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Modesty in the Service of Justice: Retrieving Tradition and Reversing the Gaze

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2013

Cara Anthony
Affiliation:
University of St. Thomas

Abstract

In recent years, concern for “modesty” has become more prominent in American religious circles. Recent advocates of modest clothing for women voice important concerns, but also perpetuate problematic attitudes toward women, especially poor women and women of color. Thomas Aquinas' description of modesty corrects this error, because it includes modesty of the mind. Contemporary developments in moral theology then enable us to relate both mental and physical modesty to the cardinal virtue of justice, where modesty decenters the self and makes room for other people to flourish. Findings from social psychologists illuminate the dynamics of social power, and clarify specific ways that mental and physical modesty work under the rubric of justice. These findings suggest that men and women may face different challenges in the practice of modesty, and so Christians must attend to all types of modesty in order to adequately address the question of appropriate clothing.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The College Theology Society 2009

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References

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