Dress Worn by Women
Beloved Sons of Catholic Action,
Educators intending truly to follow Christian Doctrine.
The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate this year a
certain increase in the use of mens dress by girls and women,
even mothers of families. Up until 1959, in Genoa, such dress
usually meant the person was a tourist, but now there seems to be a
significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are
choosing, at least on pleasure trips, to wear mens dress
spreading of this behavior obliges us to give serious consideration
to the subject, and we ask those to whom this Notification is
addressed to kindly give this problem all the attention it deserves,
as befits those aware of being answerable to God.
seek above all to give a balanced moral judgment upon the wearing of
mens dress by women. In fact, our thoughts bear solely upon
the moral question.
when if comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of mens
trousers by women cannot be said to constitute as such a grave
offense against modesty, because trousers certainly cover more of
womans body that do modern womens skirts.
however, to be modest clothes need not simply cover the body but
must also not cling too closely to the body. Now it is true that
much feminine clothing nowadays clings closer than do some trousers,
but trousers can be made to cling closer, and, in fact, generally
do; hence, the tight fit of such clothing gives us no less grounds
for concern than does exposure of the body. So the immodesty of
mens trousers on women is an aspect of the problem which is
not to be left out of an over-all judgment upon them even if it is
not to be artificially exaggerated either.
However, there is another aspect of women wearing mens
trousers which seems to us the gravest.
wearing of mens dress by women affects firstly the woman
herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women;
secondly, it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to
vitiate relationships between the sexes; thirdly, it affects the
woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her
childrens eyes. Each of these points is to be carefully
considered in turn.
Male Dress Changes the Psychology of Woman.
truth, the motive impelling women to wear mens dress is always
that of imitating, nay, of competing with the man who is considered
stronger, less tied down, more independent. This motivation shows
clearly that male dress is the visible aid to bringing about a
mental attitude of being like a man. Secondly, ever
since men have been men, the clothing a person wears conditions,
determines and modifies that persons gestures, attitudes and
behavior, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing comes
to impose a particular frame of mind inside.
let us add that a woman wearing mens dress always more or less
indicates her reacting to her femininity as though it were inferior
[to masculinity] when in fact it is only diverse. The perversion of
her psychology is clearly evident.
reasons, summing up many more, are enough to warn us how wrongly
women are made to think by the wearing of mens dress.
Male Dress Tends to Vitiate Relationships Between Women and Men.
truth when relationships between the two sexes unfold with the
coming of age, an instinct of mutual attraction is predominant. The
essential basis of this attraction is a diversity between the two
sexes which is made possible only by their complementing or
completing one another. If then this diversity becomes less
obvious because one of its major external signs is eliminated and
because the normal psychological structure is weakened, what results
is the alteration of a fundamental factor in the relationship.
problem goes further still. Mutual attraction between the sexes is
preceded both naturally, and in the order of time, by that sense of
shame which holds the rising impulses in check, imposes respect upon
them, and tends to lift to a higher level of mutual esteem and
healthy fear everything that those impulses would push onwards to
uncontrolled acts. To change that clothing which by its diversity
reveals and upholds natures limits and defenses, is to level
the distinctions and to help pull down the vital defenses of the
sense of shame.
is at least to hinder that sense. And when the sense of shame is
hindered from applying the brakes, then do relationships between man
and women sink degradingly to pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual
respect or esteem.
teaches us that when woman is de-feminized, defenses are undermined
and weakness increases.
Male Dress Harms the Dignity of the Mother in Her Childrens
children have an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of
their mother. Analysis of the first inner crisis of children when
they awaken to life around them, even before they enter upon
adolescence, shows how much the sense of their mother counts.
Children are as sensitive as can be on this point. Adults typically
leave all that behind them and think no more on it. But we would do
well to call to mind the severe demands that children instinctively
make of their own mother, and the deep and even terrible reactions
roused in them by observation of their mothers misbehavior.
Many lines of later life are here traced out -- and not for good
-- in these early inner dramas of infancy and childhood.
child may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity or
infidelity, but he possesses an instinctive sense to recognize them
when they occur, to suffer from them, and be bitterly wounded by
them in his soul.
