Women should Wear Dresses and Skirts, Not Pants – Part 2

Catholic Candle note: The article below is part 2 of an article the first part of which is found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2024/02/19/women-should-wear-dresses-and-skirts-not-pants/


This article is a companion article to our article about Mary-like Neckline Modesty, which can be found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2023/05/21/marylike-neckline-modesty/

Both of these articles apply to girls as well as women and assist them in fulfilling the role and great work for which God created women.  Read more about this role and great work here: https://catholiccandle.org/2019/12/02/the-role-and-work-that-god-gave-to-woman/

Part 2

Recap of part 1

In part one of this article, we saw five reasons why men (as well as women) need to understand the Catholic standards of modesty for women (and men).

The article then lists four reasons why women should not wear pants:

1.    It is objectively a sin against the revealed Divine Law for a woman to wear pants;

2.    It is objectively a sin of lewdness[1] under the Natural Law for a woman to wear pants, even apart from the issue of pants being more revealing of a woman’s body;

3.    A woman who wears pants objectively commits a sin of feminist usurpation of man’s role and “nature” and denial of her own “nature” and role in God’s plan; and

4.    A woman wearing pants objectively sins because pants are immodest for her due to their revealing too much of her figure.

Then the article looks at the first of those reasons.  Below, is the remaining three reasons why women should wear dresses and skirts and not pants.


2.     It is a Sin against the Natural Law for
Women to Wear Pants.

A person could suppose that it might have been permissible for women to wear pants and other men’s clothes (or for men to wear women’s clothes) if God had not forbidden this in the revealed Law in Sacred Scripture.  But that supposition is false because such cross-dressing is forbidden by the Natural Law, too.[2]

This prohibition under the Natural Law is especially because wearing the clothes of the other sex causes lewdness.  Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church, teaches this truth:

It is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice versa, especially since this can cause lewdness.[3]

Pants are men’s clothes and it is a sin for women to wear pants just as it is a sin for a man to wear a dress because dresses are a woman’s clothes.  This particular reason why it is sinful for women to wear the clothes of the opposite sex does not depend on how much such clothes reveal a woman’s body.  For example, even if she should wear a complete men’s suit with a dress shirt buttoned up to her neck,  nevertheless, it is inherently sinful to do so.

It would also be a sin of cross-dressing for a man to wear a dress even if it were a “very modest” dress, precisely because it is woman’s attire.  The same example (a man wearing a dress) is all-the-more cringe-worthy if the dress is pink calico with lots of lace and frills as well as accompanied by broaches, pearl necklaces, and 4-inch-high spike heels.  But those conditions and accessories are not necessary circumstances for the man to have committed the sin of cross-dressing (although such feminine accessories might increase the sin).

This is because, as St. Thomas explains, such cross-dressing is a cause of lewdness and sensuality.  This lewdness arises because it is lewd for a man to insert his body into women’s clothes (i.e., for him to commingle his body with women’s clothes).  Similarly, it is lewd for a woman to insert her body into a man’s clothes or commingle her body with man’s clothes.

Again, this reason we are discussing now (why it is a sin for men and women to cross-dress) does not pertain to whether a woman’s figure is more revealed in pants (which it is) but pertains to the fact that pants are men’s clothes.  In other words, it is a sin for a woman to wear men’s clothes regardless of whether such clothes would immodestly reveal her body.

This is the second reason it is a sin for women to wear pants.

 



[1]           Lewdness (noun): indecency or obscenity; vulgar sexual character or behavior.  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lewdness

[2]           The Natural Law is what we know is right (or wrong) by the light of the natural reason God gave us.  One example of the Natural Law is that we must never tell a lie.  We naturally know this because we know that the purpose of speech is to convey the truth and so we naturally know that telling a lie is abusing the purpose of speech. 

Here is how St. Thomas explains what the Natural Law is:

[L]aw, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure.  Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above [in Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.1]; it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends.  Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others.  Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law.  Hence the Psalmist after saying (Psalm 4:6): "Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: "Many say, Who showeth us good things?" in answer to which question he says: "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us": thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.2, respondeo.

[3]           Summa, IIa IIae, Q.169, a.2, ad 3.

 

Women should Wear Dresses and Skirts, Not Pants

Catholic Candle note: The article below is a companion article to our article about Mary-like Neckline Modesty, which can be found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2023/05/21/marylike-neckline-modesty/

Both of these articles apply to girls as well as women and assist them in fulfilling the role and great work for which God created women.  Read more about this role and great work here: https://catholiccandle.org/2019/12/02/the-role-and-work-that-god-gave-to-woman/

 

We live in a pagan world (as we see all around us).  Even many Catholic women adopt the evil fashions they see all around them.  Let us inquire whether women should ever wear pants.

