Two months ago, the #CathSorority girls got in a semi-heated discussion about beach attire.

Darn Twitter doesn’t have it archived. #FirstWorldProblems

Hot, right? (Too much)

It started with me asking what #CathSorority thought about bikinis, one way or another.

I remember Trista erred on the side of modesty and I voiced that I didn’t like the idea that pictures of me practically naked could end up on Facebook. A few others landed on the tankini/one-piece side of the aisle, suggesting that we should “help out” our brothers in Christ by not “showing everything you’ve got” (hat tip, Gramma).

Katie asked something akin to, “What is the difference between skin-tight fabric covering your stomach and just having your stomach exposed?” There were other girls who agreed with her and fell on the “wear a bikini if you want to” because it’s not our responsibility to control what men think about us.

There were a lot of varied opinions When we arrived at a conversational crossroads, I sent out a bat call to @Marleyblakedog (aka @ckcathcart), @Palaminko, @nomoblues, and @CallAllWitness. I asked, “how much responsibility lies on women and how much lies on men when it comes to swimsuit (et al) modesty?”

For this first part, Palaminko (of The Apostasy Method) responded via email:

Hmm, tricky question.

If we’re specifically talking bikinis, I would say it’s a bad idea because–bikinis being cut the way they are, especially the last several years–women are pretty close to naked wearing them. There isn’t much left to the imagination…and male imaginations will have no problem with the rest. A few guys will be fine and manage to still view the women in them as women, but why make the situation more difficult? I don’t go swimsuit shopping with women on a regular basis, but I hear tell that there are some amazing (and still very feminine and modest) one-pieces available nowadays.

This guy knows a thing or two about double standards.

In general, here’s what I overheard one girl say to another: if your grandmother (it used to be “mother”, but I’ve since realized that quite a few moms from our parents’ generation have very lax standards) would be scandalized seeing you in that outfit, chances are it’s immodest. 

Put more philosophically, if the outfit draws attention to what physical parts a woman is made of–as opposed to who she is in totality–it’s probably  immodest and the wearer bears some responsibility.

If, on the other hand, the outfit passes those modesty criteria, I would say any immodest thoughts are the sole responsibility of the viewer.

Hope that helps the conversation!

PS–Back when I was in competitive shape, I used to get catcalls while running around town without a shirt on hot days. Modesty works both ways. I’m now in the habit of covering up, though I still haven’t figured out the beach thing. (emphasis added by me, Elizabeth)

Full disclosure: Because Katie’s words kept circulating in my head, I have since bought a bikini top, but I will do my best to only wear it around people I trust and to avoid landing in photos while wearing it. I have yet to figure out how to do that.

What do YOU think?
Stay tuned for the next in this series where we hear from Chase.