The cult of female modesty Dr Victoria Bateman

The cult of female modesty

Why are so many societies so obsessed with forcing women to cover up, & with maintaining their “virginity”? Why do so many people think that a woman’s “worth” depends on her bodily modesty?

This is from a tweet by Dr Victoria Bateman.

Let me start by making this clear: Dr Bateman is not an outspoken naturist, although she's not afraid to show herself in the nude, using her body as a tool of protest. Maybe some of you know about her and are aware of this.

The quote up here, however, is something that solidly touches naturism, being one of the reasons why naturists and nudists are mainly men.

Cover of the book by Victoria Bateman
I'm currently reading her latest book, which is all about Naked Feminism, or the Cult of Female Modesty.

It's truly an eye-opener. It's amazing how much and many men have occupied themselves with the female body and what is proper for women to do and how to behave.

I'd always thought that Greeks and Romans were openminded about nudity. Well, read chapter 1 of the book and learn.

I haven't gotten far into the book yet, but my jaw dropped more than a few times, reading about the ways that men thought they should enforce upon women.

This is a long-standing, cultural problem which, yes, has been built upon also by religion. Sorry for the religous good people, but there are lots of religious bad people, and that doesn't mean they commit physical crimes. Oppressing someone mentally, like Islam and Christianity does, is at least as bad.

It's shocking to read how long ago all this started, and not only Christianity and Islam are to blame for this (yes, blame) but also Confusianism, to name something you might not expect.

Clearly, there has been a movement in and out, regarding nudity and such, but the fact remains that women have been 'expected' to be far more 'modest' than men ever had to be - because it was the 'man' who had seized the power. Through that, men felt able and probably even obligated to put all those restraints on women.

Veiled woman
Veils, hair-covering headdresses, the requirement (e.g. in Victorian times) to wear long skirts that didn't even show an ankle...

It's awful to see and think about. And this has gone on for so long that even women are convinced that this is the way it should be.

Naked woman checking her phone
And it's not.

Being naked and natural when you want, that is the way it should be, and that's not only for men. It's - by now - doubly so for women, who've been suppressed in their natural ways for far too long - which is still happening in so many places. Look at the domestic violence cases. Who are the main victims? Women. Look at Iran, where girls are being poisoned in order to keep them from getting an education.

People wonder why there are so many men in naturism and so few women. Well... considering what you saw up there, I think that would explain a few things, would it?

Let's hope Dr Bateman's book opens a lot of eyes, and helps in freeing women from the cult of Modesty. If you want to learn more, please visit

You can follow Dr Bateman on Twitter and her book is available via Polity Books and, as of Friday, on Amazon, in case you're interested.

Here is an interview she did with Times Radio. Of course, because it's Youtube, the video is blurred.