Julie M. Smith started off at Times and Seasons with a post entitled Stop Telling the YW to Be Modest for the YM. She objects to the commonly stated view that the reason we need to teach teenage girls to dress modestly is to avoid arousing the teenage boys (and men in general). She doesn't have a problem with modest dress per se; her problem is with the way it is taught.
Geoff J posted a rebuttal at New Cool Thang entitled Please Keep Telling the YW to be Modest for the YM. He basically said that women who dress in an immodest manner are inviting sexual attention, and they need to be told that so that they will cover up and not invite that attention.
Kmillecam posted a rebuttal at The Exponent entitled Modesty: Rape Culture, Rape Apology, Young Women, Young Men. Her point was that promoting the idea that a woman's dress invites sexual attention is on the same spectrum of telling a rape victim that she was asking for it by what she wore.
I agree with Julie and Kmillecam. It is totally inappropriate to put the burden of men's sexuality on women. This model is oppressive and contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It also improperly makes modesty a strictly female phenomenon. Modesty is not a strictly female phenomenon; all of God's people should be modest.
Christ specifically placed the burden of lustful thoughts on those having the thoughts.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:Note that Jesus didn't put in a caveat that said "unless she showed too much skin, then it's her fault". He didn't say that both the one lusting and the one being lusted after were guilty of committing adultery in their hearts. He placed the burden squarely on the one who lusted.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Plus, modest dress is wholly ineffective in deterring sexual objectification. I used to work and go to school in San Francisco. It gets unbelievably cold there. (I'm sure my non-California readers are laughing at my wimpiness, but whatever. Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. I believe him.) I would almost always be wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a scarf, and a beanie. That left only my hands and face showing. That did not stop the leering on the bus. It did not stop the catcalls while walking down the street. My manner of dress did not stop one of my professors from sexually harassing me. Covering up does not mitigate the reality of living in a female body. (And even if it did, the answer is to change the reality, not force women to cover up.)
So, this raises a few questions. The question of what the bounds of modesty are is outside the scope of this post. (For a good discussion on the meaning of the New Testament Greek surrounding modesty, see this post by Hugo Schwyzer.) The more interesting question is this: If modest dress has nothing to do with sexuality, why should we dress modestly?
As I have noted previously, I adhere to LDS standards of modest dress. I do this because of a promise God made to His people.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:If I am to be a member of a kingdom of priests, I need to dress the part. I have been clothed in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, and it is sacred to me. Because the garment is a personal reminder of the covenants I have made, I wear clothing that covers it. It has nothing to do with those around me and everything to do with my relationship with God.
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.