If you have followed the modesty movement even for a moment, you will have noticed the overarching theme: women must cover their bodies to save men from being tempted, for a woman's body is the source of the worst possible sin of them all - sex.
Just the sight of a woman's body makes the man lose his cool and his head (or so we are told). A man who looks at a beautiful woman's body cannot think, he can only act, and that can only lead to bad things; bad things everyone will regret once the passion wears off and the cool returns. Hence the insistence of the modesty movement to have women cover themselves from top to toe, to prevent any and all temptation.
But here's the real question: does covering women prevent men from fantasizing about women? Not really. As anyone who has ever been in a diet knows, just because there's no food in the house doesn't mean a person cannot dream about pizza, doughnuts, slippery pasta in a creamy sauce, piles of meat in between soft bread, and huge amounts of golden butter. Our imaginations are vivid and become more and more so with every moment of enforced deprivation. Because we know this, we know also that the less men see, the more they fantasize, and the more they fantasize, they more they crave what they fantasize about.
Food and sex are very similar as they are both natural biological instincts we all seek to satisfy, but all instincts can be controlled. The ability to withstand the restrictions of a diet doesn't come from hiding the food. It comes from education. Knowing why it's necessary to diet gives a person strength to withstand the momentary food deprivation. And the same is true of sex. Knowing that a woman's body belongs to the woman gives a man the necessary strength to withstand the urge to touch or in any other way handle a woman's body without consent. He wouldn't, after all, want someone to touch his own body without consent.
Women's bodies have power and we all know it. But it's a power that is meant to bring people together in a way that doesn't cause hurt, for love isn't meant to hurt. Some people want to sidestep love and insist that that women should either use their power for their own gain, or hide it completely and remain powerless. Accordingly, the fashion industry strips women and shames them for not having perfect bodies, and the modesty culture covers women and shames them for having a body.
Both are mistaken.
A woman's body has power, and it can certainly bring a man to his knees - but only if he allows it to happen, for a man is still in charge of his own mind. On the other hand, a woman's body has power, even when covered, and no amount of fabric will cover its desirability, for the imagination has eyes of its own and cannot be deterred by any layers of clothing. What deters a man is respect, and the knowledge that a woman's body belongs to her, and her alone. It can give pleasure, but only when it's mutual and consensual, for pleasure doesn't reside in the body alone; it's controlled by the mind. It is the mind that either covers or undresses the person we meet, and respect is what causes a man or a woman to choose one or the other.
We all need to respect other people and not impose ourselves. It may seem as such a simple and natural thing, but if we look at the statistics and the sheer volume of modesty instructions that shame women for their bodies, we will realize that it's not something we do naturally. But there is hope. If we can learn to respect one another, the modesty culture will be shown to be what is it: an attempt to allow men forgo control by controlling women and what they wear.
And that has never ended well.