Newsletter of the District
Concerning Men's Dress
Worn by Women
Giuseppe Cardinal Siri
June 12, 1960
To all Teaching sisters,
To the beloved sons of Catholic Action,
To Educators intending truly to follow Christian Doctrine.
The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate that
there is this year a certain increase in the use of menís dress
by girls and women, even family mothers.† Up until 1959, in Genoa,
such dress usually meant the person was a tourist, but now it seems
to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself
who are choosing at least on pleasure trips to wear menís dress
of this behavior obliges us to take serious thought, and we ask
those to whom this Notification is addressed to kindly lend to the
problem all the attention it deserves from anyone aware of being
in any way responsible before God.
above all to give a balanced moral judgment upon the wearing of
menís dress by women.† In fact Our thoughts can only bear upon the
when it comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of menís
trousers by women cannot be said to constitute AS SUCH A GRAVE OFFENSE
AGAINST MODESTY, BECAUSE trousers certainly cover more of womanís
body than do modern womenís skirts.
however, clothes to be modest need not only to cover the body but
also not to cling too closely to the body.† Now it is true that much feminine clothing
today clings closer than do some trousers, but trousers can be made
to cling closer, in fact generally they do so, so the tight fit
of such clothing gives us no less grounds for concern than does
the exposure of the body.† So the immodesty of menís 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
However, it is a different aspect of womenís wearing of menís
trousers which seems to us the gravest.
of menís 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 childrenís eyes.† Each of
these points is to be carefully considered in turn:-
MALE DRESS CHANGES THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WOMAN.
the motive impelling women to wear menís 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 ďlike a manĒ.†
Secondly, ever since men have been men, the clothing a person wears,
demands, imposes and modifies that personís gestures, attitudes
and behaviour, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing
comes to impose a particular frame of mind inside.
us add that woman wearing manís dress always more or less indicates
her reacting to her femininity as though it is inferiority when
in fact it is only diversity.† The perversion of her psychology
is clear to be seen.
reasons, summing up many more, are enough to warn us how wrongly
women are made to think by the wearing of menís dress.
MALE DRESS TENDS TO VITIATE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN.
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 ďdiversityĒ 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.
goes further still.† Mutual attraction between the sexes is preceded
both naturally, and in order of time, by that sense of shame which
holds the rising instincts in check, imposes respect upon them,
and tends to lift to a higher level of mutual esteem and healthy
fear everything that those instincts would push onwards to uncontrolled
acts.† To change that clothing which by its diversity reveals and
upholds natureís limits and defense-works, is to flatten out the
distinctions and to help pull down the vital defense-works of the
sense of shame.
at least to hinder that sense.† And when the sense of shame is hindered
from putting on the brakes, then relationships between man and women
sink degradingly down to pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual respect
is there to tell us that when woman is de-feminished then defenses
are undermined and weakness increases.
MALE DRESS HARMS THE DIGNITY OF THE MOTHER IN HER CHILDRENíS EYES.
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 have usually left all that behind
them and think no more on it.† But we could do well to recall to
mind the severe demands
instinctively make of their own mother, and the deep and even terrible
reactions roused in them by observation of their motherís misbehaviour.†
Many lines of later life are here traced out - and not for good
- in these early inner dramas of infancy and childhood.
may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity or infidelity
but he possesses an instinctive sixth 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 so
far, even if womanís appearing in manís dress does not immediately
give rise to all the upset caused by grave immodesty.
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.
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 motherís 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 goes 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 make a differentiated division between 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?
up, wherever women wear menís dress, it is to be considered a factor
in the long run tearing apart human order.
The logical consequence of everything presented so 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.
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 Sisters.
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!
come and men may go, because God has left plenty of room for the
to and fro of their free-will; but the substantial lines of nature
and the not less substantial lines of Eternal Law have never changed,
are not changing and never will change.† There are bounds beyond
which one may stray as far as one sees fit, but to do so ends in
are limits which empty philosophical fantasizing may have one mock
or not take seriously, but they put together an alliance of hard
facts and nature to chastise anybody who steps over them.† And history
has sufficiently taught, with frightening proof from the life and
death of nations, that the reply to all violators of the outline
of ďhumanityĒ is always, sooner or later, catastrophe.
dialectic of Hegel onwards, we have had dinned in our ears what
are nothing but fables, and by dint of hearing them so often, many
people end up by getting used to them, if only passively.† But the
truth of the matter is that Nature and Truth, and the Law bound
up in both, go their imperturbable way, and they cut to pieces the
simpletons who upon no grounds whatsoever believe in radical and
far-reaching changes in the very structure of man.
of such violations are not a new outline of man, but disorders,
hurtful instability of all kinds, the frightening dryness of human
souls, the shattering increase in the number of human castaways,
driven long since out of peopleís sight and mind to live out their
decline in boredom, sadness and rejection.† Aligned on the wrecking
of the eternal norms are to be found the broken families, lives
cut short before their time, hearts and homes gone cold, old people
cast to one side, youngsters willfully degenerate and - at the end
of the line - souls in despair and taking their own lives.† All
of which human wreckage gives witness to the fact that the ďline
of GodĒ 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 addresses are invited to take serious alarm at the problem in
hand.† Accordingly they know what they have to say, starting with
little girls on their motherís knee.
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.
they must never be so week as to let anyone believe that they turn
a blind eye to a custom which is slipping and undermining 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-inforced on every side by the co-operation of all men of good
will and all enlightened minds, so as to create a true dam to hold
back the flood.
of you responsible for souls in whatever capacity understand how
useful it is to have for allies in this defensive campaign men of
the arts, the media and the crafts.† The position taken by fashion
design houses, their brilliant designers and the clothing industry,
is of crucial importance in this 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, that femininity which more than anything else all
children will continue to associate with the face of their mother.
not deny that modern life sets problems and makes requirements unknown
to our grandparents.† But we state that there are values more needing
to be protected than fleeting experiences, and that for anybody
of intelligence there are always good sense and good taste enough
to find acceptable and dignified solutions to problems as they come
charity we are fighting against the flattening out of mankind, against
the attack upon those differences on which rests the complementarity
of man and woman.
see a woman in trousers, we should think not so much of her as of
all mankind, of what it will be when women will have masculinized
themselves for good.† Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring
about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in
a word, monstrosities.
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.
Archbishop of Genoa.