Tag Archives: dress codes

WHAT did he just say?

28 Sep

Alrighty folks.  I tend to lay low, or relatively low, politically.  I have been prejudged by too many folks in this my-side/your-side political environment that we live in these days based on my political position.  I find that I often don’t love the activists on either side of the aisle, but cling fast to the values of the political party that I claimed as a child.  I am a liberal.  I am not a Republican hating liberal.  I am not an atheist (and as the Seinfeld show would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”)  I opted to stay home with my children, and forgo a successful career in mortgage banking.  I am not the picture most people like to paint of the liberal community.

Having grown up during a time when the vocabulary regarding the rights of women that we use today was created:  women’s lib., ERA, date rape, glass ceiling, dress for success, girl power, etc. I had always considered myself a feminist.  When I used that term, I meant it to imply that I had the same rights and freedoms as a person born a male.  It meant that I should be able t choose for myself what my life and family would look like.  It did not mean that I hated men, or thought they deserved to be diminished, and it did not mean that I thought women who did not pursue a career outside of the home was ignorant or enslaved.

I don’t get overly vocal about my feminism, because people misunderstand the term and will tend to generalize who I am based on what they presume my political (and religious) beliefs are and what the presume my perspective of men and boys is.  I have found that if people are able to categorize you before they know  you, they will never get to know you.  However, if they discover that you think differently (either religiously or politically) after they get to know you, they tend to be more receptive to actually sharing ideas – not for the purpose of conversion, but for the purpose of understanding one another.

When I do discuss my perspective that women and girls still are a marginalized population, I am often assured that based on the great strides of my mother’s generation (and to some small extent my own), women are essentially free from sexism and discrimination.  I am presented evidence of female construction workers, women practicing high-level medicine and even women in combat.  I agree, that we have indeed seen progress since the time I was born, and certainly since the time my mother was born.  However, progress in and of itself does not represent an accomplished goal.  Women still do not live in an equitable environment, and I would argue that neither do men.  Emma Watson addressed this insanely eloquently in her address before the General Assembly of the United Nations where she identifies the many ways that boys and men face discrimination of a different variety.  It sometimes seems that sexism only exists amongst “feminists” who sift and scour through our culture and our society seeking opportunities to identify disparity.  These people who have co-opted the term “feminism” have done a huge disservice to women, and men, who live in a disparate culture.  However, many of us who don’t have a platform, a soapbox or an agenda will tell you, indeed sexism still lurks in our world nourishing itself on “jokes” and “don’t be so serious” comments and actions.

While I could pull out the regularly used evidence of disparity of unequal pay for equal work, you would likely dismiss me.  Although, to be honest, I can’t understand why.  To my mind that is such a fabulous black-and-white example that is exceptionally unbiased and objective.  However, it is addressed so frequently, I think people’s eyes glaze over when it is brought up.  I could share abundant anecdotal evidence of unwanted and undesired groping and “cat calls” that women and even young girls are subjected to on a day to day basis.  Many people dismiss this with a plethora of “equalizing” comments:  “Women are as bad as men.  These days they objectifying men, and are equally inappropriate.” or “You can’t dress sexy, and expect not to get treated that way.  You dress that way to get noticed.”  Firstly, there are women who behave inappropriately.  They are bawdy in their actions and language.  Their behavior, while wrong, does not excuse the poor behavior of men.  I am sure you must have heard the expression, “Two wrongs do not make a right.”  Furthermore, in regard to the dress and appearance of women.  The fact that we continue to fall back to the “she had it coming” justification for behavior is discouraging.  I agree that there are women who dress in ill-advised ways when we consider the realities in the world.  However, it is a man’s responsibility to address his own behavior.  We can not expect to live in a civil society where one population can excuse their actions because of the behavior of another person.  I monitor my daughter’s clothing not because I feel she is responsible for any behavior of the boys she encounters.  I monitor her dress because I want her to firstly respect herself and not package herself in a package that does not suit her merely to please a male population, and pragmatically because I know that we live in the real world and that there are men who will hurt her if she dresses in a way that they construe to be an invitation.

