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“Short Shorts”

Posted by purplemary54 on June 9, 2014

I don’t particularly like this song, but it seemed appropriate considering the content of today’s rant.

That’s right, boys and girls.  I’m getting out my soapbox, and gearing up for some righteous indignation.  Well, maybe irritation is a better word.

I read this article over at Slate today, and I was kind of flabbergasted at the way dress codes for women and girls had evolved.  Or, to be fair and accurate, devolved.  Right now, in the United States of America, we are edging closer and closer to Sharia-style edicts for how the female sex should dress and appear in public.  I don’t mean that ladies will be wearing burkas as part of the new Fall fashion lines, but that the idea that women must dress modestly because some man somewhere might have an impure thought about her is becoming the norm.  Women and girls are being told not only that they are responsible for how other people react to them, but that they should be ashamed of their bodies.  School girls are being subjected to “fingertip” tests (where the length of their skirts or shorts must extend to the fingertips of their outstretched arm–which, IMO, is pretty damn short).  They’re told that their bodies are so distracting to boys that they must hide themselves.

Newsflash, folks: no one is responsible for the thoughts of another human being.  I occasionally wonder why teenage girls want to go around dressed like prostitutes, but those girls did nothing, other than offend my fashion taste, to warrant my rather narrow-minded and judgemental feelings.  I think shorts and boots look stupid together.  I think pants sagging down to a guy’s kneecaps is even more stupid.  But I’m not the one wearing those clothes, and I don’t have to look at anyone who does.  How you look, within the public decency laws of your municipality, is your responsibility.  How someone feels about and reacts to it is their responsibility.  Period.

This whole idea, that a woman could be held somehow responsible for how a man reacts to her appearance, came up a couple of years ago when an Iowa dentist fired his assistant because she was too attractive.  He was having some amorous and carnal thoughts about her, although he hadn’t done anything.  As far as I know, her work was satisfactory and there were no complaints from patients.  His wife hadn’t made any demands that she be fired.  The woman had worked for him for years, but because he was thinking and feeling certain things that his church would disapprove of, he fired her.  The Iowa Supreme Court found unanimously that he was within his legal rights.  (I suppose he was; most work in the U.S. is “at will,” which means you can be fired without cause.)  legal though it may have been, it still sent out the message that a man can do whatever he wants to a woman because the way she looked made him react the way he did.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was used as a justification for rape for many years.  Still is, come to think of it.  And it’s still cowardly and distasteful.

I’m not uniformly against dress codes.  I think there ought to be some rules.  (No shirt, no shoes, no service has always been a good philosophy to me.  Unless you’re at the beach.)  But dress codes must be common sense and equally enforced.  There shouldn’t be rules that hold one group responsible for how another group reacts.  FYI, I feel the same way about supposedly “offensive” t-shirts–the ones with the not-very-funny jokes or political/religious slogans not everyone shares.  Who gives a flip what someone else wants to emblazon on their own chest?  It’s their right to look like morons in public.




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