of the equation, that desire won’t go away.
Religious conservatives treat desire as something that radiates from the female to the male. It isn’t. Desire radiates within us. The sight of an attractive person of the opposite sex can make it flare up but it isn’t creating anything that isn’t there and the other person isn’t responsible for it or to blame for it. Going too far in either direction perverts both men and women. Too much exposure and too much concealment and segregation both pervert the natures of men and women. The ideal is the balance of a golden mean. One that cannot be reached with escalating Tznius Chumras that hold women responsible for male desire.