Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is This the Feminism You Signed Up For?

I was born in 1959, the tail end of the Baby Boom. I was a child in the sixties. When I was in elementary school the evening news was full of the Viet Nam War, college protesters, and women's lib. 

Women were demanding equal pay for equal work. They wanted the same opportunities as men. They wanted to be taken seriously. Women should be seen as equal adult human beings, not as sex objects for men to play with. All very reasonable proposals.

By Leffler, Warren K. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today, women hold some of the most powerful positions in the country. They are doctors and lawyers, CEOs and senators. A woman can be taken just as seriously as a man. But what happened to not being a sex object? How do we expect not to be seen as sex object when we present ourselves like this?

And what are we doing toward teaching our daughters and granddaughters to respect themselves, to focus on their skills and abilities rather than their sexuality? We're marketing outfits like these to our teenagers:

From the web site of a well-known main stream department store Juniors Dept.
I teach 8th grade. I've seen what our young women are wearing. Is this really what we want to teach them about their self-worth? The one with the cutest figure and the skimpiest outfit wins?

I know the idea of modesty makes some women angry. Of course you have the right to wear whatever you want. All of this is just my opinion. You can dress any way you want, and I'll never tell you that you can't or even that you shouldn't. I will tell you that with rights come responsibilities. The decisions that we make will have results. They way we present ourselves determines in part how people perceive us. That's just common sense, y'all.

How did we get here? Maybe it's like the kid in school who makes fun of his clumsiness before anyone else can. They're going to laugh anyway. He's still clumsy, but at least the laughter is his idea. Maybe women realized that men are just hard-wired to be attracted to women. Men are going to be lustful anyway, but if I dress provocatively, then the lust is my idea. Some women somehow find that empowering.

As for myself, I choose to dress modestly. I'm not ashamed of my body or my sexuality. I just don't think it's anyone else's business. I don't hate my body; I just choose to present myself as an intelligent, dignified adult human being. Not as an object of desire. My husband desires me; that's enough.

Modest doesn't mean unattractive.