Male Self Control, Not Female Temperance, Real Issue

Kate Ginley, Opinion Editor

To be “confirmed” in the Catholic faith one must demonstrate their special connection to God. According to my church, the only way to do this is to isolate one’s self in the woods, sans wifi.  Thus, I was forced to spend my 3 day break following finals week in the tiny village of Occidental, located west of Santa Rosa, hidden within a redwood laden coastal mountain canyon.

While I’m  convinced the dimly illuminated forest was probably home to Slenderman, what traumatized me the most about my weekend retreat was the talk of “temperance.”

Temperance means moderation, or restrain. Usually used in discussion of substance addiction and how to avoid it, temperance is also one of the seven virtues according to Catholicism.

During my stay, boys and girls were segregated, and with the boys out of the picture, the girls were taught about temperance – or at least our speaker’s definition of temperance.

She explained that temperance means girls should not tempt boys by choosing to wear provocative clothing. Immediately, my friend and I jumped up and exclaimed that it is the boys themselves that shouldn’t be tempted by what girls wear. To this, the speaker declared that girls needed a dress code.

I raised my hand in protest. I’m sorry that I’m a teenage girl. Sometimes my bra straps slip into view.

Stylish fashion, which by definition flouts convention, is what provides many girls a sense of confidence, independence. I, for one, don’t dress the way that I do in order to draw the attention of boys.  I dress the way that I do because I like it.

Furthermore, why is what we wear so instrumental in defining who we are in the eyes of other people?

How can I practice this Catholic version of “temperance” without compromising my identity?

I understand there may be a conflict between individuality and modesty for some people, but suppressing one for the sake of the other isn’t going to fly.

If boys are “tempted” by the way I dress, the responsibility for their response to that sensation still resides exclusively with them.

What the Catholic church really needs to address is male self control.