Sunday, February 12, 2017
Self-respect isn't measured in inches. I wear short skirts because they're fun, and flirty. They make me feel sexy. That's not a symptom of low self-esteem; it's a celebration of confidence. I love my body, and I think it looks good. I enjoy showing it off. Have you ever noticed how shame is the tool of those who criticize revealing attire? It's because they know it well: modesty is a product of fear and loathing.
By the way, how come "modesty" (as it relates to fashion) is never applied to men? It's always a code word for slut-shaming women. Your shorts are too short. Your skirt is too high. Your shirt is too low. It doesn't cover your stomach. Where's the rest of that outfit? Men don't really have to worry about these things, because they don't have a sense of "virtue" and "purity" - by which society measures them - to protect. Nearly every time a school dress code controversy comes up (excepting the rare and relatively unspectacular issue of boys growing their hair long), it's about what the girls are wearing. Except, it's not really about what the girls are wearing. It's about how hot and bothered by what the girls are wearing the policy makers are. It's a damn shame they can't just take responsibility for their own feelings, instead of trying to punish others for making them feel dirty.
On a related issue, I think the problem with a lot of feminist rhetoric is that in the process of calling out the abusive aspects of the sexual environment through which women must navigate, male sexuality is vilified, without providing men with a paradigm of how to relate sexually to women in a way that is not abusive. Too often it comes down to, "when a man looks at a woman, he is victimizing the woman", and as someone who is sexually attracted to women, I am offended by that. It doesn't mean I don't think there is any problem with male culture, or the way men treat women. It's just that, being sexually attracted to a woman isn't part of that problem. Having the feelings is not wrong, or hurtful to anyone. It all depends on how you deal with them - whether you use them as a shallow excuse to treat women poorly, or not.
Because when the former happens, we get these disgusting situations where the only expression of male sexuality that is visible (and talked about) is the abusive kind, and women learn to associate male sexuality with abuse. So that the problem with girls wearing short skirts, for example, becomes the expectation that men will leer at them. And the response to that is, if you think a girl in a short skirt is sexy, you're being a pig. But that's not true. And it's offensive to us men (and women) who can appreciate the sex appeal of a girl in a short skirt, without translating that into behavior that makes the girl feel uncomfortable or victimized.
"...the [men in my life] who like women sometimes have the pure and honorable thought that a woman they see is attractive and sometimes they even fantasize, but they know how to act appropriately toward those women and respect their boundaries."
- Madison Kimrey
This girl gets it. We need more messages like this - they're way too rare. Messages that tell men that it's okay to be sexually attracted to women (because it's unavoidable - no force in the universe is strong enough to prevent men from fantasizing about women), and that emphasize the difference between perfectly acceptable and definitely unacceptable ways to handle those feelings (instead of just calling out the latter and leaving it at that). Because if you don't give men a positive outlet, they're going to have no choice but to resort to a negative one. Tell a man he's evil because he has those feelings, and he might just be inclined to prove you right.
In a different discussion, on sexualized Halloween costumes (an issue that's near and dear to my heart), Madison Kimrey considers a typical example of the conservative approach, in which an offended bystander complained until the store (inevitably concerned with bad PR and prioritizing damage control) pulled the offending product. She offers her criticism, saying that "instead of appealing to the store to provide more choices for girls, [the offended party] instead chose to limit the choices of others." This is the rational and humanitarian approach to this disturbing phenomenon (that I have been advocating for at least the last five years). So why do I never hear anybody taking this stance? I think I like this girl.
I came across this twitpic while searching for inspiration re: dress code violations, and I thought it was brilliant:
The most disturbing thing about this image is that it's only a slight exaggeration. I swear, I've seen it with my own eyes - boys regularly cavorting in their underwear, while girls are dressed head to toe (to preserve their "virtue"). Because girls' bodies are "sexualized". I don't really like that word, because human beings are sexual creatures by nature, but in terms of how society views these things - if a boy's skin is showing, it's just a body. But if a girl's skin is showing, it's scandalous. Even if we're just talking about children. The grand irony, however, is that this rule is flipped completely upside-down at the swimming pool - males are forbidden from wearing briefs, while females can be expected to be donning tiny triangles attached with strings. Again, even where children are concerned. I don't understand human psychology sometimes...
But, there is a bright patch amidst this sea of darkness:
Schoolboys allowed to wear skirts under new 'gender neutral' uniform rules
How I wish I could have grown up today (or maybe in a few more years, when this trend starts to snowball - fingers crossed). One of my most treasured fantasies is to relive my high school prom, wearing a stunning dress and heels.
"Diversity campaigners have warned current policies risk discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils (LGBT)."
I hope this trend trickles down to swimming pools, too - I've made this same argument against the sexist double standard regarding men's swimming briefs for several years now. If girls can do anything boys can do, then boys can do anything girls can, too.
"This change follows requests from a small number of families."
And you can bet there are a large number of families ready to protest it, because they're uncomfortable with the fact that they can't force the world to adhere to their small-minded ability to comprehend what's going on around them. What's ironic is the fact that they'll protest this expansion of freedom as if it were a restriction on their own choices. "Duh, lib'ruls forcing me to acknowledge that not everyone wants to live the way I want them to, instead of just letting me go on dictating other people's lives, the way we've been doing it for generations." Does it really take a genius to figure out that your choices don't encompass "choosing" other people's choices for them? It's baffling, the stupidity of mankind.
But you know what? I don't give a fuck what your opinion on a boy wearing a skirt is. If that boy wants to wear that skirt, I'll defend to the death his right to do so. Because that's the American way. And I don't look too kindly on insinuations that there's anything wrong with it, either. Every day, we exert enormous amounts of pressure on people to conform to ill-fitting stereotypes, and it causes undue stress and trauma. I don't care what your narrow-minded, conservative justifications are - if you're contributing to this toxic environment, then you're a horse's ass. There's no two ways about it.