I could argue that sexism is pervasive in our schools through ridiculous dress codes designed to protect boys.  My daughter’s first year in public school has been a wardrobe nightmare as she has been advised that sleeveless tops (even collared and button up non-fitted), leggings with loose tunic tops, any yoga pants, etc. are all violation of the dress code.  Yoga pants are completely disallowed.  Leggings can only be worn with modesty-plus dresses.  Nothing that reveals shoulders can worn.  Jeans with tears (even with leggings or patches) are disallowed.  This would be limited essentially to an annoyance if that was the end of it.  However, when the reason provided for their policy is so that boys won’t be distracted, my eyebrows are raised, and I again question, “Really, the world is equal?  The world is equal when my daughter is held responsible for the distraction of a boy who sees her shoulder?”  Truthfully, while we like to mock the school dress codes of the 1950s, girls were never advised that there shoulders were too scandalous to be seen.

OK, I seriously digressed.  The point is, you have heard all of this before, and a good portion of our society has elected to dismiss these concerns for a variety of reasons.  It doesn’t seem to progress the dialogue to even raise them at this point.  Before the words are out, your counterargument is formed.  However, last Wednesday, a national news program presented a feature piece on the first female fighter pilot from the United Arab Emirates.  The program, “The Five” is broadcast on Fox News, and tends to come from a more conservative perspective.  Being that I am liberal, I frequently disagree with their take on current events.  However, in this particular broadcast, it felt that the issue wasn’t between liberalism or conservatism, but rather straight-up “old school” sexism as it was offensive even to the shows co-host.   Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the show’s co-hosts, presented a feature on this first UAE female fighter pilot and her role in a recent bombing of terrorist targets.  She underscored the significance of this event by noting “I hope that hurt extra bad from you because in some Arab countries, women can’t even drive.”  As she wrapped her story, her male co-host, Greg Gutfeld, snarked, “Problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn’t park it.”  Guilfoyle was obviously discouraged as she commented, “Why did they ruin my thing.”  Immediately, this is followed by co-host, Eric Bolling, commenting, “Would this be considered boobs on the ground, or no?”

Clearly, in today’s society, this did not go unnoticed, nor should it have.  After a major uproar by the public and media, stretching around the globe, Bolling offered an apology the next day:

“A personal comment before we go to break. Earlier this week I made a comment that was wholly inappropriate, and I apologize for it. The comment became during K. G.’s One More Thing honoring UAE bomber pilot Major Miriam al-Mansouri, who bombed ISIS. My remark was not intended to be disparaging of her, but that’s how it was taken. I should have known better and used better judgment”

This half-hearted apology that basically said that the ol’ ball and chain at home nagged at him into it, was not well received, and so he finally offered a second apology:

“Yesterday I made an apology on this show, but it was inadequate. Fox News has received letters from viewers, including from women in the military, and I’ve taken them to heart.

Therefore let me speak clearly and sincerely – I am sorry for what I said. I believe that Major al Mansouri is a hero. She is courageous, brave, and she deserves our praise, not inappropriate jokes.

I appreciate that she is fighting the extreme radicals that threaten all of us. She has my admiration and my gratitude.”

While it seems he finally got the words right, it is hard to feel this is sincere given context.  Both Bolling and Gutfeld’s “apologies” can be found here online.

The point of all of this?  1)We’ve excused the disparity in pay 2)we’ve excused blaming women for the offensive and violent actions they take 3)we’ve excused the requirement that my daughter dress covered from collar bone to ankle to “protect” the boys in her school … BUT gosh darned it (this is not the language you would be hearing if you were speaking to me in person right now) … What is your excuse for firstly pulling out a overused cliched reference to women’s driving to mock a member of the armed forces, secondly WTF right do you have to make any reference to a soldier’s (or anybodies) anatomy in response to her significant individual, national and international accomplishments. and FINALLY, how F***ing unprofessional and condescending to undermine and disrespect a co-worker like that.

Save your justifications … zip it.  When a nationally broadcast “news” program host feels comfortable making comments like this we are not there yet.  When one inappropriate comment is made, and it is followed by guffaws and further comment rather than immediate outrage and a defense of their co-host who was wildly disrespected, we are not living in an culture that is equal.  When the, most assuredly well discussed, apology consists of “I got the look” so sorry, our work is not done.

Women and girls are abused in all manner around the globe, their bodies objectified and violated, their credibility and abilities questions on the basis of their anatomy alone, they are subjugated and teased and consistently reminded that they are forever, ultimately going only so far as the male dominated society will allow them … so stay pretty, stay cute and don’t push the wrong buttons.

Things have gotten better, but until this fundamental truth changes, we are not done and there aren’t excuses enough to dismiss the bottom line reality … I have not finished preparing the world that I want for my girls.

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