But first, let us inquire whether this issue is one that only women need to know about.


Is it Important for Men (as well as Women) to Know the Catholic Standard of Modesty for Women?

Men and women should all care about feminine modesty and know the standards of Catholic modesty.  It is obvious that a woman should understand and live the Catholic standard of modesty so that she can please God, edify her neighbor, be a good example, teach her daughters, and avoid sin.

But there are five reasons why men should know these standards too:

1.    It is important for men and boys to know the standards of female modesty because they have a duty to avert their eyes from women’s and girl’s attire which does not comply with such modesty standards.
This is obvious.  The main reason why women and girls have standards of modesty (and must not “wear whatever they want to”) is because there are men and boys who will look at them. 
Women must cover up for the sake of the men.  This is common decency and is a minimum charity that they owe to their (male) neighbors.  Women would be callously disregarding the salvation of men (and themselves) if women dressed without concern for the temptations their attire would cause in men.
This is like the fact that a person must not wildly swing a butcher knife “whenever he wants to” without regard for the risk of injuring those around him.  In fact, immodesty is more dangerous than the butcher knife because immodesty can kill the soul whereas a butcher knife can only kill the body. 
Of course, it is also true that men must dress modestly for the sake of the women too.  This is men’s minimum charity toward their (female) neighbors.  However, there are three reasons that female immodesty is a greater problem:

  Women are the more beautiful sex and so are more attractive;

  Men are more prone than women are to sins of impurity by looking impurely at the opposite sex, as is evident by the fact that the filthy practice of viewing pornography is a sin which is far more frequently committed by men rather than by women; and

  Men and women both are more inclined to weaken on women’s standards of modesty than on men’s modesty.  This is because women have a stronger focus on pleasing men by their (i.e., women’s) appearance, and men have less of a focus on pleasing women by their own (i.e., the men’s) appearance but have a greater tendency to be pleased by women’s appearance (than are women focused on and pleased by men’s appearance).  Here are three signs that this is true:

first, women desire and usually have a far larger wardrobe and wear far more jewelry than men do;


second,
women take many other pains to look attractive for men, such as wearing makeup, getting their hair curled or permed, etc., and
third, men’s clothes and shoes are more practical and serviceable.  By contrast, women’s clothes and shoes are much more likely to be less comfortable because they are more designed to please men rather than for comfort.  (For example, women’s shoes are designed to make a woman’s foot look smaller.) 
 

2.    It is important for an unmarried man who is called to the married vocation (and not to the life of consecrated virginity) to have prominently featured in his “blue print” of the future spouse he seeks, that she possess and love this great treasure of the Catholic standard of holy modesty; 

3.    It is important for a man to know the Catholic standard of feminine modesty so that he can give moral support and defend the modesty of good women against scoffers, mockers, and other enemies of Our Lord.  (For example, it is all too often that women who take modesty seriously are made to feel prudish and isolated, especially by other women who have a more liberal dress code.)  Men should be gallant and gentlemanly.  They should defend women, especially good women who are living the standards of modesty and other virtues;

 

4.    It is important for a man to know the Catholic standard of feminine modesty because he will be responsible for guiding his wife and daughters (when God sends him his own family) and will be ultimately responsible for this standard being implemented in his own home and family; and

 

5.    It is important for a man to know the Catholic standard of feminine modesty so he can love this beautiful virtue and admire and appreciate the Mary-like women and girls who practice it.

 

Four Reasons Women Should Not Wear Pants

There are four reasons why it is a sin for women to wear pants:

1.    It is objectively a sin against the revealed Divine Law for a woman to wear pants;

2.    It is objectively a sin of lewdness[1] under the Natural Law for a woman to wear pants, even apart from the issue of pants being more revealing of a woman’s body;

3.    A woman who wears pants objectively commits a sin of feminist usurpation of man’s role and “nature” and denial of her own “nature” and role in God’s plan; and

4.    A woman wearing pants objectively sins because pants are immodest for her due to their revealing too much of her figure.

Below, we consider each of these reasons.


1.     It is Objectively a Sin against the
Revealed Divine Law for Women to Wear Pants.

God has revealed His law that it is evil for a woman to wear a man’s clothes (and also for men to wear women’s clothes).  Here are the words of God’s law:

Let not a woman wear men’s clothes nor a man use women’s clothes.  For they are abominable with the Lord who do such things.

