Over on Frum Satire's blog, discussions have heated up about tzniut, mostly skirt lengths. It started when the blog owner, Heshy Fried, had embedded a you tube video on his blog with an FFB couple from the five towns getting engaged. He called it "awkward shomer negiah moments" because it's a little weird to get engaged without any hand holding and a kallah who is putting on her own ring. I'll spare you all the link, because that's not my point.
The girl in the video was wearing rather SHORT skirt. I mean, it must have been at LEAST four inches above her knee, probably more. So, various discussion ensued in the comments over at FS that she probably wasn't REALLY shomer, after all, this was an "awkward shomer negiah moment." The fact of the matter is whether she is or isn't when it's just them two, she's still, "shomer when people are watching" and they were.
One of the mini discussions I want to hone is was when the men said repeatedly in the comments, as I've heard before, "if ONLY these women KNEW how hard they make it for us by dressing like that." I'm sorry but these guys must be so stupid. These girls DO know. That's exactly WHY they do it. Even one of my rabbis told me, "you women have the power to marry any guy you want to because you women know what you're doing." Nevertheless, I don't see these men putting their money where their mouth is. Who are the men dating and marrying? The "frum" girls who dress provocatively. What does the community say? NOTHING.
I have discussed this people before. Most people just start trying to explain things to me because after all, I as a convert must know NOTHING. In reality, I'm steps ahead of them. As I explain to people, the rules are technically that you are to cover the knees and elbows but really the rules are that it's very important that the girl wears a skirt and NOT pants. It REALLY doesn't matter what length the skirt is or if it covers the knees or not. See, this is where people interrupt to me and start telling me what the halacha on the books is. What they don't realize is that I'm WAYYYY ahead of them. I understand full well that if you ask what you're supposed to wear as a Jewish woman, you will be told to cover your knees. However, I also know that women are usually asked if they wear skirts and no one stops to add that said skirt should cover the knees. A man will refuse to date girls who wear pants before he will refuse a girl with a high hemline. In Queens, a BT guy got engaged to a BT girl who wore pants and his entire group of friends tried to convince him to break it off or give her an ultimatum to stop wearing pants. When that didn't work, they STOPPED speaking to him. We're talking about a man over 40 and he's supposed to do what people tell him to?
NO WHERE in the Torah does Hashem say that women should only wear skirts. When you ask why women are supposed to wear skirts, you are told that either A) it emphasizes the butt too much, not tzanuah or B) it's man's clothing.
A) why do we care about emphasizing the butt but one must not DARE speak up about those who emphasize the knee? (Someone will undoubtedly get nasty at me for what I say.)
B) Women's pants are not men's clothing and many women are wearing skin tight stretch pants. The straight men are not exactly flocking to the stores for those. Now you can argue that stretch pants aren't tznius, but let's be fair. If want to attack them, you should attack the short skirts, as well. However, no one does, but people on the fringe like me. Furthermore, the argument is ludicrous because religious women (ok and Asian women) are really the only ones wearing skirts regularly these days. As such, pants are no longer exclusively man's clothing. In NYC, women wear skirts more because people are more shallow here than any place else but maybe LA and skirts are dressier. Nevertheless, that could be it's own post.
What this all boils down to is a desire for men to be macho and keep gender roles as close as possible as they were in the 1800's. Men aren't trying to keep women in skirts to keep them modest. If they REALLY were, then the community would react to slutty short skirts. In the Xtian community I used to be in, you would be pushed out if you wore a skirt above your knees. You would be asked to leave church and not to dress like that again. People claim this isn't done in the Jewish community because we don't want to lose these girls on the fringe. The fact of the matter is that we have no trouble doing it to women who wear pants. If you wore pants to my old church, you wouldn't be asked to leave, but no one would talk to you that day, not even your friends, or they would ask why you're wearing pants and give you a "look." At least, the reactions matched the order of preference of attire. We play games about in the Jewish world. Although, the xtians have other issues I'm not going to get into here.
In conclusion, if wearing a skirt above the knee is REALLY against the rules, then people need to act like it's wrong. The truth is that wearing pants is the absolute worst thing in the world an Orthodox woman is to do. It's better to go about in her panties than pants. In fact, a girl I once heard snap that she didn't own pants went on the "no pants subway ride" this year. She's not afraid of people knowing, either.