Modesty culture is a ruse. More specifically, it’s a ruse that a man has the right to sexually violate a woman if she is not modestly dressed. It’s a ruse because women are not assaulted based on how they are dressed. We are assaulted because we are women living under patriarchy. It does not matter whether a woman wears a long potato sack or if she is nude. She is not safe from victimization so long as there are patriarchal men.
So then what is the purpose of modesty culture if it does not indeed protect women from sexual violence?
Modesty culture is a distraction. It allows women with internalized misogyny to trick themselves into feeling safer than they actually are. It allows folks to put down women and girls. And it allows male violence to be excused as it argues that it’s inevitable and out of their control.
Modesty culture does a lot. But it doesn’t protect or uplift women.
However, modesty culture has other implications. It promotes the idea that women do not own their own bodies. Our bodies are instead held captive by misogynist notions and by every individual man who has eyes to view us.