If your underwear isn’t sexy, why show it? It’s the sort of question we grapple with in the modern world … unsuccessfully.
Last Wednesday’s Post reported that someone at a small rural Alberta school put an anti-dress-code sign in a girls’ bathroom, as they were once quaintly known, saying “Instead of shaming girls for their bodies teach boys that girls are not sexual objects!!!” How? By showing up in lingerie? That sign was swiftly removed, as was a countersign “When you wear little to no clothing and dress provocatively because it’s ‘too hot out’ or because you think it’s ‘attractive,’ you are putting boys at risk of having a distracting working environment” that warned against “dressing like a THOT.”
In consequence the principal spoke to every class and sent an email to parents. But what could she say? That boudoir attire is sexy, that it’s not, or both at once? How can the authorities discourage kids from doing something they can’t admit exists?
Apparently the school lacks air conditioning. But it’s no excuse for doing calculus half-naked; desert dwellers wear loose flowing clothing for a reason. And the dress code requires that navels, cleavage and bra straps be covered, shirts and shorts must not be too short, inseams at least a hand-length and shoulder straps “three fingers wide.” So it’s not exactly The Handmaid’s Tale. But yes, it’s aimed at ensuring that girls are not dressed sexily. And that both genders, or all 37, don’t display obscene T-shirt slogans.
In these PC times an unguarded reference to sex can bring horrible public shaming. Yet it is permitted, almost obligatory, to flaunt sexuality. There is real incoherence here
Part of what we have here is Philip K. Dick’s observation that “Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.” Gender has been deconstructed, reconstructed, has gone forth and multiplied, yet most men remain far more visually oriented than women sexually.
Oh come on. You all know it. So do teens, male and female, also familiar with the term “THOT,” which you had to Google, right? (I only know because the story explained it.)
In these PC times an unguarded reference to sex can bring horrible public shaming. Yet it is permitted, almost obligatory, to flaunt it from Pride Parade to catwalk to … well, just about everywhere. We live in a highly sexualized culture. And we’re doing it on purpose. We seek fulfillment in pleasures of the flesh, self-defined and autonomous of course.
I was just in Newark Airport, which might not sound like the acme of sensuality. But there were perfume ads featuring topless women with parted lips right where families go. If you object you’re a prude but if you stare you’re a lech. There’s real incoherence here.
Thus two weeks ago there was a big rhubarb online over promotional images for the parody “Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs.” They said “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 dwarfs not so short?” with a classic Snow White next to a shorter, um, wider version. And people had fits along the lines of one “plus-size model” who tweeted, “Why is it okay to tell young kids being fat = ugly?”
So are you saying it’s OK to tell kids a plus-size model is beautiful, desirable, even a “sexual object” … if she wants to be? Does anybody know?
Students seem confused. Another story last Wednesday by a local radio station, “Prom poll puts students in hot water” described a survey by a Carleton Place Catholic high school prom committee that included not just “scariest driver” but “best breasts” and “best nudes.” The story said “Officials will meet with the students in the coming days to explain the seriousness of the situation.”
I wish them luck. When I was in high school I’m pretty sure the “best nudes” category would have been empty. And the others would only have been discussed privately. But today even fitness magazines parade glistening flesh on their covers and promise “(MUCH) HOTTER SEX THIS YEAR!” and “+ BOOST TESTOSTERONE” and (one expressly for women) “HEAD-TO-TOE HOT The One Move That Tones All Over” plus “Breakthrough Flu Fighter: Sex!”
When I was in high school I’m pretty sure the “best nudes” category would have been empty. But today even fitness magazines parade glistening flesh
It’s all at eye level in supermarkets. No wonder kids think you’re meant to notice it, flaunt it, drool over it and boast about it. Then when they do, someone comes along and pecks at them like a maiden aunt.
As I’ve noted before, part of it is the relativistic, narcissistic idea that you can turn other people’s reactions to you on and off at will, including teen boys’ reactions to skimpy outfits. But of course it doesn’t work that way. See “Reality is that which…” above.
So what are principals and officials to tell students? That it doesn’t work when you deliberately dress to impress? That we shouldn’t think about sex constantly? That we should? Or both?
The situation is indeed serious. And seriously confused.
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Women's period of storm and stress. In the three or four civilized European countries, one can in a few centuries educate women to be anything one wants, even men--not in the sexual sense, of course, but certainly in every other sense. At some point, under such an influence, they will have taken on all male virtues and strengths, and of course they will also have to take male weaknesses and vices into the bargain. This much, as I said, one can bring about by force. But how will we endure the intermediate stage it brings with it, which itself can last a few centuries, during which female follies and injustices, their ancient birthright, still claim predominance over everything they will have learned or achieved? This will be the time when anger will constitute the real male emotion, anger over the fact that all the arts and sciences will be overrun and clogged up by shocking dilettantism; bewildering chatter will talk philosophy to death; politics will be more fantastic and partisan than ever; society will be in complete dissolution because women, the preservers of the old custom, will have become ludicrous in their own eyes, and will be intent on standing outside custom in every way. For if women had their greatest power in custom, where will they not have to reach to achieve a similar abundance of power again, after they have given up custom?