Let us think seriously on the import of everything said thus far,
even if a womans appearance in mens dress does not
immediately give rise to the same disturbance caused by grave
changing of feminine psychology does fundamental and -- in the
long run -- irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal
fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the
effects of wearing unsuitable dress are not all to be seen within a
short time. But one must think of what is being slowly and
insidiously worn down, torn apart, perverted.
any satisfying reciprocity between husband and wife imaginable, if
feminine psychology be changed? Or is any true education of children
imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so woven of
imponderable factors in which the mothers intuition and
instinct play the decisive part in those tender years? What will
these women be able to give their children when they will so long
have worn trousers that their self-esteem is determined more by
their competing with the men than by their functioning as women?
we ask, ever since men have been men -- or rather since they
became civilized -- why have men in all times and places been
irresistibly borne to differentiate and divide the functions of the
two sexes? Do we not have here strict testimony to the recognition
by all mankind of a truth and a law above man?
sum up, wherever women wear mens dress, it is be considered a
factor, over the long term, in disintegrating human order.
The logical consequence of everything presented thus far is that
anyone in a position of responsibility should be possessed by a
sense of alarm in the true and proper meaning of the word, a
severe and decisive alarm.
address a grave warning to parish priests, to all priests in general
and to confessors in particular, to members of every kind of
association, to all religious, to all nuns, especially to teaching
ask them to become clearly conscious of the problem so that action
will follow. This consciousness is what matters. It will suggest the
appropriate action in due time. But let it not counsel us to give
way in the face of inevitable change, as though we are confronted by
a natural evolution of mankind, and so on!
may come and men may go, because God has left plenty of room for the
ebb and flow of free-will; but the substantial lines of nature and
the no less substantial lines of the Eternal Law have never changed,
are not changing and never will change. There are bounds beyond
which one may stray as far as he pleases, but to do so ends in
death. Empty philosophical fantasizing may let one mock or
trivialize these limits, but they constitute an alliance of hard
facts and of nature which chastises anyone who oversteps them.
Certainly history has taught -- with frightening proofs from the
life and death of nations -- that the reply to all violators of
this outline of humanity is always, sooner or later,
the dialectic of Hegel, we are fed what amounts to nothing but
fables, and by dint of hearing them so often, many people end up
acquiescing to them, even if only passively. But the reality of the
matter is that Nature and Truth, and the Law bound up in both, go
their imperturbable way, and cut to pieces the simpletons who, upon
no grounds whatsoever, would believe in radical and far-reaching
changes in the very structure of man.
consequences of such violations are not a new outline of man, but
rather disorders, harmful instability of every kind, the frightening
dryness of human souls, a shattering increase in the number of human
castaways driven out from among us, left to live out their decline
in boredom, sadness and rejection. On the beach of this intentional
shipwreck of the eternal norms are found broken families, hearths
and homes grown cold, lives cut short before their time, the elderly
cast aside, our youth willfully degenerate and -- at the end of
the line -- souls in despair and taking their own lives. All of
this human wreckage gives witness to the fact that the line of
God does not give way, nor does it admit of any adaptation to
the delirious dreams of the so-called philosophers!
We have said that those to whom the present Notification is
addressed are asked to take serious alarm before the problem at
hand. Accordingly they know what they have to say, starting with
little girls on their mothers knee.
know that without exaggerating or turning into fanatics, they will
need to strictly limit how far they tolerate women dressing like
men, as a general rule.
know they must never be so weak as to let anyone believe that they
turn a blind eye to a custom which is slipping downhill and
subverting the moral standing of all institutions.
the priests, know that the line they have to take in the
confessional, while not holding women dressing like men to be
automatically a grave fault, must be sharp and decisive.
will kindly give thought to the need for a united line of action,
re-enforced on every side by the co-operation of all men of good
will and all enlightened minds, so as to create a veritable dike to
hold back the flood.
of you responsible for souls in whatever capacity understand how
useful it is to have for allies in this campaign men of the arts,
the media and the crafts. The position taken by fashion design
houses, the brilliant designers and the clothing industry, is of
crucial important in the whole question. Artistic sense, refinement
and good taste meeting together can find suitable but dignified
solutions as to the dress for women to wear when they must use a
motorcycle or engage in this or that exercise or work. What matters
is to preserve modesty together with the eternal sense of femininity
which, more than anything else, all children will continue to
associate with the face of their mother.
do not deny that modern life sets problems and makes requirements
unknown to our grandparents. But we state that there are values more
in need of protection than fleeting experiences, and that for anyone
of intelligence there is always good sense and good taste enough to
find acceptable and dignified solutions to problems which arise.
by charity we are fighting against a leveling debasement of mankind,
against the attack upon those differences on which rests the
complementarity of man and woman.
we see a woman in trousers, we should think not so much of her, as
of all mankind: of what will be should women masculinize themselves.
Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of
vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.
letter of ours is not addressed to the public, but to those
responsible for souls, for education, for Catholic associations. Let
them do their duty, and let them not be sentries caught asleep at
their post while evil crept in.