Repost of what I said in the other thread:It's true that we can't wear what we please without RISK of consequences, but that doesn't mean we have to FEAR those consequences. We are working (w/great success, if you look at the general trend of the past 100 years) on becoming a society in which men do not feel they have a right to hurt women. Various excuses for misbehavior have been dismantled, and "she was asking for it, wearing that skirt" holds up less well every year; eventually it will be gone. I don't think there is anything to be gained from hiding and fearing our own bodies. If I have a daughter, I will teach her reasonable precautions for taking care of herself, but that doesn't mean wearing a burqa and staying in the house; it means being alert, assessing risks intelligently, knowing how to get help if needed, and having the self-confidence to stand up for oneself when someone else is doing wrong. And I am a rape survivor, so please don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.
Of course, wearing a burqa and never leaving the house is an exaggeration. But loosen the definition of "revealing clothing" somewhat, and you are recommending the same type of self-restriction in the name of safety. I'm against that.
When it comes to pre-pubescent children, I do agree that dressing them exactly like sexy adults is not a good idea because kids are not aware of the message conveyed by those clothes. Similarly, I think it is not a good idea to dress a young child in a T-shirt with a radical political slogan that is likely to get strangers yelling bigotry at them. However, once the child is old enough to understand what the slogan means, if she is comfortable with the risk of being yelled at, I think it's fine for her to wear the T-shirt. It seems to me, from the way some of you talk about teenagers, that you think they should not be allowed a similar choice with sexy clothing because they cannot possibly understand the message. I disagree. But it is true that preschoolers don't understand.
|What women's clothing does -- and has continued to do for the most part throughout the centuries -- is convey powerlessness. The more feminine it is, the less powerful it tends to be. Ever try running in high heels? A slinky dress? See my point?
No. I have walked many miles, on sidewalks but also thru forests and fields, and have scaled big hills and chain-link fences and concrete retaining walls, all while wearing above-the-knee skirts and slip-on shoes w/leather soles or thin cotton ankle-strap shoes and either bare legs or pantyhose or tights. These are not the BEST clothes for hiking, but I can do it, at full speed and comfortably.
To me, a necktie seems like a very restrictive and uncomfortable and stupidly useless thing to wear, but many people accomplish all sorts of powerful tasks while wearing ties. They are even seen as a symbol of power, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY PRACTICAL CONCERNS but simply because of tradition and prejudice.
So it is with skirts. A short, ruffly, lacy, flowery skirt is very feminine but does not convey powerlessness if you behave in a confident way while wearing it. I think the assumption that "feminine" equates to "impractical" or "powerless" or some other form of "bad" is very sexist and wrong.
When choosing clothing for kids, I think it's important not to draw the "hoochie" category too broadly. Just showing some skin is not "too sexy" automatically. Halter-tops and shorts that just cover the buttocks are fine with me when the weather's appropriate. (Who says little girls need to wear shirts at all?) Glitter is not "too sexy" automatically, nor is any particular color.
When adults or teenagers think a little child is sexually available because of the way she's dressed, they are delusional: They are reading the message of the clothing and completely ignoring the messages of the immature body and mind. This is not normal. This is not something we should condone or accept as inevitable. When a six-year-old girl wears a midriff-baring T-shirt and black miniskirt, anyone can see that she has a chubby tummy and a flat chest and toothpick legs--she is NOT a potential sexual partner, not even if she is dancing like Britney Spears. Dancing is fun, dressing up is fun, and prohibiting these things won't protect a child from molestation even on the off chance that she does meet one of those few abnormal, delusional people who might feel entitled to her. They're wrong.