 

Deuteronomy, 22:5.

One article of man’s clothing is pants.  Although at any time in history, one can find deviant persons wearing clothes which are taboo in order to get attention or to shock those around them, nonetheless, it only relatively-recently that the enemies of Christ succeeded to such an extent in their cultural revolution that society more generally was desensitized to women wearing pants so that it became no longer shocking to most people.  This occurred roughly in the revolutionary 1960s, when society also became desensitized to other evils such as to tattoos[2], to cremation[3], to rock and roll “music”, and to wives and mothers being career women[4].  These things are still sins despite most people accepting them.

One history of women wearing pants (published by Time Magazine), noted that the popular fashion magazine, Vogue, did not print a picture of a woman wearing pants until 1939 and that people were shocked by that picture.  Here is that entry in that history:

It wasn’t until 1939 that Vogue pictured its first woman wearing slacks in a spread, at a time when those garments still weren’t widely worn by women and had the power to shock.[5]

Citing a book on women’s clothes and their style during the 1900s, another history called it “radical” that society began to accept women wearing pants.  Here are the words of this history:

“One of the most radical developments for women was the gradual acceptance of trousers, which were no longer considered either eccentric or strictly utilitarian,” write historians Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye in their book, 20th Century Fashion.[6]

This history correctly calls this change “radical” because, as a third history remarks, “wearing trousers was considered shocking by many women at the beginning of the 20th century”.[7]

Lastly, a fourth history (of women wearing pants) points specifically to the cultural revolution of the 1960s as the turning point in which women in pants had become common enough that there was no longer much outrage at the practice.  Here is how that history phrases it:

By the time the counter-culture movement of the 1960s had reached its height, a woman in pants wasn’t much to be outraged by, even if in workplaces pants remained the preserve of men for a while longer.[8]

In a 1977 New York Times retrospective on feminism’s effect on women’s “fashion”, the newspaper explains that:

The early 1970s was the period [in which] … women seeking to express their individuality wore pants.[9]

This, of course, is because such women thought themselves to be showing “individuality” because women wearing this men’s garment was still uncommon then.

This 1977 New York Times article continued, pointing particularly to the influence of a fashion corrupter named Calvin Klein, who led this revolution in women’s “fashion”:

Calvin Klein was instantly successful with clothes that were influenced by menswear — pants, tailored coats and jackets. “Ten years ago [i.e., 1967] a woman wore pants as a way of showing daring and security in herself,” he says ….[10]

The reason why it was considered “daring” for a woman to wear pants in the 1960s and early 1970s, is because society considered her to be provocative by wearing men’s clothes.

So, we see that our culture was not degraded enough until roughly the 1960s or 1970s, and only then was society callous enough to no longer be shocked by women wearing these men’s garments.

It is true that a person could wonder whether women wearing pants was accepted in other parts of the world earlier.  It seems that in some places in the world, where a false and corrupt “religion” formed a different and corrupt “culture”, women wearing pants was accepted earlier because the “culture” was worse. 

However, in former Christendom (the Western World), which had been formed by the Catholic Faith, and by true Catholic culture, women wearing pants was not generally accepted earlier.  It was only when (former) Christendom had slid far enough into degradation that people were no longer shocked by women wearing pants.  Again, this was roughly in the 1960s – 1970s.  Only then had Our Lord’s enemies sufficiently prevailed in their cultural revolution.


(To be Continued)

 

 



[1]           Lewdness (noun): indecency or obscenity; vulgar sexual character or behavior.  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lewdness

[2]           Society began to view tattoos as neither shocking nor deviant at roughly the same time (the revolutionary 1960s) as society began considering women wearing pants as acceptable and not shocking.  Read this article here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/tattoos-are-a-sin-to-obtain-and-a-sin-to-display

[3]           Society began to view cremation as neither pagan nor barbaric at roughly the same time (the revolutionary 1960s) as society began considering women wearing pants as acceptable and not shocking.  Read this article here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/cremation-is-barbaric

[4]           Society began to view it as acceptable for wives and mothers to abandon their role in life at roughly the same time (the revolutionary 1960s) as society began considering women wearing pants as acceptable and not shocking.  Read this article here: The Role and Work that God Gave to Woman, https://catholiccandle.org/2019/12/02/the-role-and-work-that-god-gave-to-woman/

 

[6]           History of Women Wearing Pants, found here: https://qz.com/quartzy/1597688/a-brief-history-of-women-in-pants

[8]           History of Women Wearing Pants: https://qz.com/quartzy/1597688/a-brief-history-of-women-in-pants